6 September 2009
Rally Australia - 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 Dani Sordo and Marc Marti (Citroën Total WRT).
Team principal: Olivier Quesnel (Citroën Total WRT).
Sébastien welcome back to the top step of the podium. It's been a fantastic weekend out there hasn't it? And so incredibly close, do you think it's been one of the closest battles we've seen so far in this year?
Yes, it has been in Finland also. It has been a great battle. It was 35 stages so it was really long and to keep a rhythm all the time was not easy, it was a big pressure for the Championship. I knew that I have to win and I knew that I am not allowed to do any mistakes so that was difficult, and Mikko was pushing very hard. Finally we won and it was a really good moment, because when you are used to winning, like in the start of the season, you get used to it and it's nice, but when it's four months and you do not have any victory it's really a great sensation.
Going into the remote service today you were 11 seconds ahead of Mikko. Did you think “I can start maybe to relax now, he can't catch me” or not?
No, because the problem is when you try to change the rhythm, for me I am flat out or when I release it it's a bit too much so I couldn't go in this rhythm, I had to continue to push like I am fighting. So no, I couldn't relax and also Dani was pushing hard behind, so Mikko had to go flat out also and I had to too. I knew at the remote service that nothing is done, I have to continue to take some risks until the end of the rally.
What would you say has been the biggest challenge here in Australia this weekend?
The biggest challenge was to be on the limit all the time without doing any mistakes. For me it was a really long rally, a lot of stages. Even if the stages are short, it feels like it's really long and you have to be constantly concentrated; flat out at the start of every stage, because it's so easy to lose one or two seconds at the start and then it's too late. That was the biggest challenge, to be always on the top.
Daniel, it's the first time we've ventured over to the east coast of Australia, what did you think of the stages?
Yes, the stages were okay. I like when it's very fast, but I look two or three times and see the trees are too near my door, and it's not easy. I prefer when it's very fast, not the second part of day one, it was twisty and slippery. You know, the stages are good when you win!
Mikko, it's second position overall, you've had a fantastic battle out there between five of you, but of course the big battle between yourself and Dani Sordo this afternoon. Are you happy with second position? It is eight points, and you do still lead the Championship.
Yeah well, it's better than to be third. I'm happy that in the end I managed to keep Dani behind, it was really a difficult fight against Dani and against Sébastien as well. But it was definitely, from Friday morning, just going flat out all the whole way through. And starting this morning we were all within 0.1 second; nobody had any room to make mistakes; it was really a difficult weekend.
When did you realise that you'd lost your grasp on the win?
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