Petter Solberg [Subaru]:

"I'm very happy! It was a big battle again. I hate going into the last stage leading, and much prefer being slightly behind and going for it, but today has been great. It's good for me to have these type of fights, and I feel I'm a better driver after the last two events. I've felt calm the whole rally but it's just a fantastic feeling now, a great win for the whole team, including Pirelli, and it closes things up in the Championship. This is my third victory, but Tommi has 24, so I've still along way to go! I think I'm better on tarmac, and I'm keen to show it on the next few rallies and fight for the win again. Above all though, this has been a special event for Subaru, and I'd like to give the victory to Possum Bourne. Everyone in the team has good memories of Possum, he was a special guy, and I know he'd have been proud of us."

Sebastien Loeb [Citroen]:

"Right now I am a little bit disappointed with the second place, but really this result is fantastic for me. I came here looking to finish somewhere in the points, maybe sixth or seventh - so this is good, but it would have been nice to win - after our tyre choices, that was very difficult."

Richard Burns [Peugeot]:

"It's been a very good rally for us and I'm delighted to take a podium finish for myself and Peugeot. On the opening day I lost a bit of time through running first on the road and sweeping away loose gravel. My road position was better on the second day, although I had a slight handling imbalance in the afternoon. Today was mostly a question of getting to the finish, as it was impossible to catch the cars in front of me. We're in a good situation for the championship but Petter [Solberg] and Sebastien [Loeb] drove very well here. I'm sure they will be a big threat on the last four rounds as well."

Colin McRae [Citroen]:

"It hasn't really been a brilliant weekend, but we have made it to the finish. The car was working well today, we didn't have the brake problems which we'd experienced at the start of the rally. Today's stages were more representative of the pace we could achieve - and it was a good fight with Carlos."

Carlos Sainz [Citroen]:

"I was pushing really hard against Colin, but at the same time I knew that getting four points for fifth place was better than none at all if I had gone off the road."

Tommi Makinen [Subaru]:

"It could have been a better result for us without hitting the bank yesterday and making the wrong tyre choice earlier today, but it was important for me to finish my last rally Australia with good points. Petter has put in a fantastic performance and I hope to support him on the next few rallies. The car has been excellent here on the gravel, it will be interesting to see where we are on the tarmac."

Harri Rovanpera [Peugeot]:

"It's not been a brilliant rally for us but not a total disaster either. We had too many problems on the first day; otherwise we could have been challenging at the front. From then on it was a question of salvaging what we could, and in the end we managed to finish and score some points. I had a good feeling on today's stages, but I was also driving very safely."

Freddy Loix [Hyundai]:

"I'm absolutely delighted to get a driver point at last and of course it's a great result for the team. For sure it has been a difficult event and having not finished for the last two years I was getting quite nervous today, especially in the last stage which wet and very, very slippery. But it's good to get to the finish and to score good points.

Mikko Hirvonen [Ford]:

"My target here was to drive cautiously and learn the roads and the nature of the stages, but this morning Malcolm Wilson [team director] told me I could go as fast as I wanted as long as I kept the car on the road. So I trusted my pace notes and went flat out. I'm really happy to score a point for Ford because that wasn't in my plan before the rally. I've enjoyed the event hugely, the fast stages are great fun to drive on."

Francois Duval [Ford]:

"I was driving flat out and just missed a junction [in the final stage - SS24]. I went straight on and had to turn the car around and go back so it cost quite a lot of seconds. The Focus has been perfect all rally and after retiring on the last round in Finland, I'm happy to have finished here. We've made many alterations to our pace notes and that will benefit us in the future. I'm now looking forward to the asphalt events next month."

Toni Gardemeister [Skoda]:

"The two cars ahead of me were taking quite different lines to me [today] and so I was getting no help at all from them in sweeping away the loose stones. I have had to take a wider line into some corners as my wrist injury means that I can't turn in too sharply. It is a pity that I couldn't drive completely the way that I would have liked as some of these stages have long sections that can be driven absolutely flat out. I have gained confidence in the car throughout this rally though because we saw lots more evidence of its potential. I must work to get my wrist fit for the asphalt rallies but I am sure that we can start to get quicker now."

Didier Auriol [Skoda]:

"The problem started 4kms into the first stage today [SS21] when I ran over a rock and damaged the oil cooler to the hydraulic system. This let the fluid out and I soon lost the use of the clutch and the automatic gearshift. The differentials were affected and so that also messed up the brake balance. I was quite relieved that we only had two stages before service and the problem could be fixed quite easily.

"I know exactly the suspension settings that will work for the asphalt rallies and so we will work hard to test these out in the next few weeks and the car should be fine for San Remo."

Armin Schwarz [Hyundai]:

"To be honest, I'm relieved to get to the finish. This rally has been very hard for us and we spent most of it playing around with the settings to try and improve the way the car was handling for me. After last year though, at least we both got to the finish."

Notable retirements:

Marcus Gronholm [Peugeot]: [retired after SS9 - withdrew]

"I prefer to concentrate my energies on the remaining four rounds of the World Championship now, as it would have been impossible to get a good result here after all that time was lost. It was a totally stupid mistake - especially as I was not even pushing hard. We just got too tight into the hairpin and I went off backwards at less than 10 kilometres an hour. The front wheels were still on the road but the car was stuck. Eventually I managed to get going again, but we took the decision to stop after the next stage."

Markko Martin [Ford]: [disqualified prior to start of leg 3 - broke sporting regulations in regard to ballast]

No comment.

Team Principals:

David Lapworth [Subaru World Rally Team - team principal]:

"It's probably been the most fantastic battle in the WRC for years, it's been such a close gap, never more than a few seconds between Petter and Sebastien, it's like watching a 10,000 race with a sprint on the last lap. Petter has driven brilliantly and it's all come together after a lot of hard work. With Pirelli we had the edge when it got slippery, and the team has done a faultless job to deliver a trouble-free car. Tommi has also done a good job for the team, which helped improve our position in the Manufacturers' Championship."

Guy Frequelin [Citroen Sport - team principal]:

"We haven't got the right to be disappointed. I wouldn't dare to hope for such a result, which is fully deserved [before the start]. It didn't come from our competitor's weakness but from the fantastic job the team has done and also from our drivers' talent. We knew a good result here would help us for the end of the season. And that's what we did. We must keep our concentration for the coming rallies, but I'm sure we will work even harder with the extra motivation we have gained from our performance here."

Corrado Provera [Peugeot Sport - team principal]:

"Each team has its giant: Subaru has Petter Solberg who did a magnificent job here and Citroen has Sebastien Loeb who also deserved to win after a fantastic battle. After we lost Marcus, it was going to be difficult to fight for the win: even with a driver as talented and reliable as Richard. Richard has put in another excellent performance and extended his World Championship lead, while we are now equal with Citroen in the manufacturers' championship. Nothing is gained but nothing is lost either!"

Malcolm Wilson [Ford BP Rallye Sport - team director]:

"We've extended Ford's points-scoring record and that's a superb achievement. Mikko delivered a stunning drive today. His times were excellent, especially as he was behind the wheel of a 2002 car. I'm glad that Francois finished as he has put more kilometres and more experience under his belt. It's amazing how things change in this sport. Four weeks ago we were celebrating Markko Martin's victory in Finland and today we are so disappointed by his unfortunate exclusion. But we will come back and our efforts are now concentrated on winning our first asphalt rally with the 2003 Focus RS next month."

Pavel Janeba [Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team - team principal]:

"I'm very happy to see both our cars at the finish of this difficult event because we have now gained a huge amount of useful information. However, I am not so pleased with our overall positions and we must prepare for the three asphalt rallies and try to make the car faster. We will assess both of our transmission options to see which works best and we will also work on engine development."

 

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