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 Citro?n Total World Rally Team in 2008, winning both the Manufacturers' and Drivers' titles. Is the aim to score the double again in 2009?

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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 Citro?n 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 Citro?n Junior Team and the Citro?n C4. How are you feeling about things going into this rally?

Chris Atkinson:
I guess there is pressure. I want to build my way into the rally and see how it goes. I can't expect to be on the pace right way and I have to be realistic. It is going to be an amazingly tricky event given the conditions and you never know what will happen. The guys (Loeb and Hirvonen) are going to push hard from the start. For me, I have the one event but you have to balance caution with trying to stay on the pace. I have to take risks.

Q:
It's just over four weeks since Subaru announced its departure form the WRC, did you think at the time you would find another drive so quickly?

CA:
It is obviously exciting and I have been a little bit nervous leading up to this event. First time in a new car and first time in a Citro?n. It is exciting and nervous excitement. It is a tough event to choose for your first event in a new car and it will be tricky.

Q:
You've had a day's testing, how did that go?

CA:
We had a test in the north of France. It was -10 degrees and slippery so not easy to drive and it was a good lead up to the event. It wasn't the same as Ireland but the factory guys have had a test here and that will help. I am just trying to get comfortable with the car.

Q:
Is there more pressure on you to impress a new team?

CA:
For me at the start I guess there were no opportunities so I am very grateful for the Citroen Junior Team to make this car available to me and I look forward to racing it for the first time. I also have to be a little bit cautious.

Q:
Mikko, last season you were runner-up in the Drivers' Championship and the battle all year was really between you and S?bastien. Will it be harder this year with so many other drivers improving?

Mikko Hirvonen:
It was a great battle last year but you want that Championship every time. It is going to be very difficult but it has to be our aim with every new season. It is a fresh start and we want to win.

Q:
You said at the end of the season that you felt you didn't push enough during the first half of the season; will we see different tactics from you this time around?

MH:
We weren't fast enough throughout. We need to be winning more rallies. It is obviously very difficult but we need to be more aggressive.

Q:
This year the regulations have changed and the amount of mechanics allowed to work on the car has reduced from six to four, however the drivers and co-drivers can assist. Are you prepared for that possibility?

MH:
If that is the case I am happy to do it. It looks good in the service park to see a driver on a car - it looks good for the spectators and I will be happy to do it if necessary.

Q:
Urmo, we see you in a different team this year, you move to Stobart and a Ford Focus WRC. Have you tested the car at all?

Urmo Aava:
I feel very fortunate because there are not so many places left in world rallying where you can drive a very good car in a very professional team. I cannot say I am looking forward to Rally Ireland because it will be very, very difficult but I hope we manage to do well. We have tested the car and it felt very easy to drive and I think it suits me.

Q:
How many rounds will we see you contesting with the squad this year?

UA:
At the moment we can drive two rallies but still we are hoping for eight.

Q:
Your first round with the team and you are nominated to score Manufacturer points - are you feeling the pressure to perform well?

UA:
I think I have rallied enough to know what is rallying and it doesn't matter what level you are, you have to cope with pressure.