Rally of Turkey: Pre-event press conference

Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) Markko Martin (Ford) Sebastien Loeb (Citroën) Petter Solberg (Subaru) Q: It hasn’t been the easiest season so far, you had problems. A couple of your mistakes as well? Has that been because you have been under ...

Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot)
Markko Martin (Ford)
Sebastien Loeb (Citroën)
Petter Solberg (Subaru)

Q: It hasn’t been the easiest season so far, you had problems. A couple of your mistakes as well? Has that been because you have been under more pressure this year or has there been any other reasons behind that?

Gronholm: No, at the beginning of the season we have a completely new car, it is always difficult. OK, we were expecting a little bit better but... Anyway we finished all the rallies except last one in Greece, I made a mistake and lost a wheel, not lost a wheel but I touched quite hard and it was all about I was trying a little bit too much after Cyprus. Cyprus was good rally for me, we won, but in the end no points so it is a little bit disappointing.

Q: Is your approach to this rally going to be a little bit different, you said in Greece you were trying a little bit too much after Cyprus. Does this mean that here you’ll take cover or not?

Gronholm: Yes maybe, maybe it is little difficult when we start the rally I always try my best but driving for the second position I think we have to do it sometimes when you look at the points standings now. One moment ago we were leading for one week with one point and we are 19 points behind so it is quite terrible now.

Q: Good news for you Marcus is that your car seems fast and reliable now. Is it yet at the limit of its potential or is there still more important things to come?

Gronholm: No, it is not at the limit and still I am not so confident as I was in 206 at the best times when we were going really really well, but I hope we will soon have this same feeling with the new car and I am quite sure that we will come. Now after this rally we have two weeks testing in Finland and we have new parts and new gearbox, I am confident that it will be good.

Q: Marcus, you had the experience of driving under the SupeRally system as well, in Greece. Was getting a motivation to go a problem for you?

Gronholm: OK, everybody is telling that it is good to test something and the roads are closed but not in the fighting mood when you are testing something new and you are not going that fast and looking at the times in the stage you lose 20 seconds, you think OK the car is not good, but we are testing and you can not trust it, for me it is completely zero to do without point scoring

Q: What do you think you can do to change your luck and how do you rate your possibilities in the championship, when you are 19 points behind?

Gronholm: It will take a long time if the others are getting points I can’t catch a lot but one bad rally for somebody in the top then I will close it again so it is not over again, so hopefully it is still possible. It shows that I told you before that two rallies ago I was leading, now I am 19 points behind so anything is possible.

Q: In recent European elections, many parties have presented famous sportmen. In Finland there is Ari Vatanen, Juha Kankunen.What about becoming a politician in the future?

Gronholm: No, no, I will not do that. Maybe somebody wants to do it but you need experience from that area also and Kankunen had zero and he had a name but not me.

Q: Same question for you Markko. Have you been asked in Estonia to run for some party? Would you like to do it?

Martin: Don’t know, don’t care about politics.

Gronholm: You can make new rules, quickly.

Q: You have been very active in expressing drivers views; would you fancy working for the FIA in the future?

Martin: If I had the same power Max (Mosley) has then I could do just whatever I want. It would be a very good position to be in.

Q: You made a rare mistake in Greece as well, sliding off the road but the new superally system meant that you were able to come back for 2nd and 3rd legs, I remember you werent very happy about that but would you been more interested if you were scoring points?

Martin: Yes, I mean in that case there is at least some point coming back and fighting for something otherwise you just try for nothing and it is quite difficult I think. People don’t realize that I think they all come to rally to build up for the event and want to fight and win and everything, when you fail to do that everything in your system just drops and you are not in the same mood any more, try to do your job but I think the excitement is gone, you just do a Sunday driving and for me it is quite dangerous as well because it is easy to make mistakes.

Q: Markko, can you talk a little bit about the high temperatures on this rally it seems that it is going to be the hottest one of the year, how much does it affect you in the car as driver?

Martin: No, of course it is warmer than it is outside but it is OK, same for everybody and we just have to cope with it there is nothing we can do. I just have to make sure it doesn’t affect too much.

Q: Can we talk a little about future, you are free agent at the end of this year. Have you had many offers or do you have no plans for what you want to do?

Martin: You have to ask my manager I don’t know.

Q: David Williams, DW Agency Which engine are you using tonight and why?

Martin: Not the one I used yesterday but I dont know why it was taken out. It wasnt ready I think.

Q: Petter if we start off with you, Subaru is the only team which said it is not looking for the manufacturers’ title this year, just the drivers’ title. Does that take away some pressure from you or put more on?

Solberg: Maybe a little more on, but all the time the team or the driver we always drive to win and hopefuly at the end we can win the championship, so I think I put more pressure on myself than the team so I must say no problem at all but it would be a good fun to win the manufacturers’ also.

Q: Seb, are you surprised to be where you are at this point in the season or was it a part of your plan from the beginning of the year now that we are nearly half way through the year and you are leading both (championships)?

Loeb: It is difficult to make a plan at the beginning of the year for the championship. I am happy to be leading now it is very close and I think it is too early to know what will happen at the end of the championship. We have Marcus, Petter, Marrko pushing very hard and I think it is not very easy to keep this position so I am happy for the moment. Citroen is leading the manufacturers’ championship which is very good too. I hope this will continue.

Q: It is the last of the three rough rallies and in Cyprus you said that when you started off you had to look after the car a bit and you got more confidence that went on. Here, will you be able to push from the beginning or you need to modulate your pace?

Loeb: No, I think it wasn’t so rough here as it was in Cyprus but the problem is that at the beginning there is a lot of gravel on the road and there is a lot of gravel here. Organization made a very good job to have clean stages but it is a lot of loose surface and I hope we will not lose so much time the first day.

Q: It was pouring down rain yesterday what effect is that going have on the stages tomorrow?

Solberg: Like Sebastian said, it is going to very difficult to be first on the road but if it rains it will be a good advantage for us anyway, we won’t lose so much time.

Q: We can talk a little about the tyres Petter? So you are on Pirelli tyres, you are the only team to be on Pirelli tyres, do you think this will help you here?

Solberg: We will see on Sunday but it has been working very well on the last few rallies so still they are working very hard to develop new things for the next few rallies, we are still pushing very hard so everything will be better.

Q: Seb, Michelin also had sent new tyres in Greece, will you be using the same ones here, what do you think?

Loeb: Yes we had new tyres in Greece. We saw that we can be a little better in some places. Now we tested same tyre but a new evolution and I think it will be better so we will see here.

Q: Can you explain Seb to everyone who is not a driver, how you work out what the right place is, how you make the compromise between going fast but not damaging the car?

Loeb: (Petter; good question!) I always try to stay on the road but it is not easy. At the beginning you can make a plan, but after you see Petter, Marcus, Marrko pushing and going very fast so I have to push very hard too and after that it is difficult to make compromise especially without a gravel crew in this kind of rally . Big stones falling on the road and you can not know what it is. It can be just end of corner it might be impossible to go around so, you have to be a bit lucky sometime.

Q: Do you feel that you lead the championship now does that put any extra pressure on you, do you feel that you are now the team leader?

Loeb: No there is no extra pressure at this point in the season, it is too early. I know that I am leading for the moment and I prefer to be leading than to be behind. Everything is possible for the moment and the championship is very long so I try to do my best and not to think too much that I am leading this championship

Q: Petter, Seb said that he prefers to be leading than to be behind. Do you prefer to be leading or chasing?

Solberg: I must say I like chasing. Much more fun and more action. It is worse to be leading a rally and I prefer to fight to the end of the stage have fun myself, I think that is giving me the kick is the fight.

Q: Petter you are very much involved in promotion of the team . Is there something you really enjoy or do you feel this is just necessary thing for the future of the sport?

Solberg: Of course if things are very good organized it is always fun to do things; people appreciate that you come and do things it is good fun but obviously I am away at the moment for one month now, 5 days off and over one month away again. Of course it can be quite tough sometimes at the same time to be fit and training everyday, it is a little bit hard work but.. As long as you have fun and joy and a good team behind you supporting you on very different type of things it is ok. You have to give and take something. The team gives me a good winning car and I can always work very hard again no problem.

Q: Seb what is going to be your plan for this event? We have seen in the past you start off, you build up the speed, on the second and third days you have very quick times which gives you the top position do you think it will be the same here or are you just go flat out?

Loeb: I hope not, I hope we can start fast but in Cyprus I think I have a good driving style in the first stages but it was too much rough and we would have to stand up for that but here it will depend on the condition, but now we will try not to lose too much time at the beginning.

Q: Do you feel that now Xsara is up to its full potential on rough gravel surfaces?

Loeb: It is never perfect you always have to work, if you don’t improve between two rallies you see other cars going faster than you so it is always important to continue to develop the car. But now it seems that the car is very good, we have some new evolution coming in few rallies but at the moment it is good.

Q: For both of you, the last time you were here in Turkey was February. How different was the rally then to how it is now Petter?

Solberg: I must say that they did an incredible job, very good and it is much better than we all expected I think. And they may have taken away a little of the loose gravel, but I am very impressed, it is much wider, not so rough and it is quite smooth so very good.

Q: Seb do you think this rally now here in June will be more or less challenging than it was in February, which do you prefer?

Loeb: For me yes, it was not a very good rally for us, now in this season it can be more difficult for the crew especailly, it can very hot at the moment we don’t know because it is raining but it will be different rally from last year I am sure, the roads are different, faster, wider so it is completely different we’ll see.

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Sébastien Loeb , Ari Vatanen , Markko Martin , David Williams
Teams Williams , Citroën World Rally Team