Petter Solberg [Subaru]:

"I'm feeling good, but for sure it's been a hard day. It's worked out really well. My lead didn't look so sure before the second to last stage [SS14], and I thought that would be a good opportunity for Sebastien to gain some time - so I planned a big attack. But then, 1 km from the start on a small left hand corner, I hit a huge hole in the road. It went bang, and I tell you I thought that was it. The steering was bent and the suspension had taken a big knock, but I just kept on going even though I thought that something would break quite quickly. But, it didn't and when the splits came through, I was still in front. I've been extremely lucky. Tomorrow, I still can't afford to take things easy, but I'm actually feeling quite calm. I think I'm driving at about 90 per cent, so I do have more in reserve; I'm trying not to think too much about the finish. I spoke to Fred Gallagher today and he gave me some good advice, to relax and have fun driving, and I'm just concentrating on doing that."

Sebastien Loeb [Citroen]:

"I am still pushing as hard as I can. For the first four stages this morning, the tyres were too hard which wasn't so good, but apart from that everything has been good. I am thinking about Citroen and the manufacturers' award - I have to finish the rally to help the team. Running a little bit further back on the road has been quite difficult - the stages have been slippier than yesterday."

Tommi Makinen [Subaru]:

"For me, there were no problems whatsoever today. We tried some different tyres in the morning and the afternoon, but in the end we went back to our original settings and I'm very happy with that. I think that's what we are going to use tomorrow if the conditions stay the same. For sure it's going to be a big fight tomorrow with Colin, but I'm really enjoying myself in the car and I'm going to be driving flat out - no question."

Colin McRae [Citroen]:

"I'm still losing time towards the end of the stages when the brakes are starting to fade a little. Apart from that it's not been a bad day. I am trying to push to get past Tommi, but it's not easy when we've been told that we have to make the finish of the event."

Harri Rovanpera [Peugeot]:

"I thought the weather would be warmer than it actually was, which is one of the reasons why we chose tyres that were too hard in the morning. Then at lunchtime we made some adjustments, which included making the suspension softer. That worked well, but I'm a little bit surprised that the gaps are so big. Tomorrow I will keep pushing, but with a safe margin as well."

Francois Duval [Ford]:

"I felt happier with the set up of the car this morning. Halfway was a tricky stage. We had a narrow escape on a difficult left bend which went into a crest immediately afterwards. We went wide over the crest and I struggled to keep the car on the road. We made quite a few changes to our pace notes on the first loop of stages because they were too optimistic and they were much better during the second run through the tests. The roads were quite clean and not really rough at all. There were a few rocks that had been thrown up in places but nothing to worry about.

"All the things I was unhappy with yesterday, I felt much better about today. Our only real difficulties came during the last forest stage when we had no front brakes for the final 7km and the traction control system didn't work properly. Rain is forecast tomorrow and I really don't want that. It would make the roads very difficult. I'm determined to keep sixth and I don't want to have to fight for it in the wet."

Freddy Loix [Peugeot]:

"Today has not been an easy day, but I'm gradually building up more confidence with the 206 WRC. We're already in a position to score driver and manufacturer points, which is good, but there's quite a big gap to the car in front. We changed the suspension to a slightly harder set-up this afternoon, but now I've gone back to the softest settings possible - which gives me a better feeling."

Roman Kresta [Bozian / Peugeot]:

"I drove in relaxed fashion all day long. I did not like losing so much time at the start of the 11th test where I stalled the car and could not re-start it for some time. Following the incident, I then managed to have got back into my pace and tried to get back into the top eight. Resolfen stage went the way I planned so I can be pleased with that. Just like yesterday, the team and the car have been working faultlessly so I look forward to clock more respectable times on Sunday."

Jari-Matti Latvala [M-Sport / Ford]:

"I've had fantastic grip all day and the car has felt superb. The rally has been going really well so I decided to step up my pace. But on the final forest stage I overshot a junction and only just managed to stop before a ditch. I made a mistake by going a little too fast and when I braked the wheels locked up. I couldn't select reverse gear and dropped about 25 seconds."

Didier Auriol [Skoda]:

"The spin this morning was frustrating. It would have been okay, but we dropped the front two wheels over a hole and couldn't get the car turned around. We had to wait for some spectators to come and give us a push before we could get going again - this took maybe 30 seconds or so. Other than that, it's been quite okay."

Toni Gardemeister [Skoda]:

"I'm not so interested in this rally now. It hasn't been a good day. This morning it's so hard to drive the car without the diffs, no turn-in, hard to slow it down. It was not nice. Then this afternoon, we came close to rolling on one of the stages. I'm not really enjoying it. The last run through the forest stage was a little bit better but still the transmission wasn't perfect."

Notable retirements:

Carlos Sainz [Citroen]: [retired in SS3 - went off the road]

"I heard Marc tell me it was a third-gear corner, but it simply didn't register with me - I went into the corner still in fifth. We slid off the road and that was the end. The car was not damaged, but it had slid nose first down a steep bank. There was no way we could get back. I'm so disappointed to end a rally which had offered so much in this way."

Mikko Hirvonen [Ford]: [retired in SS3 - lost left rear wheel]

"It was my fault. I hit a rock on a straight section before a bend and the impact ripped off the left rear wheel. As a result we went into the next corner sideways because now we had no brakes either. The car went off the road and rolled slowly. There were many spectators there who righted the car and we continued to the next junction but with no wheel and no brakes, we couldn't carry on. I started the year badly with an accident in Monte Carlo and I've ended it in the same way."

Marcus Gronholm [Peugeot]: [retired after SS3 - having gone off the road]

"It was a silly mistake, as I actually had the place marked in my notes. It was a left-hand corner quite early in the stage and for some reason I ended up cutting the corner and hitting the log. It was quite high speed so I damaged the wheel straight away and I knew we would have problems. We got out of the stage slowly and would have made it back to service, but the police stopped us. It doesn't matter anyway as we had lost so much time by then. Now I'm just looking forward to next year!"

Markko Martin [Ford]: [retired before the start of SS4 - engine]

"It is very disappointing to go out so early on this event. We never got a clean stage to look at the times, but I know we could have won here. Now I'm going to go home and take a break from rallying. I'm quite tired after such a busy end to the season."

Gilles Panizzi [Bozian / Peugeot]: [retired before the start of SS8 - transmission]

No comment.

Team Principals:

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

"It's been a brilliant day from Petter. We hoped that he could slowly increase his lead today, without taking too many risks, and that's exactly what he's done. We've been feeding him split times through the stages and he's done a brilliant job of controlling his speed. On his last event with the team, it's great to see Tommi enjoying his scrap with Colin. But, Tommi has had a major part to play in Petter's success today too. He has sacrificed some of his stage times to evaluate the performance of some of our other Pirelli tyre options in these conditions, and the information that he's helped us gather will undoubtedly help us on tomorrow's final stages. Overall, the plan from here is to carry on in the same mode, for Petter to continue to build a time cushion without taking risks and for Tommi to do the same and finish on the podium."

Guy Frequelin [Citroen Sport - team principal]:

"There are still three special stages to complete, including two passes through the long 'Rhondda' stage. In total there are just over seventy-three timed kilometres to be run, which is enough for the situation to change. Both our drivers must continue to adopt the fast, safe pace they used today. And the whole team must keep fully concentrated. We will know the final outcome tomorrow, at approximately 3pm - and not before."

Petr Kohoutek [Skoda Motorsport - director of motorsport]:

"We've had another day of technical problems but hopefully they are behind us now and we can concentrate on getting all the cars to the finish tomorrow afternoon."

 

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