» BACK TO CRASH.NET

Crash.Net WRC News

Portugal - Pre-event press conference

24 March 2011

Drivers: Sebastien Ogier, (Citroen Total World Rally Team), Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team), Daniel Oliveira (Brazil World Rally Team) and Henning Solberg (M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team)



Press conference.


Q:
Mikko, you lead the WRC coming into this event, it was important for you that this year got off to good start after last season's disappointments – do you feel it has?

Mikko Hirvonen:
This year it was good to have a really nice start, especially with the new car – it's good for the whole team. l think this is going to be a long year, with a lot of work to do. But, at the moment it's started well, let's keep it up.

Q:
We saw you take only one stage win in Mexico, what did you think of your pace during the event?

Mikko Hirvonen:
Of course, there should be more pace, there's no doubt. I was fairly happy on Friday, but on Saturday morning I thought I could match Ogier and Loeb ahead of me, but I couldn't. I had to back off and make the finish and I concentrated on myself to get more speed.

Q:
What's your approach to day one here, you're running first on the road…

Mikko Hirvonen:
I can just go as fast as I can and see what the boys do behind me. It didn't look as bad [on the recce] as Mexico on Friday, we'll see how it goes.

Q:
You tested before this event, how did it go? I believe you had an off during testing, what happened?

Mikko Hirvonen:
A little bit. Luckily it all happened in the test, all sorts happened to me, actually. Some of it was through me and some of it wasn't. We lost the rear wheel, but didn't lose too much time getting that sorted out. Some of the changes we made to the car worked, some didn't but that's testing. We had a really good test and we are ready for this event.

Q:
Lisbon's a long way from Faro; do you think it's worth coming up here for the opening stage?

Mikko Hirvonen:
Yes. It's a long way, but I'm sure it's going to work. Last year we did a demonstration stage in Porto and there were lots of spectators. This is a really nice venue and the weather's beautiful, I'm sure it's going to work.

Q:
Sebastien, the final day in Mexico could have been a thrilling battle between yourself and Sebastien Loeb but it ended on the opening stage of the morning when you retired from the event. Was it a result of the pressure being put on you from your team mate?

Sebastien Ogier:
No. I don't think so. For sure, we were in the battle with Seb and it was very close, but I open the road and we had big disappointment. It's like this in rally, I didn't score points in Mexico and that's a big shame. There's nothing to change, we had a good feeling in Mexico, we missed a bit of luck, but it's going to be okay.

Q:
Are we going to see that sort of battle for the rest of the year, without any team orders?

Sebastien Ogier:
I hope so, it's good for the sport, but we shouldn't forget the other drivers, Mikko, Jari-Matti and Petter, it can be interesting when the cars are close.

Q:
Portugal last year was where you secured your maiden WRC victory; does it bring back good memories for you now?

Sebastien Ogier:
Yes, of course, it's nice to come back here. It was my first victory in WRC and one of the first rallies I did here. I did it two times, maybe I know it best. The stages are similar to last year and I have a good road position.

Q:
You are sixth in the Championship, are you feeling more pressure now to achieve a good result because of the retirement in Mexico?

Sebastien Ogier:
Mexico was, for sure, not good. We are behind Mikko, but the season is very long – we will have a good start position for the next gravel events and I'm glad to see that.

Q:
The Power Stage is long here at more than 30 kilometres, what will be the tactics and the risks for that stage?

Sebastien Ogier:
It's difficult to speak about that before the last day. It depends on how the rally is. For sure, if you are leading, nobody wants to take too much risk, it's difficult. The stage is so long and completely different, with slow, twisty and a lot of gravel on the road. We can see the speed and adapt the rhythm, it's different.

Q:
Daniel, we see you in the MINI S2000, what can you tell us about the car?

Daniel Oliveira:
The car is quite good, for me it's quite difficult to say so much about the car without so many kilometres. We have a good car for the future. We want to see what happens in this race.

Q:
How much testing have you done?

Daniel Oliveira:
Only 40 kilometres on a tarmac road, enough to make some kilometres on the car, but the real test was here in Portugal, where we did 35 or 40 kilometres. Still, this is not enough to be confident with the car, but we will try to do our best.

Q:
Can you tell us more about your programme for this year?

Daniel Oliveira:
We don't have so much experience from Brazil. We want to show Brazil's people what is rally, we want to make some publicity to show what can happen.

Q:
Henning you had an injury with the biggest blister on your hand we ever saw in Mexico. Is that better now? Will you be able to drive?

Henning Solberg:
It's okay now. It was hard to drive in Mexico, I did six stages with no power steering, but we came through and made some points.

Q:
You seemed frustrated in Mexico, how are you feeling about competing here?

Henning Solberg:
Honestly, Mexico was a disaster. I was only able to go flat out for a single half stage – the one where I put brake fluid into the power steering [to make the power steering work] and I was up on Petter at the split in that stage. But then I lost the brake pipe in the rear. That was the only stage I could go flat out.

Q:
What do you think of this rally?

Henning Solberg:
It's a nice rally, but it's also a very tricky rally. It's very narrow and fast.

Q:
What's the objective for this year?

Henning Solberg:
To go as fast as possible. Now we have a good car, we had a good shakedown; we had some engine problems, but hopefully they're fixed now. As you can see from this [plain black overalls], I had some problems with sponsors, you can see we don't have the same colours [on the car]. We have a new sponsor for this event here, it's a big challenge this year, but we should get it all sorted.

Q:
What's possible for you this year, how's the budget looking?

Henning Solberg:
Honestly, I want to do all of them. Things can happen, but hopefully we can do everything.


» BACK TO CRASH.NET