Drivers: Sebastien Ogier (Volkswagen Motorsport), Francois Delecour (Porsche 997 GT3), Bryan Bouffier (Hyundai Motorsport N) and Elfyn Evans (M-Sport World Rally Team).

Team personnel: Marek Nawarecki (Customer Racing Manager at Citroen Racing).

Press conference

Q:
Sebastien, a huge weekend here in France once again, where you could seal the title. How are you feeling?

Sebastien Ogier:
I feel okay, it's good to be in my position leading the championship and to have a chance to secure it once again. But it is not going to be as easy as last year, I don't need just one point. I need first to beat Jari-Matti [Latvala] or at least to score six points more than him. It's possible, but he is in great shape, pushing hard on every event including tarmac. I expect him to be good this weekend so if I want to win the title I need to do a great job.

Q:
You will have to take a lot of risks out there to beat him?

Sebastien Ogier:
I don't want to take too much risk, tactically I am not in a position for that I think. I want to score good points and it would be the cherry on the cake to secure the title here but what is the most important is to make a step forward for the championship. If it happens on the next rally I have no problem with that. I want to win this second title so we will start with a strong rhythm and then let's see what happens at the beginning of the race and we will adapt our strategy.

Q:
Good memories coming back this year after the success of last?

Sebastien Ogier:
Of course it was my most emotional week last year. It was a bit crazy to be the World Champion on the first day, I struggled a bit after that to be back as I was still dreaming a bit and then we had a fantastic fight with three other drivers. We were all four fighting for the victory on the last day and we were all within five seconds which was very exciting. To eventually win was the end of a fantastic week for us. So of course we have wonderful memories. But as always in rally we have to restart and replay it again so this weekend is another weekend and I look forward to it. The weather forecast seems promising with no rain, the stages are beautiful with great new parts in the forests. So let's see what happens.

Q:
What of next year - where will we see you next year?

Sebastien Ogier:
I think I would be stupid to change. The team I am in is the best one at the moment and I reached my dream to become World Champion with them. We started the story together three years ago and we had to develop everything. Last year it was a real surprise to be so successful immediately and this year is again a very strong year for Volkswagen so really no reason to change. I know we are really not in advance to announce the future, it's a question of timing but you should get the answer quite soon.

Q:
So it is not a confirmation yet?

Sebastien Ogier:
I am not the one who should do this, the team will do it. I can just tell that you should not have to wait too long from now on.

Q:
Let's turn to Francois Delecour. Good to see you again Francois. We see you compete here with a Porsche 997 GT3 R-GT car. The car looks fantastic - and sounds amazing! What is it like to drive?

Francois Delecour:
I am so happy to be back. I am 52 and still in the business! To drive this kind of car is a dream. For example I remember Bernard Beguin - who is here today - driving a Porsche 20 or 30 years ago. It's fantastic to drive this car and I believe that it brings a lot of spectators to the event as people like this car and its sound. It will be difficult to drive behind some people like Sebastien [Ogier] who will destroy the roads for us behind! But it is going to be a fantastic experience.

Q:
You tested the car earlier this week. How many kilometres did you do? How was the car?

Francois Delecour:
Not so many because last week I was fighting for a championship in Romania...

Q:
Congratulations on winning the Romanian Championship!

Francois Delecour:
Yes it's our little world championship! To be honest I was testing last Thursday in Romania when Richard [Tuthill] called me and asked if I was ready to go Monday and drive the Porsche on Rallye de France. I answered I was ready! Of course it's a bit difficult to be ready but we will be by tomorrow. We didn't test more than 30 kilometres before we broke the differential but I have a good feeling in any case.

Q:
How well do you know the roads in this area of France? How familiar are your with these stages?

Francois Delecour:
I know some portions from the past. Last time I was here was maybe eight years ago with a Porsche GT and at that time the regulations were not so good for the Porsche, the car was heavy, difficult to drive with no brakes. I remember a little bit some of the stages such as Montagne d'Ormont or Charbonni?res which is a good stage for the Porsche as it is very fast. But most of it is new.

Q:
A battle with Romain Dumas this weekend who is also in a Porsche, that should be interesting - are you looking forward to that?

Francois Delecour:
Yes, I saw Romain many times on Rallye du Var, he is driving so fast with a Porsche and he has a lot of experience as well. For sure we will fight, it's going to be interesting.

Q:
As you said, you are 52 and still in the business. What about next year? Are we going to see you more?

Francois Delecour:
Next year I am doing the World Championship but don't say anything! No seriously next year we will try to do the R-GT Cup with a GT, I would like to do it for sure.

Q:
Marek, a huge weekend for you: Citroen is competing across every level here in France, the WRC, WRC 2 with the R5 and the R3 in Junior WRC. This is an important event for you.

Marek Nawarecki:
Yes, Rallye de France is very important for us, the most important of the season especially as the Citroen brand is the partner of the rally in France. So from a promotional point of view and for the PR activities it is very important both for the Citroen brand and the new DS brand. DS was just created and we display cars here for the first time. We are involved of course for the WRC but also for the WRC 2 and the Junior WRC: it's their fifth round here and we expect to see a huge battle between the young drivers.

Q:
Let's talk about the WRC first. We saw great performances from Kris Meeke a few weeks ago in Germany. He was leading for a short time, but still a good performance. Are you hoping for more of the same here on the tarmac in France?

Marek Nawarecki:
Yes we expect Kris to be in a good position, he is confident. But the objectives are not quite the same here compared to Germany Of course Kris will try his best to stay close to the leaders, to fight for the podium, but the most important target will be to bring points for the Manufacturers' Championship.

Q:
In terms of the WRC 2 and the development of the car, we have seen Sebastien Chardonnet competing this year, how is the development going, is the team happy with the R5?

Marek Nawarecki:
I think we did a lot of progress with the development of the DS3 R5 this season. We learnt a lot from the events this car did this year. Here on tarmac we expect to do a very good performance. I also think that Sebastien is in a good position and he has a nice experience of this rally. We hope to confirm our good performances here in France.

Q:
You mentioned the strong battle in the Junior WRC. The Junior WRC Championship title could be sealed here, have you been impressed by Lefebvre's performance this year?

Marek Nawarecki:
Yes, from the beginning of the season, Stephane did some very good performances and we saw some incredible battles between the drivers. Here we can expect the title to be sealed but it's not sure. Martin Koci is also very fast on tarmac. Stephane from the beginning has been very impressive but he needs to finish the round and we will see what happens on this rally.

Q:
Bryan, after Germany, you are back again. Back on tarmac. What is the objective for you this weekend?

Bryan Bouffier:
It's nice to be back at the wheel of the Hyundai i20 WRC. For this weekend, of course, my target is to do better than in Germany. It was a very bad weekend for us. We continue to develop the car. There is a long way to go to put the car in the highest level of performance. If I could do interesting times, it would be nice.

Q:
How do you think the development is going? Can you feel the car getting better?

Bryan Bouffier:
Yes, for sure. The team is doing a great work on the car. They have improved the handling of the car and its performance. We still have a lot of things to do but I'm very confident that the car will be a fantastic car soon.

Q:
What do you think of the route this year?

Bryan Bouffier:
I don't have a big experience of this rally. I did it once, four years ago. I went through some parts of the stages. The organisers did a fantastic job. I'm impressed and I don't say that because I'm French! The organisation is very good.

Q:
What is the future for Mr Bouffier?

Bryan Bouffier:
You know, with Mr Bouffier, anything can happen! I don't know yet. I'm focused on this weekend. We'll see. I'm open to many activities. Look at Francois. He's 52 and still in the business.

Q:
Elfyn, we will watch you for the next three rallies as you have experience of them all, and you also set some great times in Germany, can we see a repeat here?

Elfyn Evans:
Let's hope so. It's a nice position to be in. We have finished the learning of the new events, now we can start hopefully working on next year which will be a very important year for me. As you say I have a good experience of this event as well as on the next two, so I am looking forward to enjoying the driving on those rallies.

Q:
You have mentioned several times it's been a learning year for you. Most of the events you haven't competed on. Do you feel now that the team are letting you do just what you need to do on those final three?

Elfyn Evans:
I don't think there is a massive change. Of course we don't have the pressure that we have on the new events that we have to finish. At the beginning we will be pretty much in the same position that we were in Germany. We hope to keep up with what we have started building up in Germany.

Q:
You mentioned next year as being a big year for you; you already have an objective in your mind I guess?

Elfyn Evans:
Well we have had a fantastic opportunity this year to learn - it was necessary to have this year - so it is important that we can display some speed next year.

Q:
Are there any particular stages here in France that you would pick out as being exceptionally difficult? Does a day stand out or are they pretty much the same?

Elfyn Evans:
Well there are no vineyard stages this year. They all tend to be in the forest. For sure there is a change of character within certain stages, from very narrow and fast to wide and open so we have to be adaptable. It can also be tricky here especially maybe on the Sunday where there is likely to be a lot more cutting.

 

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