Drivers: Mikko Hirvonen (BP Ford Abu Dhabi), Dani Sordo (Citroen Total), Federico Villagra (Munchi's Ford) and Per-Gunnar Andersson (Suzuki).

Press conference:

Q:
In 2005 you claimed third here in a privately run Ford Focus, this rally must hold good memories from that - do you think that result was decisive in your career?

Mikko Hirvonen:
It's definitely a good memory from Rally Catalunya. It was my first podium and as a Finnish driver, nobody would really expect that. I was doing some rallies in a private car - it was a really important point in my career. It helped me get my seat in the future.

Q:
It's a big couple of weeks for you and the team as you try and get back on terms with Citroen. How did the test go for these final tarmac events? Do you think Ford can win here?

MH:
The test went very well. I was excited after the test, the car felt really, really good. But it's the Citroen and it's Dani [Sordo] and S?bastien [Loeb]; it's never going to be easy. I hope we can be up with them. I think we can win, but it's going to be really difficult to do.

Q:
Punctures spoiled the party for you in New Zealand and you have picked up quite a few over the events; is that going to make you more cautious when it comes to cutting here?

MH:
Maybe a little bit. The organisers have done a really good job here in the last couple of years in the way they have been re-surfacing the road. There are not so many places to cut. Before, in some places, you would have half a car off the road, but now it's not that much - in some places it's just about a wheel. Having no mousse means I'm going to be much more careful not to get any more punctures.

Q:
S?bastien Loeb now leads the Drivers' Championship by eight points, is the title fight slipping away?

MH:
After what happened in New Zealand it looks like it's slipping away. As long as it's mathematically possible, I'll keep trying to take time out of S?bastien. I'm sure we'll be strong in Japan and GB and I'm sure the fight's not going to end before then.

Q:
You've got Francois Duval in the team - has this helped you? Have you been swapping tips?

MH:
It's nice to get him in the car, to see if he has any new ideas and ways to go with the car. His driving style is so different to mine that I can't use his set-up, but there were some things he can help me with. We'll see tomorrow.

Q:
How much do you want to be crowned champion this year; how momentous would that be?

MH:
I think that's why all the drivers are here - we all want to get the world title. It would mean the world to me. I don't think I have much to lose. I can go for it and take more risks than normal. But then if I get zero points, it's definitely going to be over. But it can't get much worse. I need to stay somewhere in the middle and get good points.

Q:
Home event for you - does the support give you extra confidence?

Dani Sordo:
Of course, I have more confidence. It's more exciting with the Spanish support for me to drive. I have a little more pressure, we will see.

Q:
We have seen you do well on this event before, are you going out there to win this weekend?

DS:
Of course I will try to win. But also in Germany I don't win. It's not easy with S?bastien. I think [Mikko] Hirvonen and [Francois] Duval will be very fast here.

Q:
Last year the top ten positions did not change on the second and third days - do you think it will be more competitive this year?

DS:
I don't know. This year will be different with the new tyres with no mousse. It's very easy to make a mistake and get a puncture. The puncture is a very important question in the rally. And also the tyres, the stages are very twisty - it's going to be tough.

Q:
Citro?n leads the Manufacturers Championship by 20 points over Ford - is it crucial to get a good points haul here?

DS:
It's normally more easy to take points and finish in the top four, but I think it's very important to take points here and in Corsica. Two events on tarmac and two on gravel, it's not easy. The position, 20 points ahead, is very nice.

Q:
There are two new stages and a few changes to some of the older stages and I believe the stages have been re-surfaced for this year - what did you think on the recce?

DS:
The new stages, some parts are nice. Other parts are very twisty with these tyres... It's going to be very hard for the end of the stage - understeer. I honestly don't like the new stages very much, they're very slow and twisty, but the rest are very nice. One part of the new stage has very much cutting - there will be a lot of gravel on the second run.

Q:
How much would a home win mean?

DS:
Of course I will try to win, but they will all try to win. It's not only S?bastien now, Mikko is very fast now. It's very difficult. We will have to see.

Q:
You have little experience on tarmac - this being only your second rally on this surface. What is the realistic goal this weekend for you?

Federico Villagra:
It's a big challenge. I'm not a tarmac specialist. I'm confident from the test on Monday but I'm racing for the second time. We will try to push and get some manufacturer and driver points - that would be the goal.

Q:
You had a test on Monday - how did it all go?

FV:
We had a really good test and that helped me get confidence for the rally.

Q:
You have been busy back home competing in the Argentinean Championship - how is it going?

FV:
Very well. We're leading the Championship. We won the last one and we're some points ahead. Hopefully we can win the title before the last round.

Q:
What is the future of the Munchi's Ford World Rally Team?

FV:
I know they're working on it. There's a big chance to do nine rallies next year. I'm pretty confident we'll see Munchi's next year and, of course, I would like to be part of that.

Q:
Does this event hold special memories for you as you picked up your first win within the junior category here in 2004?

Per-Gunnar Andersson:
It was in Lloret de Mar, but yes, and also I had my first JWRC win on this event. Good memories.

Q:
This will be only the third time we would have seen the Suzuki SX4 on tarmac, and very different from the previous rounds you have contested; another big challenge ahead?

P-GA:
We have changed the car quite a lot since Germany with work on the dampers and the differential. We should have a quicker and safer car. We have worked on the reliability of the car through the year - that's paid off and now we need to find more speed.

Q:
We are aware that the team is developing the car all the time - is there anything different for this event?

P-GA:
It's never quick enough, but it's the right direction. You can see some small pieces. Reliability was the big thing, now we need to fine-tune it.

Q:
What do you think is possible from this rally?

P-GA:
I think we can make the points - that's possible if I get a good feeling.

Q:
What about next year P-G, will we see the Suzuki team back to contest another year?

P-GA:
The plan is to still be there next year and I really hope I will be there competing. I haven't heard anything else.

Q:
With so much development done on the car, it would be a shame not to be back...

P-GA:
Yes. It would be a waste.

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