Rally Mexico: Post-event press conference

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP Corona Rally Mexico Media FIA Post-event Press Conference 13.03.2005 Present: 1st Petter Solberg -- Subaru World Rally Team 1st Phil Mills -- Subaru World Rally Team 2nd Marcus Gronholm -- Marlboro Peugeot Total 2nd...

Corona Rally Mexico
Media FIA Post-event Press Conference

1st Petter Solberg -- Subaru World Rally Team
1st Phil Mills -- Subaru World Rally Team
2nd Marcus Gronholm -- Marlboro Peugeot Total
2nd Timo Rautiainen -- Marlboro Peugeot Total
3rd Markko Martin -- Marlboro Peugeot Total
3rd Michael Park -- Marlboro Peugeot Total
David Lapworth, Team Principal, Subaru World Rally Team

Welcome to the final press conference. Joining us are winners Petter Solberg and Phil Mills from Subaru. In second place for Peugeot, Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen and in third place their team-mates Markko Martin and Michael Park. We also have Subaru Team Principal, David Lapworth here representing the winning manufacturer.

Q: You won with the new car. What did you think of the event?

PS: Well, first of all I'm very pleased to win with the old car in Sweden and then it's an incredible feeling to win with the new one here. The tribute for the rally is for Mr Kuze, like I mentioned before the rally, it was him that made it possible for us to be here. It was good to do the work with the whole team and win the rally for Mr Kuze.

Q: Did you have any problems at all?

PM: Very little really. We had a few brake-fade problems, but so did the others, otherwise it was perfect.

Q: How happy are you to finish second under the circumstances?

MG: Normally not at all, but now it feels good after retiring in Sweden and not finishing so good in Monte. Next time we will push harder to make if difficult for Petter.

Q: How much time do you think the brake problems cost you?

TR: What was the difference? It was 35 seconds -- then we lost 36! We were fighting especially at the start with the brake problems. Then we found a solution to change the pads after each stage, and we cooled the rear brakes with water after the stages. We could manage, but the problem was in the last kilometres of the stages and then on the road section afterwards. It was difficult to trust and find the confidence. Marcus was trying the brakes on the straights before the tight corners. It's impossible to say how much we lost, but at least we couldn't beat Petter.

Q: You won the event last year, how different was it this time around?

MM: Of course it was a lot more difficult to come to this rally this year, but at the same time I was quite happy with the way things went. I knew we had made some slight improvements on the set-up from Sweden. It definitely worked, but at shakedown I realised there were things we needed to change for me. We couldn't do that in the event, so I am quite pleased to finish third which helps me and Peugeot in the Championships.

Q: Is Markko's driving style different from Marcus' and is that why you didn't have any brake problems?

MP: I don't think two drivers ever drive the same. Our car set-up is slightly different, but I don't think it's fair to say we had fewer problems. Our brakes weren't perfect, but maybe not as bad as Marcus'.

Q: Was does this mean for the Championship? How strongly poised are you this season?

PS: It's very positive for us and the team. First of all I never thought it would be possible to win this rally. I never got the proper feeling at shakedown, but I have a very good set-up after that. For the next few rallies I have a good feeling. Obviously in New Zealand, the first day will be quite tricky. You know, I have to say, I think it will be a very interesting Championship this season. The points are very close and everybody is taking points. This will be one of the greatest years for a long, long, time. I can get used to leading the Championship now.

Q: There were some new stages this season, what did you think of them?

PM: They were very good. The fast section at the end of the new one was one of the most difficult parts of the event. It's a hard, tough event, but it's well worthy of its place in the Championship. It's an achievement for any crew to get to the finish.

Q: Is Peugeot on top of the reliability issues it has had in the past? Are you confident for New Zealand?

MG: I think yes, it seems to be good. We had no other problems, only the brakes here; it will be okay for the next rallies. Now we have to continue the work to make the suspension better. It looks good. I am much more confident for New Zealand; for sure it will be a good rally for me.

Q: It was you and Petter in New Zealand last season. Will it be the same again this season?

TR: I think, if we don't roll, it will be much easier for us! And I believe we don't roll this year.

Q: Petter says he's going to win 10 rallies this year, Seb says he'll have the other four, this doesn't seem to leave any for you...

MG: There seems to be zero for us. Everything is possible....

Q: Is this the most comfortable you have felt in the car all season?

MM: It's definitely a lot better than it was on the last rally in Sweden. The team worked really hard to satisfy me on the last test and it's getting there for sure. I'm not 100 per cent confident in the car, but it's getting there and the main thing is we haven't had any technical problems. It's good to keep the reliability and then work on the set-up.

Q: What did you think of the number and behaviour of the spectators this season? And what about the rally organisation all around?

MP: I think the number of spectators has doubled since last year, not that I see too many of them -- I'm a little bit busy! They were very well behaved; I haven't heard anybody say anything different.

Q: What does winning straight out of the box mean for the team?

DL: It's a great reward for the whole team. When everybody thinks we're having a holiday from the last rally of last year to the first rally this season, I can tell you we're not. The guys have worked flat out through the closed season and this is a great reward for all of them. You are always a little bit nervous when you're coming out with a new car. It's very difficult to find a car which is going to work on all 16 rallies; there are so many different surfaces and different conditions. It's hard to cover everything in testing, but we won with a new car in 1997, again in 2000 and now here.

Q: Petter didn't seem overly optimistic on Thursday, were you concerned at all?

DL: A good night's sleep on Thursday helped Petter. He has a very good relationship with his engineer Pierre. They know exactly what to look for and how to get the best out of the car. Petter had done some testing in the car, but he never had the chance to do any back-to-back work with the old car. I was confident coming here with the car, but Petter had to get that feeling. I think we were half-way there at shakedown and the rest came during the rally. I was much more relaxed than Petter was. I could see the objective data from the car and I knew that once he saw that and the times, then he would relax and things would get even better. Now he can go to New Zealand knowing what he's got. He even made a couple of changes on the final stage which he liked.

Q: You said in Sweden Chris exceeded your expectations, what did you think of him here? Given Chris' performance, do you now have an eye on the Manufacturers' Championship?

DL: No, not at all. It may come, but there's no change in our priority. First we want Petter's drivers' title and secondly we can't take Chris' eye off the ball. He is a future star, but he needs to finish rallies, improve his notes and things like that. We can't put him under pressure and we don't want to change the way he's going about things.


Q: Describe Mexico in a few words.

PS: The organisation was very good and the spectators were exceptionally good. Where they were standing on the stages was good and sensible, and in the service area. There's been a very good atmosphere. I can't say anything -- the rally has been absolutely perfect. We're all looking forward to coming back next year and hopefully there will be twice as many people again!

Q: How you going to celebrate tonight?

PS: Okay, we're going to celebrate with the team. There's a good atmosphere and structure in the team -- honey and milk is how we'll celebrate tonight!


1st Guy Wilks -- Suzuki Sport
1st Phil Pugh -- Suzuki Sport

Now for the final press conference of the FIA JWRC, we have the winning crew of Guy Wilks and Phil Pugh.

Q: Congratulations! Only five cars started the rally, two went out on the first loop -- was this one of the strangest rallies you have done?

GW: It wasn't the strangest. It's been a bit funny only having five cars competing, but we still knew that P-G was there and he's the Champion. We had a benchmark with P-G and we soundly beat him.

Q: Is it easier or harder to win a rally when you have a big lead?

GW: It depends. We had such a lead, like P-G said, we could have had three punctures, changed them and still won. We had quite a sizeable lead from the second day, so we decided just to keep pushing on. We had an overshoot on SS3, we stalled on SS7 and then yesterday we had a problem with the brakes. We lost them a couple of times, but no big problems -- everybody had that. This morning was the biggest drama; we couldn't get the sump guard back on after the chassis had moved after a bang yesterday. We used 13 minutes of our lateness; that was quite hairy.

Q: Was it a good idea to include Mexico in the JWRC?

PP: Yes. The other guys who didn't make the trip made a big mistake. We should have had 10 people here. The people who do the finances tell me it's no more expensive than going to Turkey. Next year we should come back and have a full squad with us.

Q: You and P-G are doing all 16 rounds, how much sharper does that make you for the JWRC rounds?

GW: It does make us sharper. There's a different kind of pressure on JWRC rounds. I would say there's more pressure. In JWRC there are more cars in our category whereas on the other rounds we're up against other cars and fighting for the team. We are really enjoying doing all of these rallies


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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Timo Rautiainen , Michael Park , Guy Wilks , Phil Pugh , Markko Martin