PRESS CONFERENCE:

Q:
Seb, after 11 rounds of the Championship and five wins this season it seems you are back to square one, the pressure is now on!

Sebastien Loeb:
For sure the situation is a bit different from what it was a few rallies ago. I've had three bad rallies, one with a puncture, one off road and one when we broke the engine on our home rally, but that's it. I'm happy I've done a good job at the start of the season because I am still leading the Championship equal with Mikko. But for sure we have to start everything again from zero now.

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Q:
France must have been incredibly disappointing because it was your home event. How were you feeling after that?

Sebastien Loeb:
It was difficult to believe when I stopped in the stage that now it's over for the rally, but you have to deal with it. It's motorsport, it can happen and you cannot complain. We don't break very often something on the car, especially the engine. But it can happen, it happened in the wrong place but that's the situation. We have to push very hard now and we will see what we can do.

Q:
Pushing very hard and taking risks, which at this stage in the season I suppose you don't want to be doing...

Sebastien Loeb:
We have to deal with the situation. We have to take some risks and accept if we take some risks we can do a mistake and the Championship is over, but that's the same for us three.

Q:
There is a saying in English that bad luck comes in threes so now the bad luck should be over for you. But is it in the back of your mind that something could go wrong here?

Sebastien Loeb:
Nothing different from usual. I hope it's finished and I hope we will have a good rally here but like everybody knows there is always something that can happen in the rallies. But you do your best to make sure that nothing will happen.

Q:
We have some stages which will take place in darkness but you recce'd them in daylight, how tough will that be?

Sebastien Loeb:
It is rare to do the recce in the night. I think we have some good headlights! But still we have to do the stage in the night on gravel. It's a very tricky and difficult stage even in the day because it is narrow with big stones everywhere. In the night it will be very tricky.

Q:
What will be the biggest challenge on this rally?

Sebastien Loeb:
To push hard, to stay on the road and to be in front of my two rivals. It's the same for everyone because we will have to fight hard. We will not be in the best position on the first day because of the gravel stages and we know we can lose everything and that it will be difficult to catch it back on Tarmac after that. For sure we have to take risks. The most difficult thing will be to push hard with the pressure we have.

Q:
Mikko, Petter Solberg's exclusion in France is your gain. You join Loeb as joint leader of the Championship. Can you take the fight to Loeb here and in GB?

Mikko Hirvonen:
I'm sure we can. In any case anything can always happen. If we have a clean rally here then the fight will go all the way to GB anyway. I'm happy to be in this position after everything that has happened this year. Okay S?bastien has had bad luck and I did not think I would be in this position with two rallies to go. But everything is possible. When you get in a position when you have to fight, that's when I always find a bit more from myself. I believe if I can find the rhythm and the speed I can do it.

Q:
Was there a point this season where you thought your title hopes were over?

Mikko Hirvonen:
There were points in Finland when I thought Loeb really needs to have bad luck to give us a chance to get back in the fight. Surprisingly that's what happened and here we are.

Q:
You mentioned the word fight there. Maybe that's not something we've seen much from you this year, that determination, that battling spirit. Can you find that and what can you do to get that back?

Mikko Hirvonen:
I've just been saving it. In France many people were saying I had no speed. In France there were more people worried about it than I have been. It was a strange rally for me because it was all over for me when I made my own mistake. Suddenly Loeb was out but I knew if I made a mistake I could lose everything. I was never in a proper pace, in a proper speed or in a fighting mood. Now there is nothing else I can do and even if I am not comfortable pushing like hell I have to. I could bin it or crash in first stage but at least I am going to try.

Q:
How concerned are you about the dust on the night stage on Friday? Will it be a problem?

Mikko Hirvonen:
Maybe, but we have three minute gaps so I don't believe it's going to be a problem, but you never know. We had a similar stage in Greece with a three-minute gap but still there were two or three places where dust was hanging down a bit. It was a bit of a problem but we will see.

Q:
There is talk, rumour and speculation about next year's driver line-up with mention of a straight swap between you and Sebastien Ogier, can you enlighten us?

Mikko Hirvonen:
I haven't seen the newspaper yet so maybe you can tell me. We don't know what Ford is going to do in the future so we will have to wait and see.

Q:
Dani, two podiums so far in the MINI John Cooper Works WRC but as ever the question everyone will be asking you is if you feel the car is good enough to win. What's your answer?

Dani Sordo:
Of course we can win. I have a good position for the first day and a good feeling with the car. In France we were quite good and so close to trying to win. I need to start the rally and try to be at the finish but at the same time try to put pressure on the others.

Q:
Is there more pressure on you after the result in France (2nd)?

Dani Sordo:
Of course there is a bit more pressure because at the beginning of the year we were told to drive the car and test for next year. After the podium (3rd) in Germany we felt we needed to try to do a good job in France. In France we were really close to win and now everybody is thinking 3-2-1 but it is not easy like that, and with Loeb out in France it was a little more easy. We will see.

Q:
You tested at the start of this week, how did that go?

Dani Sordo:
I test half a day on Tarmac and half a day on gravel. I was happy with the car in both so we will see what we can do.

Q:
Do you feel it was a good idea from the organisers to adopt the same format as last year with a mixture of gravel and Tarmac?

Dani Sordo:
For me it is not a good idea. I like more before. But it's a nice rally for the spectators and the drivers because we have more gravel. But the Tarmac is very nice here, I like a lot but we need to do this. We are professional rally drivers so we have to fight in all surfaces.

Q:
Sebastien, you are just three points adrift of the lead in the Drivers' Championship, is your role still to support your team-mate?

Sebastien Ogier:
As you saw in the press, it's like this. The team decide to give more support to him and that's how it is. Mathematically everything is possible, anything can happen and I do my best. If the opportunity is there I try to take it.

Q:
How does that make you feel?

Sebastien Ogier:
It's not the dream position for any driver. It's not what we like but when you are driving for a factory [team] it can happen and it's like this.

Q:
Citroen could seal the Manufacturers' title here, what will be your approach during the weekend?

Sebastien Ogier:
I try to start with a good speed and if I can take the lead I will try and if I have to help my team-mate I will do it, but we're at the start of the rally and no one knows what can happen. There are a lot of drivers who can fight for the victory with the gravel. I just try to start with the best speed possible and see what happens.

Q:
What do you think the main challenges will be here?

Sebastien Ogier:
Maybe to adapt to all the situations. It's never easy to get immediately the perfect feeling on the first stage on each surface. It will be a challenge. But I am happy the rally will be like this because it's an interesting show for the spectators. For me I like to drive on gravel so I am happy.

Q:
I believe your co-driver [Julien Ingrassia] was driving himself on an event in France last week. Are you concerned he might want your seat...

Sebastien Ogier:
I think I still have a little bit more pace than him! Honestly I was surprised by his speed and we can congratulate him. It was just his second rally as a driver. He did it for fun but he did some quite good times so I am happy for him.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q:
It's very possible that the World Championship could be decided by the result of the Power Stage. Is that a good or a bad thing?

Sebastien Loeb:
It's like that. It shows the Championship is very tight and something has to decide it. If it brings a lot of TV and promotion for rally then it's good. Rally doesn't need the Power Stage for our own Championship but if it brings something for the media then it's very good.

Mikko Hirvonen:
We had all the year to make the differences and gaps and if it goes down to the wire that's how it has to be.

Sebastien Ogier:
It's not bad if the Championship is decided by the Power Stage, because it's the stage where you have to prove your speed and push to the maximum to get points. It's good for the TV and for the interest from the fans.