RALLYE DE FRANCE -- TOUR DE CORSE 12 October 2008 Present: 1st - Sebastien Loeb, Citroen Total World Rally Team 1st - Daniel Elena, Citroen Total World Rally Team 2nd - Mikko Hirvonen, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 2nd - Jarmo Lehtinen, BP...
RALLYE DE FRANCE -- TOUR DE CORSE
12 October 2008
1st - Sebastien Loeb, Citroen Total World Rally Team
1st - Daniel Elena, Citroen Total World Rally Team
2nd - Mikko Hirvonen, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
2nd - Jarmo Lehtinen, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
3rd - Francois Duval, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
3rd - Patrick Pivato, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Olivier Quesnel, Team Principal, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Welcome to the post event FIA Press Conference.
Q: Win number 46 for you and your fifth win in a row. It's been another great event for you Sebastien.
SL: Yes for sure it's been a perfect weekend for me. From the start we have done the best times. The feeling with the car was really good. We were able to push hard without too many risks. Yes. Perfect.
Q: You have led from the front, almost winning every single stage and have got through without any problems. How cautious were you out there today though?
SL: For sure, today it was two new stages. It's always more tricky when you've only done two times in the recce. On the first time through I take no cuts when I'm first on the road. I know I can get the puncture. Okay, I can lose point three of a second here, okay -- I don't want to make a mistake. It was okay.
Q: Dani Sordo retired on day one, did you feel more pressure to complete with good points for the Manufacturers' Championship?
SL: No. I just think to my rally and we can do the rest. When Dani retired, it was not more pressure. I work for the team and I couldn't do more than win. With or without Dani, the goal was the same.
Q: Sebastien Ogier has taken the FIA Junior World Rally Championship title here, what have you thought of his performance over the season and how much have you advised him?
SL: I think he's very good. He was doing a rally and he never disappointed. He was always fast and won his category. Now he won the Junior Championship it's very good. It's not every day you see a French driver coming out with a World Championship. He has a good talent and good future. I hope he has the opportunity to show what he can do in a world rally car. I'm confident he will be able to do something well. We will see.
Q: You lead the Drivers' Championship now by 14 points and don't have to win the next two events. What is going to be the approach from you in Japan?
SL: In these conditions it's better just to drive for the points. The pressure is too high when you play for the title. Okay, it's easy to forget this and drive for the win -- but no, I drive for the points.
Q: Daniel, we have seen a few changes to the route here, in your opinion has it been one of the toughest rallies?
DE: No. This year's okay. Okay sometimes it's tough for the tyres, but the same as other years. Some places you don't cut because there's no mousse (in the tyres). For me the tyre is working well and Sebastien has a good feeling. If you have more punctures it's because you need to drive more safely.
Q: Mikko, it's second position at the end of the rally, brought about by team orders for the second time in two events. How tough is it for you as a competitor to accept that you haven't achieved this position on your own merit?
MH: Well for sure it's not the way you want to get to the podium. In the end, I understand the team's point; they want to keep the Championship alive. This is the way they want to play it, so I accept it.
Q: Away from team orders, your speed was better than Spain; were you happy with your pace over the first two days?
MH: We had good speed on Friday and Saturday -- better than Spain. There's still a lot of work to do to get on pace with Citroens; still a lot of work to do.
Q: How hard were you pushing to fight with Sebastien?
MH: I tried. But when I tried to attack him harder I felt my times were getting worse. It was better to have a steady pace. Hmm, not a steady pace, but I had to go as quick as I could but not to start the car sliding.
Q: What are your thoughts now on the Drivers' Championship?
MH: It's going to be almost impossible to take it. Even if I win, he only needs six points. It's going to be difficult but you never know. As long as mathematically it's possible we will go for it.
Q: A puncture spoiled the party for you in New Zealand, and the same thing happened here. How did you feel when you finally reached the end of the opening stage this morning?
JL: I think from the onboard you can see, I said: "No it's not happening again..."
Q: I see you have a plaster on your finger there..."
JL: It shows how much adrenalin works. There's one clip on the bumper you need to take out when we had the puncture. Normally you need the pliers, but this time I did it with my bare hands and the thumb came up straight away.
Q: Francois, another great weekend for you. We don't see you at every round of the WRC, you must be pleased with your performance here?
FD: It's really a good rally for me. No mistakes. No punctures. It's a good rally, but it's not possible to catch Sebastien. I am happy with my result.
Q: You were confident before you began this event, how much were you pushing this weekend?
FD: I was pushing so much the first time. All the time I had the splits in the car, all the time they said four or five to Sebastien, so I think I prefer no risk. I prefer to stay on the road and finish third, it's good.
Q: Third position overall here; is your result going to help in your efforts to find sponsorship for next year?
FD: It's not sure. It's difficult for me to drive the full Championship. I stay inside the top four or five in Japan and it's good for me. The rally is new for everybody, but I don't drive much on gravel -- it's difficult for me. I only drove in New Zealand (this year), but I'll try my best.
Q: We will see you back with the Stobart team for Japan and GB; what are you hoping for on those gravel events?
FD: No tactics for me. I learn the car again. I am so confident if Japan is difficult.
Q: A tough event here in Corsica, was it enjoyable?
PP: Yes. It's a very good rally for me. It's very nice to have this result for me on the last two rallies.
Q: Sebastien takes maximum points, but Dani retired on day one so the Manufacturers' Championship is still alive...
OQ: Anyway for Japan, we need to be second and first and we will be both the pilot and manufacturers champions. But first we must finish. We only lost four points (to Ford). Okay, there are only two rallies left. We are, I would say, confident.
Q: What about Sebastien Ogier Olivier -- he has done a superb job claiming the JWRC title. Will we see him in a world rally car this season?
OQ: I don't know. We are going to see. First we want him to be Junior Champion. He is. Now we are going to see this week what can happen with him. We are very happy to have him with Citroen Sport. It's very hard to find something good for him. We want him to become quite a great driver.
Questions from the floor
Rallye das Magazin, Germany
Q: Olivier, what about the tactics?
OQ: I think Malcolm Wilson (Ford) was quite good at school, quite good at mathematics. That's rallying. It's not our problem. We make our race and Ford do what they have to do. I have nothing to say about this.
FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
1st - Martin Prokop
1st - Jan Tomanek
Q: Congratulations Martin, your third win in as many events. You are becoming a regular feature on the top step of the podium!
MP: It looks like I'm a bit disappointed about the season. The best feeling is coming now. We didn't fight with Sebastien (Ogier) in the last race. It's nice to win three rallies, but we would like to make something better than we did last year in Juniors. It's nice to be here but I'm a bit disappointed.
Q: You have had great success in the second half of the season, it's a shame this didn't happen sooner.
MP: Yeah but the times are coming, sometimes good, sometimes bad. We had quite a good speed on every race, it didn't matter if it was tarmac or gravel -- all of the time we were in the points. Then we had some problems and when we were speaking together it was about the problems. The team all did a very good job. Let's see if we can try it again.
Q: It seemed to be a problem-free run through this weekend? Was it?
MP: We had a very good morning. We were leading and then the other guys speeded up, it was tough to catch the speed. When we were flat out in the last stage of the day, we had a puncture and lost a lot of time. I was a little bit disappointed. I didn't know what I can make from Pierre (Campana) and the others, they were very fast. The next morning we pushed as hard as possible, the times were almost the same as Pierre -- we were a little bit scared. Pierre decided to slow down and not fight for the first place. We did some good times and made the lead. After that we pushed really hard and did some good times again and made a good lead. Today we tried to avoid hitting some big stones. This rally has been a very good event, but rough.
Q: Were you taking a cautious approach?
MP: It's a strange event. Friday was difficult and today the stages were incredible. It was more and more difficult. We know the stages are very easy to make a mistake. It's easy to get a puncture -- the WRCs can cut where we can't. If we cut we can hit some small piece of tarmac. Luckily we could slow down in these places today.
Q: And what about next year?
MP: We have to decide what we will do. For sure we will be in Production Car Championship and start with S2000 then we will think about joining Juniors and try to be Champions. The team is ready for this. It would be a shame to finish with Juniors. We'll soon decide about next year.
FIA PRESS CONFERENCE FOR THE WINNER OF THE FIA JUNIOR RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
(Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA)
1st - Sebastien Ogier
1st - Julien Ingrassia
Q: FIA Junior World Rally Champion 2008 -- how does that sound?
SO: I am very happy. It's a perfect moment in the perfect place. We are in France and I have a lot of fans and family here. The perfect moment.
Q: You have won the Championship on home soil, in front of your family and friends; what did it feel like when you crossed the finish line?
SO: Yeah, for sure, tonight we will have a big party with everybody. All of the week they have supported us and it's always good to have a lot of support.
Q: You were driving for safety this weekend, how difficult was that?
SO: No for sure it was a difficult weekend. After my mistake in Spain I come here with a little bit of pressure and what can I say, we always lead the Championship so I just say I need to finish. I know I am fast when I want. Here I want no problem and no puncture. I got that. I want to thank the French Federation and Citroen for getting me here.
Q: Today has been a particularly difficult day on the stages, you were battling with Campana today. Did you increase your pace on the final day?
SO: No, not really. He had the problem with the tyre. We went slowly today because there is a big gap. I try to stay concentrated and I stay in a good rhythm. I stay concentrated.
Q: What about the future Sebastien; everyone wants to know when we will see you in WRC car, could that be this year?
SO: I don't know. You need to ask my boss. Already Japan, normally not. Maybe Rally GB but for the moment it's not certain. It could be good. This car, we can learn the rally. For the future for sure we want to go in the WRC as soon as possible.
Q: How are you going to celebrate tonight?
SO: With a big party and all the family and fans. It's also a difficult moment this night, especially in the morning!
Q: Congratulations, on your first title -- how are you feeling now that it's all over?
JI: I said to Sebastien this is a great moment. We were expecting that since last week and my message is one of thanks for everyone in the team. PH Sport, everybody who is supporting us this year.
Q: What was the atmosphere like in the car during the weekend -- relaxed or nervous?
JI: This was not a holiday, but we took a slow rhythm, a better rhythm to be concentrated.
Q: And when you crossed the finish line of the final stage what did you do?
JI: The sky fell down, you don't know what happened! A big joy. So quickly you begin to think to the future.