3 October 2008
Rally Catalunya: Rally reactions - Day 1.
Sebastien Loeb [Citroen Total WRT]:
"It was only a little bit dirtier than the first pass. We consequently continued at the same quick pace to try to increase our lead. My car has handled perfectly all day and we didn't make any mistakes, so we will try to make sure things stay that way tomorrow!"
[Speaking in the mid-day service] "Given the cold, dry conditions, we knew the hard compound would take time to get up to working temperature, so I pushed hard from the start. We immediately settled into a good, fast pace and, because we were running first on the road, we also benefited from a clean road. That meant we could take the ideal lines without doing too much corner cutting, which reduced the risk of picking up a puncture. We've pulled out a handy gap, but it isn't big enough yet. We'll see how the stages are second time round."
Daniel Sordo [Citroen Total WRT]:
"We made some small changes to the set-up of the car to try to eliminate some understeer [this afternoon]. It was a step in the right direction and I felt more confident second time round. We continued to push hard to extend our lead over our rivals in third place and the gap currently stands at 25.5 seconds. That isn't bad but it's by no means sufficient to start thinking that it's in the bag. There are still two more tough days to come."
[Speaking in the mid-day service] "I had a bit of trouble finding the ideal pace [this morning]. I didn't feel 100 per cent confident with the hard compound tyre and I slightly modified the way I drove in order to profit as much as possible from the potential of my C4. This good start is exactly what we were hoping for. We aren't far behind Seb and we've succeeded in gradually pulling clear of our chasers. How this afternoon unfolds will depend on the conditions, but my aim is to keep on pushing."
Francois Duval [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:
"I'm happy, although I struggled for grip in places this morning. These stages were new to me so I made many changes to my pace notes during the first pass. There was a lot of gravel on the road because cars ahead were cutting corners and it was slippery. As a result I dropped too many seconds to the leaders but I feel confident with the car and it's a good feeling to be back in the Ford team again. Tomorrow should be better for me because the roads are twistier. I plan to attack hard tomorrow. Mikko is very close behind me and he will push hard also, so I have no alternative."
Mikko Hirvonen [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:
"The gap to the leaders was quite large after the first loop. I didn't feel confident with the car and didn't push as much as I knew I could so I talked with my engineers to see how we could find more speed. We changed to softer suspension springs, closer to the set-up I had for Rallye Deutschland in August. I prefer a softer set-up with more grip, that's my natural feeling, so I had more confidence and my times were closer to the leaders. It's not possible to make big changes to the car because then I would end up compromising in other areas. I had a good battle with François, and I'm sure it will be the same tomorrow, but I can't say I enjoyed the day. The morning was disappointing which I didn't expect. After the test in Spain last week I felt excited as everything felt good and I thought I'd made a good step in the right direction. I was happier this afternoon and I hope we can do some magic tonight."
Petter Solberg [Subaru WRT]:
"The soft tyres didn't work for us this morning and we lost a lot of time, but I felt more comfortable on the second two stages. This afternoon we were faster but the car actually felt harder to drive on the hard tyres. It was moving around a lot more on them, especially under braking, so maybe we'll go back."
Urmo Aava [PH Sport-Citroen C4 WRC]:
"It was a good day. I did a bit better this morning. I tried to improve, but it's not easy with a dirtier road. Tomorrow it will be slower and twister. We will see."
Jari-Matti Latvala [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:
"We started off slowly today as my confidence was low after the results from the last rallies but things got better during the day. We made some positive changes at the midday Service and the rear of the car felt much better and more balanced this afternoon. I'm starting to understand the tyres better now so it will good to build on this tomorrow. The stages tomorrow are more enjoyable than today, more twisty and flowing. Today was quite narrow in places with a lot of straights."
Chris Atkinson [Subaru WRT]:
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