Petter Solberg [Subaru]:

"It's been a good day, a very good day. I've been taking things steady, and the conditions have been difficult. I've had a good fight with Sebastien and I think it's going to stay that way for the rest of the rally. You can never afford to be too happy on the first day, there are two more to come and it's a long way to go. But, for me, it couldn't really have ended better today."

Sebastien Loeb [Citroen]:

"After the third stage this morning things couldn't have looked better. Guy [Frequelin] did speak to me in service after those two and I think maybe it was in my mind what he had said [after that]. There was a combination of this, me feeling more tense, the wrong tyres and some very good times from Petter [Solberg]."

Tommi Makinen [Subaru]:

"It's been good, an enjoyable day. We've experimented a little with tyres, but we have a set up that is good. I had to avoid some big rocks pulled out by the leading cars on the final stages, but it wasn't so bad. The plan for tomorrow is to keep Colin [McRae] behind and to go flat out. I'm enjoying my driving today and I'm hoping to do more of the same tomorrow."

Colin McRae [Citroen]:

"Part of the brake problem was air in the system - just like we had in Australia. It's really not good to have a problem like this is any stages, but especially not in these really quick ones. The last stage was much better - the brake problem was sorted, it was caused by a pads and discs problem combined with a slipping centre differential."

Harri Rovanpera [Peugeot]:

"Today has been all about finding a good feeling with the car, which took a little while longer than I would have liked. Although I'm a bit disappointed with our performance this morning, I think we have a better feeling with the car now. This is always one of the most difficult rallies of the year and there's a very long way to go."

Gilles Panizzi [Bozian / Peugeot]:

"I haven't driven on gravel since Cyprus, so today it has not been so easy. I don't have total confidence in the car - I am pushing at the maximum, but with the car set-up like it is, it's really hard to get it to do what I want. Stage six was better I had more confidence with everything, we'd changed some shock absorbers before the stage and it worked better."

Francois Duval [Ford]:

"It was very slippery this morning. As more cars passed through the stages, the roads became more slippery. We were eighth car in the order so they were really tricky by the time we started the stages. I didn't have a good feeling because of the conditions. This afternoon we had a problem in the transmission, which meant the car behaved like a rear-wheel drive car. When I braked, it started to turn in because the rear wheels locked. It was difficult to control the car properly and on two or three occasions I nearly spun.

"I've not really enjoyed today but we're still in a reasonable position. Sometimes my pace notes were a little too fast for the roads. Maybe I was too optimistic on the first day of the recce. If I have a good feeling tomorrow, I can go quicker so I will try to move up the order."

Roman Kresta [Bozian / Peugeot]:

"I think I can be satisfied. All but the last two of today's tests were very slippery, with stones and ruts covering the roads. One never knows what can happen especially when driving fast. I simply picked my pace and was driving up to imaginary limits. The car, as well as the team has been perfectly reliable, so I drove with calmness in my mind. I am also happy with my new suspension set-up, though I have been trying little variations to see how much further I can improve. I think the car is at its limits, on the other hand, I feel I have some hidden reserves within myself, which is always something I must continue to discover and use to my advantage. I believe I can still drive better on Saturday and Sunday."

Freddy Loix [Peugeot]:

"I always knew that this rally was going to be difficult under the circumstances, so I am not too disappointed with our performance today. The biggest problem I had was fine-tuning the suspension to suit my style. I still found the car quite hard and aggressive, so I progressively softened it and the feeling got much better. I'm happy to already be in a points-scoring place for Peugeot, so we will see what tomorrow will bring us."

Didier Auriol [Skoda]:

"This has been a very difficult day. The car wasn't right, but then at the start of SS6 it felt good. It felt good for 21km, then it was finished. It did not work after that. We have some work to do to get it right for tomorrow. It's a bit of a mystery because we can't seem to find a solution. Possibly it is an electronic problem so must look hard to solve it."

Toni Gardemeister [Skoda]:

"It has been a frustrating day because our overall position does not really reflect our performance on the stages. I drove at 110 per cent and we saw how fast the Fabia WRC can be on gravel. Seventh fastest on SS4 was great and I might have been as quick on SS5 but I hit a bump so hard that the front spoiler came off, got stuck on top of the bonnet and I couldn't really see where I was going!"

Notable retirements:

Carlos Sainz [Citroen]: [retired in SS3 - went off the road]

"I heard Marc tell me it was a third-gear corner, but it simply didn't register with me - I went into the corner still in fifth. We slid off the road and that was the end. The car was not damaged, but it had slid nose first down a steep bank. There was no way we could get back. I'm so disappointed to end a rally which had offered so much in this way."

Mikko Hirvonen [Ford]: [retired in SS3 - lost left rear wheel]

"It was my fault. I hit a rock on a straight section before a bend and the impact ripped off the left rear wheel. As a result we went into the next corner sideways because now we had no brakes either. The car went off the road and rolled slowly. There were many spectators there who righted the car and we continued to the next junction but with no wheel and no brakes, we couldn't carry on. I started the year badly with an accident in Monte Carlo and I've ended it in the same way."

Marcus Gronholm [Peugeot]: [retired after SS3 - having gone off the road]

"It was a silly mistake, as I actually had the place marked in my notes. It was a left-hand corner quite early in the stage and for some reason I ended up cutting the corner and hitting the log. It was quite high speed so I damaged the wheel straight away and I knew we would have problems. We got out of the stage slowly and would have made it back to service, but the police stopped us. It doesn't matter anyway as we had lost so much time by then. Now I'm just looking forward to next year!"

Markko Martin [Ford]: [retired before the start of SS4 - engine]

"It is very disappointing to go out so early on this event. We never got a clean stage to look at the times, but I know we could have won here. Now I'm going to go home and take a break from rallying. I'm quite tired after such a busy end to the season."

Team Principals:

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

"We predicted some drama for today and our strategy was not to be a part of it. Petter has done a fantastic job. He's kept ahead of Sebastien and things seem to be going exactly according to plan. Tommi too has enjoyed a great run and its good to see him on the Leg one podium. Both drivers are anticipating a tough, but enjoyable fight tomorrow and are looking forward to it. The lesson from today is that the rally is living up to its reputation for drama and we'll be bearing that in mind tomorrow."

Guy Frequelin [Citroen Sport - team principal]:

"This is a difficult situation to manage. I must, however, place the emphasis on the Manufacturers' title."

Malcolm Wilson [Ford Rallye Sport - team director]:

"I felt this was a rally where we could make a big impact with Markko. I thought victory was possible but it wasn't to be. Francois is under orders to drive steadily and finish and he has done that today."

Petr Kohoutek [Skoda Motorsport - director of motorsport]:

"It has been a typically difficult day on this rally and we could easily have been in the top ten tonight. Unfortunately both drivers have suffered technical problems that have held them back from the result they deserved."

 

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