Crash.Net WRC News
France - Post-event press conference
3 October 2010
Drivers / co-drivers: Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroën Total WRT), Dani Sordo and Diego Vallejo (Citroën Total WRT) and Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson (PSWRT).
Team principal: Olivier Quesnel (Citroën Total WRT)
Sébastien, it's every drivers dream to win a Championship; you take your seventh title and win number 60 on home soil. The final stage running through your home town with thousands of people out to cheer you on, that must be a dream come true!
Yes for sure it is an incredible feeling, and especially to win. When I arrived here, I knew that there was a possibility to win the rally, to win the Championship, and all that in my home town. So it was a great challenge, and also a big pressure, because I knew that everybody was waiting for this here, in the region. There was a lot of support from a lot of people. The feeling was really great. It was incredible. I was expecting this rally to be popular, but I was very surprised to see so many people for the rally, I could not expect that there would be so many people, everywhere: on stages, on the road sections, waving in front of their house, in the service park, everywhere. And all that in a very nice atmosphere. I was really happy to see this.
Tell us about this final stage. Were there tears in your eyes when you got to the end?
A little bit yes, especially when I saw my friends waiting for me after the checkpoint. It was incredible. I was not able to drive fast in that stage. I tried, at the start, and then I said okay, just drive through. For sure, it was a great moment. Also in the morning, when I passed in my village, Oberhoffen (sur Moder), on the road section, all the villagers were waiting for me, it was incredible.
What has been like competing here this weekend with all of the attention you have been receiving from the media and from the fans? Has all the media attention been exhausting this week?
I am not used to getting as much attention as I had here. Because there are so many people supporting me here. I was very busy, but I tried to make it right and to stay focused on my rally. It has been great.
Citroën also seal their sixth manufacturers crown here at home, a double celebration!
It has been a perfect event, like in Corsica in 2004, when we won both Championships at the same time. Here, it is even more special because it is really at home for me. I am really happy for the team because they did a great job all season, the car is really strong, and the difference we have to make is with the driving. It is very difficult and it is a big challenge, with Petter (Solberg), Dani (Sordo) and Sebastien (Ogier). It was not an easy season and I am happy to finish like this.
Are you ready to fight for title number eight next year, or will you take all this in first?
I just try to enjoy what happens at the moment, and I really enjoy it.
Daniel, congratulations on title number seven! How has the weekend been for you?
For me it was a special weekend because it was very difficult to co-drive Sébastien. The road conditions were very bad in the second pass, really difficult for all the co-drivers, with lots of corrections on the pace notes, it was not easy. Now the race is finished, Sébastien and me, we are World Champions and it is perfect.
What has the atmosphere been like in the car this weekend; have there been any nerves going into those four final stages?
There was a normal atmosphere in the car, a lot of concentration because I did not want to make a mistake today. It was normal inside the car, and outside of the car it was not normal!
Dani, congratulations on second position overall, how tough has it been out there this weekend?
What happens to Citroën and Sébastien is really nice, we have both Championships and it is really important in France, it is fantastic. There are two more rallies and I will try to push hard.
Many people described the conditions similar to Rally GB! What would you say?
Before the rally we thought it would be on tarmac, and it was very slippery, especially on certain stages that were very dirty and difficult to drive. At the end, we finish second and we are happy.
You had a dramatic start to the morning – tell us what was wrong with the car after the first stage?
We had a problem with the water circuit, we were lucky to get to the end of the stage.
Sébastien had a lot of focus on himself here, but there will be a lot of pressure for you in Catalunya to win your first rally in the WRC…
I think Catalunya this year is open for a lot of drivers, with the first day on mixed surfaces. Petter is pushing all the time, Ogier is very fast as well, the Championship is for Sébastien but everybody will be fighting.
Diego, congratulations, how you have you found this event?
It was incredible for me, all the people supporting us, it was very difficult to make all the corrections, but the gravel crews did a good job. In Spain, we will have to push from the beginning.
Petter, congratulations on third position overall. It's been another good battle this weekend – how are you feeling at the end of it?
I was a little bit off the road in one stage this morning, but it was okay, it is part of the game. There was so little tarmac, but I am ready for Spain now. Third place was my goal before the rally, so I am very happy about it at the end of the day, I think that it was the best I could do, but I don't know if I can be happy with a third place in Spain. Back to what Sébastien said earlier, I also want to say that I have never seen anything like this for many years, so much support from the spectators, to Loeb especially, but to all the drivers. We would have to go back to Portugal many years ago, to see something like this. It was a great satisfaction and I am very impressed. It was unbelievable, everywhere, this is what we want to have in every rally. The police have been fantastic; it was the best support from police that I have seen in any rally. The organisation has been very good.
It's the battle in the Drivers' Championship for third position between yourself and Jari-Matti and you move a little closer now…
I tested on full dry, and in these conditions I did not want to destroy the rally because of a big mistake. Yesterday, we did a good job on the suspension, for the mud, and I was happy. Now I have two cars left and there are two rallies, so it's a good chance. I think I will be in a good position the first day in Spain (on gravel), and hopefully in a good position on Saturday (on tarmac). I feel very confident on tarmac, and the car is very good on tarmac, so I am hoping for dry tarmac. Jari-Matti (Latvala) has a bit too many points, and Dani (Sordo) is closing in now, but that third place will be a fight till the end in Great Britain.
Chris, congratulations on third position overall, was Petter pushing all the way?
Petter is push, push, push every day, in a rally car, in a normal car, and when he has a cup of tea in the morning! Tomorrow morning it will be push, push, push for Spain. It was a very difficult rally, a real challenge, and something Petter and I really enjoyed, just like the other drivers. We were half way into the big long stage and we thought: 'what is going on here?' And then you get out of the stage and you think it is the best thing in this world, good sensations and a lot of satisfaction after pushing ourselves. Rally GB will be another real challenge, my home rally, and we are both very competitive guys. So we will go for the victory in Spain, and really in Rally GB.
Olivier, Rallye de France is a huge event for the Citroën team as a French manufacturer – to win the Drivers' title and the Manufacturers Championship on home soil must be something very special?
Dani Sordo, a Spanish driver second, and Petter, a Norwegian driver third, we can only be really pleased it happens in France, in the home of Sébastien, so we could not imagine a better success for us. Honestly, it was the first time in Alsace, so there were some problems, but we prefer this, with plenty of people, than a very well organised rally without anybody. We are very happy to be here, and it was a great day today, for Citroën and Sébastien.