Drivers: Thierry Neuville (Citroen Junior WRT), Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Total WRT), Ken Block (Monster WRT) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford WRT).

Press conference

Q:
Thierry, this is your first time at Rally Mexico - I understand you have been watching lots of previous on-board videos; do you feel suitably prepared for this event?

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Thierry Neuville:
Exactly, everybody knows I am a laptop specialist and look at everything I can find. When you see the stages it looks a little different and is more twisty than I first thought. It is important to have good pace notes.

Q:
From what you have seen on the recce what do you think of the stages, can you compare them to other gravel rallies you have contested?

Thierry Neuville:
I think Saturday and Sunday are difficult with very long stages and these will not be easy. Friday is a little bit easier to learn. Okay, the long stage will be very difficult. I will just try to stay on the road. Maybe I will try and push a little harder in some parts and set some good split times.

Q:
This year we see you in a Citroen DS3 WRC; how have you found the experience so far?

Thierry Neuville:
Okay, it could be better. I retired on the first rally (Monte Carlo) and finished 12th in Sweden. I want to do better. If the feeling is good we try to push a bit harder. I don't have the pace of the top guys yet.

Q:
The number of events you will be competing on has increased, what is the aim for you this season?

Thierry Neuville:
I have been quite lucky and found sponsors to do two rallies more. Now I can go to France and Spain as well. This is good for me because I have experience of tarmac rallies where I can be faster and that is easier for me.

Q:
What will be your approach to this event? Who will you be taking comparisons from with your speed?

Thierry Neuville:
I need to compare but I know there might be a big gap to start. I will try to see how the difference is after a few days. We need to compare our speed to the fastest guys. That is our target to be like them in the future.

Q:
Sebastien, we see some changes to the route this year, new stages, some run in reverse and of course the 54 kilometre stage on Sunday. What do you think of the changes?

Sebastien Loeb:
The roads are similar to the past. They are a bit wider in some places and there is a bit of concrete in the first stage of tomorrow. The new stages are a bit more twisty and there is more gravel and some slower corners. But the rest is a lot of stages run in the opposite direction and similar to previous years. It is more difficult to make the new notes.

Q:
You have won here five times in the past - many times from first on the road! You have selected to run in 12th position. Is it a relief not to be starting first on the road?!

Sebastien Loeb:
Yes. We were pushing for this regulation. It is more fair. We were all fighting for our position and I will be 12th on the road and that is not a bad position. That means there will be two Fords and two Citroens racing in the same conditions. Petter was faster this morning. I was hesitating a bit in some places on the qualifying stage. I did not have a perfect start. All drivers were fighting for a second, so it was not easy to be the fastest.

Q:
What would you say the toughest challenge of this event is?

Sebastien Loeb:
What I remember in the past about this rally is that it has not been extremely hard for the tyre because of the lack of power. It is not a big problem. We will learn on the first two days about tyre wear, but I don't think it will be a problem.

Q:
You have competed here many times, does the effect of the altitude still surprise you or are you used to it now? In terms of driving style do you have to change anything to adapt to the lack of power?

Sebastien Loeb:
You feel it. It does not change the driving style. We are still driving the same way, but we just lack acceleration.

Q:
Ken, first WRC round for you this season. Mexico is where you have had the most experience, what do you hope to achieve this time around?

Ken Block:
I'm hoping for more luck than last year. I was devastated when the engine died on stage one. A top 10 finish here would be great. I had no test before I came here. The last rally I saw a WRC car was in GB last time. It felt good this morning. But I made a little mistake in qualifying. For some reason I set up wrong over a turn and hit a rock on the outside and that cost me four or five seconds. I slowed to make sure the car was okay. It was a dumb little mistake, but you need to move on and get ready.

Q:
Congratulations on your recent win in the American Championship; does that put you in the right frame of mind coming here?

Ken Block:
It felt good in the car in America and it was nice to win that rally for the sixth time. But it is just a national event and nothing like competing with these guys. That car drives a bit different. Nothing beats being back in the WRC car this morning. I have improved my times each time I come here. I am still a novice and need to keep working hard.

Q:
Just three rounds of the WRC for you this year, why so little and are you hoping to do more?

Ken Block:
I wish I could do more. But I don't have the time. I have so many events in the States and it is hard to fit all the events in. I will be able to go to Finland and New Zealand. Finland is my favourite event and it does not clash with the X-Games this season, because they have moved because of the Olympics. That means I can go to Finland.

Q:
Your co-driver Alex lost his voice earlier this week, did that affect the recce and is he okay now?

Ken Block:
Yes. I think he feels a lot better now. On the first day back he was struggling and not feeling too good either. The recce went fine and he's a lot better.

Q:
Jari-Matti, you went into Rally Sweden a few weeks ago with no driver points on the board after failing to complete Monte Carlo. Does the fact that you took the win in Sweden take the pressure off your shoulders a little now?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
Of course, there is less pressure than I had before Sweden. Seb Loeb was 28 points ahead of me. That feels a lot but that win has bought me closer and also brought us closer to Citroen in the Manufacturers' (Championship). The pressure is less but we need results. They do not come if you force them. I will try to balance my speed and not push too hard. Now I have a more comfortable feeling. Hopefully now I can enjoy even more my driving.

Q:
The team tested in southern Spain ahead of this event. How much did the conditions there mirror what we have here in Mexico? Was it a successful test?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
We did. Our engine engineers were with us to simulate the altitude conditions in the test in Spain. It is never the same but the driving feeling is to get as close as possible. Also we did other work with different shocks and I found, for me, a good set up. We won't see until the rally starts.

Q:
You have been on the podium here before but have never taken a win. How confident are you and the team that you can truly fight against the Citroens here?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
We have done a lot of work since last year. Not that the result was showing that. We were second and third when [Sebastien] Ogier retired. But, we have been continuing with those improvements and I feel this year we are able to challenge. They are very strong here. Honestly, I would be happy if we can challenge.

Q:
How crucial will tyre management be here with regard to the long stages we have?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I think Loeb already mentioned that there are plenty of new stages. For me, it was the most difficult recce for a long, long time. The Portugal recce, the first time, was difficult and so was Jordan. It is now a challenge to get good pace notes here. A 42 kilometre stage is demanding. The 52 kilometre is not so bad and more flowing. But the 42 km is very twisty and there are a lot of light crests.

Question from the floor.

Q: Eduardo Olmos (Diarioup.mx, Mexico).
Is it difficult with this being the first of a series of gravel rallies?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I think for us we have improved the reliability. We had issues with five or six gravel events in a row. Now I am more confident in that sense, but we need to keep working and developing the car.

Sebastien Loeb:
It is the same for us. Now it is only little steps. The engine is different to last year and we make some adjustments on the suspension. But the base car is the same. Every time we try to adjust the set up.