Tour de Corse: Pre-event press conference

ATTENDEES Didier Auriol (Skoda) Sebastian Loeb (Citroen) Markko Martin (Ford) Gilles Panizzi (Peugeot) Luis Moya (Subaru) Q: Seb, congratulations on your win in Sanremo and do you think Corsica will be an easier or a more difficult event for you...

Didier Auriol (Skoda)
Sebastian Loeb (Citroen)
Markko Martin (Ford)
Gilles Panizzi (Peugeot)
Luis Moya (Subaru)

Q: Seb, congratulations on your win in Sanremo and do you think Corsica will be an easier or a more difficult event for you than Sanremo?

Loeb: I don't know, we have to wait and see but it seems that the routes are a little more difficult and more bumpy so the grip is changing a lot and it is not easy to be very confident in this kind of stages. Some places are very narrow - a lot of new stages and so it is very easy to make a mistake. It will be difficult for everybody so we will see that on Sunday.

Q: Markko, I remember you said after Sanremo that your target was to win at least one of the asphalt rallies this year. Is that win more likely to happen here or in Catalunya?

Martin: I think I said after the Greece rally this year and the Finland rally and one tarmac rally that we have shown a lot of speed and that the new Focus is very competitive on tarmac. I think we won more stages on tarmac than anyone else this year and unfortunately have not got the result we deserve so I think we have to come to this rally with good spirit and I hope that we can win this rally. I personally think it's going to be easier doing Catalunya but as we said we had a really good track record so far and have to make sure we have our best year and try to win it but as Sebastien said the roads are very complex and the organisers have had more different roads from last year's and it is more bumpy and more difficult to control the car but the good thing is that it is the same for everybody and I'm pretty confident that our car is up to the job.

Q: Gilles, the forecast is for rain on this rally. Do you think that after San Remo when it rains here everyone will copy his choice of tyres?

Panizzi: I don't know what will happen on this race but meanwhile I took a lot of tyres with studs. They have announced probably some snow on the summits therefore we'll have to be very careful. If they want to copy me - they can.

Q: Didier, it's the third asphalt rally for you now with the Skoda Fabia WRC. Has the car improved enough on Tarmac.

Auriol: I don't think so, unfortunately we must be realistic. Of course we welcome the car, we try the best but you know between Italy and Corsica we have not had time to change a lot of things - we have changed a few things in the car, maybe it will be a little better.

Q: Luis, Petter had a problem this morning in shakedown, he went off. Can you tell us what is happening now, whether he will start the rally and tell us if the car will be fixed in time for this evening.

Moya: At the moment the team is working very hard and took the car to a specialist workshop in Ajaccio where we were able to put it on a jig and make a thorough assessment. We are thinking of possibilities and we have to say that Tommi is an incredible team mate. We didn't ask him anything and he said my car is ready for Petter but for the moment no decision has been taken yet until we see what is happening with the car. Tommi said if you want to use it you may.

Q: When will you take a decision?

Moya: It needs to be soon, we need to take decisions before 6 o'clock.

Q: Seb, you are just two points away from the lead of the drivers' championship after winning Sanremo. How confident do you feel that you can come away from this rally in the lead of the championship?

Loeb: It is difficult to say now. We know the car is faster on tarmac and we saw at the last race that we can win on tarmac so I hope we can do the same here. It will not be easy but you never know because before the last race Richard was leading with ten points and now he is leading with two points so I hope I can be leading after this race. I will use rain tyres for the last two stages. You don't take Gilles' advice then.

Q: Markko : Yesterday, the new regulations for 2004 were published which said that we would definitely have a 16-round world rally championship next year and also a Mille Pistes recce system. What do you think of these changes?

Martin: There have been so many changes that I think it is quite difficult to just give one answer. From the driver's point of view, I don't think it really matters. It will be a bit harder. Some people are against the mille pistes system and it is quite difficult to persuade people to work for drivers and co-drivers worried by the fact that we can't use car-cruiser safety cruise any more - that will make life more dangerous, people are saying that actually you really need the car cruiser to keep the information because conditions change from one pass to another and between the recce and the rally - I really hope that people will listen to drivers and take some advice.

Q: Luis : You have experience of the sport both as a co-driver and now in a team management role. What do you think of the changes? How does your co-driving experience help you to fulfil your new role?

Moya: Overall it will be more difficult for co-drivers but whether you like them or not the rules have been passed and more discussions are needed, sometimes changes must be made but must be positive and we must try our best to live with them.

Q: What lessons have you learned from co-driving. How does that help you doing the job you're doing now.

Moya: If I look to my right-hand side, fifteen years ago I was with Didier Auriol and today it is the same - nothing has changed much.

Q: Didier: you've won this event six times, so you clearly know it very well. What's the key to success here? How do you have to drive the stages to set a fast time?

Moya: The rally has changed a lot, there is no comparison with years ago when it was different: driving style, speed faster, rallies were longer and you had to take care of the tyres and fight to win.

It is more physical. Today there are more beautiful specials but it is about the same thing.

Q: It is easier or harder than before?

Moya: It's easier physically but it goes faster.

Q: Gilles, you changed your car set up in Sanremo. Are you confident?

Panizzi: Only one week since the race, we have recovered bases that I am pleased about and it is the best 206 I have ever had and I am very confident.

Q: Luis. Are you allowed to change the car from Tommi to Peter. What possibilities do you have for Petter to start the rally?

Moya: Prodrive was able to send another car from Britain but it was not possible according to regulations. Now we will try our best to fix Petter's car and we asked the organisers to allow us to use Tommi's car for Petter. Normally you can change one member of the crew only. We hope that the stewards will understand that it is very difficult for Petter to be co-driven by Kay Lindstrom using Finnish pace-notes and allow us if necessary to change the complete crew.

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Gilles Panizzi , Didier Auriol , Luis Moya , Markko Martin
Teams Citroën World Rally Team