Crash.Net WRC News
Bulgaria - Post-event press conference
11 July 2010
Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroen Total WRT), Dani Sordo and Marc Marti (Citroen Total WRT) and Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson (Petter Solberg WRT).
Team principal: Olivier Quesnel (Citroen Total WRT).
Sebastien, it's the first tarmac event of the season and you have led from the first stage, a great start to the second half of the season! Was it a good rally for you?
Yes, it was a perfect rally for me. We made a great start on the first day. The second day got trickier. We made the right tyre choice in the morning, but maybe not the best one in the afternoon. Today was okay for us and we had no problems.
Tell me about yesterday morning. It was quite damp and dark. What did you think of the opening stages?
The conditions were really difficult. The road was wet and damp. It was bumpy, but after all I was feeling okay with the car and there were no problems.
You made quite a comfortable lead the first day. How much were you on the maximum yesterday or did you not need to push so much?
I drove really well the first day. I didn't change my driving the second time. Maybe I was a little bit more cautious. Then today I took it a bit easier.
Was it 'Sunday driving' today then?
No, the first stage this morning was even quite difficult for me. It was a bit harder to find the right rhythm. I was not so pleased with my notes this morning but then after that first stage I found my rhythm and drove well.
Daniel, let's turn to you. It's the first time the WRC event has ventured to Bulgaria. What did you think of the event as a whole?
I think it was great. The stages were really nice but also quite different. Of course, it was also not so easy to drive when it is not dry. But I enjoyed the car and Sébastien did too. So the car and also the organisation were okay.
Sebastien said it was really dark at the opening stage yesterday morning, and hard for you to read your notes.
Yes, it was not easy because it was very cloudy and dark. The road was bumpy and it was hard to read. In the second part I switched on the light just for security.
Dani, second position overall and another good result for you. A little bit of pressure from Petter this weekend. Sébastien might not have been in the battle, but you certainly were.
Yes, in the first day Sébastien pushed really, really hard and it was hard to take some seconds off him. But Petter was going really fast. It was difficult at the end of the rally but I'm still second so I'm really happy. But we need to be careful with him in the next rally on tarmac.
We haven't been on tarmac for such a long period in the WRC – Spain last year. Did you feel a bit rusty on the stages? It didn't show from the stage times.
No, the stages are really nice, not different than the other rallies on tarmac. But it was sometimes difficult.
Tell me about the tyre choices yesterday, because you lost some time. You had softer on the front and hard on the back or the other way round, I don't remember?
We tried something different to see what happens, because the two first stages were completely dry. The information in the team said two stages dry and one stage with water. So I put two hard tyres on the front and two soft tyres on the back and two spare tyres. The car was really heavy and I lost a little bit of time. But at the end it was well done.
Marc, let's talk about the four stages from today. Petter wasn't too far behind and putting some pressure on you. What was the plan from you and Dani this morning – was it for you to go out there and whatever you did hold on to second position or you weren't taking too many risks out there?
No, we didn't want to take too many risks because for Citroën it was first and second position. Petter isn't taking points for manufacturers. But even like this we were confident. And it was quite good to make us confident for today but okay, you never know. Petter was driving very fast in the first and second stages and I think it was good for the press and for the spectators.
What is your opinion of the rally? We've seen a lot of spectators at the finish, and obviously a lot of spectators up on the stages this weekend. Do you think it has been a good event here in Bulgaria?
Yeah, I think the rally was well organised. They need a bit more experience to close the stages at the beginning or at the end for more kilometres, because people would then come more in the middle (of the stage) not only on the start or the end which is really a problem. But apart from these things I think the rally was well organised, the stages were really nice, and quite difficult – that means a good challenge for the drivers. And we are quite happy for the rally. It was very good.
Petter, it has been a bit of a fight with you and Dani this weekend. An exciting time for you, for the team and for the sponsors. What do think?
I am very happy. First of all, especially, because we both have been in the car for the first rally, we both were very nervous. We knew it should be very difficult. I am very happy we are third. The car worked very well. To be third or second, it doesn't matter so much. I think to be on the podium was important. If we would have been second – everything is possible – but I think, it's not the time for it. I needed this podium. Chris worked very well and I am very pleased with what we have done.
When did you decide to go out there and push Dani? Obviously, the podium was very important for you?
Last night, when I found these things with my car. The main thing for me was to find the pace. I am here to prove myself. I think I found the right pace. If he is pushing, we knew, we had similar times. It was very exciting for a while. It has been absolutely perfect with Chris. We developed together all the time, I am very happy with the situation. It was incredibly difficult for him.
Obviously it was hard to compete together for the first time. A decision that has been taken just a week and a half ago...
I was trying to be cool. And I think Chris tried to be the same. We did not talk too much in the car. We spoke over all the details and the plan in advance. But it has been very impressive. We knew we have to tackle this speed straight away. And like Sébastien said, the stages were extremely difficult, the pace was also very difficult and to see the roads. Yes, as I said, it was quite impressive.
Chris, it has been a huge weekend hasn't it? It is your first time alongside Petter – and you are on the podium, how was the weekend for you?
It's been a real roller-coaster the last week and a half - two weeks. You know two weeks ago I was sitting at home reading my Sunday papers and today I am sitting here with champagne on my shoes… So it is a great experience, it's been great working with Petter and with the team. We are looking forward to Finland and we have a bit more work to do before then, and hopefully we will be back on the podium.
We are looking forward to that. You are a very experienced co-driver, what are your thoughts on Rally Bulgaria?
Well, for me I did not have any problems with anything really, and the time- keeping was good. We have seen some small things; you know it is a new rally and I think the stages were fantastic, the service park was good and everything for us worked okay with the organisation, so for us it was okay.
After 150 rallies that Petter did with Phil [Mills] you could forgive him for calling you the wrong name this weekend, did he at all?
Actually no, Petter didn't, but our team manager Ken Rees did… sorry Bob Rees called me the wrong name, but it is okay!
Olivier, a Citroen 1-2-3-4 which hasn't been done since 1993 I believe with Toyota. A great result and obviously a dominant result for Citroen on tarmac.
Obviously it is a great result, but I am sure for the next tarmac rallies the Ford(s) will be back because here we are in (a high) altitude and there was rain, so I am sure for the next rallies they will be there. So nothing is done, but we are very proud and very pleased for Citroen.
Lets talk about Finland, that is the next event and Sébastien Ogier will be nominated for points in the Citroen Total World Rally Team there. How do you expect him to perform when we get to Finland?
I expect him to score points for the Manufacturers' Championship, so this is what he will have to do and then we would be really pleased if he does his job.
What do you think of Rally Bulgaria as a WRC event Olivier, tell us your thoughts?
I think it was a good rally, the drivers enjoyed it, it was well organised, so it seems really okay.