Crash.Net WRC News
Portugal - Post-event press conference
30 May 2010
Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (Citroen Junior Team), Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroen Total WRT) and Dani Sordo and Marc Marti (Citroen Total WRT)
Team principal: Olivier Quesnel (Citroen Total WRT)
Sebastien, congratulations on claiming your first WRC win! How does it feel?
It's difficult to explain the feeling now. I am very, very happy. A few weeks ago it was a big disappointment not to win (in New Zealand), but finally I knew it was a great performance and a great weekend in New Zealand. But this weekend was just perfect. We pushed very hard from the start to the last day and I have the first victory. To get this against Séb, it's very good. He is the best driver in rally and the best in history; he is the reference for everybody.
Yes, it is special to win against Sébastien Loeb, isn't it…
I was thinking, maybe it's good to wait and to get the first victory like this.
What was it like when you crossed the finish line?
It was a long wait before the start of the (final) stage. Everybody started to congratulate me and I was saying: “Can't you remember New Zealand: three corners to the end!” I prefer to wait for the finish line. It's special and nice to win in the stadium with a lot of people and a lot of my friends.
When you look back to this time last year, things were very different for you; there had been mistakes and retirements but now you have totally transformed into a consistently fast driver – when do you feel it all changed around for you?
It was difficult last year, arriving in WRC without the experience is difficult. Last year, I had never driven the big car, so it was difficult to adapt to the speed. Okay it was a fantastic moment for us, but we progress with that and the team has helped us a lot. They continued to put confidence in us and I think I have to thank them. It's thanks to Citroën that I'm here today. The second half of the (2009) season we progressed rally after rally – it's almost perfect. Now we have the win and now we have to progress on tarmac where we don't have a lot of experience. My next goal is to progress on tarmac.
What was it like when you stood on top of the podium?
It feels good, for sure. I said in New Zealand we were in progress and it was a question of time. We have to make more work in the recce and in the race. Each night we watch the video together, it's a big job, but it's great when you get the result like this. Mr Quesnel and the whole team trusted us and we are better today.
Were there a lot of nerves coming into the final day? Did you imagine your first WRC win would come so early on in your career?
I usually heard Daniel (Elena) say for sure the pressure is in tyres, but the pressure was here! This weekend we never felt stress or pressure. We drove for the good result and last night we said let's continue like this. Today there was no pressure and we are happy because we are here. We had a little story from Daniel and Séb: they took us like rabbits and they were the hunter, we have to be fast to avoid the bullets!
Séb, you take second position away from Portugal – it seems there was no catching Ogier this weekend?
Basically… I try. He was really strong all the weekend, especially on the second pass he was very, very fast. We couldn't make any difference today in the afternoon. Maybe I was not fast enough the first day; I was thinking to the mistake in New Zealand and didn't want the same risk – I was waiting a bit that it happens. Finally, we lost a bit of time and we couldn't catch it again. He showed me here he is faster than anybody else in the Championship. We couldn't do anything.
Citroën team boss Olivier Quesnel said there would be no team orders other than for you both to stay on the road – did you continue to push flat-out until the end of stage 17 or was there any note of caution this afternoon?
I took the risk; I had to take to fight. I was pushing as hard as possible. I was confident I was driving well, there were no big moments, but on this rhythm something can happen; you know this. Okay, there were no big mistakes or moments, but for sure a few small ones. And yes, it was a big battle. In the stage we couldn't think not to go off the road, we are 100 per cent pushing.
You and Sébastien Ogier have both been brought through with the support of the FFSA, and of course Citroën. You are both incredible endorsements of the driver programme in France.
Yes. A few years ago we thought the French driver can't drive on gravel, now it seems to be okay! Now we are both French drivers fighting, it's good for the team and for us.
Daniel, this is a special day for Julien…
He pays for the drinks tonight! Sure it's a special day. I am happy for him, he works well, he's friendly and a funny guy and tonight it's a free night for me!
You picked up some great points for the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships today.
Sure, for us it's good, we have two points more after New Zealand. Now it's 38, not 36 and now it's Sebastien Ogier who is second. For Citroën, it's a good result to have the cars on the podium. It was a good race with the pressure for Citroën and (Petter) Solberg and (Mikko) Hirvonen. It was possible to have four Citroëns (in the top four positions), but Petter made the mistake. For us, for Séb, this time there were no spins, no trees and no bridge!
Dani, your first podium position this year – it's good to see you back. It's been a tough event here in Portugal and a tough fight for that third position today!
Yes I am happy to stay here at the end of the rally. I am also happy on the first day, the performance was good. On the second day we have a problem with the tyres, at the end I am third, it's okay.
You said you have felt some pressure this year – has that eased a little now that you are back on the podium?
Today was nice to drive, the stages were nice and we had good split times. He (Solberg) was three seconds faster and before the stage I was four faster than him, then I was one second slower – it was really nice and to arrive at the end with it so close. It was a really nice race.
Yesterday you lost some time on the afternoon stages – what happened?
We broke the tyre three kilometres before the end of the stage. I make a small mistake in the hairpin, I can't remember on which stage – it's the race.
Marc, does this result take the pressure off?
This result will help a little bit. It's also very important for the team. We have a lot of points in the pocket now and we have to be happy for Dani and me. Everybody was driving flat out – we have no team orders, it's very nice.
Olivier, Sébastien Ogier takes his first WRC victory, you must be delighted at his achievement here and during this season so far. What do you make of his performance?
Yes. This morning I was not as calm as you can imagine, I did not know what will happen. I say drive, but not out of the road – but I know it means nothing when I say this to them! Everybody asked me: “Are you sure you know what you are doing?” They pushed and pushed, but this is it. It was a regular win. Séb (Loeb) lost time on Friday. Yesterday we missed some split times and they (Loeb and Elena) lost six seconds, anyway it would have been really close. This is it; there are Citroëns on every step of the podium.
The only team order was for them to finish – were there a lot of nerves back at service as they battled each other?
Everybody was nervous, especially me. It finished well and everybody is laughing, but if there was a problem it would have been a big damage for the Citroën team. What we did today for the rally was really good and for Citroën - and for the crew - it's good for rallying today.
Did you believe when we first saw Ogier back in 2008 that he would develop into a WRC event winning driver so quickly?
No. Even for this rally, I didn't think he would be able to win. This is it, I'm pleased for him. He goes very fast for his career. But we can't forget there are four rallies on tarmac, they need some training and my main objective is to get both titles – for Sébastien Loeb and for Citroën.