Sebastien Loeb [Citroen Total WRT]:

"The conditions stayed dry all day. I immediately felt comfortable with my car and I was able to push hard from the outset. By choosing the soft compound Pirelli tyre, I knew I would have to adapt my driving style and be on my guard all the time, especially where there were changes in the amount of grip available. It also gave my confidence a big boost, though, and I made the most of that to pull out an early gap. On dry asphalt, it's not easy to build up big leads, so I was naturally pleased to see that we were 15.3 seconds clear at the end of the first loop."

"[In the afternoon] I decided to keep the same set-up as this morning and stay on soft rubber, and that paid off. Running on soft tyres over roads soiled by the first pass, we were able to make the most of our C4's potential to increase our lead. It's been a very positive day, but a gap of 19.9s isn't yet sufficient to start thinking in terms of controlling from in front. I have an excellent feeling with my car and that will be important for tomorrow's tough, long leg."

Mikko Hirvonen [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"I've had a good feeling all day, especially this afternoon, and I'm having so much fun. The speed was there this morning but on the second loop things went even better. There's not much more room before I start taking big risks but I will try to keep the pressure on Loeb tomorrow. I've made fast times on this rally before so my pace didn't surprise me, but I tried to focus on my own driving and not think about the pace of others. It was slippery in the narrow sections and where the surface changed, especially on the opening stage, and I don't think I've ever been as sideways on asphalt as I was this morning. When it's dry the car feels great and I hope I can take that feeling into the second leg. Tomorrow's stages are fast and the tests on the Baumholder military land will be tricky."

Daniel Sordo [Citroen Total WRT]:

"I gradually started to find my marks on asphalt again. I made a few small adjustments to my set-up between stages to try to adapt it as closely as possible to the conditions. It would have been nice to have felt a little more comfortable with the soft compound tyres, but I know where I lost time."

Francois Duval [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:

"I'm still getting used to the car and these new soft Pirellis but we made some changes to the setup of the car for this afternoon's stages and this seemed to work better so hopefully we can continue this into tomorrow. The car was under-steering a little and I was not getting things quite right on the slower hairpins. The gear changes on stages 2 and 3 were a bit slow and the roads are quite dirty for me as well. Tomorrow I will have a big push and see if we can make up some time on the guys in front."

Jari-Matti Latvala [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"I had a lot more confidence this afternoon with the harder springs. A top five position was my target tonight. I want to maintain that tomorrow because I know it will be difficult to catch the guys ahead. The Baumholder stages will be tough tomorrow and even though they are difficult they are enjoyable to drive. I hope it stays dry because they aren't quite so nice in the wet."

Petter Solberg [Subaru WRT]:

"It's not been bad today, you know. The car's been consistent, and although we're sixth, it's been feeling pretty good. There are a few areas we're lacking in, but we haven't run much on tarmac so it's sort of expected at this point. We're trying very hard and we're learning and have some ideas for tomorrow, but we had no problems today. It's a shame about the final stage, but you have to respect the decision of the organisers and accept that it was the right thing to do. It's too bad for the people who are actually coming to watch the stages, but that's a part of the game. It's unbelievable the number of people here, like Finland, and it's great for the sport anyway."

Chris Atkinson [Subaru WRT]:

"OK, today has not been perfect, we're not as quick as we wanted to be and seventh isn't what we were aiming for, but it's not been so bad. The car is getting better on tarmac. There are still a few things to fine-tune to get the speed we're missing, but we keep working on it this weekend and I think if we can get there we'll be ok. We're still lacking a little confidence in these conditions, but then we haven't done much testing. People were changing tyre compounds from the morning to the afternoon, from hard to soft, so for me I don't think our tyre choice made so much difference. Some areas we lost a bit, but some weren't so bad so it pretty much worked out. Tomorrow will be difficult and we're a little way down the order, but we'll keep working hard and improving as much as we can."

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

"We've made a good start to the rally and I'm in a much better position than I thought I would be so I am very happy. We had a bit of a problem with the revs dropping low on some of the hairpin corners on stage 5 and I stopped twice which lost us some time but OK I'm happy to get through it; we are now just a couple of seconds off seventh place. We are taking things slowly and trying to build up the speed over the rally so hopefully this plan will work."

Urmo Aava [PH Sport-Citroen C4 WRC]:

"I am quite happy, but we still have to find the right speed for the corners. I still have to learn a lot about the car and the tyres too."

Toni Gardemeister [Suzuki WRT]:

"The day didn't start very well for me - I stalled the engine at one hairpin which meant I dropped time. There are so many corners and junctions in these stages that it's really hard on the brakes. Apart from that, the day has been good and the car has been absolutely fine."

Per-Gunnar Andersson [Suzuki WRT]:

"I have had a good feeling with the car today. It's been nice to drive. The stages are really tough and a big challenge for the car and driver. The SX4 WRC has been perfect, no problems at all. We made some changes to the set-up of the suspension this afternoon, which helped to get the car turned into corners easier. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It's always a big test to go into the Baumholder stages and there are always a lot of people out there watching."

Andreas Mikkelsen [Ramsport Ford Focus RS WRC]:

"First of all, we had to get used to everything. I still have to learn a lot as this is my first tarmac rally with a World Rally Car. This morning, I had problems with the tarmac set-up. I had a better feeling after service though and I am confident for tomorrow now. We have changed some things and are happier with the car."

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

"We have been improving steadily over the day and after having a good run through the first three stages this morning we pushed a bit harder on stage 4 and it felt really good. I had more confidence in the car and hopefully the conditions will stay dry for tomorrow and we can continue to improve more. Our goal here is to gradually close the gap on the top drivers but we are also having a battle with the two guys in front so it should be a fun day tomorrow."

Khalid Al Qassimi [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"My pace notes were prepared for a wet rally and it's been dry - it's important to be cautious when your notes don't reflect the conditions. In stage four I knocked 20sec off my morning time, almost a second per kilometre. I was all set to try and do the same in stage five but I was stopped on the start line because of Gigi's crash. Stage six was also cancelled so it was a frustrating afternoon."

Martin Prokop [Citroen C2 S1600]: [JWRC leader]

"We had some grip problems with the tyres since the first stage this morning, but afterwards everything went well. We were able to find a good rhythm on roads that we already know quite well, thanks to our victory here last year. Now we plan to maintain the same pace over the next two days of the event, in order to score the points that we need to improve our championship position."

Sebastien Ogier [Citroen C2 S1600]: [JWRC - second overall]

"We started off well today by setting the fastest time on the first stage. But then we decided to slow things down slightly in order not to make any mistakes on the really quick stages. Unfortunately, we dropped a bit too much time on SS3 and this allowed Martin Prokop to take the lead. He has a lot of experience on this sort of event, so we will continue to use him as a benchmark over the remainder of the rally."

Aaron Burkart [Citroen C2 S1600]: [JWRC - third overall]

"This morning I didn't have a very good feeling with the tyres. The road was quite slippery in places and I wasn't able to set the times that I had been hoping for. Nonetheless, I'm pleased to be third overall so far on my home event. Sebastien and Martin are very quick, so I need to try and stay in touch with them in order to maintain my overall position in the Juniors."

Notable retirements:

Gigi Galli [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]: [retired from event in SS5 - went off the road]

Gigi Galli broke his left leg in the accident.

Team principals:

Olivier Quesnel [Citroen Total WRT - team principal]:

"Everyone at Citro?n Sport did a splendid job today. Everyone has been saying that we are the favourites here, but we knew it wouldn't be easy. S?bastien and Daniel have once again shown that this is one of their favourite hunting grounds and they put in an impeccable performance today to build up a handy cushion. Dani and Marc spent some time looking for the ideal set-up and are third this evening with a real chance of improving on that tomorrow. We are aware that nothing is by any means over yet, though. Saturday's leg is very long and could cause some surprises."

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

"Mikko was superb. It's the most competitive he has been on asphalt and the new car has run really well. His second place isn't just down to the improvements of the car either as he has improved a lot on this surface. I'm pleased with how Jari-Matti has approached this event too and built his confidence as the day progressed. It was a strong performance from both drivers."

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

"It's been a disappointing end to the first day with Gigi being taken to hospital after his high speed accident but I think the strength of the Ford Focus and the car's roll cage prevented further injury. The emergency services were quickly on the scene, got him removed from the car and off to hospital. Francois has been doing a good job today after what has been a long WRC layoff and his performance has been improving throughout the day. Matthew and Henning have had no dramas and have had a good solid day of competition."

David Richards [Subaru WRT - managing director]:

"Today was an encouraging start to our asphalt debut considering we haven't done much testing on this surface with the new car. The drivers are getting used to the car in these conditions and both reported a good balance although we can already identify where there is more speed to come. We had soft tyres in the morning and hard in the afternoon, which was perhaps a mistake, but otherwise it's been a successful first day for the car on asphalt."

Paul Wilding [Suzuki WRT - team manager]:

"Our cars have been very reliable so far, and we are well-poised to improve our positions tomorrow on what are sure to be some extremely challenging stages, with the possibility of wet weather as well."

Mario Isola [Pirelli - rally manager]:

"From a tyre point of view this has been a positive opening day and there has been a lot of interest in the different choices and strategies adopted by all the teams. Both the soft PZero tyre (DS) and the hard tyre (DH) showed themselves to be extremely versatile and able to run for many kilometres with just minimal wear."


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment