Drivers / Co-drivers: Petter Solberg and Phil Mills (Subaru), Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroen) and Richard Burns and Robert Reid (Peugeot).

Team principal: David Lapworth (Subaru).

Host: Anthony Peacock.

Press conference.

Q:
Congratulations. It was a fantastic battle. How hard were you pushing on the final two stages- was it the same as Finland?

Petter Solberg:
Well actually the first stage this morning I was really on a big attack. On the second stage I tried to do the same but I made a couple of mistakes and went off the road and lost about six or seven seconds but it's all part of the game. The third one I was trying harder than I should have done but it worked out well even though we had a small moment at high speed. The last one I was trying to control it and not take any big risks but you know it was good fun a good battle. Sebastien did a really good job this weekend you know he doesn't have much experience on gravel compared to me but he did a good job. But I would not say this if I came second!

Q:
What was it like for you in the final two stages? Did you expect this?

Phil Mills:
We went out today to win and it was absolutely flat out rallying. We have done it before and you have to maintain concentration to the maximum. We are looking at the splits all the way through trying to control the pace and not to be too daft. It worked out really well. I think if there was ever a text book rally we did it this weekend.

Q:
You were leading going into the final two and dropped some time. What happened there?

Sebastien Loeb:
We were pushing hard since the beginning and it was very close with Petter in the last stage it was slippery and I was not very confident because of that. We saw the split time was not very good and at the stage end I was 8th or 9th so in the next one I tried at the beginning but saw it was too much more I tried to finish to take points for the championship.

Q:
You said in Finland that Markko Martin might be a title rival but now he leaves here with no points and Petter and Sebastien do. Who is your biggest rival now?

Richard Burns:
Whoever finishes the last four rallies. You have to be near the top and in the top three. Perhaps last year you wouldn't have thought that at this point in the year things would be at such a close point with Sebastien being on his first gravel or first Australian event, perhaps they would not have thought about winning the championship but now in the back of their minds it's very clear they have both got a fantastic chance this year.

Q:
The weather was very damp for the last 8 kms of the stage how did that effect you?

PM:
It was probably the slipperiest we have ever done. On what we call the red soil it was very slippery and almost impossible to control your car. We always do well on those conditions so they do play in our hands a little bit.

Q:
This is your second time ever in Australia. How do you think Sebastien has done this performance with so little experience in the stages?

Daniel Elena:
For me with Sebastien you have to have a bit of grip with the situation. With gravel when it's very fast and slippery and you have so much times you are scared - now it's better.

Q:
Australia saw a few changes to the rally route and a new special stage and service area. How did they work?

Robert Reid:
I think the stage has been good for Richard and I. We enjoyed it more than Langley Park. One service park means long road sections. I feel sorry for the organisation because personally it was better before without the long road sections.

Q:
You also had to do long stages in a row?

RR:
You leave the morning service. You come back at lunch and then at night. I don't know what guys in the Service Park do all day!

Q:
The young guys are winning the last five rallies. Why is that?

PS:
Good question. I don't know why. We are very, very hungry for success and maybe we don't think too much of the championship but about winning rallies and maybe we can try too hard and go off and retire. We want to achieve a lot of things and there has to be a change some day maybe now.

Q:
We have three asphalt rounds then Rally GB? How realistic are your championship hopes?

SL:
I don't know but I think we have some good things the car was always very good on tarmac. Me: not too bad. Three good results and we will push as hard as possible and get good results. We will see.

Q:
Are you in a position where you can control your championship advantage? Rally wins...

RB:
Do you think I can control these two?! [gesturing at PS & SL]. You'd better ask their wives, girls and team managers! I've been trying to win all year as you know and I have found it's not always possible to challenge for a win. It's a strange situation where I can't really win. I finished third and had to fight to keep Carlos [Sainz], Colin [McRae] and Markko [Martin] and others behind me. You've control your speed but I tell you to try and do the times we were doing and to keep up with these guys I can tell you it's hard if you think it's easy to stay in third place. But we have had fun.

Q:
How tough will they be to beat when they are in the same car as you next year?

PM:
We have been team mates before. It's one of the best crews in the world. It's going to be very difficult to match with the same machines.

RB:
I think next year is going to be very tough to step into a car that Petter has great confidence in. But Subaru has the chance to do better in the championship and I expect a healthy fight for the team but not against each other.

PS:
Is that the plan?!

Q:
Are you surprised with the result on this rally?

DE:
For this rally yes. For me the first time coming here with Seb I expected one or two points - but eight is better.

Q:
Marko Martin was half a minute behind you. Could he have caused you some concern if he wasn't disqualified?

RR:
I don't know enough about it to comment but it made our job easier today. It certainly put us in an easier position from a difficult situation because we were a minute behind and then we were a minute in front. I don't know, I think we would go at the same speed if not quicker.

Q:
You have seen Petter do it again. What does it mean for the championship?

David Lapworth:
We think it's wide open. These three guys and a couple of others thinks its theirs. Maybe it's an argument for not making any changes. We have three drivers from three manufacturers on the podium. We must keep going forward but we need to do it carefully. They have done a brilliant job so let's not wreck it.

Q:
There are six in this press conference. Four are going to be your employees next year, how does this make you feel?

DL:
We are feeling confident about next year and actually we are feeling very confident about this year believe it or not! We will push for the championship. It's a good line up. It is so close we will have to work like hell but I'd say it's going to be a fun championship like rest of season.

Q:
Have you made any asphalt changes since Germany?

DL:
We have had some good feedback from testing even when we are here we are testing in Europe. We have made some good improvements in car tyres. It's a hell of a battle that Petter and Tommi can score enough points.

Q:
It has been a different Rally Australia to that you have known? What are your comments? Is it a blue print for future rallies?

RB:
I don't know that it is as a blue print for the championship. It was quite nice servicing in the towns like in Harvey where you get a lot of local atmosphere and Australian atmosphere. My girl friend works in the service park and she can't tell any difference from rally to rally. She called it Prisoner Cell Block H and it has lost a lot of atmosphere, like kids in the playground next to you. It's a shame how the rallies have to conform. I feel sorry for the organisers - they have done their best with what they can do and it's a good job.

Q:
What do you think?

PS:
I am just a driver. I know I enjoy driving only and maybe someone who knows about management should think about these things. Like Richard said there is something in it.

Q:
Who do you think is favourite to take the WRC title?

SL:
Me. No it's difficult to say. There are a few drivers who are fighting for the championship. For the moment, its Richard - he has more points than anyone.

PS:
Can I just say something? As a Subaru man I would like to give a little bit to Possum Bourne. Like everyone I have good memories of him. This victory for me and the team should go to Possum Bourne.

 

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