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Pre-event press conference - France

Pre-event press conference ahead of the eleventh round of the 2011 WRC in France featuring Sebastien Loeb, Mikko Hirvonen, Sebastien Ogier and Jacques Morelli.
Present: Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Total WRT), Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Abu Dhabi WRT), Sebastien Ogier (Citroen Total WRT) and Jacques Morelli (Michelin Competition).



Press conference.


Q:
Sebastien, last year you sealed your seventh FIA World Rally Championship title here in France. This year the Championship battle will not be concluded on home soil for you. How are you feeling about what happened in Australia and the door now opening up to your rivals?

Sebastien Loeb:
For sure I am happy to come back here. I have great memories from last year, the best from my career. I remember last year the incredible atmosphere with a lot of spectators and an incredible feeling. There is pressure for the result, but I try not to think to this. We won everything last year, but this year it's not the same. I try to do my best.

Q:
The result from Australia changed things?

SL:
For sure, Mikko is closer than he was. For the Championship he is close, here is a Tarmac rally and I have been used to being fast on Tarmac rallies and usually we are able to stay ahead of the Ford.

Q:
Last year the weather was very different, making the stages very slippery and muddy. Will the lack of rain make them easier?

SL:
Last year it was very tricky, they [the organisers] have done a good job to avoid the cuts a lot with the poles. It's important they [the poles] are strong. We have to adapt the line to the poles and we will see how it goes.

Q:
Did you hit one of the poles during the recce?

SL:
Why?

Q:
We were just wondering…

SL:
Yes I did. I just wanted to hit and see whether it would damage the car.

Q:
And…

SL:
It was nothing.

Q:
Some of the gravel sections have been cut from the route, what do you think of that?

SL:
It's not so much gravel [in the route now]. I think there is two kilometres on Sunday and one or something tomorrow [Friday]; it won't be so hard for the tyres. I'm happy, I don't want to say much to the tyre, but the Tarmac tyre is not a problem – I don't think we need to worry. If we want some Tarmac on the gravel stages, we don't really need this kind of thing, we need the gravel on gravel rallies and the Tarmac on Tarmac rallies, that makes sense to me.

Q:
Mikko, Citroen's result in Australia seems to have helped you?

Mikko Hirvonen:
Sure, if they carry on like that then I'm going to be happy! I'm sure this is going to be a tough rally against Citroen in France on Tarmac. But we would be stupid to give up on the Championship. We have to try and believe we can do it. We will see tomorrow what the speed is like.

Q:
How was the test for you?

MH:
We did change the car after Germany. We were too soft in Germany, [the] car is different now, but now it depends on me taking the best out of it.

Q:
Unusually your test for this event took place on a racing circuit. How did it go?

MH:
We had two days on the circuit and then two days on the rally track. I think the time on the circuit was more for the engineers to confirm what they were thinking about with the car. And then, after that, the time on the rally track was more for us to confirm what we like with the car. The outcome was very good from the test.

Q:
Do you feel you have nothing to lose in the Championship now?

MH:



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN), Ford Fiesta RS WRC, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN), Ford Fiesta RS WRC, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Sebastien Ogier (F) Citroen DS3 WRC, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Ogier (F) Citroen DS3 WRC, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroen Total World Rally Team

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