Drivers: Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Total WRT), Gigi Galli (Stobart VK M-Sport Ford RT), Toni Gardemeister, Suzuki World Rally Team and Jari-Matti Latvala (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT).

Press conference.

Q:
The second half of the season starts with what is considered one of the best events on the calendar; how do you rate Rally Finland?

Sebastien Loeb:
For sure Finland is a very exciting rally. It is fast, difficult and tricky. For me it has never been the best rally because I have never won it! But we have had some great battles here in the past with Marcus Gronholm two or three years ago. It is always a good challenge!

Q:
None of the current WRC drivers have won this event. Is it going to be a bit more of a level playing field or will the Finns have the advantage?

SL:
Everybody has the same tyres so it's not a question of advantage in that respect. Finnish drivers are always fast in Finland and if you look at the Championship my two biggest rivals are Finnish so they will be especially fast here. We will see - I will start the rally as I do every time which is just to do my best and try to drive as fast as possible on the first day.

Q:
If it rains tomorrow, how will that affect you?

SL:
I don't know. If it's just a little rain then I think it will be OK. If it really rains a lot then in the high speed stages it could be very difficult. We will see tomorrow.

Q:
You have never won this event; how much do you want to win and how much would you risk achieving it?

SL:
It is one of the most difficult rallies in the Championship and I would love to win it. Only a few non-Nordic drivers have ever won it so it would be great to win. But for me the priority is the Championship so I will do my best and not put too much pressure on myself to win. You always need to take some risks here because it is so fast and difficult to be precise all the time. But I have a good feeling in the car and on the stages so we will see.

Q:
With the asphalt events we have coming up in the second half of the season, do you believe that Citro?n can claim the lead in both Championships?

SL:
It would be good! We have three tarmac rallies coming so it is very important to do well on them. It is possible on asphalt to be first and second but on this rally it will be very difficult to score as many points as Ford.

Q:
What do you think of the stages this year? Are you disappointed we don't have the Ouninpohja stage?

SL:
It is always difficult when there are new roads, especially in Finland when they are so fast. But OK, it is the same for everybody. The roads are narrower so maybe not as fast. Ouninpohja was a nice stage - fast and maybe a bit too dangerous so I accept the decision not to have it.

Q:
Gigi, the last time we saw you, in Turkey, you withdrew from the rally due to illness; are you fully fit now?

Gigi Galli:
After Turkey my water intake has come back. I ate some fish and it disagreed with me and I kept being sick back then but now I am fine again and really looking forward to the rally.

Q:
Gigi your best result here was fifth overall. Can you better it this year?

GG:
Sure, we are in a position from a technical point of view that we could do better here this year. We will just have to see how my pace is compared to the other drivers. I will drink plenty of water - there are a lot of lakes!

Q:
It's been six weeks without any action in the WRC; I hear you were counting the days until it all started again...

GG:
I am looking forward to the rest of the season. As we planned at the start of this season we are all the time getting used to the car and since Sardinia we have been setting some good times and now our goal is to keep the pace and make fewer mistakes in order to beat Subaru. I have been doing this event since 1999 and I know the rally but of course it is difficult to be fast here without taking risks.

Q:
You have had no testing during this break, so will Friday take a bit of time to get back into the rhythm?

GG:
Hopefully after a few stages we will be on the pace and try to show some good times.

Q:
Here in Finland we see the new evolution of the Suzuki SX4. What have been the major changes?

Toni Gardemeister:
There have not been many critical changes but the front of the car is a bit lighter now and the suspension is now stronger.

Q:
You tested the car on Monday; how many kilometres did you cover and was it a successful test?

TG:
We covered around 60 kilometres and I was very happy with the handling. We have done small things to the ECU and changed the set-up slightly. For sure it feels easier to drive faster and I trust it a bit more.

Q:
There has been a lack of testing during the first half of the season for the team, are there any scheduled for the second half of the year?

TG:
Maybe there is but for the moment I don't know. The car is getting better all the time.

Q:
Jari-Matti, it's the home event for you and we know from past experience that the atmosphere is unlike any other rally. What's it like from your perspective?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
Rally Finland is the most popular rally in the Championship I think and we have a lot of great support from the spectators. But that also brings you a lot of pressure. I love the atmosphere though and it's very exciting. It gives you a very special feeling and you don't want to let down your fans.

Q:
You have been spectating here for years and every corner for you holds a special memory. How does it feel to drive it now yourself?

J-ML:
The first time I watched the rally was in 1992 when I was seven years old. My father was driving back then and I got to do this event for the first time in 2003. I have only finished this rally two times but I have good memories and I know the roads. Watching the cars is one thing but driving is totally different.

Q:
How is the rivalry between yourself and your team-mate Mikko Hirvonen?

J-ML:
We work very well together and although we are competitors we can still be friends after the rally. In Turkey just before the last stage we were talking about things and in testing we compare notes too. Sometimes you can have little mind games but that is rallying! The team spirit is very good.

Q:
You were leading this event last year until you retired. How much are you going to be pushing for a win this time?

J-ML:
This year I really want to get to the end and I hope I will be able to fight for the victory. If it seems that my speed is not fast enough then I will just be happy to be on the podium.

Q:
With the changes the organisers have made to the route this year what do you think will be the most notable difference to previous years - will this be a slower speed event than usual?

J-ML:
I am a little bit lucky in that they have changed a lot of the Saturday stages. There are more narrow roads than in previous years so it is more technical - but still a big challenge.

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