FIA World Rally Championship
2004 Tour de Corse - Rallye de France
FIA Pre-event Press Conference
Daniel Carlsson, Peugeot Bozian
Stephane Sarrazin, Subaru FFSA
Markko Martin, Ford
Freddy Loix, Peugeot
Sebastien Loeb, Citroën
Petter Solberg, Subaru
Q: Daniel, you have not had such an easy morning. Can you tell us what happened ?
Daniel Carlsson: We only had one hour of the shakedown and on the first loop we had some problem with overheating and had to stop on the road. We didn't have time to fix the car and couldn't do a full run, which is not ideal.
Q: Petter Solberg, who won here last year, had a very bad start then after crashing, so does that make you optimistic ?
DC: No, it is not going to be easy. I didn't have even one kilometre of testing on tarmac this season, not one, just driving Rally Deutschland. So it's quite a big step from this rally. My chances of winning are quite minimal really.
Q: How much of a problem will your inexperience be here ? You have not completed so many rallies what do you think of the stages here ?
Stephane Sarrazin: It is a very nice rally. We did 2 stages this morning and I liked it a lot. It is very technical, very fast on average, but I think it will be fantastic for us to drive here. I have done around 10 rallies so far, and this is my 2nd WRC and I am just very happy to be here. Question: You had a fantastic result in Germany, and set some excellent times, although the asphalt in Germany is very different to here. Are you confident you can be as quick here as in Germany ?
SS: I don't know if I will be quicker than in Germany but I will try to confirm my results. In Germany it was wet and difficult, with lots of mud. Here it will be more like the roads in the French Championship. I have a very good car, a very good set-up but my target is to continue to learn and to do as many kilometers as possible. We will start normally and try to improve during the rally.
Q: You are representing the 'Equipe de France' in this rally, as Sebastien Loeb did not so many years ago. Does this add to your motivation?
SS: For me, it is very important for me to carry the French colours. I am very happy to represent the Equipe de France. Sebastien Loeb is an example to us as he learned very fast and is leading the World Championship, which I hope he will win, and he is a good example for all French drivers. We need to learn. Maybe we will see in the future.
Q: Daniel, this is also the second rally for you on asphalt in a World Rally Car. But Germany was very different from this event - what do you think will be your biggest challenge ?
DC: Of course my approach will be to learn as much as possible on this rally. I will aim to set a decent pace, to find a good rhythm, learn to trust the pace notes and push a bit harder on the second loop. As long as stays dry then will be a very nice rally. When it starts to rain very difficult. The Saturday stages that we recce'd today will be very demanding if it is raining a lot.
Q: the last rally you drove was Great Britain, in the Peugeot 307. How does the 206 compare ?
DC: Mainly it is down to the technical point of view, with active differentials and so on. Obviously it is a bit easier to get the car to your own driving style with such features. But I think the 206 is very nice to drive, but of course the 307 would be even nicer. Question: The 206 has a good record here. Do you think it is well suited to the twisty nature of the stages ?
DC: As I didn't get to test it yet, I can't answer that question. For sure, the car is more suitable to these kinds of roads than to Germany for example.
Q: How do World Rally Cars like this compare to driving a Formula One car ? Which do you enjoy more ? And how did you get into rallying ?
SS: It is quite different. But the WRC is very technical car, so can do a lot of the setup, just like F1. About the driveability, in Formula One you have a lot of grip all the time, with plenty of g's and many fast corners. But the WRC is very fantastic, it is the top of the rallying world, and I am very happy to be here. I decided to start rallying last winter. I had dreamed of driving a rally car. I was a Formula One test driver, and I have done Le Mans three times. My target was Formula One, but it is very difficult now - you need money or some luck. My target was not to be a third driver or a test driver. So when I saw an advert in the French press for the FFSA Defi Subaru, I decided to enter. I immediately sent in a letter. After we did the competition and I won it. It was very good for me, I need to learn rallying, and I will try to improve very quickly.
Q: What do you think about the result of this rally ?
DC: For sure, the World Championship will go to Sebastien Loeb, that is already decided I think. I think you would need a huge earthquake to change that. I think the same person is in a strong position to win the rally too. But it will be a tough fight. I think Duval can do well here too.
Q: You have a close relationship with Subaru. Do you hope to continue this relationship in 2005 ?
SS: Yes, sure, that is my hope, but first I need to confirm my performance in Germany. I have two rallies to try and it is too early to say anything yet. I am leading the French Championship, with two races to go, and I hope to win in my first year. It is too early to speak about next year, but I hope for a good result here.
Q: What is your impression of the rally route ? There are some new stages - are they good ?
Freddy Loix: I think it is going to be very difficult, especially with these weather conditions. It will be a bit like playing poker, making tyre decisions two hours before going out on the stage, so it will even be more difficult.
Q: Do you like Corsica ?
FL: It is a nice rally but in these conditions, sometimes it can be very tricky if don't have right tyres. But I do like the roads.
Markko Martin: I think it is very good. The stages this year are a bit better than last year. The new ones are not easy, quite demanding, and all are very long. One think I like about this rally, and I think all rallies should learn from that, is that the start times are normal and we finish early - we have a normal working day.
Question: You have just come back from a couple of tests in Corsica and Spain. Did you find something that would help you ?
MM: No, nothing special really; the car is mainly the same as last year, with no big differences. The main thing here is to have a set-up that may never be perfect but which always works. The conditions are so changeable that you are unlikely to be on the right tyres, with the right set-up for most of the stages. I am sure there will be a bit of everything on all stages.
Q: Freddy, the last time you drove the 307 was in Rally Deuschland two months ago. Has the car changed a lot since then ?
FL: No, it is quite similar. We did a few days testing here and did not change so much, only the transmission a bit, and also the suspension, but the base is quite similar compared to Germany. In Germany it was going quite well. Here in Corsica the roads are not really the same. Last year we didn't do the rally, so I was missing the final tuning notes. It will be difficult for everybody in the weather conditions, but I always feel good in the rain, so for me it can stay how it is at the moment. I will try to do as well as in Germany, starting at the same pace, and maybe without problems we can try to have a good result.
Q: Markko , you had a fairly sizeable accident here last year. Will it be at the back of your mind or is it easy to forget about these things ?
MM: I think it is easy now as had a bigger one later so it's history
Q: Your opportunities to drive the car have been limited, although you got a good run in Germany. Do you feel you have a special point to prove here in Corsica ?
FL: Not more than in Germany. Of course I will try to go as quick as possible, as I always do. Some rallies it works well, some rallies are more difficult. At least I try to go flat out from the first stage on and we'll see how it goes at the end of the day.
Q: The World Council discussed ways that the sport may change in the future and become less technologically advanced. What is your feeling on the potential of such a move ?
MM: I don't know. I have no opinion. I am sure there will be another proposal next week.
FL: Of course it will make it a bit cheaper, but if I look back over this year, I think there is more scope to be done elsewhere, rather than putting all the energy in the rally cars. I think a lot of rallies messed up a bit and they could make it cheaper as far as the organization is concerned ?
Q: What are your plans for 2005 ?
FL: I do not have plans yet, but I am working hard. It is not that easy, but if I find something, I will tell you at the end of the year.
MM: I will let you know when I know myself.
Question (Petter Solberg to Sebastien Loeb): This is one rally you haven't won yet ? Why ? Is it the pressure on?
Sebastien Loeb: I don't know. I think this is the third time I have done the rally. Last year I made a mistake, the year before I was not here, in 2001 I was with SS1600. So last year was the first time I could win and I made a mistake. Now we will have to see.
Petter Solberg: Could you make a mistake this year too ?
SL: No !
Question (SL to PS): Does it help you to finish the shakedown with the car in one piece ?
PS: The car is in one piece, which is good. I was a bit stressed in the recce and the shakedown. My heart was pounding but everything is OK. It will be a very interesting rally
Q (SL to PS): Do you think it is going to rain here ? Will that help you ?
PS: Of course, but since Catalunya you have found something special to help you in the wet and we are struggling a bit. But Corsica is a very different tarmac, abrasive and muddy, so it is very different compared with Catalunya. For me it has to rain if I have a chance and you have to do a mistake
Q (PS to SL): Are you just going for 5 points ?
SL: Yes, for five points . And you ?
PS: That is b******t ! I know you will go for a win from the start. That is your aim.
SL: My team wants me in the first four. You don't have to listen to Guy Frequelin every time.
Q (PS to SL: Why don't you go over to Pirelli like Peugeot ? That might help.
SL: It's not up to me to decide. Citroen has all its cars with Michelin and it is going well for the moment, so there is no reason to change.