Present: Dani Sordo, Citroen Total World Rally Team Sebastien Loeb, Citroen Total World Rally Team Francois Duval, Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team Malcolm Wilson, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team Q: Dani a big change for you in the past few ...
Dani Sordo, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Loeb, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Francois Duval, Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team
Malcolm Wilson, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Q: Dani a big change for you in the past few weeks as you have a new co-driver, what prompted the change?
DS: We had some problems in the last rallies, and the feeling in the car was a little bit bad, so we decided to change.
Q: You tested with Diego -- how was that?
DS: Obviously, it was quite a big change. I spent three days testing with Diego in a road-going car. Not the same, but the recce here and everything else was good, so we will see what this rally brings.
Q: Last time we were here it was a Citroen one-two - do you feel comfortable enough with Diego to be able to achieve a podium here?
DS: I will try to finish on the podium and try to drive well.
Q: Do you prefer dry or wet conditions?
DS: I would be happy if the weather continues like this.
Q: What about your aims for the rest of the season? Will you try and get your first win at your home event in Spain?
DS: Actually, I wouldn't mind winning here either! And I also need to do well in Japan, but generally, I will just try and do my best in every rally, like before.
Q: Sebastien, every year we see you walk away with a win here in Germany, seven so far! Is there a secret to success that only you know?
SL: If I had one, I wouldn't say, but I don't have a secret. I just have a good feeling. This is quite a tricky rally. First of all, you have to stay on the road. Then grip is changing almost at every junction. Like I said, it is just a question of feeling, but I have always been good at this kind of rally, also in Monte Carlo, where it can be slippery, too.
Q: How eager are you to score your eighth win here?
SL: Actually, my priority is the Championship. I will just try to score some points and do well here. At the start, I will try to find my rhythm, then we will continue if we have the feeling that we can win. However, I will definitely not take too many risks.
Q: You have been quoted as saying that Arena Panzerplatte will be the decisive stage this year; is that purely because of the amount of kilometres involved?
SL: Panzerplatte is a very specific stage compared to all the other stages of the rally. It is quite rough for a tarmac stage. There are many holes, so the risk to get a puncture is quite big. The stage can be crucial, but we have also seen in the past that the longest stage isn't necessarily the one that makes the difference. It will just be important to make it through without any problems.
Q: The weather has been mixed this week with the recce taking place on rain soaked roads -- would you prefer wet or dry conditions?
SL: I prefer dry if I am leading, but if I am not leading, I hope for rain, which will allow me to catch up. Dry is normally a bit less tricky.
Q: Are you feeling comfortable in the battle for the title?
SL: At the moment, everything is okay and I have a comfortable lead, but I have some memories from last year when it was important to remain competitive until the end. We have to continue to fight, nothing has been decided yet.
Q: Francois, welcome back to the Championship. There were rumours that you had retired from rallying though... Was that the case and if so what has made you change your mind?
FD: I am happy to come back here. This one has always been a good rally for me. The roads are similar to those back home in Belgium. After two years sitting at home, it will be difficult to find the rhythm right away, but I hope it comes back pretty soon once I am in the car tomorrow.
Q: What kind of result do you expect here? Will it be possible to score a podium finish?
FD: It will be quite difficult to finish on the podium. The Citroens always go well here and the BP Fords are fast, too. I would already be happy with a top five finish.
Q: What is the most difficult aspect of this rally?
FD: I will be starting tenth, so that is quite far away. I remember from previous years that the roads here are usually quite dirty, which isn't very easy either.
Q: Would you be looking to rejoin the WRC full time next season?
FD: That is difficult. First of all, I will try to stay on the road here. When the result in this rally is not so bad, maybe my sponsor continues for France and Spain.
Q: You scored a very good result in Finland. How motivating was that?
MW: Obviously, our performance in Bulgaria was disappointing for the whole team, but we came back very well and we were really pleased with the performance in Finland. Hopefully, we improve the performance here, too.
Q: Malcolm, Ford trails Citroen in the Manufacturers' Championship by 55 points, how realistic is the fight now?
MW: Nobody has beaten Sebastien here since this event came into the World Rally Championship. We need to be on the podium, but we also need some times that are competitive compared to those of Sebastien.
Q: You had some problems with the tyre choice in Bulgaria. What steps have been done to prevent mistakes in weather forecasting?
MW: We have made no changes in the system. We use the same people, the same system, but we have looked into it and we will try to prevent this in the future.
Q: The FIA recently announced that next year the tyre contract will allow any manufacturers to supply tyres -- what does this mean for you as team?
MW: Everybody knows that the Pirelli control tyres worked very well since they came into the WRC two and a half years ago, and they have been a big benefit to the teams in terms of cost savings. Hopefully, we can continue in that pattern, finding ways to reduce costs. There will be a tender (list of suppliers) in September and then we will decide on which brand of tyres to go with.
Q: How is the development of the new Fiesta coming along?
MW: The development is going very well. It is difficult: we are working on the current car while also working on the new car, but we are quite happy with the progress that is being made.
Q: You have spoken about strengthening the team -- is that still the plan for next year and how are you going to do that?
MW: We are always looking at ways to strengthen the team, to finish on the podium and score points in the Championship. We are still looking at ways to make some changes, but we are not in a position to make any announcements, probably until the end of November.
Thierry Neuville, FIA Junior World Rally Championship
Per-Gunnar Andersson, FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship
Ott Tanak, FIA Production Car World Rally Championship
Q: Thierry, we hear there may have been a few problems at shakedown this morning -- what happened?
TN: We had a big moment on the first lap. I was a bit too fast and I went off, but it only caused a little bit of cosmetic damage to the car. I was able to continue after that.
Q: How did the recce go? What do you think of this event?
TN: I had a good recce car, a Citroen DS3. The grip was good, but I soon found out that we have to be really careful at the start. It was difficult to drive, but I am looking forward to the event.
Q: What conditions do you prefer for this event?
TN: I prefer dry conditions, because the speed is higher and it is more fun in the dry.
Q: What do you think of changing conditions here on the various days?
TN: I prefer the stages on Saturday, so we will try to be not too far off on Friday. At Panzerplatte, it will be easy to lose a lot of time, so we have to remain focused in order to stay competitive. Hans Weijs Jr. will be very fast here, he knows the stages well.
Q: There are many fast drivers here, not just Hans Weijs, but also Abbring, Burkhart and others. What result do you expect here?
TN: My aim is to get my second win of the season, but the stages are more difficult than I had imagined. We will try to do our best.
Q: Last time we saw you on tarmac P-G it was in a WRC car in Bulgaria. Now it's back to the SWRC, are you ready for the challenge of Germany?
P-GA: Definitely. I have been here two, three times before, but I was never really successful. Now it is time for me to end on the podium.
Q: There's another strong field of competitors this weekend, including Championship leader Xevi Pons, what is your aim?
P-GA: This season, I try to make the step back to WRC for next year. I try to get as good a result as possible during every rally, taking it rally by rally.
Q: What can you do to get a good result here?
P-GA: In Bulgaria, the speed was fine and I had a lot of confidence. Here as well. There are many slippery places where you have to be careful, but the rest we can attack.
Q: In this event, we have a 48 kilometre stage. How difficult will that one be?
P-GA: There are about 96 junctions! The speed will not be that high, but the grip and conditions are changing very frequently, so that stage is really challenging.
Q: Will we see you in a WRC car again this season or are you concentrating on the SWRC now?
P-GA: I prefer a WRC car every day in the week, so that is an easy choice.
Q: Ott, this is your first tarmac event -- how have you prepared for it and are you looking forward to the challenge?
OT: It is not the easiest place to start with tarmac experience. The recce was very wet, but we hope for dry conditions during the event.
Q: Your mentor Markko Martin has had great results on tarmac -- what advice if any has he given you?
OT: He gave me some advice, but I am the driver, he can't drive for me. I have to do it myself.
Q: What do you think about the event?
OT: I don't know the places where there is more mud or less, we need to keep our eyes open.
Q: You won the PWRC category in Finland, how much does that boost your confidence?
OT: It gave a big boost for me and for the team, but this is my first time on tarmac, which makes it quite difficult.
Q: What is your focus this weekend?
OT: Of course, all drivers want to win, but it is our first time on tarmac. We need to concentrate on learning and getting experience first.