Rally Japan: Rally reactions - Day 1.

Mikko Hirvonen [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"Today was soft, narrow and twisty but everything felt good so I pushed hard all day. It was cold and muddy in the opening stage this morning, so cold that I never really got any heat into the tyres, although the grip was still consistently good. I didn't expect so much snow there and in some places when I cut a corner, it came over the car. This afternoon the roads were really rutted but I expected them to be worse. It was difficult to drive because the ruts were so deep. But I had a clear run and everything went smoothly. Tomorrow's stages are wider and faster. There was a lot of loose gravel on the surface during the recce so I hope it continues to rain tonight to dampen everything down because first in the start order won't be the best place to be otherwise. The stages will require a different rhythm from today and I hope I can find that immediately."

"It was a very strange day with many things happening. We had some fears in the end because of a puncture in the super special stage - we had to change the wheel in less than two minutes in order to start the second run without a penalty, but we made it. Today I did my job and Jari Matti is still very close so tomorrow we will have to stay awake."

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

"My position is good but it was an up and down day. I made no big mistakes but I wasn't totally satisfied with my driving. I couldn't find a rhythm in the first two stages this morning. I pushed too hard and the car was going too wide into corners. I changed the differential programme for the final stage and that really helped. The conditions were challenging, both inside and outside. There was so much rain outside tonight that when we entered the stage inside the Dome, the concrete was soaked. It was like driving on ice and I had to be so careful."

Sebastien Loeb [Citroen Total WRT]:

"Not an easy day ending with some misunderstandings with the marshals in the last two stages. They stopped us between the two passages in the Dome and we could not complete two laps in a row. Let's be positive we are third tonight and it's going according to the plan. Of course I'm so sad that Patrick Pivato [Duval's co-driver] was injured. It's never funny to have these kinds of experiences. I would have preferred to fight for this provisional podium place. Tomorrow we will have to stay committed and concentrated."

"I tried to stay focused but I also kept a close eye on the gaps in order to keep the pressure on our rivals. The first day is already over and that's a good thing. I hate driving defensively. I am happy with third place this evening and I am aware what that could bring us, although I'm trying not to think about the title. We've got a big day to come tomorrow and I expect the second leg stages to be very selective."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "I took the first stage really cautiously; too cautiously perhaps. There was snow by the side of the road and I was worried we might come across ice, too. It was quite complicated to find the best compromise between outright speed and caution. It was easier to find a good rhythm for the following tests which were less treacherous."

Chris Atkinson [Subaru WRT]:

"The car was not right this morning so we lost a lot, but it was much better this afternoon and we were able to make up time. I had a lot of understeer this morning and after service it was less. It was enjoyable to drive. Okay the times are still not where we want them, but we didn't lose a lot of time to Sebastien this afternoon. Ford seem to have a very good engineering package for these conditions though and they're very fast. I was making up time this afternoon so it would have been nice to keep going without the cancellations."

Petter Solberg [Subaru WRT]:

"The stages this afternoon were very rutted and slippery, but we had no major problems today other than a small off in the first stage, but no damage. Today's stages were very narrow and slippery and we knew that it would be difficult. The stages tomorrow will be much faster though and I think they will suit us much better so hopefully tomorrow we can increase our speed. I want to fight for a podium. The approach doesn't change. It's always the same focus on fighting for a win coming into every rally."

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

"Well it has been quite an eventful day and I hope Patrick is doing OK in hospital tonight as he undergoes surgery. It is good to finish the day sixth and in a position to fight for a top-four spot but OK we have seen what has happened today and there is a long way to go in this event. The first two stages went really well this morning and it's great to have found the speed right from the word go. The stages were getting quite rutted even running just ninth on the road and the one proper stage we did this afternoon was quite tricky. On stage two we struggled a little bit with the small Tarmac sections on the stage because it was difficult to judge the braking points entering these sections. The pacenotes also didn't quite gel this morning but we made quite a few changes during the stages and this seemed to help on stage 5 this afternoon."

Per-Gunnar Andersson [Suzuki WRT]:

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