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Monte Carlo - Post-event press conference

20 January 2013

Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT), Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Motorsport), Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio (Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT).

Team principal: Yves Matton (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT).


Press conference.


Q:
Sebastien, congratulations on winning Rallye Monte-Carlo for the seventh time and in dominant fashion. Was it one of the toughest 'Monte's' with the weather conditions this year?

Sebastien Loeb:
Yes, it was a really difficult rally this year. We had wet, dry, snow, ice and already yesterday evening some melting snow – it was really tricky. The first [thing] was to go to the end and finally we were there. For sure, it was really difficult and I am really happy to be at the end.

Q:
You said Turini was undriveable. How difficult was it?

Sebastien Loeb:
It was not fun. I like to drive and we have done some great stages like St Jean en Royan, which was 20 kilometres in good snow and now that was really enjoyable to drive. Yesterday evening, the only thing was that I could lose everything at every corner. I was driving really slowly in the stage. I was looking in the mirror to see if Seb [Ogier] is coming behind – I was so slow. I didn't know what I was doing.

Q:
What other great stages were there?

Sebastien Loeb:
A lot of good stages, full of snow – something we didn't have in Monte-Carlo in a few years. For me this was the first Monte-Carlo like that and St Bonnet was incredible, really slippery. For this you have to be really perfect in your driving and I enjoyed that.

Q:
Is there a sad feeling that this could be your last Rallye Monte-Carlo?

Sebastien Loeb:
No, it's a good feeling to win this one. For the rest, I don't think to it. I have new projects in the future, but I am really happy to win – this is the toughest one I have won.

Q:
Daniel, your seventh win and maybe the last at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, your home event. How do you feel?

Daniel Elena:
I'm sure I start next year and I try to win driving myself! I am very happy to have this victory, especially standing on the podium and listening to the national anthem. For me, this is a good emotion.

Q:
What's the most difficult aspect of this event?

Daniel Elena:
It's the question of the pace notes. Each corner we have to read the corner and the correction and it's very difficult. But it was so slow – so we have time to read! There is a lot of pressure on road sections to make all the corrections. When we started the last loop on Turini, I finished the last correction at the Time Control. In these conditions, it's very hard for the co-driver.

Q:
Sebastien, the first time we see the Polo R WRC in competition and we see fastest stage times and a podium. Did you imagine the result could have been so good?

Sebastien Ogier:
No, obviously not. I don't have enough words to explain my feelings. Everybody knows I am not happy to be second, but here I am. It's so much better than I expect. I wait more than one year to be back. Last year was not easy and I have a lot of frustration and not always perfect motivation. But I was thinking of this rally all the time. I am so, so happy, it's almost perfect. It's a great boost and motivation is back now.

Q:
What does this mean to the team?

Sebastien Ogier:
Everybody was really happy for this result and now they are also asking us for more immediately! We know there are things to improve and it's not perfect, but we know the base is good and I honestly didn't know before the start. So many people ask the question: how competitive, when can you fight for victory, and I honestly didn't know. I was feeling better and better and in the last month of the year I was really happy at the Monte test. But, I had no idea for the performance this weekend; we had some constant grip at the start of Sisteron, when we had 25 kilometres on tarmac and to be on the same rhythm as Seb [Loeb] is good for the future.

Q:
Yesterday provided difficult conditions which caught your team-mate out…

Sebastien Ogier:
Yes, for sure it was not good news. It could have been a really great result to have two cars in the top five, but unfortunately this stage was so tricky. It was easy to make a mistake and unfortunately this happened to him. I am sure he will be back in Sweden; this is not his home event, but he will be fast in Sweden and he will prove he can be competitive and stay on the road.

Q:
Does this raise expectation and the pressure on you?

Sebastien Ogier:
No. It's the opposite. To make a good start and take good points is good and it means I will go to Sweden more relaxed. I will try to do the best there I can. I love this event [Sweden]. Maybe it will be difficult, we don't know about our car there. Just because we performed here and we were on the pace, it doesn't mean we will be there - and on every surface.

Q:
What was the feeling inside the car when you set the fastest stage time on the opening day?

Julien Ingrassia:
Honestly we didn't have time to enjoy it. As Daniel said, you don't have time on this rally: you must always prepare for what comes in front of you. We enjoyed last night when we realise the rally is finished and we have done it in a good way.

Q:
Julien, what does it mean for yourselves and the team to achieve a strong result on the first event?

Julien Ingrassia:
You know I have a good answer – it take a long time… It was a good night and a good rally.

Q:
And a tough rally?

Julien Ingrassia:
In very difficult conditions, we have a smile on our face. The pressure was very high and we just wanted to reach the end. All the rest has been really fun in a way, so exciting and so much pressure. I wouldn't say that in Turini, this was like hell, really tough – but the work the team did in one year and more it begins to pay. But, for sure, this is the right direction.

Q:
Dani, back with Citroen and back on the podium again at Monte-Carlo. How was your rally?

Dani Sordo:
I am really happy. This is Monte-Carlo and I was really happy to finish in third on these really tricky stages, especially Turini. It was so easy to go out there after we saw cars like [Evgeny] Novikov stopped in the stage. After that, I was more relaxed as these were not the best type of roads for fighting. It's okay, I am happy.

Q:
You were having a good battle with Novikov, especially on Thursday. How much did you have to raise your pace against him?

Dani Sordo:
It was a good fight. When I start the stage in Turini, the lines were everywhere – three or four lines all of the time. I thought: “Wow! Is this Seb, Ogier or Novikov?” Then I saw lines that were more like Novikov and I thought: “If this carries on then he will be out…” The conditions were really difficult. I was car four on the road – I don't know how difficult it was for Seb running first.

Q:
How relieved were you when you heard the stages were cancelled last night?

Dani Sordo:
It was really good. The second pass of Turini was a little bit easier, there was half a line and you just had to stay in the line. For the spectators, I am sorry, but it was really, really bad when you go out of the line. We can relax when we hear this news.

Q:
What's your aim for 2013?

Dani Sordo:
To try to fight for the victory and the title and this is a good start.

Q:
Carlos, how was the event for you – especially those really tough stages?

Carlos del Barrio:
With these tyres, it was so difficult. We were very slow in front of the spectators and we need more competitive tyres – but we try to do our best. This is a good result for all the team. We have had a great welcome in Citroen and we enjoy all the week – we are in a good position and have a good fight with competitors.

Q:
What was the best part of the week?

Carlos del Barrio:
Apart from last night you mean…! Yesterday was all very good, but when we realise we had overtaken Novikov it was good. In the stage we overtake him and realise we had passed him, I tell Dani: “Now calm down, the podium is for us.” Mikko was one minute behind and he has some problem, he drops 29 seconds and now I said to Dani: “Okay, if you need I can drive! We must finish!” I am very sorry for the spectators, but you must understand it would be crazy to go through the stages like there were – this was a good decision.

Q:
Dani, would Carlos make a good driver?

Dani Sordo:
I think by the second corner…

Carlos del Barrio:
I don't think so!

Q:
Yves, congratulations – this event has gone very well for Citroen.

Yves Matton:
It's been a great week for the Citroen team. The whole team did a great job and we make a car that can perform at the top.

Q:
Mikko [Hirvonen] had a tough event. Why was that?

Yves Matton:
For sure he had some difficulties, but, what I see on the podium is no Nordic guys. The first Nordic guy not on the podium is Mikko. I am confident for the Championship and for Sweden I am sure he will fight for victory. Mikko did his job. It was difficult for him in these conditions, but he managed them.

Q:
What is the aim for Dani this year?

Yves Matton:
The first point, he needs to win a rally this year and we make a deal 30 minutes ago and now he has to manage it. He showed this weekend he has the pace and he will fight and be in the leaders for the Championship.



Questions from the floor


Q: Alain Pernot (Sport Auto, France).
For the drivers, how hard was the tyre choice?

Sebastien Loeb:
For me, the tyre choice was not so difficult. The conditions were quite clear before we start. We knew sometimes it was difficult because we drive with two studs and slicks, but we do it because it's the fastest – but not fun. The choice was not difficult.

Sebastien Ogier:
I have the same answer. It was quite clear all the time. It was always the same…

Daniel Elena:
The same? You have so many people looking [at our tyres]!

Sebastien Ogier:
You can think what you want Daniel. I don't care and I know in service what was our choice. It was done 99 per cent [on our own], maybe we copy a little bit for the one. This was our choice all of the time – it looks like it was clear.

Dani Sordo:
In the snow we take the studs, it was clear and not so difficult.

Q: Andrea Monti (La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy).
Sébastien, will you do Monte-Carlo next year. If not, will you miss it?

Sebastien Loeb:
I don't know. It's a choice... I've decided to do something else. I don't do the choice to miss what I do now. For sure, I have been in the rally for 10 years and this will be a change. I will do something else. Maybe I come to watch next year – I don't know. I will tell you next year if I miss it next year.


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