Rally of Turkey: Post-event press conference

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP Rally of Turkey Media FIA Post-event Press Conference 05.06.2005 Present: 1st Daniel Elena -- Citroen Sport 2nd Petter Solberg -- Subaru World Rally Team 2nd Phil Mills -- Subaru World Rally Team 3rd Marcus Gronholm...

Rally of Turkey
Media FIA Post-event Press Conference

1st Daniel Elena -- Citroen Sport
2nd Petter Solberg -- Subaru World Rally Team
2nd Phil Mills -- Subaru World Rally Team
3rd Marcus Gronholm -- Marlboro Peugeot Total
3rd Timo Rautiainen -- Marlboro Peugeot Total
Guy Frequelin, team principal Citroen Sport

Welcome to the final press conference. Joining us is the winner Daniel Elena for Citroen. Sebastien Loeb has left to qualify for the Le Mans 24-hour race later this month. In second place for Subaru are Petter Solberg and Phil Mills and third-placed finishers from Peugeot, Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen. We also have Citroen team principal Guy Frequelin here representing the winning manufacturer.

Q: Would you say that Seb is on the verge of being as dominant in rally as Michael Schumacher was in F1 last year? It's five wins out of seven now...

GF: I think it's difficult to compare, but for sure this year Sebastien is stronger than last year and the year before. He has more experience, he's very calm -- it's no problem for him on the car, he has a good feeling in the road condition. For the moment it's a good result for him.

Q: Where does he get the superiority from?

GF: Many things. He has a very good feeling with the car, we have very good tyres, he has a good relationship with Daniel and I hope it's also a good team behind him.

Q: Also Carlos -- what did you think of his performance?

GF: The performance from Carlos was fantastic. After seven months to drive fast like this after three stages and to drive like this is so difficult conditions, it's really a very, very good job.

Q: Will Carlos do any more rallies?

GF: Carlos told me that he want to drive only one time, but if he ask me to drive in Acropolis Rally then maybe I tell him ok. We will take the decision tomorrow.

Q: You're steadily reducing the gap to Peugeot, at what point do you think you can overtake them?

GF: It's so difficult, it's impossible to say. We need four points to be the same as Peugeot, but it's so difficult to know. For sure, we will try and we will see, but I can't say something for this at the moment.

Q: You won every stage on the first day apart from SS4. What happened there? Were you still confident of winning?

DE: In SS4 you have very difficult condition, with a lot of mud. First on the road in these condition is very difficult, you have no line and 20cm of mud. We had maximum power and no go. After Petter you have a line

PS: Which line, there is no line.

DE: SS4 was very, very difficult to be first on the road.

Q: Were you still confident of winning?

DE: Yes and no. In the first stage last year Seb was fastest and the condition was okay because it was wet. It was the same this year, it was not so much disadvantage to be first on the road.

Q: But you have only added two points to your lead over Petter -- is it frustrating to work so hard and come away with only a two-point advantage?

DE: Yes, but two points is better than zero.

PS: He has too many points already.

Q: Big fight with Marcus today -- did you think he would come back at you on the last two stages today?

PS: I was quite confident, yes. But he's a clever guy. I think he was happy with third.

MG: No okay, yes. If Petter say so, yes. Very good.

Q: Did you think you had a chance to keep second place?

MG: I was trying on every stage, I wasn't sure if we could do it as Petter was always a little bit faster. It was difficult.

Q: What did you think of only having two stages today?

TR: I think there was enough stages to prove who was faster and to see which classification the drivers should be in. We were trying to fight, but Petter and Phil stopped the fight when they did their time on the first stage this morning. We still drove clean and no mistakes, but they did no mistakes either -- we could not catch them.

Q: There was a lot of talk about the rain and muddy conditions on this rally. How bad were they?

PS: Actually we did a big mistake before the rally with the tyre nomination. We didn't have any tyres at all for the conditions on the first day. We had one good set and used them on the middle loop on the second day, but they still weren't soft enough. Big mistake. I just had a hard tyre and a very hard tyre. We had the new one, for the very hot temperature -- the one that has been missing on last two rallies -- but this rally went in the opposite direction. We need to learn all the small details that Citroen do right all the time. It's always a small thing we miss out on. On the next rally we will not let it happen -- I'm fed up with finishing second.

Q: How depressed are you at coming second to Sebastien again?

PS: Well day one was mainly the tyre choice. On the two last legs, we were fighting with similar times, even we were just a little bit faster. In Cyprus we had no chance after something on every stage. In Sardinia we know what the problems were. I hope in Greece everything is perfect. I hope we can show that we can still win rallies. I get p***ed off to tell you the truth, but they do a very good job, it's not their fault. We just have to work even harder, we still have a chance to win the championship. We will see.

Q: Is the championship harder than you thought?

PS: They have something which turns things around, especially on the gravel since New Zealand. Of course I've changed things and quite a lot. That didn't help anything for us. It's going to be a hard year. They're full of confidence and doing the right thing. Nothing is easy, you know. It's a tough championship full of many manufacturers and many good drivers. That's how it should be. They have reached a level we have to get to and reach very quickly.

Q: You managed to take nine seconds out of Marcus in the last seven km of the penultimate stage, talk us through that...

PM: : Well, Marcus one second up at top of mountain. It was all downhill and very muddy from there. We had an exceptional run through the mud. It was as simple as that, but not without moments. That was where the time came. We did that part of the stage yesterday and funnily enough, it was worse today than yesterday.

Q: The consistency is there to challenge Citroen, but it's clear you need more speed. What's the best way to find that?

MG: I don't know. Same words as Petter. The team and we have to work for the small details: the tyre, set-up. It's not on the same level. There are many small things. I don't want to specify them now, we have to find them.

Q: Your approach to rallies is the same, though...

MG: I'm always trying at the maximum. Some times it's good, but sometimes not. It's not constant and that's not normal.

Q: What about Greece?

MG: I'm optimistic we can beat Petter, but not Sebastien.

PS: He's talking a lot of strange things.

Q: How similar is this rally to Cyprus and Greece? Is there a place for three similar rallies?

TR: If I compare Italy, Cyprus and Turkey, except for the mud on this rally. The roads are better here than Italy and Cyprus. For me, we don't need so many hot, slow gravel rallies in this area. One would be enough. I can't decide which one, but we have the best roads here in Turkey.

Questions from the floor

Q: It's a question for Guy Frequelin: what are the names that might drive your car in Greece or Argentina and what about young Finns?

GF: We decide tomorrow for next rally and then we see after for the future. For sure, it's many possibilities, rally by rally or many rallies or one driver until the end of the season. There are many drivers on the list and also some Finnish drivers on the list.

Q: I saw Francois Duval at a stage, was he invited and did you meet?

GF: I don't invite him. I think he's coming for his fan. Someone told me his fan come in Turkey to see him for the rally and he need to come, it's 68 people. I didn't see him on the rally.

1st Toshi Arai -- Subaru
1st Tony Sircombe -- Subaru

Now for the final press conference of the FIA Production Car, we have the winning crew: Toshi Arai and Tony Sircombe.

Q: You scored an amazing comeback victory, talk us through your rally....

TA: Very exciting. I have hard day on Friday, but at the last stage I pushed very hard for the win.

Q: What do you think of your championship chances now?

TA: Very good. The difference is ten points now, but we miss the next two rallies. My next event is Japan. I hope we have a good time there.

Q: Japan is a very important event for you?

TA: Yes, I have to win there -- that would make my supporters happy. It's very important for us.

Q: The PC Championship is getting very close now. How tough is the competition?

TS: Getting closer and closer on every rally. In this rally, the people who didn't have problems were the guys more likely to win. Punctures are playing a very big part. We dropped 3m20s in SS8 with no power steering. We were lucky other drivers got punctures to get the time back for us. Overall, on each stage it's second for second and very exciting. It keeps your concentration up.

Q: What advantage did your Subaru have here?

TA: In this rally, one some stages the Subaru was faster and on others the Mitsubishi was faster, but on the whole our car was quicker.

Q: How hard was this event on the car?

TS: We hadn't done this event before. We'd heard it was quite rough. In the early years it was similar to Cyprus. We were quite surprised that the second run didn't cut up for our cars. In the mud? Toshi goes pretty well in the mud, if anything it was a bit of an advantage for us. We were hoping for more rain.

Q: It must have been a fairly exciting ride with Toshi through that last stage...

TS: It was we were a little lucky, we had the KP tyre, the others were on the XR. We thought it would be an advantage in the mud on SS17, we thought it would be our ace card. We took 17s off them going into that last stage and as soon as we saw a bit of a loose surface, we thought we had a chance, so we kept pushing and it came.

Q: How important were the tyres here?

TA: The weather was making a big change all of the time, so we were using KP tyre only today. Normally we had the XR. Normally this is not so good the Production Cars.


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About this article
Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team