WRC » 1 January 1901
Rally Norway - Post-event press conference
Driver / co-driver: Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroën Total WRT), Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT) and Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT).
Team principal: Olivier Quesnel (Citroën Total WRT).
Sébastien, we have had perfect winter conditions this weekend and an incredible battle!
I feel quite good. I'm really happy and satisfied to finish like that. I also feel happy to finish. It was really a difficult weekend mentally. You don't know if you can finish the rally or if you can finish in a snow bank, or if you can win the rally. It was a big, big fight. It was an extra motivation for me to know I am not favourite for this event. Snow is not my best surface, I really wanted to try and win and we had a great fight with Mikko. To win with a few seconds like this was a good moment.
Mikko was on a mission this afternoon, how much pressure were you feeling on the closing stages?
It felt good. But in the stages, especially the long one, I was losing time. The conditions we had was some snow in the stage. You want to go faster, but to do this you need to go slower, or you can lose the rhythm and go in the bank. It was tough to find the rhythm. When we had ice and I felt well, it was okay.
Have you been on the limit all weekend?
Yes. From the start to the end, I had to be on the limit all of the time.
How were the conditions?
It was fantastic. I think that these were the nicest stages I have ever done before. The road was full of ice and snow banks, you can push even more than the limit when you have the banks to help you. It was a great weekend and a good battle. When you are under pressure, you can take a lot of pleasure.
Cyprus is the first mixed surface event for a number of years. What do you think of that challenge?
For me, if we do a mixed rally, it would be good to have tarmac tyres and brakes for the tarmac day and gravel for the gravel. Now we have to drive the (gravel) tyre on tarmac, we have to test. I don't think it's a good idea. We can't push; we can do three days gravel or two days gravel and one proper day on tarmac. The tarmac is the first day, so we'll see some tactics there.
Daniel, how did you cope with the pressure?
It was better for Sébastien to take the pressure. If it was me, I would brake late and crash in the first corner! For me, it's difficult to feel and read the notes, you have to feel the speed and anticipate the braking. The speed is high and there is not always the same grip in all of the corners. But you enjoy the sensation, it's a dream when you are sliding at 180 kph and touch the snow bank, it's a fantastic feeling.
Mikko, you complete the event 9.8 seconds behind Sébastien; how are you feeling?
For sure I'm disappointed we didn't win the rally. I am sad, but I am also glad it's behind us – it was crazy at times. It's a miracle that Sébastien and I didn't make a single mistake, that we didn't go off the road or overshoot a junction. When you are at the limit, it's incredible. It was a nice fight. I enjoyed the weekend.
There was just 7.7 seconds separating you going into the final stage. Did you think it was too much?
I gave up a little bit, maybe 5 km into the final stage. I couldn't go any faster and the car was moving. I had no grip. I saw from the splits, I was two seconds behind. I had to back off and settle for second.
Would you do anything differently?
Maybe I would try to be faster on Saturday. I tried all the way though. There was this talk about tactics on Friday: did I lose 10 seconds in tactics? No I lost one second. That made no difference at all.
Mikko, how do you beat Sebastien?
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