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WRC Rally Argentina 2013: Pre-event press conference

1 May 2013


Drivers: Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT), Sebastien Ogier (Volkswagen Motorsport), Gabriel Pozzo (Qatar World Rally Team) and Dani Sordo (Abu Dhabi Citroen Total World Rally Team).


Press conference


Q:
Sebastien, it's been a couple of rallies since we saw you; Rally Sweden. We've missed you; have you missed us?

Sebastien Loeb:
No! I enjoy my new life. I haven't got a lot of time to think. I've done a lot of testing, driving, racing, everything, so it was okay.

Q:
We thought you were taking a step away from WRC to relax a little bit, but you seem to be doing more work than normal.

Sebastien Loeb:
Yes at the moment, but I will relax soon, maybe, but for sure I decided to enter the GT Championship plus the test, I do some Super Car races, also I'll do Pikes Peak plus some rallies. A lot of things but okay at the moment I enjoy it, I will be busy these months now but after I will be more quiet at the end of the season.

Q:
We have all been wondering how you would adapt getting back into the rally car; we heard you say to the press that you could be a little bit rusty, but on the Qualifying stage this morning it was business as usual. How did it feel getting back in the car?

Sebastien Loeb:
It was okay. I didn't do everything to prepare as well as possible to come here because I did only one test since Catalunya last year on gravel. It's not a lot of driving so I didn't know really how I would be or feel in the car. The first pass was a little bit strange, I had to think more than usual. It was not completely natural but then the feeling came back, the feeling of the car was good, so until now it's okay.

Q:
How are you feeling about the event itself? I know you've said in the past you only compete to win, so I'm guessing that is the objective this weekend?

Sebastien Loeb:
No. I compete because we planned that since the start of the season that I will come here. For sure I don't like to lose, I prefer to win and if I feel well in the car, I will push and I will try my best. For the rest, I don't have really the pressure to win. It will not change my life if I win or not here, so we will see.

Q:
So that's not really yes or no, is it?

Sebastien Loeb:
I am here to have fun so I will just try to take the feeling with the car. Today was okay. If it is the same tomorrow and we are in the fight that's great, if not, it's not a drama.

Q:
You tell me that you have been busy and have not much time to see what's happening in the WRC. But what have you thought about your team-mates performance since you've been away?

Sebastien Loeb:
They tried their best, but I think that Seb [Ogier] was a bit faster since the start of the season. So they are defending their position, but it seems at the moment the fastest is here.

Q:
Sebastien, leading the 2013 Championship by quite a margin; do you need to go out there and push to win this weekend?

Sebastien Ogier:
Obviously we have a very good starting position. The gap as you said is quite good and there are a lot of days to go. This weekend the most important thing is to score good points, not to score the maximum, but as we're competitors of course we're going to try to get the maximum points. And like you said there is another competitor here this weekend. I knew Sebastien Loeb would be back here; it will be an interesting race I'm sure.

Q:
Seb is back as you mentioned. Mads Ostberg seems to be getting quicker. Dani Sordo is very much back on form now. How are you feeling about the competition around you?

Sebastien Ogier:
You mentioned Dani and Mads, they were very fast in Portugal so I'm sure this weekend they will be there again and also Jari [Matti Latvala], because Jari was not bad in Portugal. We've seen this morning he's able to go really fast. He did the best time. So it will be a big competition. For me the most important thing is to fight with these guys and think about the Championship. But of course if I can get another victory I will do my best for that.

Q:
Who do you see as your main rival out there this weekend?

Sebastien Ogier:
I think on my right [Loeb] there is a good one and you've mentioned Dani. He was very fast before his mistake in Portugal so if he manages the speed here, of course he will be in the fight. And I'm sure that Jari will be here also.

Q:
Looking at the event itself, the stages, the days we have, what would you pick out as being the most difficult section of the event?

Sebastien Ogier:
Good question. We've seen during the recce that there were a lot of rough parts and sometimes we are going to have to think about the car and save a little bit the car and not push too much on these rough sections. I think the last part of the long one tomorrow is quite tricky, quite soft ground and lots of loose rocks. So it's easy to break something.

Q:
We saw some dramas in Portugal; is the team confident for this weekend?

Sebastien Ogier:
Yes, we are quite confident; it's true that in Portugal we were close to not having a happy ending. We had a lot of problems and on the Sunday I was really thinking in the morning that my rally was over. But it's okay, we know what happened and we know how to avoid this problem. We also think the conditions are going to be different here, it will not be so hard as we had in Portugal for the car. Here it's more about big impacts and avoiding the big rocks on the road.

Q:
Gabriel, we see you compete here as part of the Qatar World Rally Team in a Fiesta. Have you managed to test before the event?

Gabriel Pozzo:
For me it is important to be here. I have to say thanks to M-Sport and Malcolm Wilson. The last time was in 2002 with Skoda. After 10 years I'm back to WRC. We couldn't do any test before. The first time in the car was this morning in the Shakedown - only 10 kilometres in the car and then Qualifying. It's difficult but the feeling was good. I'll try not to make a mistake and try to get the feeling step by step. The most important is to finish the rally and get more kilometres.

Q:
We've seen you in Group N over the years, how does the car feel?

Gabriel Pozzo:
The speed in the corners is incredible. It is very fast.

Q:
How are the stages? Are they very rough this year?

Gabriel Pozzo:
It's a long rally, long stages. The rally is too rough, the first 10 kilometres is really twisted and the stages are changing all the time. If we finish the rally, that result will be very good.

Q:
Dani, this year we see you back as part of the Citroen team. How has it been to re-join the team?

Dani Sordo:
I'm really happy to be back to Citroen. It's always a pleasure, because they are very professional people that I know very well from years before. I'm really happy.

Q:
Before this event you took part in the Citroen Roadshow - it didn't go smoothly for you! Tell us what happened? [In reference to the roll at the Roadshow in Buenos Aires]

Dani Sordo:
Nothing, we did a show!

Q:
Let's hope those things don't happen in a rally. How did it happen?

Dani Sordo:
I did a roll.

Q:
Just putting on a show for everybody..?!

Dani Sordo:
It was a very fun track and also people had the good idea to take the times of the three drivers [Loeb, Hirvonen and Sordo] to see who is the fastest, so when you are in a competition, it's competition! It was really fun, but to be honest the road was really, really soft and we took the corner with a lot of speed and we had a problem with the front tyre and we rolled. After the car had a lot of damage, but thanks to the mechanics they repaired the car and we could continue the show the day after. Thanks to the mechanics for working hard, but it was good, really nice.

Q:
During Rally Mexico you seemed to struggle on gravel but it all changed in Portugal when we saw a real return to form. What changed?

Dani Sordo:
We worked with the team and Mikko [Hirvonen] really hard before Rally Portugal and we took really good solutions for the car and for the confidence and in Portugal the feeling was really, really nice.

Q:
In terms of what you can do here in Argentina, you have had good results in the past. How can you turn what you learned so far in 2013 in the car into a good result here? Are you going to be aiming for the win here?

Dani Sordo:
Of course I will try to fight for the win, but you can see today that Sebastien [Loeb] is coming really strong. This is incredible, without a test or nothing he arrived and “boom, boom, boom”. Also Sebastien [Ogier] and also Jari-Matti [Latvala] I think it will be a good battle with also Mikko. It will be a good rally for everybody and I think it is not only the speed, you need to be at the end because it's really tough. We will see.

Q:
Is it a rally that you enjoy?

Dani Sordo:
Yeah. It's not my favourite rally, in terms of the stages because it's really slippery and I don't like it when it's slippery like that. I enjoy more the rallies like Portugal or Greece with more grip, but I like the rally and I need to be fast also in these conditions. I need to push hard tomorrow and do good times.


Questions from the floor

Q: Carl McKellar (www.redbull.com, Austria).
A question for Sebastien Ogier. In Portugal you were not very well. How are you feeling now? Are you back on form?

Sebastien Ogier:
Yes, It took a lot of time because I've been sick for one month and it never happened to me before so it was quite hard, but now I'm fit again, but not in top form because I did not train during this month. I had to rest and go home and try to recover, but at least I'm better than in Portugal and I'm happy to feel like that and to feel normal again.

Q: Miguel Ángel Sebastián (Diario Clarín, Argentina)
The question is for Loeb; whether you would accept if Citroen asked you to do more rallies either before or after Rallye de France?

Sebastien Loeb:
I'm not sure I have time with such a busy programme, it will be complicated and it's not the plan. I decided to retire and okay I decided to do four rallies, but if the programme is to go on with Citroen next year like I hope to, we will have some work to do, so I think it's not a good idea.


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