We had the same road position for the second loop and I was pushing like hell all the time
1st - Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total World Rally Team
1st - Julien Ingrassia, Citroën Total World Rally Team
2nd - Jari-Matti Latvala, Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
2nd - Miikka Anttila, Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
3rd - Sébastien Loeb, Citroën Total World Rally Team
3rd - Daniel Elena, Citroën Total World Rally Team
Olivier Quesnel, Citroën Total World Rally Team
Q: Sébastien, what an incredible final day it has been for you! Winning by the smallest ever margin, just 0.2 of a second. How are you feeling?
SO: Yes it is amazing to win a rally like this. Last year I lost a rally by three seconds to Jari-Matti, so this year, for me, is a good feeling. I must say congratulations to him. He was really fast.
Q: How were you feeling on the start line of the last stage?
SO: I was not nervous at all. I knew it was possible. We had the same road position for the second loop and I was pushing like hell all the time. I said to myself be close to him for the Power Stage and try to beat him. I knew there was only 0.5 of a second between us and it would not be easy. It was a good decision and a good strategy.
Q: You must have been taking some serious risks out there to set those times today, were there any big moments?
SO: It is not the first time I win a rally like this. My first one in Portugal was like this. If you win like this it is better. It was so close. I had some moments, for sure. When you are pushing like this it happens. I went wide a bit, but it was okay, no big moment - maybe one on the first loop on the Power Stage this morning. I went wide in sixth gear. It is not a good feeling sliding in sixth gear!
Q: You mentioned that you saw some rocks in the road?
SO: Today was better for me with the rocks. I was first on the road. I put them there this time! But I did have a problem on the stage before last. There was something on the road. Someone put a rock and something blue on the stage. I braked a lot in a fast place and maybe lost one or two seconds there. But it was not a problem, I still win the rally.
Q: Julien, you now become the crew to win by the smallest-ever margin – how does that feel?
JI: You can imagine the emotion we have. It was a very strong fight between Jari-Matti and us. It was fantastic that it was decided on the Power Stage. My voice was certainly raised inside the car on the last one! It was a pleasure to fight against Jari-Matti.
Q: You have now taken two victories in a row!
JI: It was the best way to come back in the Championship. Now, for the next event, the position is reversed and Ford is behind us. We will adjust our driving for that part of the game.
Q: Jari-Matti – you just missed out on the win on the final Power Stage. You mentioned you had made some mistakes in there; what happened?
J-ML: Somebody wins somebody needs to lose. That is the story of a rally. In New Zealand last year it happened and I won, by three or four seconds. I am disappointed. It was so close in the last stage. Everybody was on the limit pushing as hard as they can. In a couple of places I went wide, but it was the same for everybody. I tried so hard but I made a mistake. You need a perfect performance. Hopefully that will happen somewhere else.
Q: What are your feelings about the car?
J-ML: I am pleased with the car and the team. I feel confident in the car. In the afternoon we had a slippery surface and it suits me. I think for the next couple of rallies we will see some great battles.
Q: What are your thoughts on the new Michelin tyres?
J-ML: Michelin have done great work with the tyre. The performance was really strong. We were a little excited about tyre wear in the hot conditions. In a couple of places the tyres were on the limit but nothing serious. They were performing well.
Q: Miikka, what an exciting finish to the rally!
MA: It was exciting to wait and see that we had lost the rally by 0.2s if that is how you want to say it… But it was good for the sport and the spectators and actually I think everybody has been waiting for this from the beginning of the year. Now, with the new tyres, I see many more battles like that this season.
Q: Séb, third position at the end of the event, when did you realise that the fight for the win was over?
SL: In the afternoon I will say. The morning stage went very well, and the second one, and then the third one there was no difference and I understood it would not be so easy. I tried again on the first stage this afternoon. It was okay and then I saw I cannot make any gap. Jari-Matti made a gap on me and I started to slow down a little and try to stay on the road and wait and see.
Q: Did you make any mistakes out there?
SL: Not really, but I was not confident on the twisty parts. I was a little slow in the corners and I stopped pushing and then I made one mistake in the Power Stage and lost one second in a corner and it was over again.
Q: Are you looking forward to the next rally in Sardinia?
SL: To be first on the road in Sardinia will be a pleasure! When you lead the Championship you have to clean the road. There is always a good side to be first on the stages. It means you are leading. This year it will be a tight battle. The four first drivers are very close. It is a good Championship.
Q: What were your thoughts on the tyres?
SL: We did not test too much before the rally. They were really good and really strong. It is a difficult rally with some big stones and Ogier was pushing very hard and pushing stones on the road. We had no punctures so the tyres did very well.
Q: Why are we having such close battles this year?
DE: It’s down to both drivers and cars. We have the new rules with cars, but the classification at this race was the reverse of the start position on the first day…
Q: What was the atmosphere like in the Citroën camp before the last stage? Were there any nerves?
OQ: The team was very nervous, but at the end we were confident but we did not understand at the right moment that we had won. Everybody was looking at everybody and we were standing up. This is the first time it has happened with so tiny a difference between two drivers. I am very proud for Citroën to win this.
Q: What are your thoughts on the rally running for two days? Were you pleased it ran?
OQ: I am glad but you can see from what Daniel (Elena) said, the reverse happened to what it was at the start on the first day. The cleaning the road rule should be interesting but, for the sport, it is not the right solution. Mikko (Hirvonen) and Seb Loeb could not have a chance. I think it would be better for everybody to have four drivers pushing all the way. It would be better.
I’m feeling delighted. Last year when I was excluded I said I’m going back and was going to win the rally so I stuck to the plan to win this year.
FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship
1st - Bernardo Sousa
1st - Antonio Costa
Q: Bernardo you’re taking your first ever win in the SWRC, congratulations! How are you feeling?
BS: I’m feeling delighted. Last year when I was excluded I said I’m going back and was going to win the rally so I stuck to the plan to win this year. I was lucky with the timing but was there waiting for the others to fall and knew that Nasser was going to be fast and I was staying in second position. This morning when we saw what happened (to Nasser) we had to take the car to the end. We stuck it out and here we are; the first victory at SWRC.
Q: This marks a great start to your SWRC season. You said before the event began that fighting for the title would be difficult against the strength of the drivers in the Championship – do you feel the same after this result?
BS: This was the first rally of the season for me. The others in Mexico they have some advantage. I still have an advantage because this is my first event and that’s a good result for the beginning of the season.
Q: Has getting maximum points changed your position on the title?
BS: No, I really need to focus on finishing all the rallies and get as maximum points as possible. If I can take the win I’ll take it, if not I’ll stick to the plan and get a podium position. I have not much experience to fight for the victory so I will do all events and try to get as many points as possible and at the end of the year we will see.
Q: You went into the final stage with rear suspension damage – how did that happen and were you concerned that you may not make it through the final stage?
BS: Yes the right back suspension was not working properly and I knew we had 30s and I could not lose a lot of time. We went calmly into the stage and managed to win some time so in the end it was okay.
Q: What was the atmosphere like in the car today when you knew you had to cruise home?
AC: It was a good feeling. It’s my first time in SWRC, and we won. I’m very happy.
Q: How did the relationship work in the car?
BS: This has been our second event. I started in Portugal, it wasn’t so good. Stage by stage we’re getting used to each other. I think in the end the change of co-driver was good. With Antonio, I’m sure, this way things will go much better. Now I have an experienced co-driver inside the car and someone I can truly trust so I’m very happy with this change.