1st: SÃ©bastien Loeb, Daniel Elena - Citroen 2nd: FranÃ§ois Duval, Sven Smeets - Citroen 3rd: Marcus GrÃ¶nholm, Timo Rautiainen - Peugeot Winning manufacturer :Guy FrÃ©quelin - Citroen Q: Seb, a dominant performance from you here: were you ...
1st: Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena - Citroen
2nd: François Duval, Sven Smeets - Citroen
3rd: Marcus Grönholm, Timo Rautiainen - Peugeot
Winning manufacturer :Guy Fréquelin - Citroen
Q: Seb, a dominant performance from you here: were you surprised at how quickly you were able to get ahead and stay ahead?
SL: It was definitely a perfect rally, but it was not easy at the start. I fought very hard with François as he was driving very fast. We gave everything. François lost time on two stages and so we could extend our lead up to 15 seconds. After this, finishing and avoiding mistakes was more important for us than anything else, but it was a really big fight between the two of us right from the start. It was not so easy.
Q: The biggest difference to previous years was the weather: how much was the dry weather a factor in your dominance here? SL:I think we saw here that Michelin had an advantage over the others, but it was more important that it was dry. If it is wet it’s not always nice for us. Here everything was just perfect: the handling of the car, the balance and the grip were very good. Citroen made a perfect car. There were no problems with both cars and compared to the others we were faster.
Q: You’ve won here four times now, was this one of the easiest wins of them?
SL: After the second day we stopped battling with François, because it was very important to finish. The weather conditions were better than the year before, so – yes – it was easier than last year.
Q: Daniel, did you have any real problems on the event? Everything looked like it went without a single problem.
DE: No, we didn’t. The car was perfect. We made no mistakes and this year the weather conditions were better, so we had no problems.
Q: Francois, how much pressure did you feel before this event? Obviously you had to stay on the road, but you also stood a good chance of winning?
FD: We were under a lot of pressure. For sure this is my favourite rally. After the first day we decided that Sébastien should finish first. The situation for us in the championship is bad. In this rally we just tried to stay on the road.
Q: Sven, this is your first podium with Francois – how do you think your new partnership is working?
SS: The partnership is very well. We have had three rallies together so far and did a lot of testing together. We are improving more and more. The only thing I need to work on is my French pronunciation.
Q: Marcus, you said at the first service of this rally that third was the best you could hope for: would it have made any difference if it had rained, do you think?
MG: I don’t know. Our tyres are good in the rain. I’m not sure – I don’t know.
Q: Although the Citroens had an advantage over you, you seemed to have a big advantage over everybody else. How hard were you pushing?
MG: On the first day I was surprised, that Petter and everyone else were far away from Citroen and the others were far away from us.
Q: Timo, you had a frightening experience in Finland with your back – is everything back at 100% now or does it still hurt a bit?
TR: It’s almost OK now. On Friday I felt a slight pain after some bumps in the vineyards, but now I’m feeling alright.
Q: How difficult was this rally for you and Marcus, given that last year you did not even get past the first corner? TR:It was much easier this year as it was completely dry. Even though we were still careful on the first day, because there was 60 percent humidity on the morning of the first leg and there were some slippery corners. We saw marks – probably Seb’s - and ran wide but after that it was calmer.
Q: Seb, next we are on to Rally GB, where you and Petter had a big fight last year. On that occasion he won: how confident are you of having revenge this year?
SL: Sure, it’s a rally that I would like to win. I have finished second twice. There has always been a big fight going on there. I’m confident with the car and the tyres. We’ll see it there.
Q: Is this the point in the year when you think you can start to think about the championship a bit and not take so many risks?
SL: I always do the same at each rally: I start for winning. I drive as fast as possible on the first stages of the first day and I always do my best to win. In Finland it was not possible to win but I fought. If it’s possible to win, I try to do it.
Q: Guy, how many more do you think Seb will win?
GF: I can’t answer this question. It’s too difficult.
Q: We’ve spoken a lot about Seb, but moving on to François: Has he done enough to keep his place at Citroen until the end of the year?
GF: It was a very good rally for François and Sébastien. I hope that they will continue like this in order to get some more good results until the end of the season.
Q: Francois, how much confidence do you still have towards the end of this season?
FD: I’m very confident. The relation with Sven is very good. I hope to finish inside the top five in the Rally Japan.
Q: Guy, how do you see the fight for the manufacturers’ championship now? You have taken some points from Peugeot, but are you confident of beating them on the two gravel rallies which follow this one?
GF: There are five more rallies coming up. It’s impossible to make any predictions about the World Championship Rally for the Manufacturer right now. I’m never confident before a rally. For me it always means big stress.
Q: Marcus, the driver’s title is pretty much gone, but how good do you think Peugeot’s chances are of winning the manufacturers’ championship? There are 6 points between Peugeot and Citroen and 5 rallies to go.
MG: There are still many asphalt rallies, which will be difficult. I’m not confident. Let’s see.
Q: Timo, what strategy would you suggest for winning the manufacturers’ championship? Jean-Pierre said it would be possible.
TR: Everything is possible. This rally provides the best possibility to score points. The other rallies are more like circuits. We have to develop our car to a maximum. There are still many test days before Corsica. Pirelli is trying to find a good compound and Peugeot is trying to get everything out of the car. Things are not looking very positive, but we won’t give up.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR:
Q: This year there have been more straw bales on the course. Does this slow the cars down? What’s your opinion?
MG: Only one was really stupid. I don’t know if they were slowing the cars down. Perhaps. It was not so bad – I didn’t touch any of them.
Q: It was surprising that you said that this was one of your best victories. For us it was boring for two days. Do you think that in Corsica and Catalunya it will be possible for you to battle for 3 days?
SL: For me it’s one of the best victories . I have won in Germany the fourth time now. There are a lot of fans coming from France and everywhere else. It is a pleasure to win for them and I am pleased for Citroen, that we are first and second. It’s a good feeling and I am happy about the victory.
GF: It’s also very good for us to have both (Citroen)cars that have started in the JWRC, in front. We are also happy with the result of the first privateer car.