FIA World Rally Championship 2004 Rally De CataluÃ‘Ya - Rally De EspaÃ‘A Pre-event Press Conference 28.10.2004 Present: Mikko Hirvonen, Subaru Jan Kopecky, Skoda Marcus Gronholm, Peugeot Francois Duval, Ford Carlos Sainz, Citroen Dani SolÃ , ...
FIA World Rally Championship
2004 Rally De CataluÑYa - Rally De EspaÑA
Pre-event Press Conference
Mikko Hirvonen, Subaru
Jan Kopecky, Skoda
Marcus Gronholm, Peugeot
Francois Duval, Ford
Carlos Sainz, Citroen
Dani Solà, Mitsubishi
Q: How close do you think you can be to the regular drivers?
JK: We'll see tomorrow, because I've never been in Spain before and conditions are very different from those in the Czech Republic. So we'll see tomorrow.
Q: You don't have much experience in asphalt. Do you like driving on tarmac?
MH: Everything is perfect. The set up of tyres is good and it just takes time, but is fun.
Q: What's the big challenge for you?
MH: I like to start aggressive, so I lose a little bit of time. For me the most important think right now is to have fun and learn.
Q: Do you think that the rally in the Czech Republic is very different form here?
JK: Well, is different, stages are not the same.
Q: What are the main different between Fabia and Octavia?
JK: There are several differences, for example the size, as Octavia is a bigger car.
Q: What are your plans for future?
MH: That's an interesting question. Everything looks quite good, but you never know.
Q: Will Skoda take part in the 16 rallies next year? What are your chances?
JK: That's an interesting question. For the moment, we'll do our best in the current championship and we'll know it in a month.
Q: Do you feel very different in tarmac than in gravel?
MH: I don't see much differences. The important is to get in the car and start driving straight away.
Q: How much testing have you done in asphalt to make the car competitive?
JK: Well, that's absolutely new for me. Before coming to Spain, I had done approximately 100 km tests in tarmac.
Q: Do you feel confident?
JK: For the moment I'm learning, and also improving the car. That's what is really important for me right now.
Q: Do you feel the pressure or are you relaxed?
JK: No, I'm quite relaxed.
Q: You were very impressive in Corsica. You almost won, but due to mechanical problems it wasn't possible. How confident are you that Spain becomes your first victory?
FD: It will be not easy. For the moment, being among the first five drivers is very important for me. And we'll see what happens. In general the shakedown was not great for us, and we hope to improve tomorrow.
Q: You struggled a little bit in Corsica? But was the biggest problem?
MG: Nor me neither the car were good there. I was not really confident. I hope we will be better here
Q: You've been testing and thus making improvements these days. Will they work?
MG: I don't know. We'll se now if there's a good improvement. We've changed a lot of small things and a week is not much but we'll see in during this weekend.
Q: Do you prefer tarmac or gravel?
MG: I prefer gravel. Tarmac is not really enjoyable, like in the shakedown today. I don't like tarmac.
Q: Do you prefer tarmac or gravel?
FD: Gravel. In Belgium, for example, gravel is nicer and more interesting, for the driver and for spectators. The tarmac is really slippery sometimes.
Q: The weather conditions in Spain are always unpredictable. Rain will help you?
MG: I don't like rain, especially on tarmac. I prefer dry surfaces.
Q: How do you approach a rally like this?
MG: I'm not confidence, but I hope to do good results. Our aim is to do something good, regarding to next season.
Q: Carlos decided to retire. You have not a contract. Is Citroën one of your targets?
FD: I don't know much about next season. Maybe I decide after Australia.
Q: And may you be a Ford driver next season?
FD: I don't know. In the last times I've had several problems, with the gearbox for example. I hope to continue next year and to have a good budget.
Q: If you won, you'd be the youngest winner of the WRC history. Is that an important record?
FD: Maybe I need some more chances, but of course I'd like
Q: You have recently announced you retirement. Why? Are you not enjoying it any more?
CS: Well, I think everybody knows the main reason. First there were 12 rallies, then 14 and now 16. And if you are part of one of the best teams, and you are required to test a lot, it becomes difficult. I've got a family and this year it has been even more difficult.
Q: What are your immediate plans for the future?
CS: I'll try to win in Catalunya and do a good year end. I've enjoyed a lot not only with Citroën but also with other teams where I drove.
I feel really lucky because I've been able to do my passion: driving. I've been able to do what I like at the top level. I've done what I dreamt when I was 11 or 12 years old, that is, winning rallies and two championships. I World like to thank all the teams and all of you for your support.
Q: You're a very competitive person. Will you go on competing? Maybe in the Dakar?
CS: It depends. If I do something, I'll do it at 100%. That's how I understand motor sport. But for sure it will be something different from rallies.
Q: How does your car work?
DS: The car goes better but I cannot say how much it has improved from the last race. I've not much experience in driving WRC but it's a bit easier.
Q: Which are your aims in Catalunya?
DS: It's difficult to say. I enjoy a lot driving here, in front of Catalan and Spanish fans. This is a very important rally for me and for Mitsubishi, to learn to keep concentrated, understand the car and get experience. If everything works out, I hope to get a good result.
Q: Will you have extra motivation or pressure during this rally?
CS: I've been always motivated, everywhere where I've run. But I don't feel a lot of pressure. I will just try to do a good rally and I hope to finish among the three first drivers in the championship.
Q: Is Mitsubishi better in tarmac or gravel?
DS: Well, it's for sure that Mitsubishi is improving. In Germany I was able to drive only one stage. But all the team is working hard. Since my last rally, in Germany, now I need time to get back a good rhythm.
Q: Do you prefer rally of Spain to be tarmac or gravel?
CS: Fist of all, I'd like to say that a good driver is good everywhere: on snow, fast gravel, low gravel, tarmac, etc. In the past, teams looked for specialists in every different surface, but now it has changed and a good rally driver must be good everywhere. There are different types of tarmac and gravel, but the important thing is to mix gravel and tarmac in the championship.
Q: It's important for you to impress Mitsubishi people here?
DS: Everyday is important for me in order to become second driver for Mitsubishi in all the championship next year. This rally is important, but in fact every rally is important. This year it's my turn to show my qualities, but I don't know the team decision about next year. I'm open but Mitsubishi has priority because they've given me the chance to take part in a WRC.
Q: When did you start thinking in retirement?
CS: It's a difficult decision, when you enjoy what you are doing, but when I say that I was not prepared for a commitment during the whole championship next year, I decided to retire. That's a right decision if you're not prepared for the challenge for the whole championship, and right now I thought I'd run 6 or 7 rallies. I was asked to think about this a bit more, until the FIA calendar was established, and when it became public, I took the decision.
Q: Now that Carlos stops, what will be your role?
DS: I'm not Carlos. Carlos was... well, Carlos is the best driver of the world championship. His motivation is incredible, he's a great person, he's been able to win two championships and obtain some sub championships. We are thinking about very different things right now. I'm just trying to run 16 rallies.
Q: Why your record in Catalunya has never been especially good?
CS: Sometimes I'm not lucky. Maybe this time I'll do a good job in Catalunya. The important thing is to try my best.