» BACK TO CRASH.NET

Crash.Net WRC News

Germany - Pre-event press conference

23 August 2012


Drivers: Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Total WRT), Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford WRT) and Thierry Neuville (Citroen Junior WRT)


Press conference


Q:
Sebastien, after years of being on the top step of the podium of this event we saw a different winner last year. Are you back to correct that this year?

Sebastien Loeb:
I don't know. Last year we had a puncture and the tyres are different this year, so that shouldn't happen anymore. I am prepared, there are many good stages. The rally probably is a little bit more complicated.

Q:
Do you like the changes made to the rally?

Sebastien Loeb:
No, I prefer to do the same stages as in the past, but it is the same for everybody. It just means that we have to do some more work in the recce, and I don't really like to work.

Q:
How do you rate this event in terms of difficulty in comparison to the other Tarmac events? Is it the most difficult?

Sebastien Loeb:
Yes, it is, because you have some very fast places in Saarland and some very fast parts and hairpins in the vineyards and Baumholder which is special in itself, so there are three different segments. Also the weather can change, which is making it more complicated.

Q:
What is your impression of the Panzerplatte?

Sebastien Loeb:
The stage at Panzerplatte is different from any other roads we do in rallying. For me, it would be better to have two stages of 20 kilometres than one stage of 40 kilometres, because that would enable us to push more. With such a long stage, you have to look after the tyres all the time, you have to take it easy, which isn't fun for us and not for the spectators either.

Q:
What happens here when it gets wet?

Sebastien Loeb:
In the wet, it is really tricky because especially in the vineyards, it is so narrow, it is easy to slide off the road. With soft rain tyres, it is okay, but with hard tyres, it is tricky.

Q:
The rally community is waiting to hear on your future in the sport - is there anything you can tell us about 2013 yet?

Sebastien Loeb:
It is the same question as all the time, and you get the same answer: nothing has been decided yet. We are speaking with Citroen about the future, not just for next year, but also for the longer term, but there is nothing we can speak about yet.

Q:
When will we know? By Wales, later?

Sebastien Loeb:
I don't know. Ask my boss. It will be this year.

Q:
Jari-Matti, after Rally Finland - despite being on the podium - you were disappointed with the lack of pace. What have the team discovered after analysing what happened there?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
We already lost the rally on Thursday as Sebastien had a very strong start and we were too slow. You are fighting for tenths of a second there, so that made it very difficult for us to catch up. The others didn't make any mistakes, they were just quick. But we were on the podium, we got some points, so now we are in Germany, a new rally, new things.

Q:
We have seen you get stronger on Tarmac over the years, how are you feeling about tackling the stages here in Germany?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
First of all, it is important to have the right tyres, to have a good feel and then see what happens. I hope to be able to fight for the podium. We had our best result here with fourth place overall in 2010 and we won some stages last year. But first you need to be consistent before you can win the rally. I will try my best. If we can be close, it is good, but you have to be enjoying it and be relaxed first.

Q:
In terms of testing and preparation, do you feel satisfied with what has been achieved? You have been testing on a circuit in France - tell us about that?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
The test was more about working with the tyres and the driving technology. Before this rally, we tested in the vineyards and Baumholder. I am quite confident with the car. It has improved a lot. The car was good in Monte Carlo already and will be good here. But due to the changes, we have to work with new notes, you have to be really concentrated in the vineyards. The tyre choice will be difficult as well, especially if the weather changes.

Q:
What will your approach be for this event and how do you begin to prepare for the 'Panzerplatte'?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
Panzerplatte is my favourite stage in the rally. It is wide, you choose your lines, it goes up and down. It reminds me a little bit of Finland, but then on a concrete surface, and with the Hinkelsteins at the side of the road. It is very long stage with 44 kilometres, but the main thing is to look after your tyres, not to destroy them. I enjoy going there.

Q:
Thierry, we have only seen you compete here once in the past and that was in a S1600. How do you think you will fare in a World Rally Car?

Thierry Neuville:
My first experience here was quite bad: the engine went after a few stages. I am happy to be here. Preparations went well, the shakedown went well, I am happy to be here.

Q:
We have seen you do well on events where you have little experience, why do you think you are able to adapt so quickly?

Thierry Neuville:
It will definitely help me. Most of the stages are relatively new, which could help me close up to the faster drivers, but many others are really quick and they know exactly what to do with the set-up when it rains.

Q:
We have seen you compete well on both Tarmac and gravel - which surface do you feel more at home on?

Thierry Neuville:
My experience on Tarmac is much better, my confidence is much better and I should be making less mistakes, so that is what I want to show this weekend.

Q:
What do you feel is the toughest aspect of the event?

Thierry Neuville:
It depends on if it rains or not. If it rains, it will be a very tough weekend for us. I have never driven the new Michelin tyres in the wet.

Q:
What do you expect from Panzerplatte?

Thierry Neuville:
It will be a very difficult stage. We have seen a lot of dust on the recce, there are many blind corners and very fast sections, so you need to manage the tyres.

Q:
Could we see you challenging for a podium here?

Thierry Neuville:
I hope so, of course, but we will see where we are after a few stages on the first day. If the pace is there and we have a good feeling, we will aim at a podium. I am not saying that I am going to win, but third place would be a nice result.


» BACK TO CRASH.NET