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Pre-event press conference - Ireland

Drivers: Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Total WRT), Chris Atkinson (Citroen Junior Team), Mikko Hirvonen (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT) and Urmo Aava (Stobart VK M-Sport Ford RT).


Press Conference.


Q:
It was a fantastic year for the Citroën Total World Rally Team in 2008, winning both the Manufacturers' and Drivers' titles. Is the aim to score the double again in 2009?

Sebastien Loeb:
Yes, but we cannot have any goal other than to win a sixth title. We won five in a row and we have the same team so there is no reason to change our target. It is only the start of the season so it is a bit early to talk about the title. We will be looking for a good start and we will see what we can do here.

Q:
What do you think the competition will be like this year? Are we at the start of another exciting year-long battle?

SL:
Yes, I'm sure we will see them. In WRC we lost Subaru and Suzuki but now we have drivers like Chris (Atkinson) in the C4. I think we saw last year that the two cars that can win a rally were Ford and Citroën so I'm sure it will be even more exciting because they are still here.

Q:
You won this event when it was first run in 2007. It was held in November that year; would you say conditions are similar to then or are they different?

SL:
I think it is quite similar at the moment. There is no snow but it will rain and that is normal weather for here. The biggest difference will be the tyres because we have no choice - it is only a soft tyre that we can use. If the conditions are right then it will be a good choice of tyre. If it is raining a lot it will be very difficult because we have no rain tyre. That is the main difference between now and two years ago. We accept that condition.

Q:
Pirelli have the option of two tyres here in Ireland, the soft compound PZero asphalt tyre and in case of snow and ice the Sottozero. With the weather so unpredictable at this time of year, does it reassure you to have a choice?

SL:
I don't think the weather will be that bad. The snow tyre would need a lot of water but we will see.

Q:
I understand each crew is permitted to have a safety car on this rally. Why is this so important to you?

SL:
I think in this rally it is incredibly important. It would be much more complicated if there was only one safety crew to find the danger corner after corner. If there is a mistake on only one corner it would be one mistake too many. We cannot take that chance. I don't think it is too expensive to have one crew per team in this particularly difficult and tricky rally.

Q:
Last year you won 11 events and there are only 12 events this year. Can you win 12 this year?

SL:
No, last year was nearly perfect, so I will just try to win them all but who knows.

Q:
Chris, a brand new team and a brand new car for you - the Citroën Junior Team and the Citroën C4. How are you feeling about things going into this rally?

Chris Atkinson:


Related Pictures

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Sebastian Loeb (F) Citroen C4 WRC, Citroen Total World Rally Team

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