Sebastien Loeb [Citroen Total WRT]:

"We continued at the same pace and ended up increasing our lead. We pushed as hard as we did this morning and managed to extend our cushion to 13.9s. Tomorrow's stages are narrower and covered in gravel, and the day promises to be just as long. We didn't want to finish in second place this evening and waste all the hard work we put in to pull out tonight's gap! We'll see later whether that was the best tactic."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "We've really had to hit the ground running. I had a little trouble waking up this morning, but I don't think that showed in our stage times, First time round this morning's loop, we were encouraged by the impeccable handling of our C4 WRC to push hard. We were frequently on the limit, but that's the only way to build up a lead here in Finland! The conditions were damper this afternoon and the going was fairly tricky because certain portions were quite cut up, while the grip had altered in other places. We had to be on our toes all the time, but that didn't stop us attacking all the way. That's the challenge of this event; you need to find the ideal compromise."

Mikko Hirvonen [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"I enjoyed the fight, especially driving in front my family and friends. The battle is almost as close as last year when I fought with Marcus Gr?nholm. This afternoon, especially, was good. I drove as hard as I could and made no mistakes. I'm a little frustrated that I couldn't do any more. I could have taken risks but that's something I didn't want to do. Road position wasn't an issue and I didn't let Jari-Matti's retirement affect me. I just tried to do the best job for myself and Ford. Everything is so close between us that I'm not going to take any gambles by changing the settings on the car. There are many new stages tomorrow so anything can happen on roads that we don't know so well."

Henning Solberg [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:

"Today has went well and it's been a great start to the rally for me. The car has been working well but we started off slowly this morning as it took some time to find a good feeling with the rear of the car. But the mechanics have done a great job and you can see from my times that the feeling is better now and I can push the way I like to. With no test before the rally it's been good to see that we have got off to a flying Finnish start and be on the podium at the end of the first day."

Gigi Galli [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:

"We were very lucky today on the last corner of stage 9 when I just cut a bit too much and touched some bushes but ok it's no big problem now. I wasn't able to keep the pace towards the end of the day and Henning has managed to get ahead but its fine, he's my friend and I don't mind him sweeping the road for me tomorrow! It has been a good day, it took us a while to just get up to speed this morning but my confidence is better now, the car and the Pirelli tyres are working well so I can push some more tomorrow."

Daniel Sordo [Citroen Total WRT]:

"I didn't feel as confident as this morning. The stages were extremely fast at times and you needed to feel 100 per cent at one with your car to drive flat in places. We're not in a bad situation, though. We are in a good position for tomorrow and we will try to make the most of that."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "The pace is much faster here [than on the O.K. Auto Ralli I did last month in Finland] but the chance of covering extra kilometres on this terrain which is so specific turned out to be extremely useful. It only took me a few corners to settle into a quick but safe pace. Our situation changed when one of our main rivals retired. It is important that we keep the Manufacturers' title chase in mind because this event could be good for us."

Petter Solberg [Subaru WRT]:

"It has not been a very good day and I am very disappointed. We did some changes in service but unfortunately I went the wrong way with them. Essentially the car is not consistent and it hasn't worked as I hoped it would."

"We've been driving well today, I really feel we've been driving well, but we're not fast enough yet. In Finland, it's so fast and you need to have so much confidence in the car. We don't have that feeling here yet, so it really shows in the times. I was feeling good before the weekend, after the test, but we don't have that same feeling here so it's disappointing for everyone."

Chris Atkinson [Subaru WRT]:

"We pushed hard today and that's all we could do. The balance was ok, we had a small problem in the middle loop of stages that the team fixed by the afternoon, but the speed just isn't there quite yet. It's frustrating for us and for the team, but we keep pushing."

Per-Gunnar Andersson [Suzuki WRT]:

"The SX4 WRC has been great today. We've had no problems. Given the testing we did, we've got a very good set-up with the car. We had a small problem in the second loop, when the back of the car was kicking up a little bit in the ruts and jumps, but the team was soon able to rectify that at service. After that, it was very good and we were able to close on Toni. The spin this morning was frustrating. We hit some water a couple of kilometers into the test, that pulled the wheel in and spun us into the ditch. The car was in the ditch. And facing the wrong direction. It cost us about 25s to get the car out and turned around, but we're in the points - and that's all that matters."

Toni Gardemeister [Suzuki WRT]:

"When we went off in the second run through Palsankyla this afternoon, it was a very, very big moment for us. I would say we went off the road at about 180kp/h - incredible! I really thought we were going to roll. We collected a puncture on the left-rear tyre which was there for the rest of the stage and I hurt my right shoulder in the impact. It was bad. Otherwise, the car has been good. It's a fantastic fight between myself and P-G and the best thing is that we're both in the top 10!"

Matti Rantanen [Ford Focus RS WRC 06]:

"We did well this afternoon and I'm satisfied now I've become used to the car. I was expecting quite a lot from Jukoj?rvi after last year. Our target now is to keep the gap between us and the top crews as small as possible and even narrow the gap between us and Loeb!"

Matthew Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:

"In some sections today my splits have been really good and the car feels great. But in others I'm lifting too much and just struggling to find the confidence so I just need to get it to feel good everywhere. With this rally it takes a day to get your brain into Finland mode as the speeds and commitment needed here are different to anywhere else in the world. I haven't put a foot wrong today and just need to stay focused and get everything to work a bit better tomorrow."

Conrad Rautenbach [PH Sport-Citroen C4 WRC]:

"I am looking to have a go tomorrow. We have made a few changes to the car set up which seem to be working so I am going to leave it as it is for now."

Federico Villagra [Munchi's Ford WRT]:

"I couldn't find the rhythm on those last three stages. We are still running the harder springs we put on earlier and so we will change to the softer ones for tomorrow."

Khalid Al Qassimi [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"I'm getting the feeling back after the break and I was happy with my times on these rapid stages. This is a very, very fast rally and on the open sections we gave it everything, but maybe I backed off a little on some of the more aggressive jumps. Today was about getting to the end and building confidence. The changing weather meant I had to adapt my driving in some areas. I tried to go full out on some of the later stages but there were times when I eased off as the road became slippery."

Notable retirements:

Jari-Matti Latvala [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]: [retired from day 1 in SS3 - went off the road - will re-start under the SupeRally on Saturday]

"I approached a left-right-left combination of bends and decided to keep the car as straight as I could. But I hit a rock, which wasn't in my pace notes, with the front right of the car. The handling felt strange immediately afterwards and suddenly I was thrown off the road into the ditch where the car half-rolled and hit a small tree. The data shows I was doing 117kph when I went off. I just thought this can't be happening to me again. I felt relaxed this morning and felt really confident in the opening stage and the early part of the next. I want to continue so that I can get my confidence back."

Team principals:

Olivier Quesnel [Citroen Total WRT - team principal]:

"There has been plenty to be pleased about today. To begin with, both our cars were both extremely competitive, and that's a fitting reward for all the hard work the team has put in. S?bastien and Daniel produced an eloquent demonstration of the C4 WRC's potential by posting the fastest time on practically every stage and by ending the day in the lead. The Finnish stages are a huge challenge but Dani and Marc showed that they are continuing to make progress. Both our crews are in a good position to finish in the big points, but this rally is by no means over yet. The second leg is very long and could well spring a surprise or two."

Malcolm Wilson [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT - team director]:

"I'm disappointed with Jari-Matti. He made a fundamental mistake in making his pace notes by not including the rock he hit. He put more pressure on Mikko, who has done an exceptional job from first in the start order. At the start of the day I felt if we could be within 15sec of the lead we would be in a good position tomorrow."

Malcolm Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT - team boss]:

"It has been a really strong performance from the Stobart team today and we have seen a great battle between the two lead drivers; now only a few seconds apart. It just tells you how well the two guys have been driving and to come back from a six week break, with no pre-event testing, and put in those performances is fantastic and really encouraging. Matthew has also had a solid start to the rally and has upped his pace as the day has gone on. He's now just outside the top-10 and, with a sensible day of driving, is in a good position to build upon for tomorrow."

David Richards [Subaru WRT - managing director]:

"We came here following a strong test anticipating we would be fully competitive, and although we are currently in solid points-scoring positions, our pace is not what we expected. However we must continue to focus on maintaining a systematic approach to the development and fine-tuning of this new car as its full potential indicated by our simulations and testing is clearly not evidenced by the current performance."

Paul Wilding [Suzuki WRT - team manager]:

"Suzuki has had a very strong day with the two SX4 WRCs in the top 10 at the end of the opening leg. This is a good reflection on the work which Suzuki has been doing on the SX4 WRC for the duration of the summer. Finland is an event which is all about performance and that's what Suzuki has been working on recently. To be in this position so early in the event is very, very positive."

Mario Isola [Pirelli - rally manager]:

"We've had no problems at all with the tyres so far, but it's also true that tomorrow will be the biggest test for our new soft-compound Scorpion tyres. Over today's stages we have noted only a minimal amount of tyre wear, and there has not been a single puncture either."


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment