Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena (Citroen Total WRT), Petter Solberg
and Phil Mills (PSWRT) and Mikko Hirvonen
and Jarmo Lehtinen (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT).
Olivier Quesnel (Citroen Total WRT).
Sébastien, after two days of battling you take win number 57; it's been one of the most closely contested rallies this year – a great fight!
Three days. We tried really to push on the limit. There was no strategy (tactics) this time, that's good. It makes the victory more nice. It was a big battle, but not between two drivers – it was five and that's really exciting. The first day I lost a little time cleaning the road, but the second day was also difficult. I couldn't make up the time. Finally, in the afternoon, I found a good rhythm. On the second day we were leading and we decided to keep this lead, I didn't know what the weather would be like. I thought it might rain; I had some memories of rain in Turkey before and I knew it was better to be first on the road. So I decided to keep my 17 second lead. We tried that and it was really a good choice.
The two stages that were cancelled this morning were run this afternoon, what kind of condition were they in?
I cannot say it was frustrating. I had a 17 second lead and every stage I didn't have to drive was better for me. I think it was a good thing to cancel these stages and it was very difficult on the second pass this afternoon. It would have been nearly impossible on the first pass.
We've seen a tactic-free rally here, Sébastien. Are you pleased about that?
For sure, it's much better to win like this without any tactics. But the regulation is like it is, we cannot do what we saw in Jordan. The job of the team is to win the rallies and when the regulation is permitting some things like that, you have to use it. The problem is from the regulation. If you want no tactics, you have to change the regulation. It was a good thing not to check in [early], that was too far in Jordan. But, for sure, our job is to go fast and when you can win a rally going flat out, it's better. If it is like it was a few years ago, reversing the order, it was a case of pushing from the start – maybe it's better for the future.
On the second day some of the stages had been altered, how much different were they?
It's not difficult, it's dangerous. After the recce the drivers say it's very rough with the stones and, okay, the organisers want to clean the road. But they modify some corners. One time there was a left corner [on the recce], but when we got there, there was no left. Then there were some banks at the side of the road and we hit one of the banks in sixth gear – it's unbelievable! This is very dangerous. When we do the recce, don't touch it [the road].
And the positives from this event?
The stages were very nice in some places and in some places it was very funny. It's okay, it's the race.
Petter another consistent performance now elevates you to second in the Drivers' Championship. Sweden aside it's been a great start to the season.
It's been a very, very tricky rally. I must say, I really tried to be careful for the whole rally, taking no risks and staying in the top. There are little risks, but still we kept good speed. In some stages I lost some speed, but on others I kept it really well. Like Loeb said, there were a lot of rocks around and a lot could happen. I'm very happy today, but to beat Sébastien would be very difficult today in the rain. I'm very happy.
We saw you push quite hard this afternoon, chasing the win with a few dramas in the first stage of the loop. A tussle with a tree I believe?