Petter Solberg [Subaru]:

"What can I say, I'm just about speechless, it's hard to put what I'm feeling into words. It's such a great way to finish the year, it's been hard at times and now it's just the greatest feeling. I have to thank so many people - in the team, at Subaru in Japan, at Pirelli - it's a fantastic effort. This just proves that the more you put in the more you get out and now I'm here as World Rally Champion! I'd like to thank Tommi for his support over the last two years, he's been a great team-mate and friend and I'd like to dedicate this win to him."

Sebastien Loeb [Citroen]:

"It has been a difficult rally for me. I had to try to drive fast for myself but steady enough to stay on the road for the team. It has not been easy, but I'm here, second in the championship and first for the team."

Tommi Makinen [Subaru]:

"I'm very happy to finish like this, it's my best result in GB and not really a bad way to finish my career. It's been quite a strange feeling for me this weekend, knowing that this could be the last time I drive a WRC car, but it's been very good, I've really enjoyed driving and for sure I'll miss it. I'm so happy for Petter though, we've had a lot of fun together over the past two years and he really deserves this result. There are so may people to thank, not just now, but for my whole career and I'm very grateful for everyone's help in making my time in the WRC so special. I suppose it'll seem a bit strange not having to get ready for Monte Carlo next year. I'll be there for sure, but as a spectator instead next time."

Colin McRae [Citroen]:

"I slowed right down today - it was very important for us to get to the finish and help Citroen win the title - which is a great achievement for the team. The rally has been okay, but once Carlos went out on the first day it was clear that we had to get some points which was always going to make it difficult to attack and try to get past Tommi. There was a rough section with lots of really sharp stones in the earlier part of the last stage; it must have been there that we picked it [the puncture] up."

Francois Duval [Ford]:

"It's been a difficult event because the roads were so slippery. I don't enjoy the mud but despite that I've achieved a good result and a better one than I expected. I've driven cautiously throughout the rally because it was important to finish, both for my experience on the stages and to fine-tune our pace notes for the future. My confidence wasn't good on the opening day but it improved and the Focus has again been perfect today."

Freddy Loix [Peugeot]:

"I always knew this would be a very tough rally, as I had so much to learn. The 206 WRC is very competitive, but it is not so easy to drive quickly straight away, as it is very complex. I was learning all the time, but I think I only found a good feeling towards the end of the rally when I went on the softest possible suspension setting. This has been a really useful experience, because it means that I can come to Peugeot next year with a good idea of how the team operates."

Roman Kresta [Bozian / Peugeot]:

"I am pleased with the overall outcome and especially with the drivers' point. Without a doubt, this is a result of my year-long campaign as well as hard work we have done jointly with Bozian Racing team ever since the pre-Monte Carlo test the team had organised prior to the season's opener.

"I started the rally in a good tempo and very relaxed which even enabled me to go faster as the event unfolded. I tried my best on Sunday too, but refused to take any extra big risks. I feel sorry to have lost the time on the start of the eleventh test, however, this is reality and sometimes one needs a bit of luck on top of doing well. My deep thanks go to all at Bozian Racing and Peugeot Sport for giving me a great car and support for this event as I enjoyed a completely trouble-free run."

Jari-Matti Latvala [M-Sport / Ford]:

"This is a great result for me and I'm delighted. I've tried not to take any risks because it was important for me to learn about this rally. I've had a difficult second half of the year but to end with a victory on the final round of the British Championship last month and a top 10 result here is great."

Didier Auriol [Skoda]:

"When I saw Toni off the road I backed off completely to make sure that I scored two points for the team. It had rained last night and the roads were quite slippery so there was no need to take chances. It has been a difficult event as usual so I'm happy to be at the finish."

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."

Gilles Panizzi [Bozian / Peugeot]: [retired before the start of SS8 - transmission]

No comment.

Harri Rovanpera [Peugeot]: [retired in SS16 - transmission]

"It's a real pity as it was going well and I think we would have finished and scored some points. I heard a noise from the gearbox about two kilometres into the stage, and finally it failed eight kilometres later. This hasn't been an easy rally for me as it took a while to find a good feeling. But I'm hoping for much better things next year!"

Toni Gardemeister [Skoda]: [retired in SS16 - went off the road]

"We went off the road on a right-hand corner. It was really difficult to get it going again, we would have needed maybe 100 spectators to push the car back onto the road. Even if we'd managed that then with the damage to the left-front corner, maybe we wouldn't have been able to carry on. It's a disappointing finish to a pretty disappointing event for us. We had many problems earlier in the rally, but when the car was okay - it was working quite well."

Team Principals:

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

"What a fantastic result and an excellent, calculated drive from Petter - he kept his cool all the way through. It's incredible when you think that it was only a year ago that he took his first ever WRC win. He's scored five wins in the last fifteen rallies, and four in the last eight. That's pretty impressive. This year has the best ever Championship for the team, a lot of people wrote Petter off in the fight for the Championship in the early part of the season, but I think today answers that. It was fantastic to see Tommi win his long battle with Colin, and finish on the podium, despite having been conducting a tyre test for Petter along the way. The gold boots did the trick, and it's an excellent end to his full-time driving career. Expect to see Petter in them from Monte Carlo next year!"

Guy Frequelin [Citroen Sport - team principal]:

"I am happy and proud of the way that the team has been able to react during the difficult times, to take care of the priorities, to surpass itself! I am disappointed for 'Seb', who deserved the crown this year, but less than I was on Friday. Just like Sebastien, I realised that it would have been very difficult to catch Petter Solberg.

"As this championship draws to a close. I would like to emphasise just how important the role of Carlos and Colin has been in claiming this Manufacturers' title. We knew that they would bring experience to the team, and we have not been disappointed. We have been able to get to know two accomplished sportsmen, two real professionals, great champions and men with whom we have spent a very pleasant year. This title, that we will celebrate and savour, makes us, from now on, a team to be reckoned with. We will start preparations immediately in order to take on this new status!"

Malcolm Wilson [Ford Rallye Sport - team director]:

"It's incredible [to score points on every round this year]. We were proud to achieve it last season and to repeat the feat again in 2003 is quite remarkable. World championship rallying today is probably the most competitive form of motorsport anywhere and to score points for 28 consecutive rallies, a record spanning two complete seasons, confirms the strength and speed of the Focus RS. We introduced a radical new car earlier this season and if there was any time when we were going to lose our record, it was in the early days then. But we didn't and that's a tribute to the hard work of everyone in the team, from the drivers and co-drivers to the engineers and technicians."

Corrado Provera [Peugeot Sport - team principal]:

"We came into this rally with strong hopes of making up the five points we needed to become manufacturers champions. But straight away our chances were damaged by Richard's illness, which meant that we lost one of our best drivers and the person who knew best the limits of this rally. Then Marcus went off on the third stage, and we realised that our chances of winning the title were lost. I'd like to congratulate Citroen who have beaten us because they were better, more consistent, and more reliable. The manufacturers' title remains not far away from us in France, which makes it easier to take back next year! As for the drivers' title, Marcus won it last year in a French car, and I'm sad that now it is leaving France. But I promise we will be back..."

Petr Kohoutek [Skoda Motorsport - director of motorsport]:

"This has been an important year for Skoda Motorsport. We introduced our new car that contains the very latest technology and set about developing it in public which is always a big risk. Some things have worked well and others not so well but these are all important lessons. Next season we must take the information we now have and develop the car further so that we can have the best opportunity to achieve our aim of being fully competitive in time for the 2005 championship."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...