FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP RALLY ARGENTINA FIA Post-event Press Conference Sunday 6, 2007 Present: 1st - Sebastien Loeb -- Citroen Total World Rally Team 1st - Daniel Elena -- Citroen Total World Rally Team 2nd - Marcus Gronholm -- BP-Ford...
FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
FIA Post-event Press Conference
Sunday 6, 2007
1st - Sebastien Loeb -- Citroen Total World Rally Team
1st - Daniel Elena -- Citroen Total World Rally Team
2nd - Marcus Gronholm -- BP-Ford World Rally Team
2nd - Timo Rautiainen -- BP-Ford World Rally Team
3rd - Mikko Hirvonen -- BP-Ford World Rally Team
3rd - Jarmo Lehtinen -- BP-Ford World Rally Team
Guy Frequelin, Representative of the winning manufacturer, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Welcome to the final FIA press conference.
Q: Seb, congratulations on your third consecutive win in Argentina. It's an event that obviously suits you, so why do you like it so much? This rally will be quite a memorable one for all sorts of different reasons; what did you think about what happened on Thursday and Friday? What did you think of the super special in the River Plate stadium?
SL: I like it because the roads are very interesting. Yesterday was very fast and today very slow, so you get a bit of everything with all the water splashes. It's a very good place to drive and we see a lot of spectators who love rallying, so it's nice to see you are welcome here. For me to go to Buenos Aires was perhaps a bit too much. For me super specials are not rallying. They are a show. For me rallying is in the forests. It is good to have a show, but to lose one complete day for it is not so good. Hopefully it will be a lesson for the future.
Q: Daniel, many congratulations. How difficult were the stages this morning after all the rain that fell last night? Any nervous moments?
DE: This morning the road sections were not easy because there was a lot of fog and the schedule was very concentrated so the average speed on road sections was too high in the fog. On the stages it was very rough on the second pass and not too good for the tyres.
Q: Marcus, congratulations on second position. You said you were flat-out yesterday; were you pushing as hard today? Did you think there was much chance to catch Seb this morning? What were the stages like - were the conditions bad on the second pass through the stages? You lost eight seconds to Seb on the first stage this morning; was the fight over then?
MG: We were not maybe at the same pace as yesterday. Okay, in the morning we were trying but I was not quick enough on the first stage and then the fight was over. So we were just trying to finish. The second pass on the stages today was not really nice because of the big ruts, but we understand why it had to be done.
Q: Timo, under the circumstances, how do you think this rally went for you? Would it have made a difference if you had Friday's stages as well to try and catch Seb?
TR: Everything went perfectly. We made almost no mistakes except a spin today and there were no technical problems on the car. The only problem is with the result! If you don't count that, it was a perfect rally.
Q: Congratulations on third place Mikko. How difficult was this event for you? Did you think you had a chance of fighting Seb and Marcus, or was it clear to you from the start that you had to try and take third place? What was the fight with Petter (Solberg) like, before he went out? Did you enjoy these stages and are these roads where you need quite a lot of experience to be consistently fast?
MH: In the beginning it felt okay. I was leading the rally for one and half days! But then when it really started I found I couldn't match the speed of Seb and Marcus. I tried to fight with Petter but he was a bit faster too until he had a problem. For me it was a slight little handicap that I don't know the stages that well, because I didn't get very far last year. I noticed when we did stages the second time I was a bit closer to the two in front.
Q: How easy was it for you to adapt to the changing circumstances of this rally Jarmo? Does it make the job of a co-driver much more difficult?
JL: It's always difficult when things are changing. This morning there were a bit of unexpected moments in wet and damp conditions but nothing too bad.
Q: A quick word with you Guy. How difficult was it from a team point of view to cope with the changing circumstances? And how do you feel about the result?
GF: It's very difficult for an organiser to do super specials 800 kilometres from the base of the rally. But it was a good marketing idea and that was interesting, but it's very difficult to do and the bad weather was very bad luck for the organisers. You can't say the super special was not good but with the weather it was too difficult. On the rally, I am very happy with the result. It's very interesting to know that the C4 is fast here too. That means it has been fast on three different surfaces, Mexico, Portugal and now here. I hope it will be the same in Sardinia.
Q: You've now stretched your advantage in the Championship Seb, how crucial do you think this victory will be to your title chances? Does winning here make your job slightly easier on the next round in Sardinia?
SL: At the moment every score is important. We did have one point advantage, now it's three. The scoring is very tight so if you can't win, second is not too bad because it's only two points difference. Now I have four victories and Marcus has one and we have only a three-point lead. As for Sardinia, no my win here doesn't make my job any easier there. But we have confidence for the future because the car seems to be good everywhere.
Q: Were you surprised that Marcus did not push you harder? It was quite a dominant performance from you and Seb.
DE: When you have Marcus only 30 seconds behind you it is never easy. With a 40 second gap it's better, but it is still difficult. I remember that time in Deutschland when he was 30 seconds behind and said he couldn't catch us but he did!
Q: How big a problem is it for you to lose another two points to Sebastien here? Was this a rally that you think you really needed to win? Could you have got more out of the car here? So will you be out for revenge in Sardinia, where you were very quick last year, before a rock holed the sump?
MG: I would be lying if I said I'm not disappointed because I am. It's now the fourth time I have finished second to him. But we will see on the next rally; it's another different one.
Q: Ford is still leading the Manufacturers' Championship thanks to another excellent result for the team. Was that a big priority for you on this event, or were you more focused on the fight with Seb?
TR: Now that you ask, yes. No, really it is always when you start you have to think of the manufacturer as well as yourself. Here I think we took one more point than Citroen as a team. But we didn't have to worry too much because we were safe in second with Mikko in third. As for Seb's advantage, well, I try to look in the morning what he is having for breakfast, but it's the normal French breakfast. Maybe there's a secret we have to spy on and find out!
Q: Our next event is Sardinia, a rally that you've had experience of in the past and somewhere where you have been very quick. Is that one where you think you can be matching Marcus on pace?
MH: I'm hoping to be closer to the leaders than I was here when we get to Sardinia. But if I can't match their speeds I just have to take the points where I can and bring as many as possible to Ford.
Q: Ford still leads the Manufacturers' Championship, with a two-three result here. How difficult is it going to be to beat them if they keep on finishing this consistently?
GF: Okay, Dani (Sordo) had a little problem yesterday and lost two minutes and four places and this morning he had a bit of a problem with the engine but he took back two places. But we knew at the end of last year that he is very young without much experience. But we don't have the money to have a third car so he could learn without being nominated all the time and having the pressure of points.
FIA PRODUCTION CAR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
1st - Federico Villagra
1st - Diego Curletto
Q: Congratulations Federico on a very strong performance on your home event. Does this mean we will see you out more often on the PWRC now? What are your plans for the rest of the year? Did your experience of these stages help you at all here? It was a big fight with Toshi (Arai); how confident did you feel?
FV: The idea this year was to do the complete Championship. We worked on the budget but we couldn't get it so we are just doing this and working on more for next year. For me it was really good to have a good fight with Arai. He is well known and very fast. Since yesterday when I had a flat tyre we were just two seconds behind and we have been going back and forth the whole time.
Q: Diego, you lost time with a puncture yesterday. Did you think that your chances were over then? How difficult was it to fight back?
DC: It was very difficult after the flat tyre when the car was unbalanced. It was a big fight because Arai got very close and Federico had to drive very fast to get away from him
Q: How close was the competition on this rally? Do you consider this result to be one of the highlights of your career? What was it like doing El Condor and Giulio Cesare twice on the final day? How about the Buenos Aires super special; do you think it has raised the awareness of the sport in Argentina?
FV: I think last year we had a chance to win but this is my best ever. There were more PWRC drivers here than before so for me it was the best one to win. There were a lot of good drivers against me. I think the super special was a good idea that didn't go right. The weather was the big problem. It was good to show the rally to Buenos Aires and the whole country. But sometimes things can go wrong.
Q: What did you think of Federico's driving here; where did he have an advantage?
DC: Federico knows a lot about the car and he is also very fast and a very intelligent driver.