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New Zealand - Pre-event press conference

21 June 2012


Drivers: Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Total WRT), Petter Solberg (Ford WRT), Thierry Neuville (Qatar WRT) and Dani Sordo (Prodrive WRC Team).



Press conference


Q:
Sebastien, back in New Zealand and leading the Championship. It is a long way to travel from Europe, but every driver seems to love these stages; obviously well worth the trip to get hereā€¦

Sebastien Loeb:
For sure. The stages are incredible, they are wide, fast with some camber and a smooth surface. The only thing to do is to push hard. So for sure on the driving side it is a great event.

Q:
We see some new stages this year, your thoughts?

Sebastien Loeb:
It's similar to other years. There are some fast stages, and like I said, they are quite wide. One is really difficult, with a lot of camber, fast and long at 28 kilometres. So that will be quite demanding.

Q:
What condition are the stages in?

Sebastien Loeb:
It was raining during recce. Even when it was sunny it was raining here! The stages were really good because even if it's wet it's not muddy, the roads stay drivable. Like this morning in the shakedown it was really wet and still the conditions were okay. So it should be good.

Q:
At this point in the season with a 30 point lead over your team-mate is it necessary to go out there and push for the win?

Sebastien Loeb:
It is not imperative but for sure when you can fight for the win you will try to do it, so I will see. For sure it will be a complicated rally with the weather and a lot of different things like tyre choice, so we will see. I will try to do my best. I think it's quite important to have a good feeling with the car and then we will see.

Q:
Where do you believe will be the optimum place on the road tomorrow?

Sebastien Loeb:
I don't know. I will let the Ford guys choose and I will choose the best one after!

Q:
Where do you think the best position will be on the road tomorrow?

Petter Solberg:
I will let the Citroen guy in front of me choose first and I will choose after him! We will see, it depends on the weather and many other things but it shouldn't be so difficult.

Q:
We have not seen a Ford win since Sweden, how much does the team need to get back to winning ways in terms of both Championships?

Petter Solberg:
Well we are pushing and a little bit excited, we want to win, like in Greece but I went a half percent too much and that was it. But if you are 10 seconds behind you have to try. Okay many people say you should have stayed safe in second and others say I did the right thing. Yes I was pushing for a win, for sure, but we are going to try here and start much harder. I am very excited and there are difficult stages and the starting position can be quite interesting. I am looking forward to it.

Q:
What will be the approach from you here in New Zealand?

Petter Solberg:
The roads are so nice anyway so we will be taking it a little bit careful in some places but will be attacking in others.

Q:
What happens within the team if you get the better result here this weekend and it leans more towards you in the Drivers' Championship?

Petter Solberg:
I don't think about that at all. The only thing I'm thinking about is trying to win. Okay we are after a lot of points and I lost a lot in Greece, but if you are going to have a chance to win a Championship you have to win rallies. So I'm driving hard for victories and look forward to a win.

Q:
Is morale good in the team at the moment, because the pace of the car is there?

Petter Solberg:
It's a really good feeling. Okay everybody was down after Greece, I can understand that. But between the drivers, mechanics and engineers everybody is really positive. So we have a lot of fun but we need the victory for sure.

Q:
Thierry, this is your first time in New Zealand, what are your thoughts so far? Are you suffering with jet lag?

Thierry Neuville:
The jet lag is not so easy, I feel it in the night. For the recce everything went well. I could see the beautiful stages. We already enjoyed the recce so okay I think we are well prepared and we can enjoy this rally.

Q:
Do you feel these stages will suit you?

Thierry Neuville:
Let's see. The shakedown and qualification went well and I feel a lot of confidence but not too much. I try to drive fast and we need to adapt our driving style a little. I am sure we will do a few changes to the car so let's see tomorrow.

Q:
It's been your first season as a WRC driver. How do you think you have progressed?

Thierry Neuville:
Some things are quite good. The speed is not so bad but okay I think we have a lot to improve and the feeling with the car is not as it should be, but okay some things are good and sometimes we push too hard and make some small mistakes and sometimes some big mistakes. We try to do better.

Q:
What are your hopes in terms of results here?

Thierry Neuville:
We got a fifth place in Argentina and sixth place in Greece so it would be nice to get a fourth place as least here in New Zealand.

Q:
Dani, we see you return to the Prodrive MINI for this event, we saw you in Argentina with Ford just a couple of months ago. Is it good to be back with the team?

Dani Sordo:
It's very nice to be back in the MINI. I like the performance of this car. The kilometres in Argentina are important for the future.

Q:
Talk to us about your plans for this weekend because we saw great pace from you in Portugal in the MINI. What is the plan for New Zealand?

Dani Sordo:
The plan is like everybody to push as hard as possible and try to be in front if it is possible and fighting for winning the stages and being as high as possible in the classification.

Q:
Do you think a podium is possible here?

Dani Sordo:
Why not, anything is possible. We are here for fighting and to do our best.

Q:
Talk to us about the pre-event test. How did that go and are you happy with the set-up?

Dani Sordo:
To be honest we did not change very much because we did not have many choices. The car is good. I have a good feeling with the car. I only tried a little with tyres but nothing very different but the car is overall very good.

Q:
Everyone seems to love the event. How much to you rate this rally in terms of the WRC calendar?

Dani Sordo:
I think everyone really loves it here because it is very fast and special roads with the camber. You do the pace notes and do the recce slowly but after when you are really really fast in the car it is difficult but at the same time very exciting. In some places you can lose a lot of time and you don't understand because you don't keep as good a speed in the corners. It is difficult but I think you have to have good pace notes and have a lot of confidence in the car.


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