Sebastien Loeb [Citroen]:

"I am pushing hard, but I was a surprised when I saw the times for SS6. Last year I struggled on this rally, I wasn't very happy with it, but now things seem to be going well and I am really happy to be leading. I am a little bit sad for Marcus, but not too much! I think I can win this rally, but there is a very long way to go yet. It's going to be a big fight."

Petter Solberg [Subaru]:

"It's too bad what happened to Marcus. Sebastien has been very impressive and quick, and it will be a very good fight for the next two days. But don't forget, this is only Friday, it's just a warm up, we're not taking big risks. But we're in a good fighting position and we'll push a bit more tomorrow."

Richard Burns [Peugeot]:

"We've been running first on the road all day, so to end up third at the end of it is better than I expected. The car has felt great, and we've just been concentrating on not making any mistakes. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's stages and I think they will suit me well."

Tommi Makinen [Subaru]:

"On the last stage [SS9] 3kms from the start the power steering felt very stiff and we lost a little time, but overall things are okay. For now, we have a serious plan to catch Richard. We still have two more days to go and I'm aiming to finish on the podium."

Markko Martin [Ford]:

"I made some silly mistakes which I've not done all year. It cost us a lot of time and our chance of victory. I would not give myself many marks out of 10 today but I think a podium position is a reasonable target. Our pace notes aren't so good so it's hard to fight that much but there's still two more long days remaining so a lot can happen."

Carlos Sainz [Citroen]:

"This morning the car was understeering its way into corners and then oversteering its way out. We made some changes, but then went back to the original set-up. When I rolled [in SS8], I came out of the trees and the sun hit me, I missed the braking point, hit the bank and rolled."

Colin McRae [Citroen]:

"What could I do this morning? There was air in the system, which meant we lost the front brakes and then cooked the rears. You can't push hard when the car's like that. Things aren't looking brilliant now."

Harri Rovanpera [Peugeot]:

"On the last stages I was on completely the wrong tyre, much too hard. But it was very difficult to make the right choices today because the surfaces were so unpredictable. The good thing is that I have managed to stay out of trouble and I have every chance of pushing hard to improve my position tomorrow."

Freddy Loix [Hyundai]:

"The stages in the early afternoon were difficult because of the ruts. We changed the shocks in service before the last group of stages and there was an immediate improvement - I felt much more confident with the handling and we changed the mapping on the differentials which helped too. It meant we could keep the pressure up on Didier, Hirvonen and Duval so I think we have a good road position for tomorrow.

"Tomorrow will be interesting for me because the last two times in Australia I haven't got to the second day. Two years ago my Mitsubishi broke down and last year I put the Hyundai on it's roof so I'm feeling very positive to have got this far. Now I want to get to the end in a good position with good points."

Didier Auriol [Skoda]:

"The road conditions have been changing throughout the day. Sometimes there is quite good grip and sometimes it is impossibly slippery, often on the same stage, and it makes it very difficult to be 100 per cent committed to every corner."

Mikko Hirvonen [Ford]:

"My day has been good, bad and good. A good start this morning, a bad middle when I made a mistake over the jump, and a good end. I was surprised at my times this morning because my target for the rally is just to finish and make sure I make no mistakes. But when I put my helmet on, I forget all about that!"

Francois Duval [Ford]:

"It's not been easy. I'm lacking confidence and braking too early and we made a bad tyre choice this morning. Our pace notes haven't been perfect but I think they should be better for tomorrow's stages which are on wider roads. It's been twisty and muddy in places and I should be able to drive more naturally tomorrow."

Armin Schwarz [Hyundai]:

"We are still struggling with the rear suspension and the rear differentials are requiring more pressure to lock than usual. We're going to be the first car on the road tomorrow and even if we get some showers I don't think it will make a big difference on the stages. I can't drive the car any faster because at the moment I'm not confident enough to be able to push harder."

Toni Gardemeister [Skoda]:

"The first and last pair of forest stages were quite twisty today and that was not so easy for me. It certainly affected my last two stage times. The middle pair of stages were much smoother so I could drive more aggressively and was therefore able to set my top ten time."

Notable retirements:

Marcus Gronholm [Peugeot]: [retired after SS9 - withdrew]

"I prefer to concentrate my energies on the remaining four rounds of the World Championship now, as it would have been impossible to get a good result here after all that time was lost. It was a totally stupid mistake - especially as I was not even pushing hard. We just got too tight into the hairpin and I went off backwards at less than 10 kilometres an hour. The front wheels were still on the road but the car was stuck. Eventually I managed to get going again, but we took the decision to stop after the next stage."

Team Principals:

Guy Frequelin [Citroen Sport - team principal]:

"It's really fantastic! But Sebastien doesn't surprise me anymore, because I know he's able to achieve excellent results."

David Lapworth [Subaru World Rally Team - team principal]:

"Petter's got off to a very good start today, he set a consistently fast pace and is nicely poised to fight with Sebastien tomorrow. Tommi too has put in a good solid drive. He's kept in touch with the leaders and is well placed for a good podium finish. The tricky conditions we've experienced have seemed to suit our car and team today and we're feeling positive ahead of tomorrow's second Leg."

Malcolm Wilson [Ford Rallye Sport - team director]:

"Markko is in a solid position considering the difficult day that he's had. I think third is achievable if the final two days go better for him. It's uncharacteristic of him to make the kind of mistakes he has today. I'm disappointed with Francois' position tonight. He's had no problems and is competing here for the third time so I hope he can make up ground tomorrow."

Pavel Janeba [Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team - team principal]:

"I have to give a lot of praise to both Toni and Didier. Their performance has been excellent considering that both drivers have had less than ideal preparation for this very difficult rally. We have also not been able to test the car ahead of this event because of the regulations and so I am pleased that we have been able to produce a solid performance today."

 

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