Rally of Argentina: Pre-event press conference

Toni Gardemeister - Ford Jani Paasonen - Skoda Chris Atkinson - Subaru François Duval - Citroen Marcus Gronholm - Peugeot Harri Rovanpera - Mitsubishi Good morning, even better, good afternoon to everybody. A lot to get through, let’s invite...

Toni Gardemeister - Ford
Jani Paasonen - Skoda
Chris Atkinson - Subaru
François Duval - Citroen
Marcus Gronholm - Peugeot
Harri Rovanpera - Mitsubishi

Good morning, even better, good afternoon to everybody. A lot to get through, let’s invite our first two drivers to the stage behind me, Tony Gardemeister from the Ford Team and Jani Paasonen from Skoda.

Q: You must be very excited Tony after what happened in Greece, you had a terrific result there and drove really well for the Ford Team and you must be very confident heading off into Argentina this weekend.

TG: Yes I’m very happy for the result in Greece and I’m quite confident for this Rally. I think I like more this Rally than in Greece. And I think we could get quick here, we should try to push here, the result should be OK

Q: Is your confidence reflected in the Ford Team as well and everybody around you begins to see things happening now with you being third place in the Championship, they all want to join in and they all want to do well now.?

TG: Yes, everybody want to do well since the seasons start and we have a good chance to get top three finish in the whole Championship and we should try to work very hard all the team and it’s very nice to work in a team that everybody is pushing me and helping a lot.

Q: With you third in the World Championship at the moment as you say and that’s fair equal with Marko, has Malcom Wilson, the team boss, said to you this weekend that he wants you to be in second place ahead of Peter Solberg when the rally finishes?

TG: Actually not yet, I don’t know if he will say, we will see and we will try.

MC:. OK Tony, for the time being, thank you.

Q: Janni ,a good shakedown this morning, did it all went according to plan?

JP: Yes, well shakedown is ok, I drove three or four different dumpers I think, now I trust the car, that’s very important. Our time is not so close as to the top times but today it’s not important, tomorrow is the real rally start, then tomorrow we have to get good results.

Q: How important is trust in a car for a driver in the World Rally Championship specially here in Argentina.?

JP: Everywhere we have to trust the car. It does not matter if the set up is not necessary working but you have to trust the car and you can push it harder and sometimes your time is very good but if you do not trust your car it is difficult driving.

Q: And you’re happy? You can trust your car from first stage tonight?

JP: Of course, I’m very happy and this circuit is very good, I have lots of experience, I drove in 2000 here.

Q: There’s a lot of people here in Argentina watching this event, I believe If I’m right in saying so about a million and a half people to watch the Rally so I suppose no pressure, kind the place you would like to do well.

JP: Yes, it’s nice but in some stages maybe the problem is too many spectators and come too close to the road and last year we had some problems with the spectators. And hopefully this year is going better. But it’s nice a lot of people coming .

Q: Tony just give me your thoughts on the water splashes here, how do the water splashes look this year? Are they deep, shallow, wide…what are they like?

TG: I haven’t been here last year but comparing from previous years there are not so many water splashes. I think there are only two big ones and deep ones and the others are not so bad. They are not so big problems here.

Q: For those of us who don’t know what’s the technique with water splashes? What do you have to bear in mind as you come up to?

TG: You need to have some optimised speed, if you go too slow you may water your engine, and if you go too fast you may break pieces of the car. I think it goes by feeling.

Q: Has Malcom given you any instructions or have you had any special talk about that particular challenge of this water here and what you need to do? TG:Mmm , No.

MC: Gentlemen, anybody with questions to Tony Gardemeister for Ford Team and Janni Paasonen for Skoda?... I think that’s it…Janni and Tony, thank you very much and let’s welcome Chris Atkinson from the Subaru Team and Francois Duval from Citroên.

Q: Chris, Argentina a new experience for you.

CA: Yes, for a change it’s my first time into the Rally so we can afford the best and again that’s part of the challenge here, looking forward to it, the stages are very nice and should be good.

Q: Glenn (his co-driver) has been here before, hasn’t as your co-driver, has been at this event before, is that a bit of extra help?

CA: I guess it helps a little bit and Simon and I did Rally Australia last year, so I can learn from him. But here I did in 2001 with Toshi Arai and there are lots of changes to stages and it’s not such a big help but a little bit there.

Q: Was it the way you’d expected it to be?

CA: Pretty much. I’ve watched a lot a videos and I have and idea of what’s going to be like and I thought it would be nice and there are lots of fast places and slow places so you don’t get bored,

Q: The fast ones are the good ones on television.

CA: Yes, big jumps too.

Q: I understand that Argentina is a little bit like the Rally in Camberra, in which case what is Camberra like?

CA: It’s a little bit in terms of surface but nothing is exactly the same as anywhere else so that’s the bit resemblance made the most of anything I’ve done before and it’s sort of seem why you get the same sort of feeling with the car.

Q: Your team briefing in the build up to this weekend has the term water splash come into your advice and if so, what are you doing this year?

CA: We‘ve got a water splash button on our steering wheels so 55.4 kilometres an hour.

Q: Is that the ultimate speed to do water run?

CA: Depends what water splash you are talking about. Yes, we got a plan so not flat out but not too slow.

Q: Is everyone different?

CA: I think there are 27 water splashes and they are all taken in a different way. Most of them are flat but it depends if it rains and it’s going to be a bit different and you just have to wait and see.

Q: Good Chris Thank you. Francois. Good to see you back. Is it good to be back?

FD: Yes , sure: I’m very happy to come back here. It’s a new challenge, I’m changing co-driver it’s not too easy for me because this event is very difficult. I’ve stayed in my home for two rallies, it’s really long for me.

Q: It can’t have been very nice having to watch everybody else compete and you have to be spectator? Has anything changed while you’ve been away?

FD: No , I have being looking in Greece and Turkey in the stages and it’s difficult because the situation after Monte Carlo the collaboration with Stefan the confidence is gone, now it’s difficult as well because we speak different languages: Flemish and Vallon (with his new co-driver) .

Q: So what have you decided or what language will you use?

FD: For me French is the best plan. Sven has been in Monaco for 3 or 4 years, speaks my language.

Q: Whose idea was it to have Sven as your co-driver?

FD: In Belgium there are only three good co-drivers just the language is different as well.

Q: But you had a good time here last year? You must have good memories of Argentina in 2004, must raise your confidence as you come here this year.

FD: Yes sure. I’m very confident, last year I finished third for many problems to the other driver, Marcus and others. Normally my position should have been 4 or 5.

Q: And has the Team Manager of Citroen given you any specific instructions of what he wants from you this weekend?

FD: Stay on the route,finish 5 or 4 is very good. I take some points. If Sebastian finishes first or second it’s enough points for winning the championships.

Q: You have been away for two rallies. Will you be little bit nervous when you come to the start to the first stage tonight?

FD: It’s quite difficult, I stayed away from two rallies, not many test with Sven, only 3 days in Finland…..

Q: And as far as you know you are back now for the rest of the season?

FD: Yes, normally, if I stay on the route.

MC: Francois Duval and Chris Atkinson, thank you very much and now we have Marcus Gronholm and Harri Rovanpera

Q: You had the best and the worst times in your career in Argentina, when I think back over recent years. What do you think it’s going to be this year, best or worst times?

MG: It has not been the worst time, I think. Anyway, we have not won the rallies and it was not so nice, but anyway OK. Mainly we have had good times.

Q: I remember chasing you across the football stadium, when you were in a bad temper when they took the win away from you. Remember that?

MG: Yes, I remember. I was not there for many minutes. I went to the hotel. I was really angry.

Q: Is everything ready for you this year?

MG: Yes, I don’t know. We’ll try as usual. We have said the same words always and let’s see who is in front of us now.

Q: What is it? Is it just luck, just being in the right place at the right time? What do you think?

MG: It’s not luck. OK, we have not been lucky, but it’s everything else, I don’t know.

Q: I asked Sebastian this morning, if he was to catch Sebastian Loeb, what would he do? And he said, it’s easy. It’s just down to lots of hard work and testing and having a good team. Fair comment?

MG: Yes, yes, we are also testing. We’ll see.

Q: This is one of your favourite places, isn’t it? I’m right in thinking that you like rallies at a high speed?

MG: Yes, this has fast stages but also slow parts, but mainly many fast ones. Yes, I like the character of the roads.

Q: Has it changed much from last year? The stages, I mean.

MG: Not, really. Really dry this year. The roads are good. We don’t know what kind of weather we can have for the weekend , for the moment it looks OK.

Q: What’s Peugeot’s intelligence about the weather? Can you share that with us?

MG: I have no idea. They are not thinking forward so much.

Q: It looks as if its going to be hot an dry. Are you happy or not?

MG: It’s OK. Same for everybody, anyway.

Q: Can you believe we are starting this weekend the second half of the season?

MG: ….and you will ask when the win will come. I don’t know.

Q: OK, if you don’t want to talk about that, did you read the FIA wants to have 24 rallies… well 12 slots in the calendar for the year after next? Are you and I going to be around in 2007 at 24 events?

MG: No teams, I think. There is no money to go to 24 rallies.

Q: I’m trying to work out how it will work. Do you like the idea?

MG: It can’t be true.

Q: Harri, what’s going to happen here this weekend with Mitsubishi? I’m waiting for those podiums and wins. Someone from the team gets very excited every rally and tells me great things are going to happen. Are they going to happen here?

HR: Of course, everybody is dreaming about that. We have some new parts on the car and trying to go even a bit faster, but nobody knows. If we can keep on the road I hope some day they say the result is good.

Q: Were you testing those parts in shakedown this morning? And if so, what’s the news?

HR: We have a new cross member on the back and we were testing under two different set ups and that’s all.

Q: Are you clear in your mind what you’ll choose for the weekend?

HR: Yes, I know it.

Q: What kind of car set up will you have for Argentina?

HR: The car is quite close to what we had in Greece, small changes, nothing special, really.

Q: When you and Gigi (Galli) come to prepare your cars before each event are they very different or quite similar? You both end up with the same sort of setting?

HR: Not big differences. The cars are very close.

Q: I talked before about the number of people who come to watch this Rally, something like a million or a million and a half. From your point of view, as a driver, do you get a chance to appreciate all these people coming to see you drive?

HR: I hope we don’t see many people on the road. I remember last year in some stages it was difficult in the first pass and there was a small problem with spectators and the second time was OK , there were 1,000 policemen more at those corners and that helped.

Q: Marcus, let me come to you about the enthusiasm that people in Argentina show for the World Rally Championship. It’s quite moving

MG: Yes, they are really fanatics and it’s really nice they want to see the rally cars. For that, I think it’s one of the best places.

Q: What about the distraction? Their enthusiasm leads people to gather in corners to watch you guys go pass, but to you that is a distraction, isn’t it?

MG: Yes, sometimes it is a little bit dangerous where they are. I hope they do OK this year.

Q: Marcus, you were excluded here for a problem of weight, then in last rally somebody else had a weight problem and got away with a fine, are you upset?

MG: Well I think that we could make our car lighter and pay some money…no I am just joking. I was upset then, but now it is behind my back and we have to think to this rally.

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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team