Rally Australia: Rally Reactions
6 September 2009
Sebastien Loeb [Citroen Total WRT]:
"Winning is always nice, but today's victory has a special taste to it because it's our first since last April! This rally turned out to be long and tough. The variety of the stages and the speed of our rivals kept us on our toes from start to finish. This result is particularly important in terms of the championship. It has brought us back to within just one point of Mikko and we will be looking to regain the lead in Spain."
Mikko Hirvonen [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:
"It was a tough weekend, but one hell of a fight for victory. I drove flat out from start to finish and the key factor in the final result was when I had to run first in the start order today. I felt trapped by that and if Loeb had been in that position rather than me, then the outcome could have been different. In the damp sections I matched his pace, but in the dry I couldn't hold him. I wanted to outscore him here but the championship is still wide open with just two rounds remaining in Spain and Britain. Before going to Spain I will take some training on asphalt and then test out there to be properly prepared."
Daniel Sordo [Citroen Total WRT]:
"Mikko was quite simply faster than me today. That said, I am absolutely thrilled to have finished on the podium here in Australia. I was in the thick of the scrap for first place from the beginning of Day 1 all the way to the end, and the Manufacturers' points we've scored mean that Citroën could potentially wrap up the title in Spain."
Sebastien Ogier [Citroen Junior Team]:
"It was a very good weekend for us. Apart from a small mistake yesterday, we were able to fight with the best of them. The C4 WRC was extremely competitive on this event and the Citroën Junior Team did an excellent job. I'm delighted to be able to deliver the team a result like this."
Jari-Matti Latvala [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:
"I made a fantastic start on Friday but the rally turned round on me on Saturday afternoon and today. Two mistakes that caused the tyre to come off the rim on each occasion cost me dearly, but who knows what may have happened without those errors? It didn't work out in the end and I'm disappointed, but also happy that my speed was good enough to lead for half the rally. It was more difficult to drive first through the stages then I thought it would be. There seemed to be more loose gravel than I remembered from the recce."
Matthew Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:
"We've had a positive rally but it was a bit of a shame that Henning had some problems this morning as it would have been great to continue the battle right to the end of the rally. It was a real mix of stages on this new event, with some really fast and others slow and twisty, and together with the short stages it meant that concentration was tough. I'm pleased to have got to the end of this new event and there were difficult conditions but great experience for us on the slippery, loose gravel roads on Friday."
Henning Solberg [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:
"I think we have made the most of a difficult weekend and come away with more points for the Stobart team and a stronger position in the drivers' championship. It's been a hard rally, especially on the first pass when there was lots of gravel, and unfortunately we got caught out by the slippery conditions on the second day. But we battled on and still managed to set some good times even though we spent most of the event working on improving the set-up."
Federico Villagra [Munch's Ford WRT]:
"We have had a good weekend and it has been a great rally, but it has also been very difficult. The first pass was very slippery and it was difficult to find traction; but when we made some changes to the diff map we found some really positive improvements to the grip. It's really been a problem-free run for us and it has enabled me to concentrate on finding the areas where I can be faster. We tried to push a bit more on the second pass and that worked well and when we did push more our times were actually quite good; we were even able to compare some stages closely to Matthew and Henning."
Hayden Paddon [Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX]: [Group N winner]
"It's been an amazing weekend and it is great to win Group N. The team has done good. It would be great now if we can do well next year. We have seven or eight months to prepare for next year."
Martin Prokop [Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX]: [P-WRC winner]
"I am really happy to win the P-WRC category in Australia, especially after losing twenty seconds on Friday and having to fight back. It's been a great rally and I've really enjoyed it. I felt very confident coming here after winning the Junior World Rally title in Finland, and that confidence gave me the speed I needed in Australia to win."
Richard Mason [Subaru Impreza WRX STI]: [P-WRC runner-up]
"Second is a pretty good result for us, especially as the only person in front is a world champion! I've really enjoyed competing in the P-WRC and I'll be going back to Rally New Zealand next year, you can count on that. I'd also like to try and come across to Europe and do some new rallies too."
Cody Crocker [Subaru Impreza WRX STI]: [P-WRC – third overall]
"This has been a dream come true. Our target this year was to compete on Rally Australia and we're really wrapped with the result. Doing the P-WRC is a goal of mine and I will definitely be back next year – doing some rallies, but hopefully the whole championship."
Armindo Araújo, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX: [P-WRC – fourth overall. Also provisionally the 2009 PWRC champion]
"It was a very tough rally for us and full of problems. I tried my best on Friday and Saturday but I just couldn't keep the rhythm of the guys in front. Then Toshi caught us yesterday evening and after the first stage on Day 3 I knew that I couldn't catch him. In my head I was already thinking what would happen after this rally, but then two kilometres before the end of the last stage I saw Toshi stopped by the side of the road. Now we are provisional champions [subject to the outcome of an appeal lodged by Barwa Rally Team against Nasser Al-Attiyah's exclusion from the results of the Acropolis Rally of Greece] and we have just to wait for the result of the appeal and see what happens."
Khalid Al Qassimi [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:
"I am of course disappointed not to have finished within the points, but for me it was about more than just the rally. Australia is a key market to my main backer, the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, and I happy to be able to visit both the East Coast and Sydney to help spread awareness of Abu Dhabi as a tourist destination."
Khalid Al Qassimi [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]: [retired on day 1 in SS7 – hit a rock and broke the car's steering – re-started on Saturday under SupeRally]
"Of course it is disappointing to withdraw now. I lost an afternoon on the new Australian surfaces, but we will continue to compete tomorrow. I will do my best to recover from this early setback."
Olivier Quesnel [Citroen Racing - director]:
"It is good [that it was so close]. It's disappointing that we still had to use tactics though. I think if we didn't have to do anything yesterday it could have been better [for the sport]. But today was a big fight too and it was quite good to see Seb win again. Also it was good to see Dani coming up and Ogier coming up. For Spain [the next event] we are not as confident as you could imagine [despite our record on tarmac], so that means that we are not confident at all for GB. We are doing our job and we hope it will go quite well, but we are not confident at all."
Malcolm Wilson [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT - team director]:
"Three drivers started the final day split by just 0.1sec, and that ensured the outcome was kept alive right until the final stage. There was a lot of pressure on Mikko and he paid the price of being first in the start order, and enduring the worst of the conditions, for two of the three days. That was a crucial factor and under those circumstances second was a great result."
Gerard Quinn [Ford motorsport chief]:
"This was one of the most exciting rallies the championship has witnessed for some time. Five drivers were in the mix for victory initially, and any one of three could have won today. That excitement is transferred to the drivers' championship. Mikko holds a single point lead and it looks as if the outcome could go down the wire at the final round in Britain next month. Before that we journey to Spain and we have an expanded test scheduled there before the rally to be fully prepared for the challenges of the asphalt."
Malcolm Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT - team boss]:
"Matthew has put in a strong performance on this new rally, especially on the second and third days when he set some very competitive times. He's collected another top-six after coming out on top of the team battle with Henning on the final day. Henning has made a great fight back after his problems today and it's extremely positive for both crews to have completed all of the competitive distance on this rally and got experience of the new roads and difficult conditions."
Andrew Tinkler [Stobart Group - CEO]:
"We've seen a great Stobart team battle over the last couple of days and the guys have performed well and benefitted from the experience of the new stages. This was always going to be a challenging event in the unknown conditions but they have taken charge of the situation and collected more important points for the championship."
Mario Isola [Pirelli - rally manager]:
"I don't remember ever seeing a rally that has been this closely contested between title rivals, underlining the durability and equality of our tyres. The Pirelli Scorpion gravel tyres also worked well on the all-asphalt Tweed superspecial stage, which was used no fewer than six times and formed a notable proportion of the competitive action. Despite some sections that were as rough as the classic Mediterranean gravel rallies, we encountered no major problems with punctures - which has set up a thrilling finale to the season."