Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Kronos Citroen), Petter Solberg and Phil Mills (Subaru WRT) and Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor (OMV Peugeot Norway WRT).

Team principal: Marc van Dalen (Kronos Citroen).

Press conference.

Welcome to the final FIA press conference. Joining us are winners Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena from Total Kronos Citroen, Petter Solberg and Phil Mills, who finished second for the Subaru World Rally Team, and Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor who took third for OMV Peugeot Norway. Marc van Dalen is also in attendance as the representative of the winning manufacturer.

Seb. Congratulations on your first win of the year, which puts you in a five-point lead in the World Championship. You had a big fight with Petter throughout the rally, but moved significantly ahead last night after Petter had a steering problem at the end of the day. Without Petter's problem, do you still think you could have beaten him?

Sebastien Loeb:
It's difficult to say, it was close. Petter lost 30 seconds with his problem yesterday, but I lost 30 seconds on day one when I was cleaning the road. It was a good fight, really interesting. Then I had a more comfortable lead for today and it was easier for me to finish the rally in this position. Then also on the first leg we had Mikko and Marcus, we will have some nice fights in the future. It's interesting to drive like this, when you fight for seconds in a 25 kilometre stage, very exciting. We had some very good moments on this rally. The car was perfect; we had no problems all weekend.

How difficult was this victory for you? Many drivers complained of animals on the road: did you hit anything?

Daniel Elena:
The temperature is very hot in the car because the engine needs heating, so we sit there all day with the heater on - it's not easy, I don't like that. The roads were okay, but on day one, on SS6, we saw four dogs, then yesterday you have the cow. Manfred touched it, then Petter touched the dog. It's very dangerous. If you don't want to compromise the result, the solution is to check for animals on the stages.

Petter, you said you felt very confident but then you had a steering problem which ruined your chances of victory. What exactly happened? Did you still think this morning that you might have a chance of catching Sebastien? Without the problem, do you think that you would have won the rally?

Petter Solberg:
Well, we were flat out. We tried to get some time from Loeb, on the last split we were five seconds ahead. We came downhill, very sideways into a corner. I hit a rock a little bit and then lost the power steering. I said I broke it, but the engineers tell me from the data it was a leak from one of the pipes; it happened before I hit the rock. It was very unlucky, we pushed very hard so we wouldn't lose too much more than 22 seconds. I didn't think I could win, not really after the Super Special. We tried hard from the start this morning, it came up to minus one but when there was still a long way to go, it was difficult.

Phil, Daniel was telling us about how he and Seb hit a dog. Did you have problems too?

Phil Mills:
We did. Yesterday especially. On every stage we saw a dog, a donkey, a goat, cow... everything. I actually got quite concerned at one point. We've all seen what hitting an animal at high speed can do. We spoke to the organisers and today there was nothing at all. Hopefully that problem has gone away now.

Congratulations on another podium place Manfred - your first with the Peugeot 307 WRC. You had quite a big gap to Sebastien and Petter in front, but Daniel Sordo seemed to be coming up quickly behind you. How difficult was it to stay in front of him?

Manfred Stohl:
In the rally everything can happen. He was very inconsistent, he would make one good time then one bad time. I knew if he was doing it all the time, we knew what he could do - but in the end it was okay.

This result has also reinforced OMV Peugeot's third place in the Manufacturers' Championship. Judging from the performance you have seen in the three rallies so far, how realistic is it for the team to finish in the top three manufacturers at the end of the year? How high in the Drivers' Championship do you think you and Manfred might be placed?

Ilka Minor:
This is difficult to say. We had a very good run in Monte Carlo and then a good start in Sweden before the accident. We make some big improvements on the car and hopefully we can make some more podiums and more good results, but to keep third place is going to be difficult.

Congratulations Marc. How hard was it for Kronos to achieve this win, given that the team has never been to Mexico before? Did the early retirement of Xevi Pons cause you some concern about Seb?

Marc van Dalen:
It's hard work from the middle of last year to achieve this deal. It's really not been easy to convince the sponsors of what we were trying to do and to get them involved. Today I'm so proud, first to be ready for Monte Carlo and then to make this result. I want to thank Sebastien and Daniel. We're so proud to win our first WRC round. It's a dream come true for everybody. We weren't worried about the engine problem, it was a plug which broke on Xevi's car; it wasn't directly involved with the engine. We checked Sebastien's engine, but it was okay - it wasn't directly linked.

This gives you a Championship advantage of five points over Marcus and now we head for Spain and Corsica, which has been extremely successful for you in the past. Is this the best opportunity for you to make up points of the season? How confident are you feeling now?

I hope to make up some more points in the next rallies. I know on tarmac we usually go well and I've won a few rallies on tarmac. Our car and tyres work well on this surface. I hope we can win some other rallies.

Daniel, What do you think of Catalunya and Corsica, can you win?

Yeah, sure. You see for the first time we won Corsica and Catalunya last year, but it was not easy. They seem to get faster each year, but you can still make a mistake, we will see at the end of the race.

Petter, how worried are you about the two asphalt rallies that are coming up next? Sebastien has been stronger than you there in the past. Do you think you will be able to fight on equal terms with him again?

No, we have to be positive. We're going to have some testing next week and we'll try very hard. Pirelli has some new tyres, if they come with some big improvements - as we hope - then we have a good chance of winning on tarmac. We're not far away. If we work as a team then I think it is possible.

Now you've got some points on the board, how much does that increase your confidence? How much pressure to score points were you and Petter under here? Was that pressure a distraction for you both on the event?

We go to every rally with the approach to win it. It does do the confidence good to get points. Coming here with nothing was strange. We start every rally with the approach to win it, that's what it'll be for the next 14, 13 whatever we have left. I don't think we were really conscious of the pressure. We just wanted a strong finish, then we took the lead and the whole thing got quite interesting.

What about you, Petter?

To have zero points is not very cool, is it? With everything that happened it's been quite difficult. I'm very happy with second, unfortunately we could have had a great battle, but we had a boring day. We want more points. If we can come a little closer now, then we can take more risks, but points are the important thing now.

You altered the set-up a bit during the first day of the rally - which changes did you make? Are you now happy with the way the Peugeot handles on gravel? What do you think of the car generally?

The biggest mistake was not expecting the road to be so loose on top. I changed suspension and the anti-roll bars which gave me more confidence in the car, but still it was not perfect. On this surface, the feeling in the car is perfect, but the times are not perfect so we have to work on that. I don't know too much about the car on this surface, I was much happier on the snow.

Neither of you have ever been to Mexico before, but you know the stages in France and Spain a bit better. How much do you think that will help your performance? Do you think that is possible to have another podium on the asphalt rallies?

The experience is less than here. We did Spain in 2001, but tarmac is not our specialist thing. Manfred doesn't like it and I don't like it. We just hope we can make a good position.

There have been some reports in the press recently that Kronos will continue to run the Citroen programme next year with the C4 - is this correct? How exactly will the collaboration between Citroen Sport and Kronos work?

This is the first time I read about it. It was a great opportunity to run Sebastien and Xevi Pons this year, like we did with Manfred and Ilka last year. We run cars at a very high level, which means we have the best drivers. We will see, I hope the result we did so far will help in the future, but we are not expecting to run the C4 next year.


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