Acropolis Rally pre-event press conference

Jean-Pierre Nicolas (Peugeot) Joan Sureda (Skoda) Gigi Galli (Mitsubishi) Roman Kresta (Ford) Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) Stephane Sarrazin (Subaru) Jean-Pierre Nicolas (Peugeot), Joan Sureda (Skoda) Q: Life is good for Peugeot. You lead the ...

Jean-Pierre Nicolas (Peugeot)
Joan Sureda (Skoda)
Gigi Galli (Mitsubishi)
Roman Kresta (Ford)
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen)
Stephane Sarrazin (Subaru)

Jean-Pierre Nicolas (Peugeot), Joan Sureda (Skoda)

Q: Life is good for Peugeot. You lead the championship as you come in Greece with 4 points.

J.P.N: Yes, we are leading by 4 points, but we are lucky because our car is reliable since the beginning of the year . That’s why at the moment we are leading. It’s a big fight and we have to get some more performance from our car, which I think will come very soon. Our test driver Sebastien Lindholm has done a lot of test last week. We think the car will be better and we hope we’ll have a fantastic presence in Greece.

Q: But how much does your ambition to win the manufacturers championship limits the ambitions of Marcus? I know you will say to him: ”We must have as priority no1 the manufacturers’ championship”.

J.P.N.: At the moment we are waiting. Our main objective is to concentrate all our efforts on the Manufacturers’ Championship as it’s our last year in WRC. Everybody is motivated. We have to improve a little bit maybe our settings, maybe our partnership with Pirelli. We have to work a little bit to improve the performance of the car. The championship is very far, it’s a long way. After this rally we will be at the middle of the championship. The most important is to have always two cars on the finish.

Q: How difficult is for you to motivate Pirelli, motivate the team, motivate the drivers when they thinking Peugeot will not be around next year?

J.P.N.: We are 3 time World Champions. I prefer and everybody in the team wants to finish with 4 victories against of the 2 victories of our friend Citroen.

Q: What are your instructions to Marcus this weekend? What have you told him for this Rally?

J.P.N.: Marcus knows exactly what to do. He knows he can fight with Petter and Sebastien and if he thinks he is able to win he will fight for it. He knows that the most important is to finish and come back with points.

Q: Joan you have three cars this weekend, one more than Jean Pierre.

J.S.: The three cars means we have one more chance. We are expecting on this Mediterranean event some good results. We need to prove to everybody that our car is getting better. Also in Greece Skoda has a big interest on the market. We have to try hard, hard and hard enough for a good result.

Q: What are the areas that you want to work most?

J.S.: I think we have to be improved in all areas. Maybe I have to say the first one must be the suspension and must try to improve our differentials that we are not very happy about. Now we are increasing the number of tests and that’s the reason that makes me believe that we will be improved.

Q: Greece will give you a very good opportunity to test the suspension. Are you confident that the three cars will reach the end?

J.S.: Yes, I’m confident. You know it’s difficult, but this is our target.

Q: You start with a disadvantage because Janne Tuohino starts with one minute penalty because of the troubles he had in Cyprus. Maybe Janne is your best chance, or would have been your best chance and now starts with a penalty.

J.S.: Look, in Cyprus many asked us why we stopped Tuohino. The reason is that in Cyprus we wanted the 3 points, it would be the first time this year to win so many points. It would be for us difficult to explain why we stopped one driver. Nobody can guarantee us that in Greece won’t happen the same. Now, if you look the results of the previous years in Greece you will see that 1 minute penalty is of course a lot of time but I think Janne can reach the top six. In Skoda we have to be confident. We have to prove we can do something good for the future. Everybody in the team have to be proud of us and everybody have to work very hard for a good result.

Q: I asked Jean Pierre if it’s difficult to motivate other partners when he know that the team will not be here next year. But for you, what’s the future for Skoda

J.S.: We are working to be here also next year. Also if you have read the news of FIA we asked to count on the championship 13 races rather than 16 that counts today. Today the championship is too expensive for manufacturers. There is something wrong with the championship. At the end of the season Peugeot and Citroen will finish. If continue in this way all entries will go down. So I thing something is wrong. I think the first step is the budget. We must to do something to allow more and more manufacturers to join us.

Gigi Galli (Mitsubishi), Roman Kresta (Ford)

Q: Did you have an interesting shakedown?

GG: Yes I have a problem with my last co-driver, but otherwise everything was ok. (the MC was taken by Galli for a ride)

Q: You have led rallies, you have fastest times, fast rallies, and you won SS’s, now you have to get a podium?

GG: OK that ‘s easy... We started very well the season, we have to be very happy about the improvement of the car, now we need some lucky, to reach some good results for everybody.

Q: Is that luck, or is that work on certain areas that make the difference?

GG: It is not only one thing. Everybody has to work in a right way, and everything has to work in achieving a good result, like we did until now. We hope to continue that way, and I am sure this will be.

Q: Are you frustrated, angry after what happened after your great Friday in Turkey? When I ask you, have you forgot your anger now?

GG: This is my life philosophy. During the Turkey Rally it was plenty of good things, good sensation from myself, Guido and for all my team, and only one bad thing. Were do I have to be focused? On the plenty of the good things, or on the one bad thing?

Q: This will be the last Weekend of Mario Fornaris with you. How are you going to send him away?

GG: It is quite difficult to say. What I can say is that it was surprising bad news, but I can’t do anything. Only to say thanks, it was a good relationship between Mario and me, and also because his is Italian. I hope to continue my personal relationship with him.

Q: I guess you that as you are friends with Mario, and he gave answers to your questions, now that he finishes, what happens?

GG: As I say before there are a lot of great persons in the team, and they can help me take decisions.

Q: It is what English say, “foot down” this weekend. You can go at every speed you like. Malcolm has given you instructions to go for it.

RK: I have spoken with Malcolm, and he said, OK, you can drive fast. Drive quickly, you are freehand. It was my idea for sure. This race is so difficult and very easy to make mistake. But I was here on 2003 and 2004 and some stages are similar.

Q: Have you wanted to push earlier but have to wait until now?

RK: For sure I would like to have been gone faster with the WRC.

Q: You are under pressure, you have been asked to drive faster, do you enjoy more?

RK: No isn’t a pressure to drive quicker, but we have confidence because Sardinia and Cyprus were new for me, but OK, in Greece I remember some stages; it is not easy for us. I know how to drive faster.

Q: And you say it was your idea, you want it to have a real go.

RK: No it is Malcolm’s and my idea.

Q: It is instruction of Malcolm to give your chance this weekend

RK: For sure.

Q: And how does the team work on things like this? What else happens around you?

RK: Everybody is working hard for us, and we need better results than before. I also want to finish and score points for the team. Confidence is better, I would like to go as fast as possible and finish.

Q: And what would you like to achieve this weekend? Do you hope for podium, or just for points?

RK: It is difficult to say, there are many good cars. Many good drivers, I would like top seats, but we will see.

Stephane Sarrazin (Subaru), Sebastien Loeb (Citroen)

Q: Stephane I will start with you. Your second WRC gravel event. It is still all new to you, driving on gravel?

SS: Yes, it is new, but I have more experience since Sardinia. I have a very good feeling, so we will see. I will try to get improved on every stage and every day. And we will see after that.

Q: You have to learn very quickly.

SS: Sure, I have to learn very quick, the level is very high. But I have a very good feeling, so I try to push. And we will see the times.

Q: Do you think that Subaru give you a lot of advice and help on gravel? And if so, what did they say?

SS: I have every data from Petter and Chris, I can see everything, and I have a very good car. My car is incredible fast, so what I need is to learn.

Q: You have a very good car for Greece and very good tyres, so you have a very good pedigree.

SS: Yes exactly. The race is very good and what I need is to improve myself, my pace notes and the control of the car. We will see immediately tomorrow.

Q: Give as a quick inside in to your relationship with Denis (Giraudet), on the delivery of pace notes. Are you confident with him?

SS: Yes I am more confident every day. I am looking into doing every recce of the rallies; with this I improve a lot. I know him more now, we are friendlier and it is easier in the car to make improvement every day.

Q: And how do you find Greece? What is your opinion after the recce?

SS: Fantastic. I prefer these stages. Little wider than in Sardinia, better, less rough, less destroying, less rocks. I will drive smoothly and we will see. But the stages are very good.

Q: Do you remember your early days on gravel on the beginning of your career? Do you have any words of advice for Stephane?

SL: I think I started on gravel here in Greece with the WRC on 2002, and I remember I wasn’t so easy, because we didn’t have the best car. I was fighting with Radstrom, because we were in the same car, and I remember that in the last stage that we will drive tomorrow, I lost one minute from the fastest time, who was achieved by Carlos or Colin, I think. It was not so easy, but after that we worked with the team, and year after year is getting better.

Q: At the moment you certainly have the best car, because you won four rallies, but you have never won here. So how is going to be this year?

SL: I hope we can fight for the victory here this year. Sure I know I finished second behind Petter, but last year we also finished second in Sardinia behind Petter, and this year we won. So I think nothing is impossible. The car is good, we won the four last rallies, it seems very good for us for the moment and I hope we can continue. But OK, I also know that Peugeot and Subaru work a lot in the last rallies, and they will try to do their best. I hope it will be an interesting race.

Q: There is a lot slippery gravel for you out there to swap. So what about starting first on the road?

SL: I think it will be not an advantage to be the first one in the road. I will lose some time. But my most important rival is Petter, who is starting second, so I will not lose so much time. It is difficult to know. Of course our rivals starting after the 10th place will go very fast, but I hope that with Marcus and Petter I will not have a big gap.

Q: From listening to Petter this morning, he sounded that he will take risks and he is out in a fight. Because he has to be out for a fight. You?

SL: I know Petter he is always fighting. He never stops, never retires, before the end of the rally, until the last stage. Every time is a difficult fight. But I am ready also.

Q: But is easier for him, because he has not to think about Guy and manufacturers Championship. You have your own aim, but also have to contribute to the manufactures Championship. You almost have to do twice the job.

SL: Yes but if I win it’s very good for both championships. It is always interesting to fight for the victory, but if it is too risky to fight for the victory, we can lift up, to finish second, but for the moment I hope we can fight.

Q: Can you take the same risks, that Petter can?

SL: It is not only by taking risks that you can go fast. For me if I take risk, make some mistake here, and for me to go fast, the most important is to be concentrated. We have to be very precise, and not to make any mistakes. So I will try to do that.


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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Stéphane Sarrazin , Sébastien Loeb , Jean-Pierre Nicolas , Roman Kresta , Gianluigi Galli , Janne Tuohino
Teams Citroën World Rally Team