Rally Mexico: Pre-event press conference

Harri Rovanpera (Marlboro Peugeot Total) Gianluigi Galli (Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports) Carlos Sainz (Citroën Total) Mikko Hirvonen (555 Subaru World Rally Team) Francois Duval (Ford Motor Co. Ltd) Q: Carlos, here we are in Mexico, what do...

Harri Rovanpera (Marlboro Peugeot Total)
Gianluigi Galli (Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports)
Carlos Sainz (Citroën Total)
Mikko Hirvonen (555 Subaru World Rally Team)
Francois Duval (Ford Motor Co. Ltd)

Q: Carlos, here we are in Mexico, what do you think of the route now you've had a chance to see it?

Carlos Sainz: I think the roads are quite nice, the stages are in a good condition. There's nothing special about the stages; no special character. You could compare some to Argentina in hard conditions or the some to the very good stages in Greece. Here, the stages are very nice and in good condition. The only problem we have is that we had to make our tyre choice one month ago without knowing about the stages, that is something I find very stupid.

Q: Harri, last time you were in Mexico you won the rally. How much of an advantage does that give you starting the event?

Harri Rovanpera: I don't know how much of an advantage in seconds. Of course I remember some places, we have some pace notes for 30 or 40 kilometres of stages. I know the area, very nice.

Q: Is it quite different this year or about the same?

Harri Rovanpera: Almost the same, but two years ago there were some much slower parts.

Q: Francois, a good rally in Monte Carlo, not so good in Sweden. Is your priority to finish or to push for the best result possible?

Francois Duval: I come here to learn. It is important for me to finish inside the points for Ford and for me, it's not so important for the podium.

Q: Mikko, do you think new events like this help younger drivers because nobody has a particular advantage in terms of experience?

Mikko Hirvonen: Maybe a little bit, but then again everybody will go flat out so the speed will be the same. Maybe the more experienced drivers, who will also be pushing hard, will make some mistakes -- I have to try and make sure I'm the driver who doesn't make any mistakes this time.

Q: Gigi, last time you were out in the car was Monte Carlo, where you were fast straight away, is it realistic to expect that sort of performance here? Do you feel more comfortable on asphalt or gravel?

Gianluigi Galli: Maybe. For me it's important to make some more kilometres for the development of the car. This is my aim. As a driver there's no difference between the surfaces, every condition is good for me.

Q: Carlos, nobody is allowed to test here. You took your settings from a test in Spain, how difficult does that make your rally here? Is there a big element of chance?

Carlos Sainz: I don't think this rally has a particular characteristic. For sure if you compete here you could fine tune the car better and maybe find a better set-up. But you just need a basic set-up, it's just average: not so slow, fast or twisty and you can find these roads in other rallies. I don't think it should be such a problem.

Q: Harri, you've not driven a rally since Rally GB and not competed in a 307 WRC at all. Is this going to cause you a problem? What did you think of the 307 before you tested it in Sardinia?

Harri Rovanpera: I hope it's not going to cause me a problem. I drove almost five days in Sardinia and Tuscany, the first time in gravel we didn't have a base set-up for the 307, so it's hard to know what our speed will be like.

Q: We're working to new recce rules, with just two days of recce then shakedown and the start.

Francois Duval: For the driver it's okay, but for the co-driver it's a short time to check the notes. This is quite easy for the recce, but for New Zealand it might be harder. This rally is quite okay, it's quite compact.

Q: Mikko, You have the new car here: the 2004 version of the Subaru Impreza.

Mikko Hirvonen: It helps a lot, everything inside has changed a little bit, the suspension and everything. With all of the development it feels very positive on the test -- we'll see how it goes on the rally.

Q: Mitsubishi clearly had some transmission problems in Sweden. Are you confident these problems have been sorted out?

Gianluigi Galli: Everybody knows Mitsubishi came with the car one month before Monte Carlo, so we were just surprised with Panizzi's finish in the race. We were unlucky in Sweden to have some problems, in the testing we improved the gearbox. It's true that it's not perfect, but I'm positive because its coming better, but we do need some time to make it even better

Q: You have the anti-lag system here in Mexico for the first time. Does that help?

Gianluigi Galli: Yes it's better. Now we can start the stages faster, before we started slower at a more normal speed.

Questions from the floor:

Q: Harri, could you tell us the difference you found between the 206 and the 307?

Harri Rovanpera: The cars are completely different, but we're not comparing anymore we are going with the 307, so we need to work with that. Of course we have a four-speed gearbox like everybody knows, so there's going to be a different driving style for this event.

Q: Carlos, how do you feel about the bomb explosions in your hometown of Madrid this morning?

Carlos Sainz: Everybody can imagine when something like this happens it's very difficult to understand how a human can do something like that to people who have nothing to do with what they are persuading or want. It was a big shock, I just hope that things can come back to normal, but I'm sure it's already 200 people dead and over 1,500 people injured -- for sure it has been a disaster. From this distance it's very hard to understand what has happened.

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About this article
Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team