WRC

Wales Rally GB: Post-event press conference

Present: 1st - Sebastien Loeb, Citroen Total World Rally Team 1st - Daniel Elena, Citroen Total World Rally Team 2nd - Petter Solberg, Petter Solberg World Rally Team 2nd - Chris Patterson, Petter Solberg World Rally Team 3rd - Jari-Matti...

Present:
1st - Sebastien Loeb, Citroen Total World Rally Team
1st - Daniel Elena, Citroen Total World Rally Team
2nd - Petter Solberg, Petter Solberg World Rally Team
2nd - Chris Patterson, Petter Solberg World Rally Team
3rd - Jari-Matti Latvala, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
3rd - Miikka Anttila, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Olivier Quesnel, Team Manager, Citroen Total World Rally Team

Q: Sebastien, you clinch the final win of the season and the last win in the Citroen C4, congratulations! It was a great battle! How are you feeling?

SL: I'm feeling very happy and relieved because it has been a tough battle; really fast and really impressive on this rally. Petter was pushing really hard and I know that he would never give up so I had to push on the limit. I had a few moments yesterday but we had to take those risks and I really wanted to do my best to win, especially here for the last race in the C4. It was something I really wanted and we've done it. I have so many memories of the car. I admire Petter behind the steering wheel, but I also admire what he has done with his team and his motivation to build his own team. I hope he will be with us (next year).

Q: What has been your best memory with the car?

SL: For me it was France, two rallies ago. It was an incredible feeling for me and nearly the best moment of my career. I can compare it to my first title in 2002 in Corsica. In France there were so many fans, all my friends and family were there and to have that result in my home town was really great. Maybe it's my best memory of this car.

Q: How much are you looking forward to 2011 with a brand new car?

SL: For sure I am looking forward. I am happy to finish with a victory with the C4, and now it is a new challenge and I am happy. We start with a new car, new regulations, and a new driving style. We have a lot of things to learn and improve. For sure a lot of work but I hope it is in the right way for the Championship. It's a good car to drive, and we have to fight a bit more with it.

Q: Did you feel 'safe' at any point in the rally where you thought 'Okay, Petter can't catch me now'?

SL: In the middle of the third stage of the day I felt, 'okay, this is going in the right direction' but before that I really had to push hard because in that first stage in the morning we were equal. At the end of that stage I took a little advantage and in the next one he took a little time -- I think he hit a stone a little bit. And then the gap was a bit stronger and I was a bit more confident, but 4.1s was not enough to lead. So I started to push in the next one and in the middle of that stage it was okay.

Q: Daniel, is it a relief to know that you guys have come through with the win after being so close?

DE: When you have Petter behind you it's never easy. Okay, the gap at one stage today was 14.3s and it's easier because you have to keep 0.5 ahead each kilometre. It's easy to have a mistake in this race because it is very muddy. When it rains it is better grip for everybody. With the mud it is very difficult and your concentration must be maximum. When you have Petter snapping at your heels it is not easy.

Q: Petter, an incredible battle throughout the weekend! You began the day just 4.8 seconds behind Sebastien, but you couldn't seem to match his pace today. Where did it go wrong?

PS: Basically, we go into every rally to fight and that's it. We had good confidence and the car worked really well and we could push hard, but then he took some time in that stage this morning and we didn't have a chance. If it had been raining it would have been much easier to be closer but that's how it is. I had great fun, good fighting and really attacking and it wasn't meant to be. Next year, maybe.

Q: What about next year then? There are rumours surrounding you about next year and the fact that you are still talking to Citroen. What is the fact behind that?

PS: Honestly there is nothing yet for next year. You can talk to as many people as you want but unless anything is happening 100per cent you can't do anything. I am very motivated: I want to drive and I want to fight still, you know? It will come but we just have to see what's happening. If I can't get everything together I just have to find a different sport. There are only two manufacturers in the World Championship of rallying and okay, I think everybody thinks the same as me in that it is a little bit disappointing but what can you do? I can only do my best.

Q: Eight podiums for you this year, it has been a great season with a huge amount of effort from all the team! You secure third position in the Championship, what does that mean to you?

PS: Honestly, we can't do better than this. The team has worked flat-out all year and if people think it's easy to just get a proper car and go fast then let me say, it's not easy. There is so much work behind the scenes that goes on and everybody is very pleased to get podiums in the World Championship. Second or third, it doesn't matter, as long as you are on the podium that is the main thing. Personally speaking, I haven't seen my wife and son that much for two years because I've been flying all the time and in meetings with sponsors and testing, and then each rally. So it's maybe lucky I am still married! Okay, we have the same passion luckily.

Q: Chris, congratulations, second here in Wales. What a season it has been for you coming in from Bulgaria. How are you feeling at the end of it?

CP: It's been a fantastic experience, a real journey. It's been an honour for me. Petter and I work well and have fun and try hard all the time as we're both competitive guys. It's fantastic. Let's hope we can go on from this into next year.

Q: What the atmosphere in the car between you two like today as you tried to catch Sebastien and Daniel?

CP: I'm fluent in Norwegian swear words, let me tell you! Yes it is frustrating and both of us are frustrated because we were trying. But there was nothing really we could do.

Q: Jari-Matti, congratulations on taking third in the event and second in the Championship! How are you feeling?

J-ML: At the end of the year it feels really good. Okay, I don't have the same speed as him but at least I can confirm to myself that I have the consistency which I have been missing. Now it is on the level that you can start fighting for the Drivers' title.

Q: The event got off to a great start on Friday, with a fantastic battle between four drivers. How much on your limit were you on Friday?

J-ML: I have a lot of experience on this rally now and I started really focused and it felt good. But on Myherin second time through we had a problem with the windscreen. It was getting misty and maybe I was getting frustrated with that and took a wrong line over the crest and took the tyre off the rim. On the last kilometre the tyre exploded and broke the whole corner. Pieces were coming inside the car from the tyre and the carbon pieces from the side panels too, so I thought, okay, I need to back off a lot if I'm to not destroy the car. So I lost even more time with that. But it was my mistake and I thought then that I had lost my chances for the Championship, but luckily we kept going because things changed.

Q: And how was it today between you and Mikko?

J-ML: We basically had a free hand until the last stage. I came in front of him, but it wasn't easy. I had a problem with the steering column this morning so I couldn't push as hard as I wanted. Generally I felt I could be quicker than him without the problems, but Mikko was doing a really good job. He drove well all weekend and it was a very nice thing that he did to slow down. I kept going normally until the finish line because I didn't want to know what was happening.

Q: Miikka, how much are you looking forward to the new season and the new car?

MA: For sure, we are both looking forward to that car. The car is new, and I think all the cars will be quite equal because they have been developed at the same time. We will also have a new tyre, from Pirelli to Michelin. And I think that also will be an opportunity to make the season difficult. But it will be very interesting.

Q: After what was not a great year last year, this year has been better, with two wins -- one at home and one in New Zealand. How satisfying is it to finish up in the runners up spot?

MA: It has been very satisfying. I think if I had put a bet on twelve months ago that we would be second in the World Championship I would have made a good salary. But I didn't!

Q: Olivier, it's a Citroen that takes the final honours here at Wales Rally GB, a great event for Sebastien and a fantastic 2010 season for the team! But how is development going for the DS3 rally car?

OQ: The new car is going well and we shall be ready for Sweden next season. The objective remains the same as in previous years, in that we will get the best Championship result we can.

Q: What about Dani Sordo? Will he still be part of the team in any way?

OQ: Dani is part of the family because we can't forget that with Dani we have got both titles. He has scored for the Manufacturers' for the last two years and unfortunately we have to find the full budget for Dani so it will be very complicated, but maybe we have an opportunity, we will see.

Q: What about Petter Solberg? He has done a great job for Citroen this year. Are you talking to him at the moment about next year? Is there any room for him?

OQ: If we talk together, I don't think there will be room for any other people!

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Martin Holmes
Martin Holmes Rallying, UK

Q: Sebastien and Olivier, what have been your feelings about your three years with Pirelli?

SL: For me it has gone better than expected. When we were told about the new regulations about no mousse in the tyre we were a bit afraid that it would cause problems. But I think they have done a very good job. We were able to push everywhere on nearly every surface with strict regulations for the tyre. I think they did a good job.

Greg Strange
World Rally Radio, UK

Q: Sebastien, what did you mean when you said you'd like Petter "with us" next season. What did you mean? Petter in the WRC or Petter in Citroen?

SL: I meant in the WRC. I don't get involved in his discussions with different teams. I meant I really admire what he has done and I hope he can continue.

Q: Olivier, what about Kimi Raikkonen? Is there a place for him with Citroen next year?

OQ: We were pleased to get the solution with Petter and Kimi this year and will do our best to find a solution for them both.

Reiner Kuhn
Motorsport Aktuell, Switzerland

Q: Sebastien, what do you think about the other Sebastian (Vettel) as World Champion today?

SL: I know him a bit and I'm happy for him. He seems a very nice guy. I am happy for Red Bull as they have titles in Formula 1 and now in WRC. He's done the perfect job today.

FIA SUPER 2000 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP (EVENT)
1st - Andreas Mikkelsen
1st - Ola Floene

Q: Congratulations Andreas, winning your first SWRC event and your first event on gravel in the Skoda! How are you feeling?

AM: It's been a great weekend but it hasn't been easy. The first day went well in the slippery conditions and the feeling was good, and I had a lot of confidence. Going into the second day of course Jari Ketomaa started pushing, and definitely after the midday service things were just getting crazy. We were both pushing really, really hard and eventually he went off on the first stage this morning and it made it a little bit easy for us. Although I had been running the car on tarmac before, this was my first time with it on gravel. We had a small test before the rally and I got a feel for it and it just felt right from the beginning of the first stage. We were able to push straight away. The car is amazing.

Q: You competed in Scotland a couple of weeks ago, do you think the experiences on gravel up there helped you here?

AM: Yes, in one way the stages look quite similar and we had a good run in Scotland and got our confidence up on those types of roads. To bring that result to this rally definitely helps.

Q: What does it mean to take a win in SWRC in the final event of the season?

AM: The main feeling is that we had a great start with Skoda UK and the co-operation there just shows what potential we have for next year. Hopefully we can continue to put on a good show.

Q: Ola, congratulations, a great event for you both; were there any problems at all?

OF: I don't have enough time to answer this! This morning the man at the hotel reception said to me "see you later," and I turned around and replied "I hope so!" because I knew what was going on this morning. I saw Ketomaa was moving and running up and I thought, okay, I need to tighten my seatbelts. For sure it was on the limit in there, but as they say, you have to take a risk and never be discouraged.

Q: What does it mean to you to take a win here up against some fantastic competition, and so much pressure from Jari Ketomaa today?

OF: I thought it was very positive to have this competition. You're always gaining experience and learning more every stage you do, especially when the standard of competition is so high. It's been a good season.

FIA SUPER 2000 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONS (*subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA)
1st - Xavier Pons
1st - Alex Haro

Q: Congratulations on winning the first FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship! How does it feel?

XP: It's been a very good season with two wins and two seconds. But in the middle of the season it was not easy for us, and the tarmac results were not good. Finally here in this rally Jari Ketomaa and Andreas Mikkelsen set some incredible times on the first day. I just drove to finish the rally and it was perfect.

Q: How much pressure were you feeling through the weekend?

XP: A lot, because of the times. My speed was different from the other guys. Finally today it was easier for me because I saw Jari outside of the road and I knew I just had to drive to the finish to win.

Q: Alex how did it feel crossing the line today?

AH: It was an incredible feeling. I need to go to the hotel and lie down! I am very happy with everything. The team worked very well and very hard all season to win and finally we do it -- it's incredible.

Q: What did you think when you passed Jari Ketomaa today?

AH: I saw him in the stage and knew that it would be easy for us, but we needed to keep concentration. I am sorry for him but that's rallying!

FIA PRODUCTION CAR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP (EVENT)
1st - Ott Tanak
1st - Kuldar Sikk

Q: Ott, your first time competing at Wales Rally GB. A lot of drivers need a good bit of experience behind them to be able to come here and be able to take a win in their class but you made it look easy out there for the best part. I bet it wasn't easy though?

OT: No it wasn't easy for sure. The first day it took time to get used to it. The first stage was quite tricky for us. The feeling maybe wasn't the best but mainly it went well I think. The second day when Patrick (Flodin) was attacking us very hard it was quite a big pressure for us but anyway, it worked out.

Q: It did work out and when Patrick had problems, you had quite a big lead, a huge lead in fact. Was that distracting? Was it difficult to really concentrate when you didn't have any pressure from behind?

OT: We had quite a few victories lost this year like this, it was difficult for sure. Anyway, we made it and that's it.

Q: You did say at the stage end that it was a bit of a tourist drive for you today. It's a good result for you, but what does it mean in terms of you for next year? How much now will this show the rest of the world your potential for next season?

OT: I don't know, that's in two days maybe. I hope so but I should sort something out quite soon I think. That's it.

Q: So what will we see you in? There are lots of rumours going around at the moment about where we will see you next year.

OT: That's it.

Q: Kuldar, is there anything more you can tell me maybe?

KS: No!

Q: Let's talk about the weekend itself then. What's it been like out there this time around?

KS: Sure it was quite a tough weekend. On Friday we had some problems underneath the car. On Saturday we had quite a big fight with Patrick. He was trying to gain back time and we were trying to keep him behind and finally we came out as the winners. It was quite a good weekend.

Q: You have both been a part of the Pirelli Star Drivers scheme this year. Ott how do you think this has helped you this year?

OT: I think quite a lot because its my first season in WRC. Everything was new for me. I think it was the best way for me to learn and I think it's been very useful for me.

Q: What about you Kuldar?

KS: For sure the Pirelli Star project was good for all of us, the five drivers. I tried to take the best out of that and I think in the end we did quite well.

FIA PRODUCTION CAR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONS (*subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA)
1st - Armindo Araujo
1st - Miguel Ramalho

Q: You have successfully defended your PWRC crown, the only driver in PWRC history to do that. Congratulations, how are you feeling?

AA: I'm very happy, thank you very much. I think we worked very well during these years. Since the beginning we prepared very well, all the events we test a lot. The car is always new, so the team put a lot of resources in to be Champions again. I have not committed any mistakes during the season, I finished all the events on the podium, so I'm World Champion again, I'm very happy!

Q: Talk to me about the event itself. Obviously Flodin was here competing. He started off incredibly well, but you were never really out of touch with the top five. Did you feel any pressure at all this weekend?

AA: Of course some pressure because if Flodin wins then I have to finish in sixth place, so we try to control Patrick in our speed but not taking much more risks. I think I only had one problem at the end of the first day when I needed to change the turbo, but nothing special. During the day there is some pressure of course but everything went okay and in the end we took second place, we win the Championship, so it was a good weekend for us!

Q: What has the atmosphere been like in the car because there has not been a huge amount of pressure as you had a points advantage going into this weekend, but Rally GB is such a tough event. We have seen a lot of drivers fall by the wayside. How did it feel in the car, was it a good atmosphere?

MR: Yes, always a good atmosphere, but for me, entering the last control is where the rally finishes and after this it was easy, but during the rally there is always the same concentration.

Q: And in terms of difficulty out there this weekend, we saw some incredible conditions on Friday, lots of rain, very muddy but it hasn't been too bad, we've seen worse Rally GB's weather wise.

MR: I think this year it is nice here for the rally.

Q: What does it mean for both of you to say "we have successfully defended our crown this year"? What does it mean to you Miguel?

MR: For me, the next victory is always the best!

Q: Is there anything you can tell us now about your plans for next year?

AA: Firstly I want to be in the World Championship again. We are trying some different ways to be here next year. We are trying with the Group N, with the World Rally Car, with the Super 2000. We are checking everything and we will see what is possible. For the sporting side I have some open doors, but I will have to check with my sponsors to see what is possible. I think in the next weeks something will be decided, but I think this result will help in the negotiations.

-source: fia

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