24 January 2008
Rally reactions: Rallye Monte Carlo - Day 1.
[Speaking after the shakedown] “This morning went well. We tried a few small changes to see what effect they would have but nothing too drastic. I'm just trying to get used to so much this weekend – the new car, new tyres, completely new conditions and of course, working with Michael [Orr, my co-driver] again. The Pirelli tyres seem to work well and I was deliberately sliding the car to try to learn the level of grip which they offer, both on clean asphalt as well as when it becomes dirtier, as it will if drivers ahead of me cut the corners.”
Per-Gunnar Andersson [Suzuki WRT]:
"It's been an eventful first day! The driveshaft broke after 14 kilometres, meaning that it was really difficult to find traction on the ice with just two-wheel drive. I'm actually quite surprised by our position: I thought that we would have dropped more time than we did."
Matthew Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:
"We expected tonight to be difficult and it certainly was that. The ice seemed to catch most people out as a lot of it was not there when the safety crews went through earlier. We had a spin near the end of the first stage which cost us some time but apart from that it has been OK tonight. In the dry the tyres are working really well but in the wet and slippery stuff they are a bit more difficult."
Henning Solberg [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:
"This was a very difficult start to a rally and it was especially difficult with patches of ice and I didn't have the best feeling with the car. We had a spin on the first stage and a stall on the start-line of the second so things didn't go perfectly for us tonight. The ice and slippery surface make it difficult to get a good feeling and confidence with the car but, OK, no big mistakes tonight."
Jari-Matti Latvala [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:
"Fifteen kilometres after the start we came through a tunnel into a fast right, fourth gear corner, but I went too deep into the bend and hit a rock with the front right wheel. The impact damaged the wheel rim and the tyre went flat immediately but I had to drive another 100m until I found a junction where I could stop. There wasn't enough power in the wheel nut gun to undo the nuts, so we had to use the wheel brace to loosen them before then taking them off with the gun."
"The tyres were good and I had excellent grip in the dry but when I slid on the ice it affected my confidence. It wasn't easy in the dark because it was hard to see where the ice was. Tomorrow I want to find a good rhythm, set good times and try to move back into the points for the team."
Olivier Quesnel [Citroen Total WRT - team principal]:
"This is more or less a repeat of the way last year's Monte started, with Citroën Sport securing the first two fastest times on this evening's extremely fast stages. Our two crews have succeeded in pulling out a bit of a gap despite the delicate conditions and the first stage was particularly icy. Before the start, we decided to adopt an aggressive approach by putting just one spare wheel in our cars while our rivals chose to carry two, and that decision paid off. In no way do we consider that we've got this event sewn up, though. The weekend has only just begun and the profile of tomorrow's stages is very different, and the weather could change, too."
Malcolm Wilson [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT - team director]:
"I'm surprised Mikko dropped so much time on the second stage but it's good he knows where and how. Jari-Matti learned the hard way about the new tyre rules, but now he understands that he has to think carefully about not cutting corners and what the consequences might be if he does."
Malcolm Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT - team boss]:
"I'm glad all four cars and crews have made it back safely tonight. We needed a solid start to the event with no problems and that's what we have. Both nominated drivers are in the points and with this event the first in the new Focus for both guys, they have done well tonight."
Nobuhiro Tajima [Suzuki WRT - team boss]:
"I am very happy indeed with our performance so far: to be in a provisional points-scoring place in our first proper rally is a great achievement. It's only been 53 days since our final test event on Rally Great Britain last year: in the space of that short time we have put together a whole new driver line-up and expanded the team rapidly. I'd like to say a big 'thank you' to everyone for their hard work, which has put us in this very encouraging position at the start of our first rally. Step by step, we'll keep working to improve."
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