Drivers: Sebastien Ogier (Volkswagen Motorsport), Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT), Bryan Bouffier (M-Sport WRT), Elfyn Evans (M-Sport WRT) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai Motorsport).

Press conference

Q:
Sebastien, the start of the 2015 season and defending your FIA World Rally Championship title for the second time; how are you feeling about Monte Carlo, ready to go?

Sebastien Ogier:
Yeah, of course. It's always a mix of excitement and being a bit worried at the start of this rally. We are in front of a huge challenge - it's a special one. I always love the atmosphere and we have much more freedom on this rally, first for the tyre choice. That makes the rally quite exciting and I would love it to be like that all the season. I'm looking forward to it. First tonight, it will be a difficult start with the new stages which are quite narrow; there are a lot of rocks around, so it will be easy for a puncture. We need to focus from the start.

Q:
Tyre choice is notoriously difficult here and it didn't go your way on the opening day last year. Thoughts for this year?

Sebastien Ogier:
I have to say, if the end of the rally is the same then I will be happy with that! But, for sure, it won't be like that with another 1m30s delay after the first stages. I hope to get it right from the beginning. But at the moment, I have no information from last night - I hope the experience from last year will help this year.

Q:
What are your thoughts on the fact you have no split times in the car this year; how much will they be missed by you?

Sebastien Ogier:
It's the same for everybody. We have to adapt again, have to drive to no split times. It will be especially difficult here in Monte-Carlo, when you can have the feeling that you are driving so slowly. You have to remember [the condition is the] same for everybody, but it's hard to stay calm without thinking you are losing too much. We have all known this situation from a couple of years ago, but now it's new again. For me, I'm first on the road so I don't get so many splits. Here, I will try to keep a bit of margin and stay out of trouble.

Q:
How does the new car feel?

Sebastien Ogier:
Quite good. It's not really different, it's an evolution and I hope it's an evolution in a good way. I need a bit more experience with the car to be very accurate with the set-up we want. We have a little bit more comfort in the car with the paddle shift, but the rest are small details, small adjustments.

Q:
Lots of drivers have upped their game, the 'Monte Master' is back... what are your chances to win?

Sebastien Ogier:
For sure, we know we have the chance to win. But we're not the only one. On the Monte, quite often you can have a good surprise. Everybody is talking about the battle [between me and Sebastien Loeb], but I expect more drivers to be fighting at the front. I hope me and Seb can stay out of trouble for this battle, but the others will be trying. Seb and me are in quite different starting positions and it might be that, at sometime, one will get the advantage and then at another time the other will get the advantage. Especially without splits, the time difference can be quite big.

Q:
Welcome back to the Championship Sebastien! Does it feel good to be back in the DS3 WRC on such an iconic event?

Sebastien Loeb:
It's nice to be back. Monte-Carlo has always been a nice rally with a lot of good memories, especially with Daniel [Elena, co-driver], this is his home rally and, for me, it's a bit the same. It's nice to see the rally world again. It's a long time I was not driving in the rally. Citroen propose me to do one race, and I said: "Yes why not? It's a good time, it's in the winter and away from my [WTCC] season." It's the perfect time to do it.

Q:
You have a strong partnership with Daniel, has that come back straight away?

Sebastien Loeb:
Yes, I'm happy to see he is still fitting in the seat! The feeling was back immediately between him and me with the notes and way to work. We just needed to take the feeling with the car in the test. Everything is okay now.

Q:
What is the objective for this event?

Sebastien Loeb:
I did two days of testing like the other drivers; the objective when you see the conditions is to try to stay on the road - it will be very tricky. Then I will try to find the best rhythm. It's very difficult to start with an objective in my [start] position. Like Seb [Ogier] said, maybe one time we have the advantage and maybe not the next time. I will just try to do my rally, for the rest we will see at the end, I don't have the target to score points because I'm not doing the Championship. We are here for fun with Daniel, to see the rally fans and enjoy our weekend.

Q:
Is this just a one-off outing for you, definitely? Have you missed driving a DS3 WRC?

Sebastien Loeb:
There are no plans for another event. What I miss is the sensation in the car; it's the only discipline when you drive only with the natural feeling - that makes the driving. You can slide and that's enjoyable, that was my life for a long time. Now I have adapted to a completely different driving style - it's nice to feel the old way back.

Q:
Back in Monte-Carlo and on the podium last year Bryan. I guess you must be hoping for the same kind of success this year?

Bryan Bouffier:
It's always difficult to plan something, especially on a race so tricky as Monte-Carlo. On this kind of event you can go off on more or less every corner. My aim is top five and the dream would be a 100 per cent French podium with these two guys in front of me (Loeb and Ogier). That would be great for our country. It's been very difficult to get the budget, but it's a great pleasure to drive again - I fight to get a lot of pleasure and to be fast.

Q:
Is it good to be back in the Fiesta RS WRC?

Bryan Bouffier:
I have a good feeling with the car, the set up is more or less the same and I feel comfortable in the car very quickly.

Q:
What are the plans for the season ahead? Is this just a one-off drive at the moment or will we see you elsewhere?

Bryan Bouffier:
For now I do one race. I try do it in the best way and then I will try to do some more.

Q:
What's the secret to Rallye Monte-Carlo?

Bryan Bouffier:
There's not a secret, you just have to stay really concentrated, slow down when it's slippery and then go flat out when have the good grip - this is the key. As well for the tyres, it's always complicated, so the key is to get it right and be clever.

Q:
Second season with M-Sport Elfyn, last year was the learning year and you were very cautious on the Monte. What is the plan this year?

Elfyn Evans:
The plan overall is to be a lot better than last year. On this rally, it's so difficult, the number one objective is to be at the finish - I need all the experience I can get. There are a lot of ways to improve on last year. We're looking for a solid job here to get the season off to a good start.

Q:
What is the objective for the season and do you feel ready to lead the team to some good results?

Elfyn Evans:
There's no pressure, Ott [Tanak] and I both have the same experience roughly, we've both got one season under our belts. It'll be good to help each other, I'm looking forward to working with him.

Q:
Tell me one thing you learned last year, how did last year help you?

Elfyn Evans:
Just being in the top-level class [helped]. The drivers here are always pushing so hard. In the other classes, you could sometimes relax a bit more, but here it just never seems to end. We have to keep improving and keep building.

Q:
Ice note crews are vital on this event - have you got an experienced crew?

Elfyn Evans:
Yes, dad's (Gwyndaf Evans) here. We have done a lot of work through the winter to refine what we had last year - but still it's not easy for them to interpret it. Hopefully the preparation we've done will pay off.

Q:
Are we going to see any changes and upgrades to the car this year?

Elfyn Evans:
We've got some promising upgrades coming. For the moment, we've got the paddle shift for this rally, but later on we expect some major updates - on paper they look very promising.

Q:
Thierry, the event didn't start well for you last year so what is the approach?

Thierry Neuville:
We shouldn't talk about last year, this is a black point in my calendar. This is a rally I find it difficult to adapt [to]. I don't like the roads, but one day we have to finish this event if I am going to make my future well and commit to the seasons. I need a good weekend and I need to finish all the stages to get experience on these roads.

Q:
How have the tests gone ahead of Monte-Carlo and are you feeling confident given the conditions you've seen on the recce?

Thierry Neuville:
I prepare my event the same way, we are quite professional - I just take care of myself. When the conditions change I need to slow down my rhythm.

Q:
What upgrades do you have on the car?

Thierry Neuville:
We have the same car we finished with last year. At the end of last year, we had some small delays developing the car, and the new car, but now we start again and are really focused on developing the new car - this is the one we want to fight for the title next year. We will have some upgrades for this year, we hope to achieve some better results - this year there should be some more podiums.

Q:
You took a win last season at Rallye Deutschland. Given what you know of the team, the car and yourself, can you be challenging at the front of the field this year?

Thierry Neuville:
For the moment I couldn't say we are ready. We have to work on it. Like I said, the focus is on the new car, when it's ready and competitive then we have no excuse and we should be able to fight at the front on every event.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...