WRC

Rally of Great Britain: Pre-event press conference

6 November 2003, 1530h Present: Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) Carlos Sainz (Citroen) Petter Solberg (Subaru) Guy Frequelin (Citroen) David Lapworth (Subaru) Corrado Provera (Peugeot) Q: First of all to the three championship contenders in turn:...

6 November 2003, 1530h

Present:
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen)
Carlos Sainz (Citroen)
Petter Solberg (Subaru)
Guy Frequelin (Citroen)
David Lapworth (Subaru)
Corrado Provera (Peugeot)

Q: First of all to the three championship contenders in turn: who do you think has the best chance of winning the championship here and why?

SL: I think it will be a big fight between the three drivers. It will not be easy but I think everybody will try to do it and we will see.

CS: Obviously when you are in this position and you have a weekend ahead of you like the one starting today, you hope it will be you. I hope as well that Citroen will win the manufacturers' and then it will be a fantastic weekend. Obviously we cannot forget that Petter won here last year and that Subaru and Pirelli have a fantastic record here.

PS: I think it will be a very good fight - that's for sure. I think maybe that Carlos with his experience and a lot of knowledge of this rally will be a tough guy to beat. He's also very good with his strategy. But Loeb is already leading so I don't know yet. I'll definitely try and beat them, but I'm quite happy with my third place actually. The team and everybody has done a very good job this year and I'm very happy, so everything else will be a bonus.

Q: Corrado Provera, Richard Burns should be here as well as the fourth championship contender, but he was taken ill before the rally. Can you tell us what has happened to him and what the latest news is.

CP: No I can't because we don't know exactly how serious the reason is for his fainting last Sunday. But the doctors immediately came to the decision to not let him enter the rally. So far we've heard so many silly theories, but what happened to his health is of huge importance. Tests have been done on him on Monday and Tuesday which couldn't lead the doctors to find the reason for the symptoms he had. Other tests will be done next week. I would just end this statement by saying that we are sad for him - sad for us - but mainly for him. We're also sad for the amount of stupid things we have heard so far - and a human being deserves privacy, even though that human being is a public man. When the time comes, it will be up to Richard to tell what happened to him. I only hope that what happened to him can be solved.

Q: Guy Frequelin, the other big battle here is for the manufacturers' championship. How confident do you and Citroen feel with a five-point advantage?

Guy Frequelin: This year we showed that the team, the car and the drivers were able to perform and I'm very confident for Sebastien and Carlos. I also hope for good help from Colin, because for him it's his rally in his country and I hope for a good performance. For the fight between Sebastian and Carlos, we'll see - but I'm sure I'll get the question so I'll give you an answer: for sure, I don't want to give team orders, but if it's really important and if we need them, then I'll speak with the drivers and we'll decide what to do. But I hope that we have not got to do it.

Q: Corrado Provera, you have Freddy Loix in the car instead of Richard. What are you expecting of him?

CP: First of all I would like to thank the FIA because they let us change the entry because of force majeure and also because they gave Freddy the possibility of four hours of testing yesterday, and that has been done because it was a matter of safety. What we are waiting for now is for him to start in the car and I hope that you will be surprised by him - we are sure that we will not be. He is committed, he is starting to understand how the WRC works and the reason we chose him to try and score points for us is easy; he will drive for us next year and we decided to give him the opportunity of starting the rally.

Q: David Lapworth, what can you tell us about Petter's approach to the rally? He won it last year - does he need to do that again this year?

DL: It's fairly clear that we don't have to start the rally thinking about how we are going to win it. We are focused on the championship and Petter is here to win the championship above anything else. It will depend on how fast these guys go as to how we change our approach as things go on. It's a difficult rally - everyone knows in history that this is one of the trickiest rallies, where the most things happen. Nobody can really start this really saying exactly how they'll approach it. You have to adapt according to the weather and what happens.

Q: Sebastien Loeb, of the three drivers fighting for the title here, you're the one with the least experience of this event. Will that be a problem for you?

Sebastien Loeb: I hope not. For sure I have not much experience here, but that was the case in Australia too. For sure we have improved the car since last year and I have some experience of these stages so I think it will not be a problem. We just have to push and we will see what happens afterwards.

Q: Carlos, you've been in this championship-winning situation before on Rally GB. Everybody remembers what happened in 1998, so is this an unlucky rally for you?

CS: For 1998, I think everybody will agree that it was a very special situation. But on the other hand since that situation, I think that I learnt and for me - obviously apart from an accident - nothing can be worse than that situation. I'm very happy, I'm very relaxed. I've enjoyed this season very much and I will try and enjoy this rally this weekend. I'm very well prepared. Sport does not understand about these things. People ask me, 'Doesn't this rally owe you something?' But sport does not understand. If sport did understand, then for sure the rally does owe me something.

Q: Petter Solberg, the weather is meant to be mostly dry this weekend. Do you think this will suit you?

PS: Yeah, I don't think it's going to be any big difference in driving or set-up anyway. But I must say the conditions look really good for driving anyway. The only thing for me is that there's a little bit of loose rock around, but we'll wait and see.

Q: David Lapworth, there will be a couple of people leaving us at the end of the rally. Firstly, Tommi Makinen. What has it been like working with him over the last two years?

DL: The first thing I want to say is that it's been great fun - we've had a really good two years, and the relationship between Petter and Tommi has been a major feature of that: the way they've worked together and helped each other, and the way that Tommi has selflessly helped Petter to come on over the last two years. Tommi was already a legend when he came to us and his record speaks for itself. I said this morning that some of those 24 wins are some of the most classic wins that certainly I can remember over the last 20 or 30 years. Some of those special special stages, those last stage efforts have been tremendous. It's rather sad for me and it's a shame that it can't go on forever. But it's been a great experience and he was everything we expected - a great professional, a great team member and I think we've all enjoyed it. As I said at the beginning, it was great fun.

Q: Finally, Guy Frequelin, Colin McRae will be stopping at the end of the year - at least temporarily. Could he ever come back to Citroen in the future?

GF: You know with the new regulations with two cars, we needed to make a choice. We keep Sebastien and Carlos, but for sure it's a very difficult decision. I hope that Colin can continue because I think that the WRC needs to have a guy like this - a very fast driver and very professional - and I hope that he will continue, probably next year, but certainly for the year after.

-fia-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Tommi Makinen , Colin McRae , Carlos Sainz , Freddy Loix , Richard Burns , Petter Solberg , Sébastien Loeb , Guy Frequelin , Corrado Provera
Teams Citroën World Rally Team