FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP RALLY ARGENTINA FIA Post-event Press Conference 30.04.2006 Present: 1st SÃ©bastien Loeb -- Kronos Total CitroÃ«n World Rally Team 1st Daniel Elena -- Kronos Total CitroÃ«n World Rally Team 2nd Petter Solberg --...
FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
FIA Post-event Press Conference
1st Sébastien Loeb -- Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team
1st Daniel Elena -- Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team
2nd Petter Solberg -- Subaru World Rally Team
2nd Phil Mills -- Subaru World Rally Team
3rd Gigi Galli
3rd Giovanni Bernacchini
Representative of the winning Manufacturer Kronos Total Citroën WRT - Marc Van Dalen
Welcome to the final FIA press conference. Joining us are the top three crews: Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, Petter Solberg and Phil Mills, and Gigi Galli and Giovanni Bernacchini. Also joining us, as the representative of the winning Manufacturer, is Marc Van Dalen.
Q: Before we talk to Seb, let's congratulate you Daniel on your 24th career victory, equalling the record of Luis Moya. What does this mean to you? Will Luis be buying you dinner tonight?
DE: I am happy with this result. I started as an amateur and to be at this level is a privilege -- particularly since only 2002. It's good to share the record with Luis, but at the same time it's not coming very far -- the record stays in the region of La Coruna! It's me buying dinner for Luis tonight, but Luis will pay for me when we get 25!
Q: A brilliant win Seb, which puts you in the lead of the Driver's Championship by 21 points. Do you think it would be quite difficult for you to lose the Championship now?
SL: No, the Championship is still long, we have 10 rallies to go. This season everything is working very, very well. The first good news from this rally is to see that we are still competitive with Marcus, after we know the Focus is going to be fast on gravel. It was good to see we could fight, that was the first good move. To win here in Argentina is very nice. All of the stages are really good; the water splashes, the jumps, a bit more water splashes; it's really funny to drive here, it was also a nice fight.
Q: Congratulations on second place, but it's not the victory you wanted. What were the main reasons you were unable to match Sébastien's pace? Do you think it will be difficult for Seb to lose the Championship now?
PS: I think we had the pace, didn't we? We had the pace when we had no problems, I won stages, he won stages. We went very well, actually. It's the small details we have to sort out, so we can go through a whole rally without any problems. It's going to be tough from now, trust me, I'm tough, things are improving -- the car, the tyres. We're going to have a lot of fun from now on. Seb has quite a good lead, but he can have problems also. We will see. I think it's going to be even tougher from now as Marcus is getting more confidence in his car and I'm getting more into things.
Q: You had a number of incidents, including punctures and the paddle shift breaking. Did you risk missing out on the podium at any point?
PM: Of course. We came here with the intention of winning, but we did have a few things going wrong. Like you say, the paddle shift, punctures and so on -- but we are very happy to be here in second place.
Q: Congratulations on your first WRC podium, the first Italian to stand on a WRC podium since Piero Liatti in 1998. Here you are, on only the second event in the car and with no testing beforehand, in third place. You must feel very proud but did you think it was possible before the rally? How hard was it without testing?
GG: I was focused on my goal not to make a mistake and to reach what I wanted since a long time. What can I say more? We decide we don't push too much because I couldn't understand the car. I didn't make any test before, so all of the time I was being smooth. I could keep good pace and then we didn't make any mistake: no spins, no stalls, which was great for me. The company was maybe a little bit fast, with some crash coming, but for me, for us, it's something great. To be honest, yes, I couldn't imagine the podium. I know there is a lot of great crews and I couldn't imagine to have that. I know Argentina is a very tough rally -- as we see -- but that, I couldn't imagine.
Q: Giovanni, congratulations. You seemed to slow down a lot on the first stage this morning, did you have a problem? Any other problems throughout the event?
GB: Actually no. This morning we started carefully, maybe too much. You know we start with a big gap between we and Manfred and we say that it is better to go carefully. Most of the stage was difficult and maybe we made not such a good stage, too much carefully, but we get the result.
Q: Marc, congratulations, how does it feel to be in this position?
MVD: It's a dream come true. We have worked all of the winter to find a sponsor. We never expected to be in this position in the Championship. Those guys are fantastic. For Daniel to win 24 rallies is really fantastic. I'm sure it's not finished yet...
Q: Daniel has won 24 rallies here, when will the 25th come?
MVD: I don't know, I hope quickly!
Q: We move on now to Sardinia, another event you won last year. Will there be any new developments for Italy? How high is your confidence?
SL: I am confident. Everything works well. Sardinia is not completely different from the settings that we have here, it will be another good fight with Marcus and Petter and Gigi, as he will drive there. But for me the feeling with the car is really good -- I'm looking forward to this rally.
Q: What do you think of the change from July to April this year in Argentina? Did it make things better or not?
DE: There were a lot of changes in the temperatures. Day one was very difficult on the car and it was very hot. After it was the same. It's more difficult being first on the road in July.
Q: Italy is an event that you have won in the past, in 2004. How much more work needs to be done before you can win again? Is this beginning to affect your confidence and motivation?
PS: The guys are working flat-out to sort out these small problems. We have everything under control. We have done a good step for this rally. In the next one and a half weeks we have more work and Pirelli is on a big attack to win the next few rallies. It will come from good team work and everybody staying together as we try to win the next rally.
Q: Are you looking forward to Italy Phil? Do you think you can turn the tide there?
PM: Like Petter said, everybody is working night and day to get the job right. We won there two years ago and we were very competitive last year. We will be going very hard.
Q: Gigi, Italy will be your home event. Will you be challenging for another podium there -- or even something better than that? How about after Italy, what are your plans for the rest of the season? Does this help?
GG: Of course yes, we start with that goal. It's quite difficult to say, of course, it would be the best of us. Hopefully I can keep good experience for the testing in Argentina and to drive more quickly from the first stage. I don't know, I hope the result can help us go for some more events and I would like to be confident, but I don't know. There are a lot of things which have to be gelled together.
Q: Giovanni, what are your thoughts on this year's Rally Argentina and what did you think of the quality of the stages and the organisation?
GB: This is the third time I have done this rally. It's very good, very difficult. This morning, as we saw, the stages are very twisty. The organisation worked in a good way, we didn't see any problems. It was very good for the organisation. The people are amazing here, fantastic to see in every stage and on the road sections. The people were everywhere, it was very funny and very good.
GG: I would like to say, only a small advice. When I was on the podium, nobody told me what I had to do. I couldn't know what I was doing, one person say if you want, you can do donuts. I do that, and for me it was a pleasure. I didn't know, it was a little bit... what can I say?
Q: Finally, back to the super special, what do you think of this format? Is it exciting to have a big super special?
SL: As long as the super stage is not changing the classification of the rally, like it was an idea one time, it's not bad. There were a lot of people and a good atmosphere. Yes, it's not a problem, but for me, it's not better than the real thing.
MVD I agree. It's important what Seb said. We need to make a show, but not affect the overall result. Those guys are fighting so hard for three days and there's no reason to change this for fun. It's more important for the cars to slide, to put on a big show for the fans.
Q: I would like to hear from Giovanni, what do you say to the driver between pace notes on a stage when you lose 26 seconds?
GB: It's not easy. This morning we try to use stage by stage and splits. If I have also to push him between the notes, usually I read it the same way. I can see happily if he's going down or a little bit help him. We try to go on the same way before the stage.
FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP and FIA PRODUCTION CAR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
1st Guy Wilks
1st Phil Pugh
1st Nasser Al-Attiyah
1st Chris Patterson
Now for the final press conference of the FIA JWRC and PWRC, we have the winning crew of Guy Wilks and Phil Pugh for Juniors and Nasser Al-Attiyah and Chris Patterson from the Production Car World Rally Championship.
Q: Guy, you said you needed 10 points from here and you took them -- how did you do it?
GW: Well, we started on Thursday and finished on Sunday and did a bit of rallying in between! No, it wasn't as easy as that. This was the hardest rally I've ever done. In somewhere like Cyprus, it's not ideal for the 1600cc car, this rally wasn't ideal, either. The car stood up well, though, and Phil did a great job too.
Q: Phil, how does this put your Championship situation now? Feeling confident?
PP: No, it's wide-open this year. There's us on 10 points and then P-G (Andersson) and Patrik Sandell together on 16 each. The thing is that we don't all get together until later in the season, so it's hard to know for the Championship.
Q: Guy, this was the first time Argentina was in the JWRC. Do you think it worked as a round of the Championship?
GW: It was very challenging. We have always had rough rallies in the JWRC and I don't think that's a bad thing. It brings a lot of character out of the driver, there is definitely a place for this rally -- although it has been very tough-going. We are normally on the same pace as the Group N cars, but on this event there have been a lot of uphill sections where we couldn't get the traction. You have to keep the car moving.
Q: Phil, what did you think of the rally organisation?
PP: The roads books and everything like that was very good. I have to say, though, that I am amazed at how the police manage to control so many spectators. It's incredible, hard to believe in some places. It's great to see. I think a few other rallies could learn a lot from this event.
Q: Congratulations, Nasser. You've taken 10 points for the Championship. You must be very pleased.
NA-A: Yes, actually. We had a great rally in Argentina. Ten points are very important for the Championship. I am so happy with this and hope we can keep the same pace on our next event.
Q: Chris, did you have a plan for this rally?
CP: We did and we stuck to that plan and stayed out of trouble; the car was in the middle of the road. This is a really tough rally, we learned that two years ago. We learned respect for this event when we won it last year and now are pleased to do that again.
Q: There seem to have been a lot of punctures, Nasser. How did you fare?
NA-A: It was very difficult for the tyres. We choose our tyres from our side, we bring them from the Middle East. The rallies in the Middle East are very rough and I have good experience from there, and we did not have any trouble -- it's fantastic for us; we had no flat tyres.
Q: This can be a tough rally on the car. How did your car run, Chris?
CP: The car ran very well. We had to go quite hard in the first four stages to get the position, but the car never gave us any problems or concern. The Subaru shone here, it was one-two on the event, which is fantastic. Our car stood up to everything.