» BACK TO CRASH.NET

Crash.Net WRC News

Monte Carlo - Pre-event press conference

18 January 2012

Press conference:

Q:
Sébastien, we return to Rallye Monte Carlo after a three year absence. You were keen to get this classic event back on the WRC calendar, how do you feel now that it has returned?

Sebastien Loeb:
For sure, I am happy to see Monte-Carlo back. It's the most dramatic rally of the Championship. We lost it a few years ago, but it's normal for it to be back. I like this rally and have good memories and some good results. Still it's a very difficult rally. It's a nice one, but difficult.

Q:
The rally spans five days and will take in the legendary Col de Turini in darkness, what do you think of the route?

Sebastien Loeb:
It's the same as last time I did it, four years ago it was nearly the same. For sure there are some interesting roads. It depends on the conditions. If it snows then we'll see; it can be tough.

Q:
You have a new team-mate this year with Mikko Hirvonen joining Citroën. After so many years as rivals, how does it feel to now be team-mates?

Sebastien Loeb:
I think it's not because we are team-mates that we will not be rivals. I am happy to work with him and for sure he has a lot of experience and he can bring some interesting things in the team. But when we are in the car, it's like every driver – we fight. It's interesting for Citroën to have him in the team.

Q:
Last year there was equal footing in the team between you and Sébastien Ogier, what is the case this year?

Sebastien Loeb:
It [number one status] has to be designated when it's the right time. At the moment we start the season, so each driver will have the same car and the same team and each one does his best for the position.

Q:
Do you feel confident for this event?

Sebastien Loeb:
It's difficult to be confident when you start Monte-Carlo. It's not because I won that I'm favourite – it's as easy or difficult for me as for the other drivers. I will try to stay concentrated and do my best.

Q:
Jari-Matti, you have competed here four times previously and with your new-found confidence that we saw last season on asphalt what do you think can be achieved here in Monte?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
We have to try and challenge Citroën, but if our speed is not to match them, then the top three would be a good start to the season. If you push on the limit then making an error is much easier than in Sweden, you need to balance with yourself more on this rally.

Q:
You will take number one status within the Ford World Rally Team this year; do you feel under any more pressure than normal to perform?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
It's like Sébastien said: every driver in the team wants to do his best. When Mikko left to Citroën, the main testing was done by myself – the situation wasn't very clear until close to Christmas. I have done more development on the car, so I have been a little like the team leader. But, as the rally starts I'm not going to think about this. We will do our best and fight for the Manufacturers' and Drivers' titles. To do that, you need to get everything right and everything perfect, but that's why I'm here.

Q:
Last year you showed some really good speed on asphalt, are you looking forward to that element of this event?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I enjoy the tarmac. When you get the feeling and you have learned it, I like it. This is a different rally though; this is not like Catalunya or Rallye de France. The set-up here is quite different. We're in the mountains here. We have wet, dry, ice, snow and the set-up is always going to be mixed. Still, okay, the character of the tarmac roads is quite the same, and on this rally the same things matter as on a normal tarmac rally. It's just when it snows and its full snow that it becomes more like Sweden.

Q:
Tell me about the available options to you in regard to tyres for this weekend and how crucial getting it right is.

Jari-Matti Latvala:
The tyre choice decides whether you win or lose the rally. François [Delecour] did some very clever choices here last year. The information from the team is crucial. You have to think a lot and this makes it stressful, you make the choice in the Service Park and wonder if it will rain or snow in the mountains when you get there later.

Q:
Dani, you return with the MINI WRC Team this year, it will be great to see a MINI compete again on Rallye Monte-Carlo!

Dani Sordo:
It's been a little bit busy start to the season: everybody knows nothing, but then you get the call and everybody is there. Okay, we miss Kris Meeke, but I am here and I am happy.

Q:
How much testing have you done in the car and how did it go?

Dani Sordo:
We test for one day and a half. One day in normal conditions and then half a day in the snow for the tyres. We don't have big new things, but the car is here and we have evolution in two months.

Q:
What would you say is the biggest challenge of Rallye Monte-Carlo?

Dani Sordo:
I think the rally is really nice. After the recce, I can say: “Oh this stage is really nice, the sensation is really nice.” If it is snowing or ice, it can be tough, but during the recce it was okay and really nice conditions. We will see if it stays like this.

Q:
We saw you on the podium twice last year, is that the aim?

Dani Sordo:
Why not? We are here to try and fight. It's difficult for the victory when Mr Sébastien [Loeb] is always at the top. Also Jari-Matti [Latvala] is pushing hard on tarmac, Mikko [Hirvonen] has a new car and Petter [Solberg] is also with a new car. There are lots of questions before the rally, but I want to be on the podium.

Q:
Francois, great to see you back in a WRC car! What do you think of the Ford Fiesta RS WRC and how glad are you to be back?

Francois Delecour:
This is my life and this is the only thing I can do well, approximately. I love doing this, this is my job and it's great to be here after 10 years or something [out of a factory-specification World Rally Car]. The last time was 2001 or something. I can feel the big gap. The new car goes very fast and to use it at the top – everything is very fast. This is what can be difficult for my job. Don't worry; I know the gap will be there. Last year was not so bad with the younger drivers, but I am 49 and I am not so young compared with the other drivers at Ford. I look at them and they are all in their 20s; Dominique [Savignoni, co-driver] and I are over 100 years. And I didn't drive so much; my last rally was one year ago. But I am so happy to come here. Using the car to the maximum could be difficult for me, these cars are very fast.

Q:
But on this event, you have to be clever as well – it's not all about speed. You were clever last year?

Francois Delecour:
I'm not sure to be clever. I call the people in the hotel on the col and they say it's snowing a lot, so I said: “Okay, I'll take the studs.”

Q:
Will you do more events in the WRC?

Francois Delecour:
Why not? I love, this is my life and I would like to do some more rallies. I don't want to do the full programme, I have the family and the children – I am happy like that.

Q:
What do you think you can achieve this weekend?

Francois Delecour:
Top five would be great, like last year.

Questions from the floor:

Q:
Sebastien, are you confident the governing body can provide a workable solution to the current promoter situation? And what do you want the WRC to be?

Sebastien Loeb:
For sure, there have been some difficult moments since last season, but I just think that it's important to promote the Championship. We lost our promoter, but last year we didn't see anything in France anyway, so maybe it's not bad. We have to find a new solution. For me, it's not important to do long rallies; here we have five days or anywhere in the world where we are going. It's important to make a good show on the television and maybe with some live television, like we saw with IRC. In France, it's difficult to understand why there is an eight-time World Champion, there is Sebastien Ogier growing up to the top of the sport, but we don't see anything in France of the race. For me I drive, the rest is for them to find the good solution.


» BACK TO CRASH.NET