Crash.Net WRC News
Turkey - Post-event press conference
18 April 2010
Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroen Total WRT), Petter Solberg and Phil Mills (PSWRT) and Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT).
Team principal: Olivier Quesnel (Citroen Total WRT).
Sébastien, after two days of battling you take win number 57; it's been one of the most closely contested rallies this year – a great fight!
Three days. We tried really to push on the limit. There was no strategy (tactics) this time, that's good. It makes the victory more nice. It was a big battle, but not between two drivers – it was five and that's really exciting. The first day I lost a little time cleaning the road, but the second day was also difficult. I couldn't make up the time. Finally, in the afternoon, I found a good rhythm. On the second day we were leading and we decided to keep this lead, I didn't know what the weather would be like. I thought it might rain; I had some memories of rain in Turkey before and I knew it was better to be first on the road. So I decided to keep my 17 second lead. We tried that and it was really a good choice.
The two stages that were cancelled this morning were run this afternoon, what kind of condition were they in?
I cannot say it was frustrating. I had a 17 second lead and every stage I didn't have to drive was better for me. I think it was a good thing to cancel these stages and it was very difficult on the second pass this afternoon. It would have been nearly impossible on the first pass.
We've seen a tactic-free rally here, Sébastien. Are you pleased about that?
For sure, it's much better to win like this without any tactics. But the regulation is like it is, we cannot do what we saw in Jordan. The job of the team is to win the rallies and when the regulation is permitting some things like that, you have to use it. The problem is from the regulation. If you want no tactics, you have to change the regulation. It was a good thing not to check in [early], that was too far in Jordan. But, for sure, our job is to go fast and when you can win a rally going flat out, it's better. If it is like it was a few years ago, reversing the order, it was a case of pushing from the start – maybe it's better for the future.
On the second day some of the stages had been altered, how much different were they?
It's not difficult, it's dangerous. After the recce the drivers say it's very rough with the stones and, okay, the organisers want to clean the road. But they modify some corners. One time there was a left corner [on the recce], but when we got there, there was no left. Then there were some banks at the side of the road and we hit one of the banks in sixth gear – it's unbelievable! This is very dangerous. When we do the recce, don't touch it [the road].
And the positives from this event?
The stages were very nice in some places and in some places it was very funny. It's okay, it's the race.
Petter another consistent performance now elevates you to second in the Drivers' Championship. Sweden aside it's been a great start to the season.
It's been a very, very tricky rally. I must say, I really tried to be careful for the whole rally, taking no risks and staying in the top. There are little risks, but still we kept good speed. In some stages I lost some speed, but on others I kept it really well. Like Loeb said, there were a lot of rocks around and a lot could happen. I'm very happy today, but to beat Sébastien would be very difficult today in the rain. I'm very happy.
We saw you push quite hard this afternoon, chasing the win with a few dramas in the first stage of the loop. A tussle with a tree I believe?
Well actually, in the first stage this morning I was on the big attack until the puncture. In the afternoon, I took two spares and tried to save my place, but things still happen. I came downhill, even Loeb was close to hit the tree – but I was closer, I hit it properly. Nothing happened with the car, but it was lucky. Everybody had problems there, after that second is good, especially for the Championship.
What about the next event: Rally New Zealand – can you be closer there?
Well, if we get the flights and the cars out, we hope so. Rally New Zealand is a great rally. I take it step by step, I'm not panicking to win a rally, when it comes, it comes. I have a dream like many others to beat him [Loeb] on a rally. We cannot give up and we'll try again in New Zealand.
Congratulations Phil, your third podium of 2010. Now up to second in the Championship; it seems that consistency is the key.
Every Championship, when you look down through history, you have to be there or thereabouts, on the podium and you have to win some rallies. But, if you look back, some drivers have led the Championship without winning any events.
What did you think of the event after it's move from Kemer?
I think there was good and bad all along the way. The road sections were close to the stages. Okay, a couple of the stages need looking at, there's a bit of tidying up around the edges, but otherwise it's been okay
Third position overall which means you remain third in the Championship Mikko. You made no secret of the fact that you wanted to win here, how are you feeling about the result?
It's still a long way to go. We are many points behind, that's how it is. Of course I wanted to fight for the win here, but it didn't work out like I wanted. Now we have to look ahead to New Zealand and see what we can do there.
It has been a difficult final day and it looked like you may have even lost your podium position earlier after an incident on stage 20, what happened?
It's one of those things, when you take it steady all the way through! We were driving very slowly going on one corner, not even going sideways, when we went sideways and a rock appeared and we got a puncture! That was my charge over.
Did you have any other dramas?
We had a massive hole in our car, with loads of dust after a puncture. On the stage before service [yesterday] the rear differential broke. The boys had a lot of work to do, but it was all fine.
Although this has not been classified as a split surface event, there was an element of tarmac within the stages, what did you think of the format here?
Yeah, why not? On this rally they were quite short sections, there was nothing we could do with the car. It was a good idea. Maybe going with gravel tyres and gravel suspension, the speed was very high and the car was moving a lot, so maybe it's not the safest option, but it was okay.
Your team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala had a problem on this event. Did that put more pressure on you?
No, we were here for the win. It happened to Jari-Matti, we didn't think so much [about it] – we carried on with our rally.
Olivier, the third win of the season for Citroën. It could have been maximum points for the Manufacturers' Championship but Dani Sordo failed to complete stage 21, what happened?
I don't know exactly for Dani, but everybody got the problem in the same place. Dani had a big problem and he stays there. He tried to go up the road, the cars which came after bump on him. Honestly, it's not his fault, so I can't say anything to him.
Sébastien Ogier led the rally for a large part of the event, what have you thought of his performance this weekend?
I think he is really good and I'm sure he can drive for the victory. I don't think in New Zealand, he's never been there and maybe not on tarmac - even though he is a French driver, he doesn't know tarmac very well. He still has to make progress – we will see for next year.