Sebastien Loeb [Citroen]:

"Considering the conditions at the start of the leg, I decided to be very careful. It was very tricky, and I wanted to avoid making any mistakes. After that, the roads changed, and gradually, we 'got back in the game', gaining confidence and increasing the pace. In the last special stage, I was totally at ease with my Xsara WRC, and I was able to really push."

Markko Martin [Ford]:

"This morning was very, very hard. The downhill sections, especially, were so slippery and every time I went round a corner I was waiting for the conditions to catch me out. It was difficult to find grip when the conditions were changing all the time and although I drove on the limit, I was always on the safe side of the limit.

"I had brake problems on the final two stages which cost time otherwise I would have been closer to Loeb. The pedal went to the floor and that's not good for my confidence. There are two more days and a lot of kilometres left. Tomorrow and Sunday are much further south and there wasn't much snow and ice during the recce. If the weather stays the same, it will be like an asphalt rally and more even for everyone."

Marcus Gronholm [Peugeot]:

"This morning's stage was much more slippery than I thought, but the performance of the 307 is fantastic. We had a very good feeling with the car all day, but the problem on SS4 worried me. We were lucky that it happened close to the end of the stage, but after it was fixed we could keep going. The last stage wasn't so good, but I'm happy with the way that everything has gone today. We're in a good position to fight tomorrow."

Carlos Sainz [Citroen]:

"The car is perfect, and when I think of last year, I can measure just how much I am now in phase with it. We can do good things in this rally."

Francois Duval [Ford]:

"The car has been great and I've made no mistakes. I've enjoyed the day even though it has been so difficult. Stephane has been superb, slowing me down and ensuring I was careful in the really slippery sections. Tomorrow's stages are twisty and slower, which I don't like so much, but I will try to regain fourth place."

Petter Solberg [Subaru]:

"It's been difficult today, what with being first on the road and being forced to make some very difficult tyre choices. As the temperatures rose, the amount of snow and ice became very unpredictable, but that's how it is. I'm happy with where I am, my plan was always to be between fourth and sixth at the end of the first day. Tomorrow, perhaps we'll try more speed, but I have a lot of respect for this rally and can't be stupid like last year. I wanted to come through the first day cleanly and I've done just that."

Mikko Hirvonen [Subaru]:

"It's been a really good first day, I'm really happy. It's all going according to our plan and to already be in a point winning position feels good. I had a little bit of a shock driving on the snow this morning, but we took things steady and I've made no mistakes all day. I lifted off a bit on the last stage, just to be safe, but I'm very pleased with how it's gone and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Freddy Loix [Peugeot]:

"It wasn't a perfect start for me as I made a mistake in changing the set-up of the car during the first stage. I didn't feel very comfortable after that, but during the next loop of stages it got better. On the last two stages I had a good tyre choice and I was able to push hard. I've got a nice feeling with the car now, and I hope it can be like that tomorrow as well."

Gilles Panizzi [Mitsubishi]:

"I am very happy to be at the end of the first leg because we have another day and more kilometres on the car. It gives us time to work things out and make improvements. I am still getting used to the car; yes we have had some problems but this was to be expected."

Notable retirements:

Gianluigi Galli [Mitsubishi]: [retired in SS5 - went off the road]

"We slid and the car ended up half off the road. Then it slipped another couple of metres and it was impossible to get back; there was hardly any damage and mechanically it was fine, which makes it all the more disappointing. We took it steady this morning so I was surprised with our time in stage three, but I felt very confident with the car, even though the conditions were very difficult."

Team Principals:

Guy Frequelin [Citroen Sport - team principal]:

"We negotiated this leg well. It looked like being the most complicated, but tomorrow's could be just as bad - maybe even worse. We will see. In the meantime, I think we did some very good work today."

Malcolm Wilson [Ford Rallye Sport - team director]:

"My target was for Markko to end the day within 15secs of the lead and he is only 18 behind so that is OK. It was a shame that Francois lost a place but that was my fault because I advised him to take a safe tyre option with studs for the final two stages and that was wrong."

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

"Overall, it's been a good solid day, nothing spectacular, but that's absolutely according to our plan. Both Petter and Mikko have stuck to a strategy of keeping out of trouble and erring on the side of caution when it came to tyre choice and pace. At the end of the day we're exactly where we planned to be. Now we have to wait and see if the conditions tomorrow will allow us to push a little harder and climb the leader board."

Sven Quandt [Mitsubishi - head of motorsport]:

"We saw for a very short time the potential of the car, after Gigi set fourth fastest time in stage three. Obviously it is disappointing he went off the road; it was bad luck, but everyone is learning all the time."

Mario Fornaris [Mitsubishi - technical director]:

"We had a failure in the transmission [on Gilles Panizzi's car] and hopefully tomorrow will be better. The team is still learning and understanding the car and it was not tested in these conditions; we expected to have some new problems."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...