Sebastien Loeb [Citroen Total WRT]:

"I'm delighted to have been able to fight with the Scandinavians at the sharp end. Staying on the road isn't easy at these speeds and we're on the limit pretty much all the time. The conditions were especially challenging second time through because the Group N runners had left a layer of crushed ice on the lines we take with our WRC cars. I could see that Hirvonen's tyres weren't in ideal shape going into the last stage. I don't know whether he slowed down deliberately to hand me the lead, but the fact remains that we're in front this evening. With the gap standing at less than three seconds, I would have preferred to have been second on the road tomorrow, but I don't think running first will be an insurmountable problem. We shall see."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "The organisers took the initiative of sending a snowplough through the stages between recce and the start, which meant that running first on the road wasn't such a big handicap. I feel confident - the balance of my C4 WRC is perfectly suited to these conditions and I'm really enjoying my fight with Mikko."

Mikko Hirvonen [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"I knew I would lose time on the [last] stage because it was twisty. When we saw how much time we had dropped to Loeb mid-stage, I decided to slow. My lead would have been so small that it made sense to take the advantage of starting behind him tomorrow. I can follow his split times and react accordingly. It won't be easy but I like to be the guy chasing and not being chased."

"It was great fun driving flat out in these conditions and I feel confident. I need to be more careful with my tyres because I seem to be more aggressive in terms of wear than my rivals. The heater didn't work in the car and all I had to keep me warm was a small heater attached to my driving boots on the liaison sections. I feel so cold that all I want now is a hot shower and my bed!"

Jari-Matti Latvala [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"I didn't really find the right feeling [this morning] so I made the car set-up a little softer during the short service before the afternoon loop. I had a good winter test in December so I didn't want to make big changes, just a few small tweaks."

"My driving was better this afternoon. When the car came out of the ruts it slid too much so I had some learning to do. I'm a little disappointed to have dropped time this morning but I'm back in the game tonight. Tomorrow's stages are much faster and I'm third in the start order, which I think is the best position."

Daniel Sordo [Citroen Total WRT]:

"Driving on snow isn't my speciality, but I've got to say that it's beginning to come more naturally to me. I have a good feeling with my C4 WRC, as well as with the set-up we have chosen for this event. I still don't have enough confidence to be able to mix it with the others, especially through the twistier portions, but I can't wait for the second day to start so that I can continue to learn."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "I dropped some time through those portions where I was using my notes from 2007, and I also stalled in a hairpin. I had great fun, though, especially through the parts where I felt I had the confidence to push harder. I'm reasonably pleased with the way things stand at the moment."

Petter Solberg [PS WRT-Citroen Xsara WRC]:

"I'm happy. My position to the leaders is actually better than i had thought it might be at this point. Okay, we don't have the big speed, but we knew that was going to be the case. I've come here for fun, we've got to remember that. At the moment, I haven't made the big push yet, but there's more speed to come from me."

P-G Andersson [Skoda Fabia WRC]:

"I have had two fastest times today which is something I have never done before. The car is being fantastic but I don't know how much I can improve tomorrow."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "This is the first time since 2003 that I have had a different co-driver with me on a WRC round [namely Anders Fredriksson]. It makes a difference. In the middle section of stage four, I lost a bit of confidence in the notes. The notes were coming a little bit fast and I wasn't completely sure where I was, so I backed off. Otherwise, it's good."

Henning Solberg [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:

"The set up was not exactly right in the morning so I couldn't go as fast as I wanted. We changed a few things in service and that made it better to turn in and get some good times in the afternoon, but then we had a bit of a problem with the gear selector towards the end of SS6 and had to use the manual shift. The team will get it sorted tonight, though, and we will push again tomorrow for some more places. I still think top three is possible and the stages tomorrow will suit me better."

Matthew Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:

"It is a good feeling to have a strong first day in a rally and it has given me a boost in confidence for tomorrow; we just need to keep the pace going. There wasn't as much grip out there in the afternoon, and the back end of the car was difficult to control. It definitely was harder than in the morning, but we just tried to keep it neat and tidy because it was important not to make any mistakes today. The stages tomorrow look like they will be great fun and we are in a good position to challenge those ahead of us."

Sebastien Ogier [Citroen Junior Team]:

"It was a very rewarding day. The learning curve continues and I've got a very good feeling now with the Citro?n C4 WRC. I just made two mistakes in Kongsvinger 2 (SS8) by getting stuck in the snow twice. We were able to get going again quite quickly, but those vital seconds always seem to fly past! Our biggest satisfaction is the fact that we can stay within a second per kilometre of the frontrunners."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "We aren't pushing too hard for the moment. We will try to find the right sort of pace as go along. On SS4 [Finnskogen 1], I stalled in the same hairpin that caught out quite a few drivers. Apart from that, everything went very well and we have a good feeling with the car."

Urmo Aava [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:

"It's been quite a tricky day. The car was moving around a lot in the morning but we stiffened the suspension in service and it was a lot better in the later stages. It was disappointing to lose time after we hit a snow bank, because we were trying to be careful. I just missed my braking for a slow right corner and nosed into the bank; we had to get some spectators to help push the car out. Tomorrow we will need to start from fresh and see what we can do to improve our position, the stages are more flowing and I think that will be better for me."

Evgeny Novikov [Citroen Junior Team]:

"My feeling with the car is improving all the time. But I've got a few mixed emotions about today because I still think we could have done better. Tomorrow, our objective will be exactly the same: to build up precious experience."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "We didn't make a very good choice of suspension settings. We're going to work on that so that we feel more comfortable in the quick sections. We're still getting to grips with the car, as this is still only our first day at the wheel of a WRC challenger."

Conrad Rautenbach [Citroen Junior Team]:

"We increased our pace after service. In fact, we only took one spare wheel in order to save weight. But the end of the day was really hard on our tyres and so we lost a bit of time. Tomorrow's stages are really nice. I've got a good feeling with the car now so I hope I'll be able to push a little bit more."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "The stages are great. I am feeling more and more confident, which means I was able to start pushing a little harder. Driving on these roads is fantastic fun."

Patrik Sandell [Skoda Fabia S2000]: [PWRC leader]

"Really an outstanding day for me. I was going very fast, but never too close to the limit. The car's running great, although there's a slight oversteer in tight corners. We'll have a close look at it right now in service and try to improve the setup even further."

Team principals:

Olivier Quesnel [Citroen Total WRT - team principal]:

"First of all, it's been a great day of rallying. S?bastien drove magnificently and I think he's succeeded in sowing a seed of doubt in the mind of our opponent. I believe he's gained the upper hand psychologically, and we will need to push that advantage home tomorrow. As for Dani, he's putting in just the sort of run we asked of him in terms of the bigger Manufacturers' World Championship picture. He has defended fourth place in style by warding off pressure from drivers who are known specialists of this sort of surface. The second leg promises to be just as exciting as today's show."

Malcolm Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT - team boss]:

"It has been another strong performance from the Stobart team today. Matthew has driven really well today, a very encouraging performance, probably one of his best opening days of an event. It's a shame that Henning and Urmo have both had small issues but Henning's gear selection problem will be fixed tonight and he can go for it again tomorrow."

Benoit Nogier [Citroen Junior Team - manager]:

"All our cars have come back perfectly intact this evening after a long day away from the service park. The crews not only did what we expected of them but even exceeded their objectives. They gained a lot of experience in these conditions without making any mistakes and while putting in some very promising performances. Evgeny's second-fastest stage time at the end of the day is quite remarkable, given that he's only contesting his first rally in a WRC car. I hope that all our crews can continue to make their presence felt tomorrow."



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