Cyprus Rally: Post-event press conference

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP Supermag Rally Italia - Sardinia FIA Post-event Press Conference 01.05.2005 Present: 1st Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena -- Citroen Sport 2nd Petter Solberg / Phil Mills -- Subaru 3rd Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen...

Supermag Rally Italia - Sardinia
FIA Post-event Press Conference

1st Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena -- Citroen Sport
2nd Petter Solberg / Phil Mills -- Subaru
3rd Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen -- Marlboro
Guy Frequelin, team principal Citroen

Q: Sebastien, you led this event from the third stage, why were you so dominant?

SL: I think for different things. Last year here we finished more than one minute behind Petter. We have done a lot of work on these roads, a lot of testing in Sardinia. We also spoke with Michelin and said we have to improve the tyre if we want to win again, so we worked in all the ways: the tyre, the diffs, the suspension and everything and the car is really good. I am really confident with the car when I am driving. We had no problems and me, I didn't make any mistakes. That's all.

Q: Daniel, were you surprised at the victory margin?

DE: Yes and no. Yes because last year, with the tyre, it was very difficult, but this year there was a big step with Michelin. Now with Sebastien there's a very good feeling with the car and it's not a problem. I look forward to Cyprus and those rallies already.

Q: Petter, this was an event you dominated last year. What was different this time around?

PS: I am second! Nothing actually, the temperature was 34 degrees..... Anyway, no I am pleased with second. It went well, we had a little problem on the first day and the same as New Zealand, we didn't have a chance against Sebastien and his team. So, I think you have to go into the box and think about what we can do, do it as a team and figure out how we can beat them next year, er the next rally. This rally I did exactly the same as last year, but the stages were warmer with a harder surface this time.

SL: You don't think the wider tyre would be better -- I ask the question?

PS: Have you tried my tyre -- we chose the right tyres. The team and Pirelli did the correct choice, but we still have to improve.

Q: Marcus, you had a big fight with Harri Rovanpera yesterday and this morning, were you confident of beating him

MG: Not confident at all. We try to go without mistakes. Harri did a small one and we were third.

Q: Phil, there have been a number of changes to the route for this year's event. What did you think of them?

PM: Yeah, I mean they cut out the very narrow sections, but put in some new narrow sections this year. The rough sections last year were even rougher this time. Stage eight was really rough. I know they've had some big rain here and it's not easy to regrade in a short time, but well, it's worked okay. There are a few places they need to cut out, but on the whole it wasn't too bad.

Q: What did you think, Timo?

TR: It's visible the organisers have tried, but they haven't succeeded. They are slower and in worse condition. I don't say the organisation is any worse, but it is not any better than last year. There were many small details not working properly. In conclusion I would say it's like, not our favourite rally. I wouldn't say it's not a favourite of any driver here, except maybe Sebastien. One thing more is the superally system -- I would use the word ridiculous. A driver who has done a fantastic rally: Harri Rovanpera -- he had a hold on a podium position, but ended with zero points. And Toni Gardemeister, who had a medium rally, retired yesterday and finished fifth today. If the FIA's purpose was for the spectator to see more cars in the forest, okay, but now we have to find a different solution for the drivers who do two and a half days and then retire. So stupid. One more thing, for Super 1600 this was not a good rally for them we were seeing so many big ruts and hole. Marcus and I were driving the stages and actually thinking in the stages, how are they going to come through here, how will the Super 1600s make it?

Q: What do you think, Petter?

PS: Compare Toni and Harri, it's something in its own right. It's difficult to make a rule how the points system should work, maybe they should get half the points or something, I don't know -- but it's very strange. In the Super 1600, I feel sorry for them. It's so hard to see who is the best drivers and to get them in the WRC. Especially with the punctures, you lead for two days and then you have a puncture or five. Something has to be done, we have to help that class best as possible if we want to get new drivers, we need mousse in the tyres or something.

Q: Sebastien, you are leading the championship. How do you feel about the next few rallies?

SL: Yes it's going very well. We saw here the car was perfect, so I am leading with only one point -- it's very close. It's very important to finish the rallies., I was one point behind coming here and I leave, one point ahead. In Cyprus, Greece and Turkey we have to use the hard tyre, but we have a new evolution. I'm sure we will find the solution -- it's going well for the moment, I hope it continues.

Q: Guy, you worried at the start of the season. Actually it seems even better than 2004, do you agree?

GF: It's because of the work of the team, the technical team and because of the Michelin team work so very hard. Together we did a very good job to improve the car, the tyres for this condition. This surface, with very little grip and for sure now we have a very competitive car. Sebastien and Daniel did the rest. But I am still worried, every time.

Q: Petter, how close is the fight for the championship going to be?

PS: It's going to be hell of a fight. I'm not going to give up. I'll fight every rally, he's proved he's the winner here. The points system is so close. In rally anything can happen -- it will be very good between the car and tyre manufacturers.

Q: The Peugeot seems completely reliable, but would you like more speed?

MG: Er, no. I don't think we could fight for the win. I roll, make a mistake, but the car is strong so I can come back. The car seems reliable and strong, but maybe it's lacking a little speed..

Q: How confident are you of the car's performance on the rough rallies coming up? Is there are more development planned?

GF: To compare with last year, for sure the car is more competitive. If the car stay like last year, we can hope that a very good result may be for the future for the three next rally. But this is the rally, it's very difficult to say.

Q: To Petter, do you still believe you can still win ten rallies?

MG: I think no!!

PS: You always have a plan and you always want to rev up people in the sport. Things are changing, some people are doing some improvements, it's still possible -- I haven't given up yet. It is a dream, for sure.

Q: What do Seb and Petter think of this rally? Normally this has been a strong rally for the drivers?

PS: It's a good rally, but still the stages were very rough. Like Phil said, there's been a lot of rain, but we were hoping for a bigger improvement. I think last year was better than this one

SL: They try to make some efforts with new stages, the new stages were not so bad, but the second pass is a bit too rough, even the first pass in some stages, but the second pass was too difficult. Today I was trying not to have a puncture, this is what I don't like. It's a difficult rally, you have to be precise, but it's like this for everybody. It's a very nice place. For me it's not a big problem, just a bit too rough in places.


1st Daniel Sordo / Marc Marti - Citroen

Q: Congratulations Daniel. This is a new specification C2, what is it that's new on the car?

DS: Thanks very much. The rally was very difficult and very hard, very narrow. The car is very good. Citroen work very much on the C2. Now in the tarmac the car is good, now it's good on gravel also.

Q: How difficult was it on such a rough rally with two-wheel-drive and no mousse in the tyres?

DS: For me, it's okay, but Rally Italia is very hard in Super 1600. It's not very easy.

Q: How difficult was it to get through this rally?

MM: First the drivers need a C2 to finish the rally. You need a strong car. The job we did on our test was to try and always have a competitive car and a very hard car. Also it's true that the roads are very hard for us, with a lot of rocks and dust, but after so many WRCs, all the roads are destroyed. Only in Finland are the roads okay, on all the other rounds it's like this.

Q: How do you see the rest of the championship?

DS: The championship is good at the moment. I have second position and the championship is very long. The race in the tarmac must be important for the championship.

Q: You sat next to Carlos last year, is there anything that Daniel has in common with him?

MM: Okay Daniel is different. There is only one Carlos, but Carlos was looking at Daniel because he think he have some things a good driver needs to arrive at the WRC. For me, Daniel it's important that he's only 21 years old and he's very quite and calm in the car. You feel when he drives, it's very easy. Now they are a new generation of drivers -- I call them playstation drivers. When you see how they take the wheel and the brake, this is how they are. They arrive at the end of the stage quietly.


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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Harri Rovanpera , Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Sébastien Loeb , Timo Rautiainen , Guy Frequelin , Daniel Elena , Marc Marti , Toni Gardemeister , Dani Sordo
Teams Citroën World Rally Team