Press conference:

Q:
Mads, this will be only your second time competing in Germany, how have you prepared for this weekend?

Mads ?stberg:
We have done some different things. We have spent two days of testing, a total of 100 kilometres. It was quite good, a big test for us. I am happy with the set-up. I am not very experienced on Tarmac, so I did some go-karting before going to the test. Maybe not the best way, but it was a way to get used to it. I also worked hard with my engineer. I also watch some You Tube inboard videos from the guys in front of me here to see how they do it.

Q:
In Finland, you said your aim was to challenge the 'Big Five'. What is your aim here?

Mads ?stberg:
I haven't done any WRC Tarmac events since 2008. I don't know where I am. For me, it will be more difficult to fight the 'Big Five' on Tarmac than on gravel and snow, but we will definitely try. I had a good shakedown, I am confident that it is possible to get a good result.

Q:
What result would you be happy walking away with from this event?

Mads ?stberg:
Top six would be good for me, it would give me a lot of confidence, but it is still tricky.

Q:
What is the situation for the rest of the season? You miss Rally Australia; will there be any more events after this?

Mads ?stberg:
I hope so. At the moment, this is the last event we are doing, but the guys back home are working hard to put together a budget for the Rallye de France as well. Our basic plan was eight rallies, so Finland would have been our last rally, but now, we are here too. Now our next goal is to try and make France, then there is a little bit more time before Spain and then hopefully Wales at the end of the year. Maybe a good result over here helps us.

Q:
Is there anything you can tell us about next year and your plans?

Mads ?stberg:
I will be back for sure, I won't sit at home. In fact, it looks more positive for next year than it has done for this year. Hopefully we will be back with the same car. I would love to stick with the Fiesta.

Q:
Jari-Matti, the Championship returns to Tarmac and it will be the first time we see the new WRC cars on this surface. After all the testing you have done how are you feeling about the Fiesta's debut on this surface?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
Basically, the car is really good to drive. With the Focus, we were struggling with under steering. The Fiesta is turning always; you know it will turn when you turn in. The balance is very good. On the other hand, like S?bastien [Loeb] mentioned, the car is a bit more nervous than the old car. I could feel that, too, also this morning in shakedown. That is the characteristic of this shorter wheelbase car. But in general, this car is so much better, especially when turning, it gives me much more confidence.

Q:
In Argentina, with the Tarmac sections, you were quite excited about going to the Tarmac events. Now that we are here, how are you feeling?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I am much more confident than last year. I am looking forward to starting the rally. In order to win here, I am well aware I have to beat S?bastien [Loeb] and Citro?n and all the other drivers; it is essential to win on Tarmac. You have to be absolutely perfect to win. If I manage to finish on the podium, I would be really happy after my fourth place last year.

Q:
How are you feeling about your overall performance this year?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I had big hopes for this year. After four rounds, I was only eight points behind S?bastien [Loeb]. It was very tight at that time, but then I had three bad rallies in a row. Second place in Rally Finland helped, but spring was very disappointing for me. The car is very competitive, very fast, but we have been unlucky with some other things. We lost three rallies with very small margins.

Q:
Could you explain what these other things you mentioned were?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
For instance in Argentina: there was a massive rock in the middle of the road, hitting weak point of the suspension. The suspension broke, which put us out of the rally. Then there was the turbo problem in Greece. Obviously, the turbo is the same for everybody, but it was just my turbo that broke. Then in Sardinia, my co-driver made a little mistake, something he had never done before, so that cost us the chance of doing well in one of our favourite rallies.

Q:
Do you reckon that Ford can win a Tarmac event this year?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
The car has much more potential than the Focus did. During the last few years we were struggling. The Fiesta really is a big step forward. You just have to be confident with it. In order to win, you just have to have no hesitation anywhere.

Q:
S?bastien, we have been asking you for weeks about your decision for the future and it seems it has been made with you remaining at Citro?n for another two years - what made you decide to stay and why did you decide to stay with Citro?n?

S?bastien Loeb:
I have decided to stay in rallying. I was trying to get some contacts in racing teams, as I really wanted to continue in motorsport, because I don't want to stay at home when I retire from rallying. Then the decision was getting closer, and as I was still getting some good results, I reckoned that it may be a bit early to retire from rallying. Then the choice was between Citro?n and Volkswagen. I had a proposal from Volkswagen. It was interesting, but it was also a hard choice. Developing a new car would have been a nice challenge, but it would mean a quiet season next year and a come-back the season after that, but finally, Citro?n showed me how motivated they were to keep me in the team. I had some discussion with the manager of the group and he explained to me how important our relationship was for them. I reckoned that having one year off and then coming back would be very difficult. Here, I know the team, I have a good car and I know that I will have a good car for next year, so all this made me decide to stay.

Q:
So, staying for another two years means that you have the chance to get your number of Championship titles to double figures...

S?bastien Loeb:
Yes, but I didn't really think of that. It was just the best decision I had to take. I never expected seven titles in the first place. It is nice to continue, but I have no precise goal.

Q:
Now that you have made your decision, does that take some weight off your shoulders?

S?bastien Loeb:
I will now be getting less questions about my future, which means I will be able to concentrate more on the rally and then forget about the business.

Q:
Let's talk about the rally then. Has testing gone well for this event? What do you think of the DS3 on Tarmac? Is it better than the C4?

S?bastien Loeb:
It is difficult to say. The car is different, the tyres are different. It's difficult to compare with the C4. I was pleased with the C4 on Tarmac. The DS3 is shorter, the tyres a bit harder, maybe the car is a bit more nervous, more difficult to drive in general. But the feeling is still good.

Q:
You have dominated this event since its inclusion in the WRC. Do you feel pressure to try and keep that record, and which driver do you feel could challenge you most for the win this weekend?

S?bastien Loeb:
There is always pressure. Every year I come here and know maybe one day my series of wins will stop, so I just prepare this one like all the other rallies. About the other drivers: we have seen some good times in the shakedown by Jari-Matti [Latvala], Hirvonen and especially Ogier, so my main rivals are these three drivers.

Q:
Peter, a different co-driver for you on this event, Erwin Mombaerts steps in for Eddy Chevaillier. Firstly how is Eddy's recovery going?

Peter van Merksteijn:
Of course, Eddy's recovery will take a lot of time. He broke his back, he has to do everything new, he has to start up again. Initially, he had to lie flat for four weeks, now he can walk again and it is getting better and better. Only sitting in the car is very difficult. But he is coming to the rally today, so that is great news!

Q:
Erwin Mombaerts is now your co-driver, he would normally be Van Merksteijn Senior's co-driver. How is the relationship between you and Erwin working?

Peter van Merksteijn:
We have known each other for a few years. He is also a Belgian, so in a way it is similar to Eddy, and they are also friends, which is nice. Erwin is different in the car, more calm. He has experience with Kevin Abbring in WRC, he knows his way.

Q:
I believe you have been testing before this event - how did that go?

Peter van Merksteijn:
We did quite a lot of testing. I took an extra test day from my father. Two days in the vineyards, half a day on the Panzerplatte. That was going quite well. I also did my last Tarmac rally back in 2008, but I have competed here twice, I know Germany well. In testing, you see what the other guys are doing. My biggest problem is late braking, but the other things are going quite well.

Q:
What do you think will be the toughest challenge for you this weekend?

Peter van Merksteijn:
After a horrible start of the season, I need to get to the finish. That is the main goal. A top 10 finish would be great.

Q:
And what about next year, will we see you back?

Peter van Merksteijn:
It also depends on how the remaining five rallies will go. If I don't see any progress in my speed and I am not getting closer to the top drivers, then I don't know whether to go on, but if it goes faster and better, then we might see each other again.

Q:
S?bastien, do you have some plans for circuit races?

S?bastien Loeb:
No, I don't have any particular plans, like racing at Le Mans or something. For the moment, I am concentrated on the rallies. Maybe sometimes a one-off race, but no particular plans at the moment.

 

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