Kris Meeke (MINI WRC Team), Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Total WRT), Malcolm Wilson (Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team) and Nick Shorrock (Michelin)
Kris, welcome to the WRC. There's been a lot of excitement, a lot of anticipation waiting for the MINI WRC Team to arrive. How do you feel now it's happening?
It's quite nice to be here, it's nice to be back doing a rally; it's been seven months since I last competed so I'm a little bit rusty maybe. It was nice this morning to get out and settle the nerves a little bit. I think the engineers were a little bit more nervous than myself and Dani (Sordo) but it went quite well this morning. Being back in the WRC is good, but to be driving at this level is something I've always worked for. It's just the start for me, I want to make this a real goal and see what we can do. It's not going to happen overnight, we have to learn every rally and build it up slowly, step by step.
You mentioned a few nerves from the team but not from yourself and Dani. How was the car at shakedown this morning?
It was good. The road was a little bit difficult, there were some big stones coming out, and it was a little bit unrepresentative. It also was quite a soft road, it cut up quite bad towards the end, I was as confident as you can be on this type of road. It's one thing I feel from the car that every time you step into it you feel confident and confidence is a big part of rallying so it's good. I think we're ready for tomorrow morning.
Although MINI is registered as a WRC Team, you will not be scoring manufacturer points. Does that take the pressure off a little or are you not feeling any pressure as it's a development year?
To be honest, even if we were scoring points it would not be possible to fight for the Championship this year. We're quite lucky, especially myself, that we have six rallies this year where ultimately the result at the end of the weekend is not so important. If we do have a kind of a problem on one stage over the weekend it doesn't really matter because we're not fighting for points. At the end of the day if we do get a good result it means we've had a good weekend and we want to have a good weekend so we will see. It doesn't really change our approach; we want to do the best job we can.
Talk to me about the number on your car; you've got number 52 – why?
I think everyone's fairly aware of the history MINI has in rallying, right back to the sixties. The numbers on Dani's car and my own car are the numbers of Paddy Hopkirk and Timo Makinen when they won the '64 and '65 Monte Carlo rallies. With its big history, everybody knows about MINI, it's a popular brand and it's nice to do something to remember the guys and pay respect to those guys who have achieved so much back then. Ultimately, when we're inside we don't see the numbers, we only want to go fast!
Sébastien, you are now in the lead of the World Rally Championship and with all the joys that brings it also means you are first on the road tomorrow. How are you feeling about that?
Always the same question. How I feel? I feel happy to be leading the Championship but being first on the road for sure is not an advantage in this kind of rally. It's usually very difficult so we will see what we can do but it's a bit always the same, so we will see if we see some strategy tomorrow night or not.