25 October 2009
Rally GB - Post-event press conference
Rally of Great Britain post-event press conference with Sebastien Loeb, Mikko Hirvonen, Dani Sordo and Olivier Quesnel.
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, congratulations on your sixth FIA World Rally Championship title and your 54th rally win. It's been an incredible weekend hasn't it?
For sure I am really, really happy with this title. For sure it was the most difficult for me to get. This season we had some high and some low points - we started with five victories and everybody was thinking we would win the Championship and then we had a period where it was much more difficult. We had some troubles and made some mistakes and Mikko won a lot of rallies and took a lot of points. Finally we arrived here at the last rally and Mikko chased us. I was really happy after Catalunya when Dani (Sordo) helped me a lot to come back on form. I was really happy to have this chance again to fight for the title. It was really difficult rally. The conditions were extreme and Mikko was fast. We knew we would have to try really hard to take some risks and make no mistakes, and that's what we have done. It was a great rally and Mikko was pushing all the time. He has done a great rally. Finally, even today when I started with a 30 second lead I knew everybody thought that I was going to win, but in the car it is not the same story and you have to manage that, and keep in mind that you have to push because Mikko will try anything and I did a little mistake in the second stage and lost a bit of confidence in some silly places and then I was too slow and too cautious and lost a lot of time. From there we had to start very hard, but then Mikko had his problem and it was over. But it was a really exciting weekend with a lot of pressure and stress. To win this title in this situation is an incredible feeling.
Has this been the toughest title fight of your career?
Yes, for sure. It is the first time I have arrived at a rally knowing that I have to win to get the title so it's a lot of pressure and a different situation. When you have won the title three rallies before the end it's no big pressure, because you know, OK, if I finish third I will still be Champion and that's OK, but when you arrive like that on the last rally and you know that everything will be decided here it makes it a bit special.
Let's talk about those stages yesterday Seb. You were spectacular on stages eight and nine. What was it about them?
I was really angry after Mikko beat me on the first stage, that's the first thing. So I understood at this point that if I didn't react now, then he would beat me again and so I started flat out and it was a good rhythm and I realised how good the grip was which gave me the confidence. I have always been better on the second loop and because there is more grip and I can brake late like on tarmac. Our car was very good in that situation. It's much more difficult for me when it is really slippery. For sure when I saw in the splits that I was taking a lot of time out of Mikko I knew I would have to continue until the end, not to slow down and to take as many seconds as I can. I tried to do everything and really it was an incredible job.
Seb there is a break now of three months until the start of the new season. What will you do?
Have some holiday, that's the first thing, and just have some good times and start the testing for next year like every time in the winter.
Daniel, congratulations and as Seb said, it is a special win. It has been a great atmosphere at the rally this weekend but a lot of pressure on your shoulders. What has it felt like knowing you needed to be in front?
Yes for sure, when I arrived I knew what we had to do: we had to push and fight for three days and take maximum risks. It's very unfriendly on the car too because you are pushing it so hard. It was not easy conditions with the rain and mud but, OK, I'm happy!
Mikko, what a day. You gave it everything but it wasn't enough. How are you feeling at the end?
For sure I am disappointed. We got all the way here and at the start of the rally it was all fair and we had the same chance as Sébastien but we just couldn't do it in the end. It's been a great season anyway; very consistent all the way through and I haven't made any mistakes, except those few stages yesterday I think that's where I lost it. Maybe in the end I wasn't having the same rhythm and attack through the rally. The first splits I had yesterday I just couldn't believe how much time I was losing and you start to think that maybe there is something wrong with the car. I couldn't believe I was losing so much with my driving. I thought there was something but the boys checked the car and it was fine. It must be that those few stages just weren't for me, and that's where I lost the fight.
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