Rallye de France: Rally reactions - Day 1.

Sebastien Loeb [Citroen Total WRT]:

"It's been an excellent day. Our C4 ran like a dream and we didn't make any mistakes. But what matters more than our fastest times, I think, is the fact that we succeeded in more than doubling our lead this afternoon. The gap is now up to slightly more than 32 seconds. That's not enough to start thinking about lifting, but it does make our job a little easier going into the second day, although we have no intention of dropping our guard."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "This morning's loop went very well It took me a few kilometres to modify my driving style for this event and settle into the best rhythm which is a little different here in Corsica to what it was last weekend in Spain. After that, I was able to push to try to pull out a gap. I have a great feeling with my C4, with just a soupcon of understeer through the longer turns which the technicians are trying to cure at the moment. The conditions were dry and our Pirelli Pzero Hard tyres worked well. We go into the second loop with a lead of 14.4 seconds, but the roads will undoubtedly be dirtier, so there could be a few surprises this afternoon."

Mikko Hirvonen [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"I'm feeling much better at the end of the first day here than I did in Spain last week, but the gap to Sébastien Loeb is 32sec, which is still too big for my liking. He was faster than me on every stage and if he maintains that pace, then I can't beat him. I can't push any harder without taking massive risks. At the moment I'm driving safely and at a comfortable speed but if I push too hard then the car starts to understeer. I can't relax though because François is close behind and I need to concentrate on the fight with him. He is a good driver on asphalt, so if I can stay ahead of him tomorrow I would be happy. Tomorrow will be interesting because the roads are rough and bumpy and mistakes could be punished with a puncture or worse."

Francois Duval [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"I expected more from today. I wanted to be second tonight, but third isn't too bad. This is a difficult rally and I didn't feel that the grip was 100 per cent perfect throughout the day. It was especially difficult this morning because the roads were dirty and that's why I lost time in the first stage. However, conditions were the same for everyone this afternoon. The car understeered a little but maybe that's normal when the roads are dirty. I will need to push hard tomorrow. The gap to Mikko isn't so big so second place is possible."

Petter Solberg [Subaru WRT]:

"I'm very happy with the last stage today actually. We made some changes in the service and they didn't work at all so we lost two places, but then we went back again and I made some more changes the other way on the road section before the last stage and the car got better and better. The car is definitely running better on the surface here. On the smooth stages like the first today we lose a bit of time, but on the others where it's more abrasive it's much better grip. We'll make a change again and see what we can do on the stages tomorrow."

Jari-Matti Latvala [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:

"I have been pleased with today and it seems that even though I have been improving my pace during the day, the other guys have as well and now we are in a really exciting battle for fourth. The stages have been tricky today with a fair bit of gravel on the stages and I have really been trying hard to work on my lines and improve my driving here. I'm very happy because my gap to the leaders now after the first day is much less than in Spain."

Chris Atkinson [Subaru WRT]:

"We are in a close battle with Petter and Jari-Matti today, and considering we're in the same car as Petter and he's won this rally before I can't complain. I think the setup works ok and we had some good stages, but the last stage wasn't so good. We lost some time at the end of the stage where something changed. I was all over, using all the road. At one stage we were up to fourth, then with the problem at the end with not being able to carry the speed we dropped back to sixth. It's good to be able to fight though, and for sure it makes it more interesting during the day, but we want to be fighting for first."

Toni Gardemeister [Suzuki WRT]:

"The biggest problem I had today was the fact that I was feeling really ill for most of it: I had a very sore throat and during the afternoon my legs felt like spaghetti! Under those circumstances it's quite difficult to drive flat-out, but I did my best and we are not in a bad position overnight. The car today has been very good and so we've ended up in the points, which is good. Hopefully tomorrow I will feel better and we will continue to move up the leaderboard."

Andreas Mikkelsen [Ramsport Ford Focus RS WRC]:

"It was tricky to start off with, but things got better as the day went on. I'm really looking forward to leg two now."

Brice Tirabassi [Subaru WRT]

"For me it's been a tough day today, but we are still ninth. The feeling has not been so good today, and even though I know the roads here very well, I haven't been able to push as hard as I want. I've been taking some risks to try and get the speed, and we've had one or two moments, so we will have to make some changes overnight to improve it for tomorrow."

Urmo Aava [PH Sport-Citroen C4 WRC]:

"It was really tough this morning, but things got better in the afternoon."

Conrad Rautenbach [PH Sport-Citroen C4 WRC]:

"I didn't perform as well on this stage [SS6] as I did on the previous one, but I really love this rally!"

Per-Gunnar Andersson [Suzuki WRT]:

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Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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