Team bosses: Jost Capito (Ford), Jean-Pierre Nicolas (Peugeot)

Drivers: Stephane Sarrazin (Subaru), Armin Schwarz (Skoda), Gigi Galli (Mitsubishi), Sebastien Loeb (Citroen)

Before the press conference, a brief obituary for David Williams was read following his death last week:

As everybody will be aware, David Williams, one of the most respected journalists to cover this championship, died at home last week. All of us who had the privilege of working with David know him, so now is not the time to list his many achievements and attributes. Suffice it to say that his loss will have a profound effect on the championship and all of us. It seems very strange and totally wrong to be at a press conference and not have David amongst us. We will all miss him greatly. Before we start the conference, let us take a minute to remember David.

Q:
Welcome. Germany is an important rally for Ford, being just up the road from Cologne where there is a massive Ford presence. How important is a good performance in Germany to you personally?

Jost Capito:
First of all, I would like to add my personal tribute on behalf of Ford to David Williams. Although I haven't been involved in world rallying for too long, to me as well, he had become a respected journalist and we must thank him for his contribution to the WRC.

This rally is very important for Ford, as, next to Britain, Germany is the most important market for us. Cologne is just around the corner, as is Saarlouis, where the Focus is being built.

Q:
Is there an extra pressure, an extra buzz on this event?

JC:
We have a lot of management people here and also many employees from Saarlouis who are building the Focus. They have the chance to watch their cars in action. I would say that the team is excited, but it is a positive pressure. In the past, they have proven that they are able to cope with it.

Q:
Last year on asphalt, the Focus was the car to beat on asphalt. Do you think it still is?

JC:
I think not only in the last asphalt events last year, but also in this year's Monte Carlo, where we finished second, we were also the car to beat. Then again, it isn't pure tarmac here. There is a lot of dirt and mud. But even in tricky conditions, I think the Focus is still the car to beat.

Q:
You have a comparatively tight battle with Subaru for third place in the constructors championship - you currently lead them by ten points. With six rallies left to go, how much do you think you can extend that margin by?

JC:
I think it will be a very tight battle for third. Ten points is a good position, but not comfortable, but we will fight hard to keep our third place. About this rally, a lot of things happened here in the past and we know that Seb is quick here, but we have had good testing and Toni is convinced that the Focus is good enough here to fight for the win.

Q:
Jean-Pierre, on the last rally we saw a fantastic win for Marcus Gronholm in Finland. To what extent does a victory motivate the team, does it give the team an extra 'push'?

Jean-Pierre Nicolas:
Sure, victory in Finland gives us an extra boost. It was our first victory since one year and it was a huge motivation, as was the good performance by Markko.

Then again, we don't need an extra push, we have had it since the start of the year. Everybody wants to win the championship, the motivation is complete, but the competition has worked a lot from 2004 to 2005 and we have to work between every rally to remain competitive. All the team is confident, drivers, mechanics, engineers and we are happy and confident.

Q:
You are in the middle of a tight battle for the lead of the constructors championship. Sebastien Loeb is in the lead of the drivers championship and we have seen that Marcus can often challenge him for speed, but recently Markko Martin has been comprehensively outscoring Francois Duval, in the second Citroen. Do you think this championship will be decided by the second drivers? What is your strategy?

J-PN:
It is not only the second drivers that will decide, also S?bastien and Marcus. We will have three gravel and three asphalt rallies. The fight will be very hard. If it is dry, Seb will be unbeatable here, but if it is wet, some others will be able to fight at the top level. On gravel, we will have fast rallies and our drivers will be able to fight: Marcus with S?bastien and Markko with Fran?ois Duval, and the last rallies will see a fierce battle between Peugeot and Citro?n. We don't have a particular strategy. If it is dry, we probably can't fight Citro?n, but if it is wet, we will be in contention, as will be some of the others, so we will see a good battle.

Q:
Stephane, welcome. You have mentioned before that this rally was your best chance so far this year - tell us why and what sort of result are you looking at? Can you challenge for a podium now?

Stephane Sarrazin:
It is the first real asphalt rally for me this year and I am competing here for the second time. Last year, I made my WRC debut here. I have good pace notes and I did a good preparation, so I am confident.

Q:
How much of a difference does it make when you've done an event before? Is that in practical terms, or psychological confidence terms?

SS:
Having competed here before certainly is an advantage. We have the pace notes and it was easier in recce. We did a few days of testing and development and I think we are sorted quite well.

Q:
Although you've not competed since Greece, you've done some tests. What have you learned from those tests?

SS:
It was the first test with this car and it was very productive. It was a good opportunity for me to gain some more experience on gravel.

Q:
Are you approaching anything differently now - for example preparation of pace notes? How much more confident do you feel since the start of the year, now that there is a run of events coming up which should suit you?

SS:
I am happy with the situation as it is. We worked more on the pace notes and I have some more mileage now.

Q:
Are you positive for the rest of the year?

SS:
Yes, we now have three asphalt rallies and some of the rallies, like Japan and Australia, I know from recce last year, so I am quite confident.

Q:
This is also the first time that we are seeing Subaru's 2005 Impreza on asphalt; in Monte Carlo you used the 2004 car. What are the biggest differences between the 2004 car and the 2005 car when it comes to driving on asphalt?

SS:
It is not a big difference, rather small details in chassis, suspension. The balance is very good, but the difference is not big. Still, I am confident for the three asphalt rallies to come.

 

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