FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ADAC RALLYE DEUTSCHLAND 08/19/2007 Present: 1st - Sebastien Loeb -- Citroen Total World Rally Team 1st - Daniel Elena -- Citroen Total World Rally Team 2nd - Francois Duval -- OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team 2nd...
FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
ADAC RALLYE DEUTSCHLAND
1st - Sebastien Loeb -- Citroen Total World Rally Team
1st - Daniel Elena -- Citroen Total World Rally Team
2nd - Francois Duval -- OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team
2nd - Patrick Pivato -- OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team
3rd - Mikko Hirvonen -- BP Ford World Rally Team
3rd - Jarmo Lehtinen -- BP Ford World Rally Team
Guy Frequelin, Team Principal, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Welcome to the post-event FIA press conference.
Q: Congratulations Seb, you take another record here, for six consecutive wins on the same event. Would you say that this is your favourite rally? How did this win compare to your other victories here: was it easier or more difficult?
SL: For sure it is one of my favourite rallies, especially because there are many fans coming here for me. This event is close to where I was born and I have many friends coming. And I have won every time I came here. It is difficult to compare this rally to the others. It is always difficult here. Francois is always very fast here, so it wasn't easy.
Q: You had an incorrect tyre choice on Friday afternoon that caused you to lose time: why did that happen?
DE: When you start and after the first service you chose the wrong tyre, it is not easy, but Sebastien was still fast and took some risk, so we made the best out of it. It is not the first time and not the last time either that we pick the wrong tyres. Well, maybe it is the last time, because next year we have different tyres (laughs).
Q: Congratulations on a fantastic rally Francois. How satisfying was it to be in front of Seb on Friday?
FD: The first day it was a bit wet and I prefer conditions like that. I pushed really hard and my confidence returned quickly. I did two days of testing before and the confidence with the car and the tyres came back right away.
Q: Was it difficult to come back and settle into the pace of the Championship after not doing some rallies for a little while?
PP: I am very happy with this result as it is my first podium in the World Championship. This weekend is a memory that I will cherish for a very long time. Not just because of the result, but also because of the way it was done after the time we lost yesterday and the way we fought back today.
Q: Congratulations for having made it on the podium. Did you ever expect to be on the podium in this event?
MH: No, not at all. Unfortunately, Marcus made a mistake on the final stage in which he lost one and a half minutes and we could overtake him. Overall, it has been a good weekend for us and I am happy to be on the podium.
Q: You were struck with 'flu during this rally. Did that affect your performance in any way?
MH: No, not really. Saturday morning I didn't feel too well, but we were fastest on the first stage, so you really can't say that it affected my performance.
Q: The only real problem you had was when you hit something yesterday. What exactly happened?
JH: It was just a slippery corner. We knew it from the notes but we started sliding. What we hit was a big straw bale. I will buy a beer for the one who put it there, as there was a big hinkelstein behind it that could have caused a lot of damage.
Q: Guy, congratulations on another fantastic win here, ensuring Citroen remains unbeaten in Germany. What did you think of Seb and Daniel's drive here? Were you surprised at the performance of Francois and the Xsara?
GF: I am very happy for many reasons. First of all for Seb and Daniel, and also for the team, for Citroen, for the German market - which is very important - for Francois and Patrick, and for Kronos. It was very important to win the rally, it was important for Francois to show that he is still competitive and for Kronos to do a good job and I think it is fantastic for everybody. On Friday, it was difficult. We knew how important it was to win, and with Dani's problem, it was difficult, but Francois and Kronos have done a good job. It was 13 points difference in the Drivers' Championship before this rally and now it is only eight; when you can speak of "only" in this situation.
Q: Can you tell us more about the problem that stopped Dani? Do you think it was related to the problem he had in Finland?
GF: Dani's problem was the same as in Finland, it was the cylinder block. We spoke to our supplier about the metallurgy and we must find a solution very quickly. Having a problem like this for two rallies in a row is very unusual. We must dispatch our engine to New Zealand on Friday and we have to solve it.
Q: How confident does this make you about the remaining asphalt events, which make up the majority of the Championship?
SL: I hope I am strong enough on asphalt, but there are three gravel rallies on the calendar as well and I have to fight with Marcus. It will be tough, but I am confident.
Q: Was this an enjoyable event for you? Is it more interesting when you have a close fight for the lead, or is it simply more stressful?
DE: All in all, I enjoyed it. The morning of the first day was the most difficult as we had to cope with the wrong tyres. Saturday was not so enjoyable as I don't really like these stages and today we felt the pressure. So the afternoon of the first day was most fun.
Q: What do you think this rally has done for your future prospects Francois? Are you likely to drive the Xsara again this year -- maybe on the asphalt events remaining?
FD: This result is really good for me. I hope to be able to continue with Kronos after eight months at home. I hope to do Corsica, Spain and the RAC (Wales Rally GB) and if I find the sponsorship, I will be there.
Q: How has your relationship with Francois developed over the rallies you have contested together? Is it a good partnership?
PP: We already did eight rallies together last year, but this year it was different as we didn't have a drive. We are having a good relationship.
Q: Guy, how do you see the Championships evolving now: both the Drivers title with Seb and the Manufacturers' title with Citroen? Did you expect to take away a bit more from this event? How confident are you feeling about New Zealand? Do you feel reassured that Seb and the C4 have enough pace to win all the asphalt events now?
GF: For the Manufacturers' Championship, it is difficult because of Dani's problems in Finland and here, but the most important thing for us at the moment is the Drivers' Championship. Before the season, we knew that it wouldn't be easy with a young driver like Dani and the problems he had here and in Finland didn't make it any easier.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: Guy, concerning the engine problems, are the engines that failed old engines and are these problems because of the FIA regulations saying that you have to do longer with one engine?
GF: We knew about these regulations before the season. The problem is that the cylinder block is from a production engine and in a rally car, it is much different. But we must find a solution with our supplier. We asked for this regulation to reduce cost and now we can't complain about it.
Q: What do you think about the Super Special in the city of Trier?
SL: For me it was okay. It was a good show for the spectators. It is not the most interesting stage of the rally, but to have a show in a town is great. I like it more than in a stadium.
MH: Seb has said it all. No problems with the organisation, it was just fine.
FD: For me it was the first Super Special this year (Iaughs). It was really nice.
FIA JUNIOR RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
1st - Martin Prokop
1st - Jan Tomanek
Q: Martin, congratulations. Does this win make up for the disappointment of Finland, when you went out while you were in the lead?
MP: Yes, as in Finland we made a mistake, so it was very important for me to win in Germany and get back in a better way.
Q: Did you feel more confident on this rally than you did in Finland?
MP: In Finland we made a mistake in the pace notes and lost concentration. Here, we did the same job, trying to push as hard as I could.
Q: How strong was the Citroen C2 on this event: was it the best car to have?
MP: The C2 is the best on tarmac, but also strong on gravel. Especially on tarmac, it is fantastic. The combination of me and Citroen is really good.
Q: Jan, you got off to a fantastic start by leading from the first day, where you won all the stages. Were you surprised? Did you expect more competition?
JT (answered by MP): It was quite easy for us as we were leading from the first stage onward and had quite a good advantage on Friday already. That made it easier for us on Saturday and Sunday. The weather was much better than the years before. On Friday, there was some rain but not too much. The others probably were taking it a bit too cautious which allowed us to extend our lead.
Q: On the second day, you didn't seem quite as comfortable. Did the conditions not suit you as much? Or were you just backing off to protect your lead? Were you thinking a little bit about what happened to you in Finland?
MP: We lost some time in the morning. Maybe I was still sleeping|! It was difficult for us, but we caught up at Baumholder. The situation was the same in the afternoon. Today, everything was basically settled. We weren't really under pressure anymore.
Q: Many drivers had punctures last year -- particularly on the Baumholder stages -- but this year it did not happen so much: why do you think that was?
MP: We knew that it would be easy to have a puncture. Maybe the roads were better or we didn't cut (the corners) so much as in the years before. I don't know why there were less punctures, but it was definitely better.
Q: How does this affect your Championship situation now? Do you think you can challenge for the title?
MP: I don't know. After Finland, the situation wasn't good for us. Even if we win Corsica and Spain, it doesn't mean we win the title, but we will try. The others can have bad luck as well.