1st Sebastien Loeb - Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team 1st Daniel Elena - Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team 2nd Marcus Gronholm - BP Ford World Rally Team 2nd Timo Rautiainen - BP Ford World Rally Team 3rd Dani Sordo 3rd Marc ...
1st Sebastien Loeb - Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team
1st Daniel Elena - Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team
2nd Marcus Gronholm - BP Ford World Rally Team
2nd Timo Rautiainen - BP Ford World Rally Team
3rd Dani Sordo
3rd Marc Marti
Representative of the winning Manufacturer Kronos Total Citroen WRT - Marc Van Dalen
Welcome to the final FIA Press Conference. Joining us are winners Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, second-placed men Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen and Dani Sordo and Marc Marti who finished third. Marc van Dalen joins us as a representative of the winning team.
Q: Congratulations on your second consecutive victory in Corsica. It seemed to be a very close battle on the first day then on the second day you stretched your advantage. What exactly happened? How difficult was it just driving to the splits on the final day?
SL: Day one was a big fight, it was hard for me to be faster than Marcus. Second day, me or my car were a bit better in the narrow twisty roads and I didn't need to take as many risks. It was looking good, but I needed to fight and to keep a good rhythm. I had the perfect car and perfect tyres, it was no problem. It was not so difficult driving on the splits. We were driving fast in the first two stages and I had to keep a good rhythm. The second loop was okay. I found a good feeling with the car, today it was okay.
Q: You and Seb won every stage here last year: did it feel like a much tougher fight this time?
DE: Yes, it's a bit different from last year. This time the cars are a bit different. This time there was close competition from Marcus and Dani. There was no question of winning all the stages; we just pushed for a hard-fought victory.
Q: Marcus, a very big battle and you equal your best result here in Corsica. In Catalunya you had the same pace as Sebastien but here it was not quite as good: why do you think this is? What was the biggest difference between this rally and Catalunya?
MG: I don't know exactly, a better feeling there than here; I don't know why. It was a different surface, with more tight corners here and it was narrower. Maybe that was the reason. I can't do more. I am disappointed not to win, but up until now I have never scored so many points from asphalt -- 24 -- I have to be happy, still though it's Sebastien quite a lot in front. Now we go to gravel and I hope we can win something.
Q: Did you change much of the set-up of your car as you tried to catch Seb? Is there anything that, looking back, you would have done differently?
TR: We did minor modifications to the centre differential; the same modifications that Mikko did on Friday night. It did help, but it was not enough. It was not the maximum possible for us, we could have done more with a bit of a different tyre choice in some stages. The driver/co-driver could have worked better in some stages, or more pushing. Even though, I don't think we could match Sebastien's speed. The gap might have been closer and a longer fight, but it ended Saturday morning. We couldn't have matched the winning speed.
Q: Dani, another successful rally for you -- your second visit to the podium in as many events. It was an exciting battle with Mikko Hirvonen that went right up to the final day, but you seemed to get a big advantage on SS10 this morning: why was that?
DS: Because the stage is new for me and I don't drive in WRC. After that stage it was good, I was able to go a bit faster than Mikko. It was very good fun.
Q: You had a few problems on the first morning: how much of a setback was that? Do you think that without those problems you could have been challenging for second place?
MM: Maybe it could be possible to fight with Marcus and Sebastien, but I don't think so. They know the rally and the car very well. They were pushing. I'm very happy with the result. This is a good speed that we are doing since the start of the season.
Q: Congratulations on the third consecutive victory for Kronos. How does this one compare to the others? Lots of stage records were broken here, and everybody said that these cars were supposed to be slower...
MvD: It's going better and better, it's a pleasure to win again with Seb and to show all three drivers have made a good job. Xevi made the points for Manufacturers and everybody knows and has seen the fantastic result for Dani and Marc. Three cars in the top six here is very important for us. As for the stage records, it depends on the weather conditions, the temperature. Perhaps it's the first time there was a very big fight with Seb. This time the fight with Marcus is very high, perhaps this is the reason for the stage records.
Q: Three victories from the last three rallies gives you a healthy lead of the Championship: you could retire from the next rally and still be in the lead. How much more confidence does this give you heading into the next round? How much harder was it driving on asphalt with a car that uses mechanical rather than active diffs?
SL: An eleven point lead is interesting for me. It's more than one victory, but I would prefer Marcus retires next time rather than me! The Tarmac rallies are coming at the first part of season, so it was important for me to score as much as possible. Now we go on gravel and Marcus is really fast on these rallies, it can be a good fight and sometimes difficult for me. The points I win now could be very important at the end of the season. For the diffs, it's nearly the same in this car. On Tarmac it's not so important, in the hairpins we have a little bit more wheel spin, but in the rest of the places I don't feel any difference.
Q: What do you think of Argentina? You won there last time, how good are your chances of winning again? The weather should be a bit warmer, do you think that will help you?
DE: I don't know. When we start the race, it's for winning. We've had a not bad result there before. We will be trying this year.
Q: Does it worry you that Sebastien is building up a bit of a lead now? How important is it for you to finish in front of him on the next event? Do you think that on gravel you will have a quicker pace than him?
MG: Of course it's difficult; it will take a long time. If he retires it's only one point, if I win. But look at last year; he won how many rallies last year, also on gravel. There is no question he will be fast and we are looking forward to it. Also Petter, maybe he can help me a little bit -- and Mikko as well. It looks quite good.
Q: There's quite a big gap between yourselves and Seb now and all the other drivers and teams. Do you think it will be just the two of you from now until the end of the season? Are you surprised that nobody else seems to be closer?
TR: It would be very nice to stay in that belief and think that. I'm afraid there will be other drivers who will be disturbing our plans though. Like Marcus said, I hope we can win and Sebastien not be second. The previous question you asked Marcus. It does bother us that he is 11 points ahead. If you ask on a scale from zero to 10 how much it bothers us, the answer is 11!
Q: We heard the news recently that you will be driving a Xsara in Argentina: are you working hard to have the car for some of the other events as well?
DS: I don't know, it depends on the money. In Argentina, I don't know. I have no big experience on gravel, but I have driven a Mitsubishi Group N there. We will see.
Q: What do you think of Dani's progress so far? Did you expect him to become so competitive so quickly? In which areas do you think he can still improve?
MM: Yes I expected it on Tarmac, but not on gravel. For sure he needs to learn more and do more rallies on gravel. On Tarmac I was confident to do one job like this. I am quite happy.
Q: After another win the Manufacturers' Championship is looking good for you now. How confident are you that you can continue this form over the rest of the season? Can the team be as strong on gravel as it has been on asphalt?
MvD: You know, for sure, we have to be careful. It's our first time to fight at the top level. The first objective is to give our drivers the best car we can. lf we do that, and if they manage to help us win more rallies, then for sure, we will do what we can to stay in this position until the end of the year.
Q: Daniel, with 23 wins, Sebastien is only three victories from Carlos Sainz, and with 23 victories you are only one from Luis Moya. Is this important?
DE: Yes for sure. It's a good motivation to chase Luis Moya's record. I promised to go out for dinner with Luis, I'll pay, if we break the record.
Q: Marc, are you disappointed it's only first and third?
MvD: It's a catastrophe! No seriously I am very pleased.
Q: Marcus, the scoring system means only a two point gap between first and second. If it was four would you have pushed?
MG: No, it's good like it is now, otherwise it would have been bigger! I couldn't do much more.