Cyprus: Post-event press conference

2003 CYPRUS RALLY FIA World Rally Championship, round 7 Sunday, June 22nd, 2003 - 16.15 The conference was held in the media centre at the Hadjipavlou Building in Limassol on Sunday, June 22nd and was attended by: Petter Solberg...

FIA World Rally Championship, round 7
Sunday, June 22nd, 2003 - 16.15

The conference was held in the media centre at the Hadjipavlou Building in Limassol on Sunday, June 22nd and was attended by:

Petter Solberg (Subaru)
Philip Mills (Subaru)
Harri Rovanpera (Peugeot)
Risto Pietilainen (Peugeot)
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen)
Daniel Elena (Citroen)
David Lapworth (Subaru)
Host: Anthony Peacock

AP: Welcome to the press conference at the end of the Cyprus Rally, which was won by Petter Solberg in a Subaru, second Harri Rovanpera in a Peugeot and third Sebastien Loeb in a Citroen. Congratulations to everyone here - a fantastic drive from all of you just to get to the end.

PS: If we can start with you - very well done. Talking to David (Lapworth) earlier on your team boss, you had a plan here and you stuck to it. Can you tell us what that plan was?

PS: Normally I don't like to stick to plans, so after we started that in Greece and tried to be a little calmer on the first day and then drive quicker and quicker. I am very very pleased. Not a single problem at all.

AP: Phil. Congratulations to you. Of course, your second victory. Does it get a little easier the second time around?

PM: I'm not quite so sure about that. The first one was the sweetest, but no it's something I can get used to.

AP: I'm sure you can. David? Petter and Phil have both signed up with Subaru until the end of 2006. Do you think that helped them to achieve this win here?

DL: Certainly being in the Subaru helped! I don't know. You would have to ask Petter that. His approach has changed as we have gone into this season. It went according to his plan. From where I was stood it was one of the most professional, cool and calculated jobs that I have seen. It is a credit to him. If he carries on demonstrating that kind of resolve then the World Championship can't be far away.

AP: How many more wins do you think we can see from these two before the end of the year?

DL: Hopefully quite a few. We felt that we had to wait longer than we ought to for this one. We worked like hell for the rough events from the start of the year. We thought we might get a win before this. It took longer than expected, but we are in a position to get a few more before the end of the season.

AP: Harri. Congratulations. It has not been easy for you to reach the podium. You had quite a drama before the end. What happened?

HR: After first service today morning, I heard big bang and say 'quite heavier' in Finnish. I know what happens. Because car started moving and driveshaft broken. Never happens for me before. But okay we are three minutes in front with Sebastien, but so difficult to finish this stage. All three stages with broken diff. Big job today.

AP: How difficult was it to drive on the last two stages?

HR: Very difficult. First stage is one minute lost, second stage is a minute and some seconds, but I have one spin and time is very limited when we passed finish line.

AP: Risto. Everyone has been saying how hot it is here in Cyprus. Did the air conditioning give you an advantage?

RP: It helped a little bit on road section, but in the stages. We cannot use this yesterday and today, but it helped a little bit.

AP: Seb. Congratulations on a podium place on your very first visit to Cyprus. How do you manage to learn new events for you so quickly?

SL: I don't know. The experience here is not as important as fast rally, like in New Zealand. But I try to do my best with the car. We see it is very strong. We try and stay on the road, but it was okay.

AP: Daniel. When you heard about Harri's problem, did you think it was possible to take second place and were you pushing hard?

DE: No because Harri is faster. When you start the last stage and you have one minute and some seconds behind and only nine kilometres, normally it is impossible. It is a very good result for us, for Harri and for Petter.

AP: Petter. Coming back to you. Obviously your second win. The win in Britain and this one were very different. Which is better?

PS: Always the first one is special. In England it was like a big dream come true. You are always aiming for more all the time. To win the championship, nothing is easy. Even if you go for a strategy for a rally, you would be happy with second or third place. I had a strategy to win the rally. I think that is the way to do it.

AP: Phil. Some people think that a rally which is this slow, is not what the World Championship should be all about. What did you think?

PS: The rough rallies have a place in the championship. Now Safari has gone we seem to miss it because it was so special. This is a rough event and so is Greece and they have a place in the championship. The championship was born on rallies like this. No problem at all. Maybe with the way that some of the cars have retired we have to build a different car for these events, but no problem at all.

AP: Harri. I'm sure you knew if you went off on the last day Peugeot would lose the Manufacturers' lead. How much pressure were you under? Did the team tell you to slow down and keep your position or were you pushing?

HR: Really not pushing today morning, but of course it is difficult. Now it isn't quite tight. You never know what will happen before the last stage will finish.

AP: Of course Risto your Peugeot was the only one at the finish from the factory team. Were you worried that you might have to retire with mechanical problems?

RP: I was very. When car broken we still have 40 kms left. It is possible to retire.

AP: We are on asphalt again in Germany and then we have three more asphalt rallies later in the year. How confident do you feel about the future?

SL: It is too early. Everything is possible. We were a little unlucky at the start of the year to retire three times. Now we have asphalt rallies. We know the Xsara is very fast, so we try to do our best. We won Germany last year and will try to win again. A lot of drivers will try to win it.

AP: Daniel. Citroen were the most reliable make here and the only make with all their cars at the finish. Why do you think that was?

DE: The secret is not a secret. In Kenya we finish two cars. This is a very good car and a good experience for the car in Paris-Dakar!

AP: We look forward to that. David. Next we are off to Germany. You have a couple of changes planned for then. What advantages will this bring you?

DL: It's not a massive step. We said that we would spend the whole year pushing the car forward. The last step was to prepare for the rough rallies. The next is to move the tarmac performance forward. We have done work on transmission, tyres and the engine - a lot of small things in the same direction.

AP: Finally Petter. When you came in to service you were waving at everyone and you were sitting on the door of the car. How do you drive like that?

PS: Actually normally I stand on the roof, but I made a mistake one time when the door closed on the rally car in America. Now I just go out on the side with the door open.

AP: Any questions?

Q: Rosie Ogden (Cyprus Mail): How much have Citroen learned from this rally, because you didn't have the chance to test like the other teams?

SL: Yes sure it was the first time here. We couldn't test here before the race. It is very specific rally. Very slow and twisty. We try to do the setting at the shakedown. We had to continue to work all the race. Now the car is okay, but we have to work more for next year, because Subaru and Ford are very fast.

AP: Any more questions? Thank you everyone and we will see you all in Germany.


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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Harri Rovanpera , Petter Solberg , Sébastien Loeb , Philip Mills , Daniel Elena , Risto Pietilainen
Teams Citroën World Rally Team