Driver/co-driver: S?bastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citro?n Total World Rally Team), Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen (BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team), Petter Solberg and Phil Mills (Petter Solberg World Rally Team)

Team principal: Olivier Quesnel (Citro?n Total World Rally Team)

Q:
S?bastien, WRC win number 50 - congratulations; what an incredible achievement. The first was in Germany in 2002 - did you imagine at the start of your career that you would amass so many victories in one Championship?

Sebastien Loeb:
I think it was impossible to imagine that. I took every rally one at a time and wanted to do my best. Finally, one day, we beat the record of Carlos (Sainz) which was 26 wins and today, when I think of that, it was not far behind (long ago).

Q:
So many events, I imagine it's hard to have memories of them all, but what would be the most important win for you in your career?

SL:
Norway (2009) was a really important rally victory for me. That was not far behind. It was a great battle from the start and very strong competition on a snow rally. It was really exciting to flight for three days. Finland was also a good memory. For a driver to win there is something special. The first win in Monte in 2002 was also special for me, even though I lost the win I was the winner there!

Q:
Let's talk about this event. There was a lot of speculation before it got underway about what it would be like; what did you think?

SL:
For me, to do one day of tarmac is okay. It is a good solution. It was okay. For me, when I heard we have a mixed surface rally I was happy. I thought it would be slick tyres on the tarmac and gravel tyres on the gravel. But the decision was made by the manufacturers to do it on different tyres; it was something new. It was not bad to drive really. No problem.

Q:
Three wins in a row, can you keep this up and win all 12?

SL:
At the moment anything is possible. As long as I win all the rallies it is possible. It is not what I really want to do. I will try and win and make my best. We will see.

Q:
Fifty WRC wins means a lot of trophies! Where on earth do you keep them all?

SL:
At home. A few are with my mother from the start and then the rest are at home.

Q:
Daniel, congratulations on the 50th win. After so many accolades, wins and titles how much does it mean to you to reach this landmark?

Daniel Elena:
S?bastien is a very good man. He is a famous driver. When we start every race we start for the win. When he lose, he is not very happy. You are sure when you look at the split times, Mikko tried to push after one kilometre and we are three and a half seconds back and, after three kilometres, it is four. He thinks it is not possible and he tries to push more. He is great at good motivation.

Q:
What are your thoughts on the Cyprus Rally?

DE:
Yes fantastic. It was not rough this year, very tricky and slow stages. The tarmac was very fantastic. I hope that in future we have no stages on gravel - 100% tarmac race would be perfect. If the stages were modified in some places they would be better to drive on tarmac on this rally. The gravel stages are too slow and too long.

Q:
Mikko, second position again, good points but we know it's the win you want. Where did it go wrong this weekend?

Mikko Hirvonen:
I think we lost the race on Friday. I was completely lost with my driving. I did not do my homework well enough on how the tyres were working on tarmac. Then again, the last two days were a lot better. I was pleased with my speed on the last two days.

Q:
At the end of day two you said 'I have finally learnt to drive' - what exactly did you mean by that?

MH:
I understood about the tyres and that was good. He (Loeb) will not be one minute ahead after day one in Portugal!

Q:
The organisers have changed things around this year, the split surface and also hardly any repeated stage on gravel. What have you thought of the event? Would you be keen for more rallies to adopt spilt surfaces?

MH:
Yes, even though it did not work for us, it wasn't a bad idea. It was quite okay to drive. The second pass through was like driving on gravel anyway. The format was working well.

Q:
What do you think of S?bastien's 50 WRC wins?

MH:
Fifty wins for Seb is amazing. If he keeps going it probably means 50 second places for me! When I think of the time and how many years he has been driving, it is unbelievable. He has my full respect.

Q:
Loeb has won the first three events, Petter is back fighting at the top end, Marcus Gr?nholm will return in Portugal - the next event could be very interesting indeed. What do you think?

MH:
Yes it will be interesting. I think it will be nice to see Marcus (Gr?nholm) back. Who knows what will happen? If it is dry, he could spring a nice surprise. He has not been driving for a while but we will all have good fun.

Q:
Congratulations on second, how are you feeling about the result?

Jarmo Lehtinen:
Disappointed, of course. We came to win. It was obviously on Friday where he lost the time and found it hard to win. It never happened. It's the toughest event for the co-drivers. There are so many corners. I completed between 300 and 340 pages of pace notes and I rewrote 232 of those because it was so rough in the recce car and we had 19-hour days in the recce. And then I try to concentrate on the slow stages and not make a stupid mistake to retain the rhythm. It was a most challenging rally for a co-driver.

Q:
The first privateer driver with his own team to get on the podium, we think since the 1993 RAC Rally with Malcolm Wilson. How does it feel Petter?

Petter Solberg:
Well the thing is we have no choice. If we want to drive we have to do it in a certain way. We are not a factory team, but the team we have now and, with the help from Citro?n, it was a great weekend and really good fun. The mechanics worked 38 hours non-stop to get here, because the boat was too late. It was quite busy. I am very happy and relieved. The sponsors helped quickly and we have given them something in return. There is still some pressure, but it was really exciting and I am so pleased to cross the finish. I was so nervous on that last stage.

Q:
Two fastest times yesterday and again incredible pace today. What is it like to battling at the top end again?

PS:
I am telling you, when I am back driving, I am back to 'dancing' again. It is difficult to explain. I just have fun and that is always the plan. That is why I am doing this. This is my life.

Q:
How much will this result help you in terms of getting more sponsorship to guarantee a full season?

PS:
Well the thing is I had a lot of conversation with Tommi M?kinen and Marcus Gr?nholm. They told me to relax for one year. But I am not them. I wanted to fight and drive and I hope that one day I can fight properly again with Seb and Mikko. I will hope and plan. Overall the weekend was unbelievable.

Q:
How much confidence does this give you going into Portugal?

PS:
Every rally is different. We did not have so much time to get ready. I am still waiting for some dampers to arrive. They broke on Friday. We are open-minded about every rally we do. I just hope all works well and hope that we can continue for the whole season and get a whole package together. Seb (Loeb) has done an unbelievable achievement. I take my hat off to him. There are not many sports stars in the world who have achieved something like this and we have to respect that. He has a good team and a good combination and the passion is 110%. He is in the history books and will be there a long time. I have to drive until I am 50 or 60 years old now to beat that! It takes a lot of things to go right to do it.

Q:
Phil, a great result on the second rally with a new team and new car; how are you feeling about the result?

Phil Mills:
We came here open-minded and we are very happy.

Q:
You had been part of a manufacturer-backed team for many years, how different is it being part of a private team?

PM:
There are quite a different set of rules in private team. Things like no split times in the car. This is no problem on short stages but, on 40km stages it is nice to know where you are. It is difficult to pace things. There are lots of things you take for granted. There are different things which make a difference. We do not have the politics that you get in a Manufacturer team; we don't have that any more. There are seven of us in the whole team. Next door (Citro?n) the team have 70 something people. We are a small team of dedicated people.

Q:
Olivier, win number 50 for S?bastien and 50 wins with Citro?n. What does that mean for the team?

Olivier Quesnel:
For the team it is quite important. We are proud. That means that the Citro?n team is a great team and the season is not finished yet.

Q:
Looking to the Citro?n Junior Team, there were retirements for both S?bastien Ogier and Evgeny Novikov on the final day, Ogier on the final stage. What happened?

OQ:
S?bastien Ogier and Novikov are quite young, this is why we call this the Citro?n Junior Team. Novikov make some rolls. Seb (Ogier) made one yesterday and was not too bad to finish fifth. But, 200 metres before the stage finish, he made a mistake. We must remember one year and a half ago he was with a 205 standard car. We will see later on. It is not a problem for me.

 

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