Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Ogier
and Julien Ingrassia (Citroen Total WRT), Petter Solberg
and Chris Patterson (PSWRT) and Jari-Matti Latvala
and Miikka Anttila (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT)
Sven Smeets (Citroen Total WRT)
Sebastien, congratulations on your second win of the 2010 season and on your first time competing in Japan. How do you feel?
Very good. It's a perfect weekend for me. To take my second victory and first with the official team, it's a good feeling. It was difficult, especially today. When you have a fight against Petter, it's never easy.
How many risks did you take in that fight with Petter?
This morning we had to take big risks. It's stupid to go out and not score any points for the Championship, but as I said, when you want to beat Petter and Mikko [Hirvonen] - although he had a problem - you have to push very hard. I did it on the first one and then we took a little bit more seconds and then it was a little bit more comfortable.
Given that this was your first time here, were you surprised at your speed?
Maybe I am, but I am happy to be surprised. When I came I said it was not the kind of roads I prefer and I expected a difficult weekend. But we learn quite quickly and we started the rally with safely. On the second day we looked at the split times and today, now we had a good road position, so we pushed very hard. At the end it's a very good weekend.
Two wins this season, second in the Championship, it's been an incredible season for you hasn't it?
Until now it's almost perfect, almost better than I expected at the start of the season. It's good to have progressed, but we have to work on all surfaces, tarmac maybe. I hope we can be closer to Seb [Loeb] on tarmac, he's grand on tarmac. This is especially important on a new rally [France].
Julien, congratulations – how does the second win compare to the first?
Win number one is special, we can't compare, but it's good to win here and take some points. This is the second victory and, as Seb said, we didn't aim for it. We wanted the podium, but the race was very enjoyable for us. Yes, the second victory.
What was it like to see so many people on the roads?
You see some amazing fans on the road. It's very different from the European lifestyle, it's new and the people were very proud to have Citroen
flags around. We liked it quite a lot because it's so different.
Petter, an incredible fight this weekend, a battle which, for the majority, you led. Problems before the start and on the final day hampered your cause; when did you discover problems with the car?
The fighting with illness was maybe the hardest part. It was very tough the day before shakedown and then at shakedown. I thought I would struggle to drive, but the Citroen
doctor helped me and got some stuff for me which helped. It helped, but it was very, very difficult on the first day. After lunch yesterday, I could focus more, but Friday, after the long stages, I was absolutely finished. It was a good battle. I had really good fun and it's been quite difficult to drive on the stages. I've been first on the road, but I had no problem with that – I enjoyed it. I was thinking to lose a bit of time, but I was full of confidence to beat him [Ogier], but on the second stage after six or seven kilometres, I touched something and a joint on the TCA fell off. The wheel got completely free and loose. After that, I tried really hard to keep my position. I was sure the car would break down as there was nothing holding it. We are lucky to be here. I am a little bit disappointed not to fight to the finish and do it properly. Next time.
Were there concerns at any point that you may not make it to the finish?