FIA World Rally Championship 2004 Rally Of Turkey FIA Post-event Press Conference 27.06.2004 Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena, Marcus Gronholm, Timo Rautiainen, Petter Solberg, Phil Mills, Guy Frequelin Q: Sebastien. Congratulations on your...
FIA World Rally Championship
2004 Rally Of Turkey
FIA Post-event Press Conference
Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena, Marcus Gronholm, Timo Rautiainen, Petter Solberg, Phil Mills, Guy Frequelin
Q: Sebastien. Congratulations on your victory on Rally of Turkey. You took the lead on the first day and seemed to keep everything under control and then you had a small problem. What happened?
SL: I had a small problem at the start and I lost some time. After that Marcus was leading the race, then two stages after he had a problem. It was very close. I had to push very hard to keep the lead of the race. Yes, today in the last stage I had a problem with the bearing, and the car was braking alone. Then I had no brakes and then, on the road section, the tyre began to burn. We had to stop the fire, and so after that we put the wheel away to come here. But it's all okay now.
Q: Did that give you a few anxious moments? Or were you confident you could still win?
SL: Yes we were very happy to win after the last stage. Everybody said congratulations but I wasn't sure I could finish. It was a big pressure, but when we came to service, then we really knew we won our first gravel rally.
Q: Daniel You had a time penalty of 10 seconds, then it was taken away. What happened?
DE: The penalty yesterday for the moment was difficult. It was jump start, but not a jump start. On the start line we stalled and dropped five seconds. Five seconds plus ten seconds meant 15 seconds. It was very difficult, but after the stewards and the director of the race sees the video and sees it's not a jump start. We wake up minus 10s for us and plus four for Marcus is better for us.
Q: Marcus You weren't feeling well today. How did that affect your driving?
MG: Yes, finally, yes I have not been very well during the rally, my stomach and really tired. Then we had some problem with the gearbox on the final two stages we were really lucky to come here. We have to finish the rally.
Q: Timo How is your backside today?
TR: Thank you its very well. I can handle it, but it's not good to be famous with your ass. Now we can laugh, but actually it was a very, very serious situation. At the moment I did not know what had happened. First I thought it was something which had come from the car, but later we found out it was something on the road. Of course this needs to get the attention of the organisers and the ones who make the roads and the stages. They absolutely must make sure there are no obstacles on the road. We were not in the ditch, it was a normal driving situation on the straight part of the road. Marcus did not understand what had happened, we were not jumping or landing, there was something on the road. It was very hard, I suppose it was some kind of steel pin or bar. It came into the car, it punctured the protection under the floor, the carbonite, through the floor, the seat and into my bottom. I almost lost my conscious, it was a big pain. I screamed straight away. He had to stop. He almost stalled the car. He had to ask me to continue, he didn't know if it was my back or something. Finally when I could say something I said continue, but I had to loosen my belts. The thing which had come in was still in the seat. I could not put my ass back, so I had to loosen my belts, finally after one kilometre it went and I could sit normally in the seat.
What we can learn from this, is something we found out last year. The organisers love to put steel pins on the road to put some plastic tapes or plastic fences to the road. This is never seen anywhere else in the world. I strictly recommend that the organisers never ever do this again.
Q: Petter You had a problem on the first day -- what happened. Did it cost you the chance of victory?
PS: I won't say that. I tried to drive quick all rally, but everyone has to have problems. I wouldn't say that. That watersplash made a lot of problems for everyone. I had a spin, then I lost 40s when I went through the watersplash the second time, it could have been worse -- look what happened to Markko Martin. Generally the rally has gone well. I had no problems after that. Tyre choice is always difficult. If it had been one more stage, maybe I could have won. It was very exciting with Sebastien and Marcus. In the last stage I had the splits and I was 24s up on Marcus at one point. I must say I got a little bit excited to get up to second time, but he took some time back at the end of the stage. On the last stage it was a little bit too much to get it back in five kilometres. But I am happy. I have finished six rallies in the row.
Q: Phil The weather during the recce and on the first couple of stages was wet and damp: how difficult was it to cope?
PM: It's always good to see the recce when it's wet, it's better that way around than the other way round. But then you end up with lots of slippies and mud markings on your pace notes which are no good on the event. But it is better that way around than the other now we've got no gravel crews. It was a very interesting rally with the rain coming on one day of the event. It just goes to show how this place can change from plus 40 to really, really slippery conditions.
Q: Sebastien Your championship lead is stretched a bit now. Are you feeling comfortable?
SL: Like Petter said there are nine more to go. Sure I have a good lead, nine points is interesting, but nine points is one victory for Petter and one retirement for me and it is finished. It's big and it's nothing. We have to keep concentrated and see after this.
Q: Guy What about Citroen's lead in the manufacturers' championship?
GF: Yes it suits, but it's not finished. We've only done seven rallies. It's nine more. There's a long way and it's very difficult to say the aim of the championship. We need to wait a little bit more to think about the championship. I would like to congratulate Sebastien, Daniel, Carlos, Marc, all of the team and Michelin because everything was good in this rally. The combination of Sebastien and Daniel, the Xsara and the Michelin tyre was very good on this rally. It's very important that we can show the car is very fast on this surface. Sebastien and Daniel showed that they are able to win on the gravel it's their second but really their first win. They won on the tarmac, the snow and now the gravel. I hope that it's good for the future.
Q: Daniel How hot was it inside the car? Was it difficult to concentrate?
DE: Yes because I don't like the hot. I prefer in Sweden, when it's cold. When it's hot in the car I get a lot of perspiration on the notes. You get no air in the car and it's 50 or 60 degrees in the car and for the conditions, look at Carlos yesterday -- it's difficult.
Q: Marcus We move to Argentina, which was the last rally you officially won one year ago. Will we see more improvements on the 307? How good are your chances of repeating that victory?
MG: Yes there could be. We are testing in Finland next week. We should have something new for the transmission, maybe not the gearbox. I'm really looking forward to the perfect rally. I'm looking forward to the win.
Q: Timo This year's Rally of Turkey was a very different rally to last year. How did the two compare in terms of organisation and quality of stages.
TR: The stages were fantastic compared to last year. The roads were faster as we wished. The surface was good, they were re-graded after the strong winter. The time controls were a little bit confusing, they didn't really know exactly what to do. The flexi-service and early check in after the leg were okay, but from the scale from zero to ten I would give nine or nine and a half. Only the paperwork before the rally I would give six and a half.
Q: Petter You have always been close to the leaders, but never close enough. What was missing? Was it the engine, the set-up or the tyres?
PS: It was the co-drivers' fault. It's always something and I know what it is. I don't want to talk about it. It will not happen next rally.
Q: Phil do you agree with Petter's analysis that it's your fault?
PM: We've got a lot of answers for our performance on this rally. It's something that will be sorted out. To sum our event up, it was one watersplash too much. To lose all that horsepower for 33km, there was no chance we would recover from that. It will be sorted out.
MG and SL: Good, in Argentina plenty of watersplash!!
Q: Guy Does this victory mean that Sebastien is now the complete driver?
GF: I think we know before that he can win in every surface, but we know that it is a difficult championship. Every competitor and manufacturer is on a good level. We need to be careful and to work very hard, to continue to push to try to win for the future.
Q: Daniel What do you think?
DE: It's the perfect driver with the perfect co-driver -- and the perfect car.
Junior World Rally Championship
Q: PG an incredibly close battle today. It was 0.9s going into the final two. How confident were you?
PGA: Not confident at all, but I thought if I could make the long stage the second time without any punctures, I thought I could make the win. Then in the long stage the gearbox broke and I lost third gear. I though that's it, I'm out, but we managed to fix the gearbox and come through the last stage. It was good to finish without third gear. I was really, really happy to come back to the service.
Q: Jonas You had a plan for the rally?
JA: It was something we decided before the rally. We did some good stages times before the rally, but we'd had some bad luck and we'd crashed out of some rallies. We thought we would take it easy on the first day and see how the others were going. That was the plan.
Q: PG the next event is Finland. Very good for Scandinavians, what are your thoughts?
PGA: I think we'll go at full speed from the first stage to the last one and hopefully we will be in first place. Kosti will still be looking for the victory.
Q: Jonas What did you say to each other before the last stages? Were you nervous?
JA: We didn't say so much really. We were just saying good luck and lets get to the finnish.
Q: PG Could you have driven quicker?
PGA: I could have driven faster, but I don't know for how long. It could have been like Greece.