Rally Australia: Pre-event press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: What do you think, both of you really, about the announcement that the rally will stay here for another year? Is that a positive thing? CM: I think it's always been one of my favourite events, partly because...

Continued from part 1

Q: What do you think, both of you really, about the announcement that the rally will stay here for another year? Is that a positive thing?

CM: I think it's always been one of my favourite events, partly because of the place and because of the organisation it was always one of the best and leading all the other rallies on the organisation side of it, so it'd be nice to come back here again but I suppose there's many other reasons for it not being here.

Q: Chris, what's your take? If the rally was on the east coast you'd have less far to go home.

CA: That would be nice, wouldn't it? No it's been a great event here. Although I've only done it the one time it's been a really nice event, I enjoy the roads, there's lots of good roads everywhere in Australia so it could go anywhere - but that's not really a decision for me to make.

Q: Colin, we talked briefly earlier about the 2006 regulations with the mechanical diffs and various other things. In your opinion, will these make the cars more tricky to drive or more spectacular to watch or both?

CM: I think really at the end of the day it won't make a huge difference. I think you'll find that the cars next year will be quicker than the cars are this year. It would be nice to think they might look slightly better if you've got to have a lot more attitude than the car but at the end of the day the quickest way to drive these cars is to keep them as straight as possible and that's what the engineers are working towards all the time so I think there will be a speed increase next year.

Q: Chris, the only world rally cars you've driven are the cars with the active diffs. Is it going to be strange for you next year driving a car that doesn't have that?

CA: I think it's probably almost better for me because the other guys have driven these cars for a few years now when a year ago I was in a Group N car with passive diffs so to go back to passive diffs isn't a big problem for me and because I've only done it for a year I should adapt pretty quickly.

Q: Do you think the car will be more spectacular to watch?

CA: I think maybe a little bit but from what I heard today of the Ford it looked pretty neat.

Questions from the floor:

Q: Colin, this business with road position, is tomorrow very much a risk versus rewards situation for you? Do you take all sorts of risks tomorrow to try and get the right road position from then on?

CM: I mean not quite that, you've got to push as hard as you can. Australia's not the rally to take risks, the penalties are fairly high. The problem is if you get off that clean line it's like going onto ice, the trees area very close to the edge of the road so it pays to stay on the line and just back off a bit.


Marcus Gronholm -- Peugeot
Sebastien Loeb -- Citroen

Q: Marcus if we start off with you. It's your last rally for Peugeot the team that brought you into World Rallying, the team that's given you two Drivers Championships. What are your feelings, it has been quite an emotional time for you ?

MG: Okay. Maybe not yet but during the Rally it will be for sure, and after Rally on Sunday, I think. The whole team, the last Rally it will be a little bit special.

Q: Does that give you Marcus, give an extra motivation to do something special, for the last Rally ?

MG: Of course, the team wants to win and me too so that would be the best, the best thing to do but its not so easy so lets wait. We will see if we can do it. That would be fantastic.

Q: Looking back Marcus at your time at Peugeot, what will you remember most? What are the memories that you will take away ?

MG: I think the first year 2000, and the first win in Sweden, and then the title in the end of the year. The first for me, and as well for the team so, that's the best year I guess

Q: Sebastien welcome. Also it's a special event for you, because it's the last time you will drive a factory Citroen Xsara, next year it's a private one. Does it feel like a special occasion, like an historic occasion, or just another Rally.

SL: No, it's a bit like for Marcus, for me it will be the last Rally with a Xsara, with the Citroen team. I'm very happy because Citroen decided to come back in 2007. So a lot of people will be again with me in the team, but we know that a lot of people will not be there and will leave Citroen. So it is also a special moment, and everybody in the team hopes we can do a best result and we hope that we can do the best also. But like Marcus I think that it will be very special on Saturday.

Q: On these special occasions, again, like Marcus does it give you an extra push on ?

SL: I don't need that to have an extra push, but sure if we could do a good result for the team it would be really nice. But like Marcus said he wants to do the same, so I am sure that Petter (Solberg) really wants to win also to cut his hair. I think it will be a really interesting Rally.

Q: Seb of course now you know what your future is. You are driving the private Xsara next year and then the factory team in 2007. Looking back at this year, when it was uncertain. How much did that pressure affect you ?

SL: Sure, of course it is better to know what I will do. At the moment in the season I didn't know what Citroen would do, I was speaking with the other manufacturer. At that moment I decided to wait, and sure it was not easy. I believed that Citroen will come back but nothing was sure at this moment, and I expected them to do it, then, but if they didn't come back perhaps it would've been more difficult for me to find something for next year. I expected because I was World Champion to find something, so I decided to wait.

Q: Marcus if we talk specifically about this Rally. From what you have seen on the recce, which sort of conditions are you expecting? Is it going to be a classic Rally Australia? Because these are conditions that you really seem to like, and you go well in as well.

MG: For me it looks exactly the same as the years before, there is no change. The roads look the same and its dry, so it will be a good Rally.

Q: If we talk Marcus, briefly about tyres and the difference between you and Sebastien, in the rallies, should they help you then ?

MG: Difficult to say. If it's really dry maybe, maybe not. I think it will be okay yeah. No tyre problem, not like when the tyre wearing is extra hard. So it will be good.

Q: Is this a Rally you like? You've done very well in the past. Is it something you consider one of 'your' events?

MG: Not one of, yeah, it is a good event for me. The last two years I have made mistakes here and now it is time to do something better, so I hope for no mistakes this year, so that we can fight for the win again.

Q: Thanks We were talking with Colin and Chris who were here earlier about road position. They think that they have no advantage. But you are first on the road tomorrow. How much of a problem do you expect that to be?

SL: The weather seems to be ok, if stays like this. To be first on the road will be sure to have that disadvantage. How much we can lose, I don't know. But for me, Marcus and Petter are starting just behind, so their position will be a bit better, But should it be for a big difference, so we will see, I will do my best, and try not to lose too much time until them.

Q: in the past Seb, you've been very good at running first on the road, but not losing so much time or losing less time then most people expected. How do you manage that, what do you do?

SL: Its rally, a lot of rallies last year were wet on the first day. Yeah I think it would be much more different.

Q: Marcus what do you like to do for the weather?

MG: Okay. It's good like it is now. It is nicer to drive when it's with good grip so. I don't like it when its raining wet and quite slippery.

Q: Do you think running behind Sebastien, will conditions will be a little bit different for you or will it be a significant advantage?

MG: Essentially, we are just behind in a few cars, so it will not make a big difference, maybe just a little bit, so we can gain a few seconds but not much.


FIA PWRC Pre-event Press Conference

Toshihiro Arai -- Subaru
Marcos Ligato -- Subaru
Nasser Al-Attiyah -- Subaru

Q: All three drivers you see here have a chance of winning the title. Toshi you probably have the best chance, as you are seven points in front. You have missed out on this championship title three times. Do you think this year will be the year for you?

TA: I think it could be.

Q: Marcos, what will you do tactics wise at this rally? Would you drive this rally differently if you were seven points behind?

ML: I don't know. I will wait for maybe Toshi to have some problems. With his speed he can arrive and get points with no problems but you know, things can happen.

Q: Nasser, welcome, how about you? Do you just have to try and win too?

NA: Actually it will be a little bit difficult for me because it's the second time for me in Australia and really it's difficult you know. I feel the road is difficult for me. We drive (in Oman) in this open area you know. Here, there are a lot of trees and it's a little bit scary you know. I think this year I have improved a lot and it's the last rally of the year I will try my best for a good result and try to reach podium. Q: You have already won the Middle East Championship this year. It must be your dream to make it two championships in one year.

NA: Yes it's my dream and if it doesn't happen this year I will also try next year because my target for 2006 is PWRC and I hope we win PWRC next year.

Q: Toshi you won Australia last year. Is this a rally you like and does it suit your driving style?

TA: Yeah I like this rally because it has quite difficult roads. Some places are slippery and some stages have good grip. It's very difficult and good for the Subaru I think.

Q: Why does it suit the Subaru. What characteristics suit the car?

TA: Because the Subaru has good handling and the road is quite narrow, some places are quite twisty and some places are quite fast so it's good for the Subaru.

Q: Marcos this is a very long way from Argentina. Do you like the stages here? Are they amongst your favourite or not?

ML: Yeah I like it. It's my fifth time here but I finished the rally for the first time after three times stopping for mechanical problems. I know very well the roads but I don't have a lot of cases of winning the roads. I like them very much. I think I have very good notes, I know all the stages but this is a difficult race. You are always on the risk because you don't have a lot of grip on the roads and you have to be in the clean lines to get a good grip. If you are off that line you are in a very dangerous position. We will see what will happen. We will try to go very fast and enjoy the rally. We will try and get good points; I must be in front of Nasser for the points. He is just two points behind me and we are fighting for the second places in the PWRC.

Q: Nasser, did you have a good recce?

NA: Yes actually we had a good recce, we did not have any problems with the notes. I am so happy we just wait for the start.

Q: So from what you can see on the recce what do you think the conditions will be like this year. Will it be more difficult than usual?

NA: For me it will be a little bit easy because it will be my second time here. And you know I feel confident for these stages. I find a good set up for my car. I will try my best.

Q: Toshi, you have had a lot of experience driving a WRCar in the past. How does driving a modern Group N car compare to the experience of driving a WRCar?

TA: Now the Group N car is quite fast so there is not so big a difference compared to the WRCar. A WRCar is a little bit nervous because you can change everything; the stabilizer, the geometry, the suspension, so if you have a spot on setting you can drive with a lot of confidence. But if you have something a little bit wrong you can be very nervous so this is difficult.

Q: Marcos the cars fighting for the championship are all Subaru. Why do you think that is?

ML: It's good for Subaru. I think this year all the rallies -- New Zealand was for Mitsubishi - the others were Subaru. It was a good year for Subaru. Subaru I think, the championship is for them, we have three with a chance for the Championship.

Q: Nasser in your opinion, can you tell us what sort of part tyres and punctures will play. In this championship you can't have the anti-deflation device. Could this championship be decided by a puncture?

NA: Yes it could. The punctures, one puncture can keep you far from the top and always we take care about the punctures because really it's difficult because we are without mousse. If you have one puncture it's game over.


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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Toshihiro Arai , Marcus Gronholm , Sébastien Loeb , Nasser Al-Attiyah
Teams Citroën World Rally Team