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WRC Rally Argentina 2013: Post-event press conference

4 May 2013

Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT), Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Motorsport) and Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Motorsport).

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


Press conference



Q:
Seb, congratulations on your eighth consecutive win here at Rally Argentina! This will be the final time you race here in Argentina; how does it feel to have won again?

Sebastien Loeb:
I feel good for sure. It has been a great rally, nice stages, different ones from what I'm used to here in Argentina, always a lot of spectators. The atmosphere here is really special. It was really a good weekend; it was not easy for sure. We had to push hard. There was some pressure. The conditions were quite tricky. Finally at the end we are here.

Q:
It was a really fierce battle; when we look back to Thursday and Friday, how much were you pushing and on the limit?

Sebastien Loeb:
I was doing my best, that's what I always do. When I start a race I always try to go as fast as possible. The start was not easy. I started with a set-up that I didn't know and I was doing a lot of little mistakes here and there. I was not completely confident with the car. I think I lost a little bit and the reason is that I have only done one day of test since last year on gravel. It was not so easy, the first stages felt really fast but then the feeling came naturally again, and then I just had to do the set-up on myself. And after that it was okay.

Q:
How difficult was it this morning?

SL:
I started the stage looking at Seb's [Ogier] splits and he was not pushing because it was really rough and we know that we can break something easily there. I didn't push. It's not a nice stage. The second one, Condor, is not bad; the first one is not so nice. The landscape, the people are, but the stage is not interesting.

Q:
What does it mean to you that your last gravel rally is here in Argentina?

Sebastien Loeb:
It means for sure that I'm happy to win on maybe my last gravel event. It was for sure not easy. It was not easy to come here without any competition. Today Seb is dominating the Championship; everybody speaks about our battle, and all that. It was not easy to do it like this. I don't come especially for the win. We decided at the start of the season to come for four rallies, it's like that. For sure when I start I want to compete, I want to fight, to push hard, and Seb was pushing really hard. I get in the game and move on. It was a nice weekend, a nice battle.

Q:
You keep saying four events this year, but now you've said 'maybe'…

Sebastien Loeb:
I have a plan to do a rally in France with the Super 1600 car with my wife, on gravel.

Q:
Daniel, how was it to compete in Argentina for the final time - and win!?

Daniel Elena:
I am very happy for my last race on gravel, maybe! It is special, it is important for us, for the atmosphere, with a lot of fans; it's unbelievable on the stages when you see a lot of people with flags and the barbecues. It is the most impressive race with the people for us, maybe after France, because France is special for Seb, and I enjoy when I win here.

Q:
You mentioned the fans; there seems to be even more support for you this year than any other year, perhaps because they realise they are not going to see you again. Does that make you emotional at all?

Daniel Elena:
Yes. We saw lots of flags with 'come back'. That is the difference from last year but for us and the car it is the same.

Q:
Second position for you after you were leading for quite a long time during this event. It did, unfortunately, go wrong. How do you feel about that because you still lead the Championship and you're a long way ahead?

Sebastien Ogier:
As you mentioned, the most important is to finish the rally with good points and we scored 20 points. So again, it's a very good advantage and we're staying in the lead. But of course, at the end we felt a little bit of frustration. We know that the car is very young and we've still got some struggles in these conditions. But we had a really great start to the rally, I think our pace was very good but unfortunately, to beat Seb you need not only a good pace, you also need to be consistent and have no problems. We had a bit too many problems this weekend. But it is still a good result.

Q:
You mentioned problems there. Was the handbrake an issue when you went off the road?

Sebastien Ogier:
It was a really tricky corner with a lot of gravel. Also there was a lot of mud. In these conditions you need the handbrake to work. The problem is that mine was not working since the last stage. I didn't feel it because nobody uses the handbrake too much. At that time, it just locked my front wheels and in that case you just go straight and I had no other chance than to go off the road. Luckily, we did not get stuck in a ditch so that was the most important thing. After that, it was still possible to be in the fight, to put a little pressure on Mikko [Hirvonen], and we did, and on Seb as well. Unfortunately then we had a puncture and the game was over.

Q:
So, that's when you realised you couldn't push anymore?

Sebastien Ogier:
Yes, then it was. It was too late to take a risk like that and especially because Mikko was not there anymore.

Q:
Has this been one of the toughest events so far for you guys in the Volkswagen team?

Julien Ingrassia:
Yes, for sure. It was almost the roughest event in this year. But we still have to see what it is going to be like in Greece. But I think here it was already a little bit of hardness and we knew that we would have to be very careful so we were doing the job between the stages as we did in Portugal also. For a young car, we can be already proud.

Q:
From your perspective as a co-driver what is the challenge of Argentina? What is the most difficult thing?

Julien Ingrassia:
It wasn't easy. There are long stages and two stages that you do two times so it's different than when you do three or four stages in a row. And with different parts, and sometimes big straight lines and you have to catch another rhythm. There are also other impacts that you cannot imagine during the recce. For me, this is it.

Q:
Welcome to the podium for the first time here in Argentina. Jari-Matti, third position after a great battle with Evgeny Novikov today! You obviously won that battle. How does it feel to be on the podium here?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
It was really great to be on the podium first of all here in Argentina, I've never been on the podium here. It was my sixth time and also we had a really great day fighting with Evgeny Novikov. I'm really happy with the fight with him. I've been up and down but the final day was really good.

Q:
You seemed a little frustrated at the start of the event but things got better, did you make any changes to the car or to yourself?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I came to this rally with completely new differentials and there were little things that we have to guess what we will do, because when you change things you should test but we didn't have a test so it was a little bit of guessing with some of the set-ups and we also did some experiments with the suspension. Finally we got everything right for the last day but then I also had some issues on the first day with the handbrake, it wasn't working, I lost some time with that but then also my driving wasn't on the level of Seb [Loeb] and Ogier but then it was good. I just need more days like these.

Q:
Were you really on your limit today?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
The Mina Clavero stage second time I have to say I came so fast over the bumps taking the risks because there were big stones and I was counting that the sand would keep us on the road. I couldn't really increase the speed anymore on that stage. That was the best that I can give and I thought if Evgeny [Novikov] is going to be quicker than I am then maybe I can quit rally.

Q:
Do you think that you are ready to go out and start challenging for the win? You seem a little frustrated that you weren't up within the top three at the start of the week.

Jari-Matti Latvala:
To be honest, it was really hard to come back to this rally after two years because I broke my shoulder last year and you could feel it. Now I have more confidence, the car seems to be performing well. We still have work to do, we still have some issues like Seb [Ogier ] had the handbrake, I have the handbrake, we need to have this sorted out but the next gravel events are really nice and I'm looking forward to them.

Q:
Miikka, what was the atmosphere in the car today? Was he fully focused today?

Miikka Anttila:
Yes. Today it was sort of easy because there was a big purpose for Evgeny [Novikov] because the only target was that and at the start there were more than eight seconds with the four stages. And actually when we started the first day it was quite safe driving and then we got the first split and then we were behind. It was much better that stage and all of the rest of the stages. Today it wasn't so easy because we weren't here last year and this stage was not in the best memories.

Q:
Did you feel it from a co-driver perspective?

Miikka Anttila:
Yes definitely I did. I would say yesterday when we made the tyre choice before going on to the stages, the second time too, I wasn't confident that the soft tyre was the correct tyre but obviously everyone else knew it from last year. But when we go out to the stages the soft tyres will last because, even if the stages are long, it's so sandy and it's humid anyway.

Q:
Yves, it is a second win for Citroën this year, both have been with Sebastien Loeb. Are you feeling confident that Mikko [Hirvonen] and Dani [Sordo] can produce wins this year?

Yves Matton:
Yes. They showed that there is pace in Portugal and Mikko here but they need some more consistency to win a rally and I'm confident that they will feel better with the car. It seems that the work we did after Mexico brings a lot of effects on the car.

Q:
Looking at the Manufacturer's Championship, Volkswagen continues to lead but Citroen is not far behind. Is it going to be a real challenge between the two teams this year?

Yves Matton:
Yes, we are very close and confident that we can come back. This weekend we were really good but I hope we can come more rally after rally.

Q:
Sebastien mentioned the word 'maybe' before, have you persuaded him to come back for another gravel rally this year?

Yves Matton:
No, but I hope it would be like a new challenge for me!


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