Rally Japan - Post-event press conference

It's really quick in the forests. You get big ruts and on one of the stages you have the bank and you go up the bank at 45 degrees like on a motocross bike. It was incredible. For the privateers, it's a very demanding rally. For the World Rally Cars, it's hard. I like the character, it's nice, but the forest was a little too soft in some places – that's too hard for the cars.

France is next up; you said after Germany your confidence on tarmac had increased, how are you feeling about France?

Yes. I want to improve on asphalt, it's been difficult for me. Now Germany gives me more confidence, but I need to be realistic – I can't expect too much. The top five would be very good. Petter is quite close and he wants to catch me. I was thinking about catching Ogier, but now he's gone and won the rally and now it's not looking so good – so I maybe have to concentrate on beating Petter.

That battle will go to the end of the season…

Miikka Anttila:
Yes, of course. The tarmac rallies will be a challenge for us to beat Petter. GB is one of the favourite rallies of Jari-Matti and he can go well there - although Petter might have the same feeling that he could go well there too.

Would you like to see Japan back?

Yes for sure I would like to have the rally here. In the future, if I think of all rallies, the culture, it's not so special a place as this place is. It's such a big change from Europe. Also, if possible, I would like to see these people who are watching on the streets watching the cars in the stages. They should go to the forests that would be even nicer.

Sven, a Citroen victory with Sébastien Ogier in Japan on only his first time at this event. Has his performance surprised you this weekend or did you expect to see him fighting at the top end?

Sven Smeets:
Yes I think so. We talked before the rally, we were not thinking – especially on the first day – to have him up the front fighting, but he did it straight away and then we talked about going to the end to fight. He has been very impressive.

Sebastien Loeb finished in fifth position and it was highly unusual not to see him fighting at the top end this weekend, why was that?

We all know that this is not Sebastien [Loeb]'s favourite rally, like some other drivers. On Friday we lost too much time to fight for the lead. On Saturday he matched the pace of the others and made some time back, but then we said: 'Okay, let's secure some points' and this gives him the chance to do the job in France.

With the two Sébastiens at the pace they're at, it could be quite a year next year…

It could be. But this year proved we have these three guys here, plus Dani [Sordo] who did and incredible job, then take Mikko and Seb [Loeb] and we have six drivers as worthy as each other to fight for victory – it could be a nice Championship from the start.

I want to say for the Japanese journalists: it's important to promote this rally to get the manufacturers back in from Japan. We can see all the spectators, but we have to, at least, try hard to get more people in the sport – it's two manufacturers now, but we need some more.


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastien Ogier (F) Citroen C4 WRC, Citroen Junior Team
Sebastien Ogier (F), Citroen C4 WRC, Citroen Junior Team
Sebastien Ogier (F) Julien Ingrassia (F) Citroen C4 WRC, Citroen Junior Team

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