Acropolis Rally: Post-event press conference

1st - Sebastien Loeb - Daniel Elena, Citroen 2nd - Toni Gardemeister - Jakke Honkanen, Ford 3rd - Carlos Sainz - Marc Marti, Citroen 1st Manufacturer - Guy Frequelin, Citroen 1st JWRC - P.G. Andersson - Jonas Andersson,...

1st - Sebastien Loeb - Daniel Elena, Citroen
2nd - Toni Gardemeister - Jakke Honkanen, Ford
3rd - Carlos Sainz - Marc Marti, Citroen

1st Manufacturer - Guy Frequelin, Citroen

1st JWRC - P.G. Andersson - Jonas Andersson, Suzuki

Q: Sebastien, congratulations. You seemed to control the rally from the end of leg one, just how hard was this event?

SL: Acropolis is never easy, something can happen until the end. The stages are really difficult, there are stones, it’s twisty and tricky in places. You really have to keep concentration for all the rally. Okay for me it was a good fight on day one, then we had the lead after Marcus had a problem. After that it was another race, but still not so easy. I know it’s easy to break something here. The car was good. I’ve won five rallies one after the other because the team is very strong. We make a strong car and then from earlier in the season we have the new tyres. It’s a bit from all this that means we can win like this.

Q: That’s a fantastic record…

SL: For sure, it’s very nice to have the record. We just equal Didier Auriol, but for me it’s not the most important – the points are the most important; I think the championship and the manufacturers’. The third place for Carlos, is a fantastic result for Citroen. After that the record is more exciting, but it’s not the most important.

Q: Guy, what did you think of the record?

GF: It’s fantastic. They have more experience, the team worked very hard on the car. the team did a very good job on the car. It’s very important for the team. I am very happy for the result, for Sebastien and Daniel and also for Carlos and Marc. It was not easy for them to decide to come and do some rallies for us. They were very important for the team, and for the result. It’s difficult in English for me. I am very happy with the result. After seven months, Carlos and Marc were at the rally and present when I ask them to come to help us. It’s very important to have a friend like this – so reliable in the life. I will say also, it’s very important for Michelin, after last weekend in F1, to have three cars on the podium. It’s a very good weekend, thanks very much to Michelin, to Sebastien, Daniel, Carlos, Marc and the whole team.

Q: How did this event compare to previous Acropolis Rallies?

DE: Yes sure, it’s more good because the stages like Stromi were very hard. Today the first stage was very rough, this was a real Acropolis Rally.

Q: Toni, there was a lot of pressure on you before this event, but you delivered. Talk us through your rally…

TG: Okay, the rally was okay for us. We start to push quite a lot at the start and we had no problems during the rally at all, only some very small things. It has gone very well, we try to push at the maximum and avoid problems. We all worked very well with the team to get here.

Q: How hard did you push this morning in your fight with Carlos?

TG: For sure, that is not easy when Carlos is close behind. For me the most difficult stages in the rally was the last two. It was very difficult to keep the car on the road at a safe speed.

Q: Jakke, how does this rate among your performances this season?

JH: Surely this was the best for us. The season started well, but in this rally we were fighting all the time for the podium, we had some bad luck in Cyprus and Sardinia. We had the chance of finishing in the top three on those rallies, then we had a difficult rally in Turkey, there was a lot of pressure here. We really had to fight together to do better and we are very happy to do it.

Q: So, do you think you have done enough to keep your place at Ford next season?

JH: At the moment it feels really good, also that we have been able to make our performance better and better in every rally. The best rallies for us is coming at the moment, I feel very confident.

Q: Carlos, is this really the end for you?

CS: Yeah. You can be sure I’m not going to do any more WRC. I have been long enough. It was a difficult decision to do what we decided to do. I am very pleased with the two results of the last two rallies, you have to think that going off the road or something was going to be a disaster. I am very satisfied with the two results. At the same time I wish Citroen to continue in the championship. I’m sure they’re going to be very, very strong . I have a lot of pleasure in this and Turkey. I’m very happy to end this period of more than 15 years with a podium. I win here 15 years ago and now I have a podium here. I will check from time to time to see what is happening in the sport and the championship. I will see if Martin Holmes has the same trousers or how is my hair, but not with the helmet.

Q: Did you enjoy the event?

CS: You can be sure I enjoy a lot the driving, I think you can see this from the outside. But there was a lot of pressure. You have to perform and do well with a lot of pressure. That was the priority if I was coming back, if I wasn’t there in the race it would be a disaster. I enjoyed my seven months off. I did not miss the rally. When I decided to come back, I realised how much I love rally and all of the teams, the drivers, the people. It has been my life. I have a great pride for driving this last rally.

Q: What did you think of the way Toni drove?

CS: Toni did a fantastic rally, but when I saw this morning – in the first stage – the first time I drive fast – not crazy – but it was very clear in my mind, I don’t want to risk the result for the team. I’m not doing the drivers‘ championship. It was very clear the best result for the team was Sebastien to win and me to be on the podium. For me to fight with Toni, I would have to take the risk. I would not accept it if I put all this effort in to the rally and then end in the ditch. The final result is that Citroen is leading and that was my aim, so I am really, really pleased. I hope at the end of the year this effort from myself and Marc will pay off.

Q: What are your plans now?

CS: I think everybody knows I signed with VW for Dakar. I am doing some testing and some event driving, then I go to Dakar. I have a lot of learning, I’m prepared for that. I’m prepared to look and work. I think it will be a nice challenge. Then I see the result. As is said, I will come and visit you. I hope the world championship progresses; I hope there are more manufacturers coming; I hope the FIA takes the right decision to keep alive this sport. I really hope the family of rally can progress and be strong for the future. (Applause)

Q: Marc how did it feel to be back with Carlos?

MM: Sure, it was a nice surprise to come back in Turkey and do the rally. For me, it was like Carlos, we only try to do our job and try to push for Citroen and take as much points. We did and then of course it was a pleasure to be back in the car with Carlos and do my job as well as I can. We are leading the championship, which is nice. Now I’m back with Dani.

Q: Marc, how will it feel going back to a JWRC car after this?

MM: It is quite difficult emotionally. It’s not so easy. With Carlos you know you are sitting right, I am confident with him. I am confident with Dani, but I know Carlos knows what he is doing. Dani is 22 yeas old, he’s a young guy. He is very good and very fast, but you have to keep looking all the time, the notes, everything, it’s not so easy.

Q: Seb, back to you, how does this compare to Le Mans?

CS: For sure, it was a bit different. Le Mans was more difficult, everything was new. I know the Xsara, this kind of road, I find the feeling immediately. There it was harder, the Le Mans car has a lot of grip, especially in the high-speed. I had to adapt my rhythm, but after some testing it was okay. It was not difficult to change to Greece, it was harder to change to Le Mans.

Q: Guy, how many more can he win?

GF: I hope they will continue, sure it’s not so easy to win the rally. We saw that the other manufacturers are now more close, Ford and Peugeot did a very good job and for sure it’s more difficult to win in the future.

Q: And Carlos, will you miss him? And do you have 100 per cent confidence in Francois?

GF: I think Carlos will drive in Argentina… no, it’s a joke. Ask Carlos. If I decided to keep Francois in the team it’s because I’m confident in him.

Q: Congratulations, P.G. what was you plan here?

PGA: No I didn’t have a plan. Before the first stage I was thinking I should go hard and get some time. I did that and we didn’t have any problems. We went quicker again latter on Friday and then on Saturday I backed off, some of the other guys had more problems and then today we could just back off a little bit more.

Q: What do you think of the championship now?

PGA: The championship is still very open. It’s close, I have been waiting for victory this season and it’s here. It’s also nice because it’s exact 12 months since I had my first victory in JWRC.

Q: Did you have any problems at all on the event?

JA: The car worked very well, no punctures or anything. No problems at all.

Q: How hard was this event in a JWRC car?

JA: It’s normal like last year, really tough, but they worked hard on the roads. Okay it’s still Greece so the roads are rough, but quite a few of the stages were okay. It wasn’t a totally clean run, but not so bad as last year when we had five punctures.

Q: You didn’t have any punctures, are you surprised?

PGA: Like I said, we pushed on Friday, drove over the biggest rocks and maybe we were a bit lucky. On Saturday and Sunday we drove around them, but the road was cleaner.

Q: This was the end of the road for the Ignis, how do you feel about that?

PGA: Maybe there are still some rallies for this car, but it showed today the Ignis is still a good car. On a rough event this is still the best car where there are rocks. It’s a strong car.


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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Sébastien Loeb , Guy Frequelin , Daniel Elena , Marc Marti , Toni Gardemeister , Jonas Andersson
Teams Citroën World Rally Team