FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP RALLY D'ITALIA SARDEGNA FIA Post-event Press Conference 21.05.2006 Present: Sebastien Loeb - Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team Daniel Elena - Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team Mikko Hirvonen - BP Ford World...
FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
RALLY D'ITALIA SARDEGNA
FIA Post-event Press Conference
Sebastien Loeb - Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team
Daniel Elena - Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team
Mikko Hirvonen - BP Ford World Rally Team
Jarmo Lehtinen - BP Ford World Rally Team
Representative of the winning Manufacturer Kronos Total Citroen WRT - @Marc Van Dalen
Welcome to the post-event FIA Press Conference of Rally d'Italia Sardegna.
Q: Congratulations Daniel on becoming the most successful co-driver in the world with 25 victories; how does it feel? Will Luis Moya be buying dinner tonight?
DE: I'm very very happy with this result; I'm just looking forward to Greece now too. I dedicate the victory to my family and my daughter. I don't know, maybe we'll party tonight, but I'll party for sure tomorrow when I'll come back home...I think we'll make a one-week party!
Q: Congratulations Seb on the victory that takes you just one win away from equalling Carlos Sainz's record of 26 wins. You took the lead after Marcus Gronholm retired on SS8 yesterday; could you have beaten him on pace? How worried are you about the pace of the Ford over the rest of the season? You hit the same rock as Marcus yesterday -- why do you think you got away with it?
SL: The race was very difficult and tough, Marcus was really fast. I tried to push on the first day but it was very hard. The second day was better, but still difficult. I'm always worried about my competitors, they're good, and sometimes very fast, and I know Greece will not be easy. The rock we hit was not such a big problem, we just have need for some harder tyres, but today the team worked hard to improve the car and it was better, we were stronger.
Q: Mikko, congratulations on your best result to date with second place. You hit a rock as well yesterday; how close did you come to retiring from this rally? After Marcus retired, were you under a lot of pressure to finish?
MH: The rock was big enough to be a problem, but it fortunately didn't compromise the result; we just lost some time .The last two days were more difficult, I tried to run and follow the first, but it was difficult.
Q: Congratulations Jarmo. You had a big gap to Sebastien Loeb in front of you for the second half of the rally, how did you judge your pace? Did it make you nervous that you had little to gain and everything to lose?
JL: Quite happy, Seb is very fast, but when something goes wrong I always try to calm down and go on. And I wasn't so good in doing it when we hit the rock! I went crazy; it was very difficult to stay calm. When you're running you just think you have to reach the end of the race, never thought about what was to earn and what to loose.
Q: Congratulations on your first podium on gravel Dani; do you feel that you are improving now on this surface? What are the biggest things you have learnt? What was the battle with Gigi Galli like on the second day?
DS: Yes, we're improving, I wasn't this good on gravel in Argentina, even if there the road was more slippery, and here we made many improvements on the car. With Galli it was a good duel, I enjoyed it a lot, then, luckily, he went out!
Q: Marc, congratulations on your third place. Dani said that he struggled to feel comfortable in Argentina; what made the difference here?
MM: Argentina is faster than here and you must be very careful,here we improved the car a lot and, as we learned lessons, our race was easier. Here we had a new guy in the team, and he was very good, now we can say we're on a run...we'll see.
Q: Another great result for Kronos, which now puts you in the clear lead of the Championship ahead of Ford.
MvD: The entire group made a fantastic job, even in difficult conditions. I expect the team to do their best always, I know they will, and with Dani we'll work to solve problems and grow together.
Q: This gives you a very big gap in the Championship now of 31 points. Can you start to relax a bit? It will be very difficult for Marcus to catch you now. It's also your fifth victory in a row. What do you think about your chances of another win in Greece? Will that give you a special motivation as we head for the Acropolis?
SL: We had a very good result, I'm happy but cannot relax. I will never, I'll always run trying to win. I had 6 wins in a row last year, so why not again? Now I'm at 25 wins, I'll try to improve, we'll see in Greece.
Q: Daniel, what do you think about your chances of winning the Acropolis? It's an event you won last year, but this year all the stages are new. Are you looking forward to it? What do you think will happen?
DE: I don't know, they say we have a chance to win, but it's not easy at all. We'll push as much as we can, but it'll be not easy, and we don't know the stages...we'll see.
Q: You were driving with a new specification engine here in Sardinia, what did you think of it Mikko? Are there any new developments planned for the car in Greece? Now that you have finished in second place, do you think you will be able to challenge for victory soon? Maybe even in Greece?
MH: The engine made a difference and the car was improved from Argentina, but still we have to get better. There are many thing we can improve; we have to discuss and decide, but I don't think we'll do them for Greece. For the rest, we'll see; the others are good, one never knows what can happen!
Q: Mikko has led this rally before, last year when you were in the private Ford Focus. Do you think this is an event that particularly suits him? Half the stages were new compared to last year, what did you think of this year's event generally?
JL: Yes, maybe it suits us, but I don't know why. The new stages are difficult, to face them properly we'll have to do lots of improvements.
Q: We saw lots of big problems with tyre wear and abrasive surfaces on this rally. How did you manage to look after your tyres? Do you think that this rally will prepare you well for Greece?
DS: It's normal, everybody has problems now and then, that was not a great problem for us. It was ok, and yes, one can always use problems to get better. In Greece we'll see, but it's ok.
Q: This is still only Dani's seventh rally in a World Rally Car -- has he exceeded your expectations? How much is there still to learn?
MM: It was a surprise for everybody, nobody expected a result like this! He's very young, and this was a very important result. From this experience we took lots of ideas for improvements we have to do on the car and now we know what to change and how.
Q: What are your expectations for Greece, Marc; it looks likely to be a very rough and tricky event. Do you expect Seb to be driving flat-out for victory, or will you be asking him to take no risks from now on?
MvD: I'm very happy with the three crews, also because the drivers know how difficult every rally is, and for this reason it is very easy for me to talk to them. I know even Seb is young, but he knows what to do. We'll see the strategy, we have strong cars and we'll try to do our best
FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Q: Congratulations on your first JWRC victory, which also puts you in the lead of the Championship. How are you feeling?
PS: I feel wonderful, everything is perfect. It's my first victory, my first year, we start trying to get as much experience as possible, and you see what happened! We had some problems with the engine, the stages are difficult, and you can't change things on the run, even if you realise that something's wrong. So I kept pushing, and here we are!
Q: It was a very tricky rally, particularly in terms of tyre wear and overheating. Did you have any problems over the three days?
EA: No, just today, when we were one kilometre from the finish line we had an engine problem, but nothing serious.
Q: How much confidence does this result give you? Are you confident that you will be fighting for more victories over the course of the season? Does the fact that you are leading the Championship change your approach to the year - will you be driving for points rather than outright wins?
PS: We'll surely fight, but we'll see, the league is difficult and it's a tough Championship. I think we have good chances trying to keep the head of the list, but the point is finishing every race, getting experience and improving ourselves and the car.
Q: What is your programme now for the rest of the year?
EA: We'll try to do as much as possible to get better...we'll see if we'll be the strongest.