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Mexico - Post-event press conference
6 March 2011
Drivers / co-drivers:
Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroen Total WRT), Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Abu Dhabi WRT), and Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (Ford Abu Dhabi WRT).
Olivier Quesnel (Citroen Total WRT)
Sebastien, congratulations on your fifth Rally Mexico win. It was a good battle up until the opening stage this morning…
For sure, I was very disappointed to see him (Ogier) like that. He did not deserve that. He did a great race since the start of the rally. It was between him and me, I know what it is like if you are in these situations. It is not easy. I was not happy for the team and me. For my side my job is to fight and to win. We have to push. It is difficult to say for the rest of the season. We are two strong drivers in the same team. Before that, I was always the leader in the team. Now we are two leaders in the team. That is it. I am not happy with one car at the end.
Were there any team orders this morning or were you both free to fight it out?
The situation is like that. We were always equal (status) at the start of the season. Usually I had a team-mate and I was able to beat him and the situation was more clear. Now he is very fast and wants to win, and I want to win.
You have had a few dramas along the way this weekend. Tell us about yesterday when you were late into the opening stage of the afternoon – did you think it was all over?
Yesterday at the start of the day I was doing very well. We were in a good situation with a 20 second lead and I was able to increase the gap. Then, on the first road section (after service) there was a lot of traffic and we arrived on our minute for check-in and then 500 metres before the stage I lost the gear change and we had to repair it. We tried our best and found a pin in the rear bumper and put it in the gearshift and drove the stage. I took a 50-second penalty. Then it was different and we were not 29 seconds in front but 25 behind. That is it.
What are your feelings about the next rally in Portugal?
It is difficult to say. Every year in Sweden Ford wins, and Citroën wins in Mexico. Portugal is a real battle and we have different cars. I am confident our car is good there. We will see.
Daniel, you had to work so fast with the problem. How frantic was it?
When you are in this situation you have to think fast. Seb was fast to see the problem and I was fast with the solution. We had to take pieces of the engine out and the temperature was hot. It was not easy. To take just five minutes was fantastic. I am very happy. The Championship has started well, but we will really see the progress in Portugal because Mexico and Sweden are specific (specialist) rallies. Now it starts in Portugal.
Mikko, at the start of the day it looked like third position but now it's second - you must be happy with the points. But how are you feeling about the performance?
It is very good, I am happy with the good weekend. If I could fight for the podium, I would be happy. I saw Thursday morning I would not be able to fight and I took it steady. I had a big gap to Jari-Matti. Ogier made a mistake and I went to second and I tried to get three points on the last (Power) stage.
You took one stage win – but what a stage to do it on, the final Power Stage, and valuable extra points for the Drivers' Championship.
We ran this stage once already and the grip was very good. I knew I can do well on this stage and it worked out well.
You mentioned yesterday that you thought you had the wrong set-up from the start?
I have never been so good in Mexico. I made a small mistake with the set-up. Jari-Matti was fast when the road was clean. In the end I am happy for the team with the result.
Jarmo, after the win in Sweden and being first on the road here on Friday was there a sense of frustration that you couldn't keep pace with the Citroëns?
In a way we were surprised and disappointed with our own pace. It is still a tricky rally. It is so easy to make a small mistake. I am happy with this performance. We drive steady and consistently.
Jari-Matti, you take third place away from Mexico. After the time loss on Friday with the puncture, did you expect to be on the podium?
I think it is the first time that you change a tyre on a stage and you can still be there on the podium. I am not sure the last time it happened. Of course, I knew that moment we lost the fight for the victory. I thought if we can get a top five that was the idea for the points. We climbed to fourth and then it looked like it would stay like that for a long time and then Ogier and Loeb were fighting and Ogier went off. This is normal when you fight. This can happen. I have done those mistakes myself! It helped my position.
What is your assessment of your pace throughout the weekend?
I started this rally cautiously and then I started to find a feeling and then we got a puncture and then I started to attack on Saturday. Then I cooled down a little and then I realised on Saturday at midday that something was not right with my driving. I could not keep the car on the lines and I was off the lines. I started to concentrate to keep on the same line and then the times started to improve. That has always been a weakness for me in Mexico.
Now we go to Portugal. What are your feelings on that?
Portugal, for the last two years, I have crashed. I want to finish and I want to finish inside the top three. I am not hoping for too much. A top five I am happy. I will try to keep going with tidy driving.
Miikka, how cautious were you after Ogier retired?
When we got the message on the radio that Ogier has stopped, then I told Jari-Matti to be very steady and get no punctures. It is a difficult situation to drive at recce speed. When you slow down you might make a mistake. You are not concentrating anymore; it is not easy to drive slow.
Olivier, it could have been a Citroën one-two and maximum points, but Ogier crashed on the opening stage today. How disappointed were the team with that news?
This is the first victory for the DS3. If you remember the last rallies in Mexico, each time we lost one car and each time we were World Champions. This is rallying. This is it. I think Ogier is more disappointed than me because there are not so many drivers this year and not scoring points by retiring from a rally is not good for the Drivers' Championship.
The Citroën DS3 has taken its first win of the new season. Are you pleased with the performance on gravel?
The car is very competitive and very fast. In Sweden, it was our worst result. We know we are okay on gravel and I think in Portugal we will be competitive; I am confident.
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