Crash.Net WRC News
Jordan - Post-event press conference
3 April 2010
Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroen Total WRT), Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT), Petter Solberg and Phil Mills (PSWRT).
Team principal: Olivier Quesnel (Citroen Total WRT).
Sebastien, congratulations on victory here in Jordan, your second win in a row this season. We expected to see you first on the road this morning – were you surprised to be second?
I was surprised. Really, I did not know. I knew that Mikko (Hirvonen) would be with Jari-Matti (Latvala) and that I am going into the stage, so it was tactics from both teams. We changed something to be first and second on the road. Finally, I think we speak too much about the tactics and not about what we are doing. For me, (Sébastien) Ogier and Mikko are in some games and maybe we have to find a solution.
Let's talk about what you were doing this weekend and what a challenge Jordan has been for everybody. How big a challenge was it for you and did you enjoy it?
It was a good rally. Jari-Matti started very quickly the first day, he was very fast and decided to stay first on the road for the second day. I tried to take the opportunity to take the lead and I could do it the second day and finally I decided like him to stay and in front for the third day. It was a very good fight. Petter (Solberg) was also very fast. It was very close times in the stages and really tricky stages. It was difficult not to make a mistake. Finally we won with the benefit of Mikko not scoring any points. So it's good for the Championship.
Was there a point today when you thought –“I'm okay, Jari-Matti can't catch me”?
Yesterday evening, I thought I will try everything to stay in front. You don't know, but I was confident that I could do it. In the first stage I saw I had the same times as him, in the second stage I was quicker, so I was confident that I could do it.
With risks come mistakes. Did you have any dramas today?
Yes I had dramas. Today I nearly came down to the motorway on the second part of the first stage. On the crest I turned a bit too much and nearly went down.
Does this win here in Jordan make up for the disappointment you both had here the last time?
Yes sure. Okay it is good for us to win here because two years ago we are leading with 34 seconds and crashed just one minute after the stage, a stupid crash. This year is better.
Jari-Matti congratulations on second position and Happy Birthday! Maybe not quite the present you wanted today, you were hoping to pick up that win, but it wasn't possible today.
First of all it's a big difference from my last year's birthday when I was rolling down a mountain in Portugal, and this time I'm on the podium so it's a bit different so I feel much more comfortable and now I can enjoy much more this evening. I was pleased with the weekend. I could not match the speed of Sébastien today and yesterday but we were still closer than two years ago.
How tough was it sweeping the road clear yesterday, did you lose more time than you expected?
I could not find rhythm to drive in that stage (Jordan River), being first car on the road. It was very difficult for me, both times. Even the second time it was as difficult as the morning one, or maybe even more difficult as the lines were so narrow. So that is something for the future to think about.
And what about today, did you start pushing immediately this morning or did you realise that the gap was just too big?
I gained the maximum on the first stage this morning, I really pushed as fast as I can. I had two moments and when I came in at the end of the stage our difference was 0.4 seconds and I thought, that's it, I didn't have a chance to catch Seb so then I started to back off in the next stage. And then I noticed that Petter is coming quick, so I had to start pushing again in stage two.
This year has got off to a great start for you, three consistent performances and now second place overall. In contrast to last year it's a vast improvement…
Yes last year was such a disaster but, on the other hand, we learned a lot of things. If I had been driving fast, I haven't been consistent. I have done good stage times but I haven't been able to do many good results. So we started working last year with Mikko and some other people, we have done a lot of progress and we are going forward. It's very good but we have still work to do and you need that consistency if you want to win the Drivers' title one day. But, perhaps, it's going now, it looks good.
Was there pressure on your shoulders to finish after your team-mate Mikko retired yesterday?
Well, for sure, there is some more pressure but, on the other hand, the job that we did until the point that Mikko retired, it was like a normal performance from us and we just continued the same job that we were doing. Our role this year is to keep, if something happens, like yesterday, the pressure on the car in front and we were doing that well yesterday.
Petter, your second podium of the season, this time it's third overall. You must be pleased with yet another strong performance?
Yes, very pleased actually. It's been really good fun. The thing I have to improve also is…in Mexico we did two days testing before the rally. Here I didn't do anything and it's a new rally, different type of surface so I had to cut back a little bit, it's a little bit too much already this year. At the end of the day my result here is absolutely fantastic. It worked very well and it was in just one stage, both times, that I lost a lot of time. Every other stage was absolutely perfect. But I am happy to be third and I hope not to lose a lot of time on a long stage again.
That's the Jordan River stage you are talking about, Jari-Matti said he feels that's where his rally disappeared. Why were you losing so much time on that stage?
I didn't get the proper rhythm and I struggled, but every other stage was working absolutely perfect. The first day was working very well, but then I thought this would be difficult and I lost a lot of time – I was 16s behind Latvala this morning. The biggest difference is between first and second car and after that it's difficult, with the tyres getting warm and you try to gain time and it's at the end of the stage so you have to drive very sensibly with these tyres. This is what I learned on this rally and I took down all these details, so it doesn't happen again.
You began the day with Jari-Matti in your sights, when did you realise that second position was slightly out of touch?
First stage this morning went very well from the start but then I did a mistake half-way through the stage and lost four and a half seconds to both guys. After that it was okay but one mistake is enough. I could have maybe gained two seconds if I look at the split (times). It's difficult as the tyres get warmer to push harder. If it was colder definitely it would have been a bigger difference between each car but that's the way it is... we are trying, it's good fun to be back again, it's nice. We are on the podium and me and my team are very proud and hopefully one day soon... we will see. We are trying and it's good fun to be here.
You have a limited testing programme, but despite that you were very much on the pace from the outset. It makes you wonder what would happen with a bit more testing...
We are very much a private team and everything is cut to the minimum - 40 minutes (test) before this event in the car. I'm sure it wasn't 40 minutes for other teams. That's how it is; you have to make the best of what we've got. More than the best of what we have. I would say this was the most technically demanding rally of the whole series for drivers and co-drivers. It is very difficult but one of the best challenges of the Championship and well done to everyone in Rally Jordan.
It's been an interesting day; firstly what happened to Sébastien Ogier this morning?
I think it must be the 20th time I speak about that. He got an electrical problem and lost five minutes. That is what happened.
You now lead both the Drivers' and the Manufacturers' Championships after this event, so it's been a successful outing here in Jordan.
It was a great success. The drivers did very well. The strategy was okay. I think Seb was driving really well. And Sébastien Ogier was really good too. For us it's really good because now we have three drivers with Sébastien Loeb, Sébastien Ogier and Dani Sordo. So it's ready for the Championship, this could be the year for us. I think Dani does not like too much Jordan Rally. We have to remember we got the title for the Manufacturer the last two years and Dani did well and I am confident and I'm sure if we get the title this year that Dani will be there. There are 13 events and he is fast on tarmac and gravel. I have no problem with him, everything is going well. I ask him to be at the end and get points for the Manufacturer and this is why he did not drive too fast.
Question from the floor.
Q: Hiba Sabbagh (Al-Rai Newspaper, Jordan).
This morning there was a special strategy for the Citroën team. How much did this help you to win?
It was not a special strategy for the Citroën team. It was a special strategy for both teams. I heard that Mikko is going to clean the road and that Ogier is coming for me. Okay they are both now our road cleaner and it is like that.