FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP Rallye De France - Tour De Corse 10.11.2007 Present: Nobuhiro Tajima, President, Suzuki Sport Sebastien Loeb, Citroen Total World Rally Team Marcus Gronholm, BP Ford World Rally Team Francois Duval, OMV Kronos...
FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Rallye De France - Tour De Corse
Nobuhiro Tajima, President, Suzuki Sport
Sebastien Loeb, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Marcus Gronholm, BP Ford World Rally Team
Francois Duval, OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team
Per-Gunnar Andersson, FIA Junior Rally Championship
Urmo Aava, FIA Junior Rally Championship
Welcome to the pre-event FIA press conference.
Q: Welcome Tajima-san. This is obviously a very exciting time for you with the launch of the new World Rally Car. How much hard work has it taken your team to get to this point? What are your expectations for this rally? What have you told Nicolas Bernardi and Jean-Marc Fortin, your driving crew?
NT: We are very, very hard working. Our team is Japanese but there are a lot of people all over the world working very hard for now. We are newcomer, we need more experience from this rally and more feedback from this rally for the future. We need to go to the finish. To go to the finish, so, please go to the finish. And not too much pushing on this rally.
Q: Seb, the gap to Marcus is down to six points after Spain. How much can you realistically aim to reduce that gap on this event, if everything goes well for you? Do you think that Dani Sordo and Francois Duval can get between you and Marcus?
SL: We had a good result in Catalunya, maybe, in the dream, its possible to do the same, but maybe its more difficult. I dont know. We have three long days to go and we will see. For that I need to be ahead of Marcus to start and then we will see. Just ask Marcus if Sordo and Duval will overtake him?
Q: I will do just that, Marcus, what do you think? We all know how quick Sebastien is here but how worried are you about the pace of Dani Sordo and Francois Duval? Do you prefer this event to Catalunya? Do you think it will be easier or tougher for you?
MG: No, no, no. I am 100 per cent sure they wont... Its not so sure if hes (Loeb) in front of me. I dont know if one (rally) is better for me or not. I am not so good as Seb on asphalt, Im always a little bit behind. I will do my best, second would be very good. If I can do more, I will push. I think its exactly the same as Spain.
Q: Francois, do you think you can get between Seb and Marcus? What are your objectives on this event?
FD: Yes Ill be trying, but in Spain its difficult as the road is large and fast. Here its better for my car, its more twisty and difficult. I like this event. The top five is quite good, the podium is perfect. For me and my future, its necessary that I stay on the road.
Q: Tajima-san, what are your long-term objectives between now and the end of the year? Will you be doing some testing after this event? What will be your objectives for Wales Rally GB, and when do you think you will know about your driver line-up for next year? Do you think that Nicolas and Sebastian Lindholm have a good chance, or are they here as test drivers?
NT: Yes, we need more testing. We are very new, so we want more testing on gravel before Rally GB. Exactly the same, we test rally this year. We need more mileage on GB. Now we are in discussion (with drivers) and the announcement is in December. They (Nicolas and Sebastien) have a lot of experience and very nice chance, but we didnt decide yet.
Q: Seb, this years Tour de Corse has several new stages. What are they like? Does it make it more interesting for you when you come to an asphalt rally with many new stages or do you prefer rallies where you know the stages well? Not so much happened in Spain: do you think that Corsica will be a bigger fight?
SL: I think the stages are not very different from what we are used to using here. Its the same kind of road, for sure its more difficult when its new like this. We had some experience from previous years, but now we have new notes and just two passes on the recce. But its the same for everybody. I think its more safe when you know the stages better, but sometimes it has to change and the stages are good. Theres nothing to say. It happens, in Spain for sure I took the lead on day one and kept it. But it wasnt so easy on the second and third day. We had to push to keep the gap between Dani and Marcus. Not a lot happened, but it was a good rhythm for me. We made the difference in the wet on day one, after that we will see here. I dont know.
Q: What do you think Marcus: do the new stages make it a bit easier for you to fight against Seb? The weather forecast says that this rally will be dry all the time, so does that give you a better chance of winning?
MG: I dont think it makes it easier. I think it will be once again the same. It doesnt make so much difference. Yeah, I like it when its dry and you dont have to worry about the tyres. Its much easier. You can drive and not think about other things. What do you think? It would be very good, but still we have to drive. Its many corners.
Q: Francois, your car here will be running with the active differentials. Is that an advantage on these very twisty roads? How confident are you feeling? There are three rallies left until the end of the year, after this one: will you be driving on them? How are your plans for next year progressing?
FD: No, because this surface is really aggressive. My car, sure is good, but compared with the C4 Theres more power (in the C4) and a better chassis, but for me its quite similar. I try to drive in the RAC Rally (Wales Rally GB), but its necessary to find more money to continue. Its quite positive (for next year), I try to drive a really good car next year. Im trying to drive a minimum of eight or 10 rallies.
Q: Finally, lets leave it with you Tajima-san. The other big news for Suzuki is that a Swift driver will be FIA Junior Rally Champion at the end of this rally, with P-G Andersson and Urmo Aava each on 38 points now. What do you think will happen? What have you told the drivers?
NT: This is a fantastic, unbelievable result for Suzuki. We start from 2002 and now we have a one-two for drivers. I talk to them and say, please enjoy this rally, but please go to the finish.
FIA JUNIOR RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Q: Welcome to both of you. Its the Junior Rally Championship finale: who is going to come off best, and why? Has your team boss given you both specific instructions?
P-GA: We see on Sunday. For me its the first time here and the stages look difficult. The feeling is good in the car and Spain was good for me. I hope were first over the finish line on Sunday. I think I know them: to win.
UA: I think the fastest driver will win. Thats most important. First, we have to look at each other. The others are not important. If one collects one more point, hes the winner. Theres nothing specific, but we have to do our job and do it as good as possible.
Q: You come here straight off the back of a win in Catalunya P-G; does that give you a psychological advantage?
P-GA: No, I think its from zero again. Back to basic again, its going to be interesting, but sure its nice to have a rally so close.
Q: How different is this rally going to be in character from Catalunya Urmo? Do you think that it will suit you better?
UA: Sure, its a little bit different. The road is much more dusty and the grip is changing, for me it looks more difficult. Catalunya is more like track driving. There are a lot more situations here, the road is different from one stage being wide to the next being narrow and bumpy. We will see on Sunday.
P-GA: For me it suits perfect!
Q: You had a very disappointing experience in Corsica last year, when you were deprived of your first win. Do you think that this rally owes you something now?
UA: I dont look at things like that. Theres always meaning in why things happen. Just keep on hoping we have a bit of luck and it all goes well. Thats all that I hope for: a good rally.
Q: How do you approach such a crucial event? How do you find the compromise between going quickly enough to win, but carefully enough not to make any mistakes? How would you feel to be the first person to win the Championship twice?
P-GA: You have to start with a good pace and set good times directly. We know Urmos speed, we need to keep the same pace as him and not make any mistakes. Yeah, of course, its always nice to win two times in the Juniors. Were always trying to win, it would be nice, but Im not thinking about it now. Its one stage at a time.
Q: How about you Urmo how many risks are you willing to take to succeed?
UA: I think I agree with P-G, we need to go fast from the start and its up to who is making the first mistake rather than who is at the speed. The speed is the same in Catalunya, but we did the mistake and got the puncture. We try to do the same speed here and make the finish first.
Q: Finally, a question to both of you: Suzukis World Rally Car is here for the first time this weekend: do you see this rally as crucial to your chances of driving it in the future?
P-GA: I dont know. I drove for Suzuki for so long time, with good and bad results. I think people know our capacity for both driver. Maybe its important, I dont know.
UA: I think everything counts, but I cannot think like this. I cannot put myself under this kind of pressure, the driver and co-driver always wants to give their best. From tomorrow we will do this and then think about the other thing after the rally.