WRC

Rally of Great Britain: Post-event press conference

Petter Solberg (Subaru) Philip Mills (Subaru) Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) Daniel Elena (Citroen) Tommi Makinen (Subaru) Kaj Lindstrom (Subaru) Guy Frequelin (Citroen) David Lapworth (Subaru) Q: 12 months ago here it was your first WRC win and now...

Petter Solberg (Subaru)
Philip Mills (Subaru)
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen)
Daniel Elena (Citroen)
Tommi Makinen (Subaru)
Kaj Lindstrom (Subaru)
Guy Frequelin (Citroen)
David Lapworth (Subaru)

Q: 12 months ago here it was your first WRC win and now you’re the World Rally Champion. How does that happen and how does it feel?

Petter Solberg: I don’t have a clue. You know, we had our ups and downs all through the year and our team has worked very, very hard and I must say thank you to David (Lapworth). It’s been a really, really good job to achieve this result - a lot of testing, a lot of hard work. My take on things is that the more you put in, the more you get back and that’s exactly what I have done and the team has done and now we’re sitting here as… the world champion.

You know, I don’t have too much in my life. I’ve been racing cars since I was six years old. I haven’t done anything else and now I’m up here as world champion. It’s difficult to believe.

Q: Phil Mills, many congratulations. How nervous were you starting the last stage?

Philip Mills: We did have a little chat in the car. It was, err… I mean, you wouldn’t be a human being unless you were nervous at that point in the game. But yes, a little bit of nerves coming in there, but it was okay.

Q: David Lapworth, Prodrive are a very successful team, with a lot of wins and a lot of championships. How does this one compare with the other ones?

David Lapworth: It was definitely one of the best. You can’t compare one win with another, or one championship with another. But certainly at this moment it feels to me like the most incredible result. Petter has done a brilliant job all season. As he said, he’s put so much effort into it, and so has the whole team, that it really puts it into perspective. But really I think the feeling throughout the whole team is that this has been something special.

Q: Sebastien Loeb, congratulations on second place here. How close do you think you came to being world champion?

Sebastien Loeb: I think we had a very good chance of being world champion too, but we had to fight with Petter for that and, okay, I think that here he was very fast. It was not easy in my mind to push very hard because I knew it was important to keep the car on the road because I knew Carlos (Sainz) was retired and I knew that for the manufacturers’ championship it was very important.

Petter was very fast and I think it would have been difficult to catch him and I think we made a good race here. What we can regret a little bit in the season is that sometimes we lost some little points, like in Catalunya it was a stupid mistake with the tyre and we lost the championship there. Next year we try to do better, try to be more concentrated on tyre choice, do a very good job and to try to do better. But I‘m very happy for Citroen because it‘s only the first year for all the team in the complete world championship and this title proves that the team has done a very good job all the year and so I‘m very happy for all the team.

Q: Daniel Elena, you and Seb had less experience here than Petter and Carlos. Did that make life difficult? (Petter Solberg: They’ve done the rally exactly the same number of times as me…) Less experience in a World Rally Car than Petter and Carlos. Did that make life more difficult?

Daniel Elena: Yes, it’s difficult but last year we did some good times on this rally with a World Rally Car - this year too. From Margam Park and the last few stages it was a race, and it’s perhaps here the difference?

Q: Guy Frequelin, congratulations on Citroen’s title. How important was it for Citroen to win the title here?

Guy Frequelin: First of all, thank you. For sure it’s very important for Citroen and I’m very happy for Mr Satinet, the president, and for all the team who worked very hard over all the year. It’s very nice to win this manufacturers’ championship.

I’m a little bit disappointed for Sebastien, but I think that Petter did a very good rally and I think that it was difficult to catch him. I want to congratulate Petter and his co-driver and David and his team, because they did a very good job and it’s a very nice season for everybody. Also, Peugeot did a good job also and I think it’s very, very important and very hard and very tough championship, and I hope that it will be like this for the future also.

Q: Tommi Makinen, what a fantastic way to end an amazing career. What memories are you going to take away from this rally?

Tommi Makinen: Well, these shoes (shows his gold driving boots). It really was one of the best weekends in my life - the best weekend in a long time, when I’ve seen an incredible success for all the team. David and the team, they worked like they had to do it - it’s good to see when everything works well. Petter did incredible - and that’s the most important for us. For myself, my target to try and finish on the podium to end my career this weekend came true and I am very happy. So that’s it - an enjoyable week and a good battle with Colin (McRae) and that makes it very, very interesting.

I would like to say thanks to all of you, so many of you here. Thanks a lot to everybody - it’s been incredible working with all you media people. Everybody, all of you, I’m going to miss all this - it is, I’m sure it’s going to be a difficult time at the beginning of next year when we should be in Monte Carlo. So thank you very much.

(Tommi receives a long standing ovation)

Q: Kaj Lindstrom, what are you going to remember from this rally? What are your memories having been sat next to him for the last two years?

Kaj Lindstrom: Well if you look at the in-car cameras from today from the second run in Rhondda you can see me nearly laughing at one of the corners. I think that will describe how his driving was - very determined and full attack all the time, and I really enjoyed to see him really fighting for all the tenths on the rally. In a way I’m happy that Tommi’s great career will end like this, but I’m sad as well that he’ll be going.

Q: Petter, how much pressure did you feel on this rally knowing that if you made one mistake that was your championship gone?

Petter Solberg: Well, actually, I had a few discussions with Tommi about how to tackle this rally and he said you’re going to have a terrible week - you’re not going to sleep and you’ll think about the world championship all the time, and it’s actually the truth. It’s been quite difficult, but I kept concentration all the time and it went well at the end actually… the only thing I have to say is to thank Tommi for his support. These two years with him have been incredible. As I said, he made a really good friend, he gave a lot of support - him and Kaj - and just made me go quicker, made me more happy and this victory, it is yours Tommi.

Tommi Makinen: Thank you very much, but you did the work!

Q: Phil, for you this was a victory on home territory in Wales. How much more special does this make it for you?

Philip Mills: Well obviously to win the championship and the rally and to be at home, obviously it’s a special feeling. But yes, to do it on home soil just added that extra little nice twist. The end to the tale.

Q: Sebastien, at what point did you think on this rally that maybe it wasn’t possible to win the championship this year?

Sebastien Loeb: Err, when it was finished I was sure. But before, on the second day, I thought it would be very difficult to catch Petter because we started the day with a mistake on the tyre choice and we lost a bit of time and after that we had to push very hard to do the same times as Petter, so I understood it would be difficult. Okay, we continued to keep the pressure, but he made a very good pace, with no mistakes, so we couldn’t do anything.

Q: Daniel, what are the chances of Seb becoming the champion next year?

Daniel Elena: Err, 100 percent…

Q: Tommi, speaking of next year, what are your plans? Are we going to see you in a car again soon, or are you staying at home?

Tommi Makinen: There’s no plan at the moment. I will be in Monte Carlo, spectating - that’s the first thing for next year. But I think skiing and doing some motor biking, some motocross, some things that I haven’t done so much over the last few years because the timetable has been a bit tight and there’s not been so much time to do anything.

Q: Kaj, do you have any future plans?

Kaj Lindstrom: Yeah, we’re going to the hotel now and there’s going to be a party. Yes, actually, I have some plans. That’s been the worst-kept secret in the world, but now it’s official: I’m joining Mitsubishi next year to try it with Kristian Sohlberg.

Q: Guy, just a word about Carlos, who came into this rally with a chance to win. Do you think he could have done it here?

Guy Frequelin: For Carlos, for sure it’s a very big disappointment, but I think he can continue next year - for sure he can continue next year - and I think after this problem for sure he’s a little bit disappointed. But when he said he wants to stop at the end of next year, I’m not sure if it’s true. But I want first to congratulate Sebastien and Daniel for this fantastic job, and to say thank you to Carlos and Marc and Colin and Derek for the big help in developing the car. The team is very sure it did a very big job, but it’s impossible to do a good job like this if we don’t have good drivers and good co-drivers and I want to say really, thank you very much to the drivers and the co-drivers.

Q: David, if I can finish with you, just looking to the future of Subaru, you’ve got a new car which you’re working on. What’s that going to be like next year?

David Lapworth: Well I hope it’s going to be fast - that’s the idea. But no, obviously we’re looking forward to another great battle next year. This year, it’s been a really tough season, but these guys have all featured in it. But for us now, we’ve got to dig in and challenge and do the whole thing all over again with the new car. But I think that it’s now just time to say thank you to these guys, particularly for their help in the last two years. They’ve not just been doing a great job behind the steering wheel, but the two of them and the relationship they’ve established has really helped the team in what feels like a fight back. You know, last season wasn’t our greatest season ever and even this season didn’t start fantastically, but the way these two guys have pulled together with the team and turned things around has been fantastic for all of us. What can I say but thanks to them. It’s helped Subaru and Pirelli to get another championship and much of it’s down to them

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