RALLY IRELAND 11.18.2007 Present: 1st - Sebastien Loeb -- Citroen Total World Rally Team 1st - Daniel Elena -- Citroen Total World Rally Team 2nd - Daniel Sordo -- Citroen Total World Rally Team 2nd - Marc Marti -- Citroen Total World Rally ...
1st - Sebastien Loeb -- Citroen Total World Rally Team
1st - Daniel Elena -- Citroen Total World Rally Team
2nd - Daniel Sordo -- Citroen Total World Rally Team
2nd - Marc Marti -- Citroen Total World Rally Team
3rd - Jari-Matti Latvala -- Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team
3rd - Miikka Antilla -- Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team
Guy Frequelin -- Team Principal, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Welcome to the post event FIA Press Conference.
Q: Congratulations on this win Sebastien, which more importantly gives you a six-point lead in the Championship. How do you feel about your prospects for Wales Rally GB now? Even if Marcus wins, then fifth place or higher will give you a fourth world title -- you must be feeling confident?
SL: I feel I am in a good position that's sure, but for that we will have to finish Wales Rally GB and that is never easy. For sure this victory today will change a lot for my Championship and I know we will not have to fight for the victory; we will have to fight to stay on the road and win the Championship.
Q: Congratulations Daniel. You previously contested the Donegal and Cork rallies as a practice for this event: how much did those events contribute to this win today?
DE: Yes, the Donegal is very important for bumpy places and it's the first time the Citroen team came to Ireland and I don't know the place, so I had to work harder after Donegal and Cork to try the settings two times, but because its complicated.
Q: Dani, you only had one experience of Ireland before, in Cork, how much did it help you? How close do you think you were to the pace of Seb on this event? Could you have pushed harder?
DS: Yes, I have made it but not in these conditions, with more rain it makes it more difficult because it was slippery. The sensation is different; in Cork it was really fast.
Q: Marc, you have a lot of experience of asphalt rallies. What did you think of this one? How is it different from the other asphalt rallies on the World Championship? Is it a good addition to the series?
MM: For me this of course was really the worst, and by that I mean that it was really, really difficult. It was a very nice rally, very fast, should be better on dry conditions, but for me it was really difficult, dirty with a lot of places where it was possible to make a mistake. But I am happy for all the team of course for the result, for the car because it was perfect. I enjoy the rally and also the organisers.
Q: Do you think Marc this was one of the most difficult asphalt rallies that you and Dani have ever done together?
MM: I am sure about this, I think that the drivers who finished the rally can be very happy to arrive at the end of the rally.
Q: Jari-Matti, congratulations on your best-ever result and your first visit to the podium. Do you think this was your best-ever rally?
J-ML: Well it was very interesting because I was thinking when I can reach the podium the first time it would be on gravel, but it came on tarmac and that's very special. Before the rally I was thinking a position between six and eight could be perfect, but third was not something I could have imagined. In these conditions where I have been driving it was the best rally I have ever done.
Q: It is good news and bad news for Citroen: the team finally concedes the Manufacturers' Championship again to Ford, but the good news is that Sebastien now heads to Wales Rally GB with a six-point lead in the series. What are your thoughts after this event? Do you think that Sebastien will be champion again?
GF: We knew at the beginning of the year that with the new car and with a young driver like Dani with not so much experience it would be difficult to catch the title for manufacturers; it's not really a big problem for us. It is very important now to concentrate on the title for the drivers with Seb and Daniel. Before this rally it was difficult, but now again difficult but a bit less with six more points. It is still very difficult with GB rally because we must finish the rally, but will try to keep this title for the drivers and co-drivers.
Q: Obviously for you the pivotal moment of this rally was when you heard about Marcus's problem. What do you do under those circumstances? Does it make life easier or more difficult for you? How do you know which pace to drive at?
SL: No for sure it was another kind of pressure coming after. Before I had the pressure because we had a suspension problem and I had to be in front of Marcus which was most important for me. When Marcus retired I understood it was in my hands: if I make a mistake, I lose. If I win I will do a lot for the Championship. It wasn't really easy to do that well but I had a really good feeling with the car. I saw that I had very good speed, didn't have to take a lot of risk and when it was too tricky I lifted off a bit. No it was very good.
Q: Daniel, you picked up a 10-second penalty this morning leaving service. Did you have a problem? Were there any other problems on the event for you?
DE: Yes when the car started running with three cylinders, but it's a little small problem. We changed all the parts and the plugs and after that we took ten seconds penalty, but the relief when the car was running well was good.
Q: You're back to gravel next on Wales Rally GB. How much do you think you will be able to help Seb as he tries to win a fourth consecutive title? There was a lot of mud on the road here -- maybe it will help you prepare for the mud of Great Britain?!
DS: I will try to win. I don't know, I will try to push a little bit to see what will happen. I think it's not easy. The rally is very slippy, conditions are very slippy all the time. I will try to push him. I don't know how many stages but I will try.
Q: What was it like finishing the rally with the live televised super special? Were there a lot of spectators?
MM: It was really good; I think on the live TV it was very nice to see but I will look and I expect that should be a good example for the future for organisers to see how it works and maybe it's possible to see some more live stages on TV. It should be interesting. The place was really very beautiful and the sea, for us very nice and very good. Very interesting for the future.
Q: Jari-Matti, you were fourth on Wales Rally GB last year: do you think you will be able to get on the podium again? It would be a fantastic way to end the season.
J-ML: Because the podium was coming here already in Ireland, because I was planning to reach the podium with GB I was trying to get to finish on the podium. Actually Rally GB will be my sixth time there. It was my first time in 2002. I have a lot of experience. Basically all I can do is drive as fast as I can.
Q: Your season has been getting stronger and stronger what has been the secret?
J-ML: If we look at the season I have done a lot of mistakes, quite a lot of going off the road and like stupid mistakes as well. I have to learn to back off basically and give more concentration for the driving. These things have helped me to reach the finish finally.
Q: Miikka, from a co-driver's point of view, how difficult was it to make pace notes here? Have you and Jari-Matti changed much about the way you make your notes during the year?
MA: Of course the notes have developed a little bit during the season and of course during the last season more. But I have to say for this rally being a co-driver in a rally car is not the easiest. For me this was the most difficult rally for me as a co-driver.
Q: Guy, recently you announced your retirement. How difficult was it for you to make the decision?
GF: I don't want to speak about this decision; I would like to stay to the end of the Championship and then we will speak about this at the end of the next rally.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR:
Martin Holmes (Martin Holmes Rallying, UK)
Q: Congratulations to everybody, but especially to Jari-Matti. You said this must have been your best result but on stage 14 was it also the best accident you ever had?
J-ML: That's true, that's a good point. Once again I did a mistake but was really lucky and I have to say big thanks to the marshals in stage 14. I went into a field and there was no damage but I got stuck. Luckily there were three marshals helping me get back on the road; also I can say it was a very lucky for me in this stage. I can say like everybody in this rally it is so easy to make a mistake. Many drivers were making mistakes this was the lucky one.
John Dyer (Independent Network, IRL)
Q: I'll aim this one at Guy because the lads have been very open. Every one in the Irish press would like to thank the lads for being so open. This is the first time for you with the team in Ireland; are you very happy with the way things have gone?
GF: It was a very nice rally, very difficult for sure, but we must have very good coverage in any new rally and it's the most important thing for manufacturers. It's a good organisation and it's very interesting to have a good rally like this, but also very very difficult. I
Martin Walsh (Irish Examiner, IRL)
Q: Seb, this is your third visit to Ireland; you came to Donegal in June and back to Cork in September. How different are the conditions around here?
SL: The roads were really more difficult than in Donegal and Cork. It was a good experience for sure and we have done a very good job to prepare because I was not happy with the settings we had, so we did a good job to find suspension settings.
Q: Do you think Ireland has a good case for 2009?
SL: Yes, it's a nice rally and it's always a nice atmosphere here in the rallies. It's really exciting to come to a place where people like rallying and they enjoy what you are doing and it's a great atmosphere. I came three times and won three times, and if you would like to have me back I would like to come again.