Germany – post-event press conference
- 14th August 2006, 11:12am
Sébastien Loeb – Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team
Daniel Elena – Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team
Daniel Sordo – Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team
Marc Marti – Kronos Citroën World Rally Team
Marcus Grönholm – BP Ford World Rally Team
Timo Rautiainen – BP Ford World Rally Team
Representative of the winning Manufacturer Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team - Marc van Dalen
Welcome to the post-event FIA press conference of the OMV ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
Sébastien, congratulations on your fifth win in Germany - I think the only other person to win the same rally five times in a row is Tommi Makinen in Finland. And you also equal Carlos Sainz’s record of 26 world rally victories. What do you think of that? Moving onto this rally, how much of a challenge did Dani Sordo give you? The weather on the first day was tricky, but it was more constant in the second and third legs; did the event get easier for you? Were you surprised by Dani’s pace, or were you expecting him to be as quick as this?
For me, it is a very good moment to win here. I have won every time I competed in Germany. To win in these conditions is very exciting. Matching Carlos’ record was my main goal; I now have equalled it, which is a really good moment. Dani was a bit too fast in the beginning! He did a good performance, he did the same pace as me the whole time and made me push very hard to stay in front. In the future, he will be more and more a threat for me. I expected him to be fast. Together with Marcus, I ranked him as my main opponent before this rally and it shows. He has little experience here, but drove without making any errors.
Daniel, how hard did you have to push? How would you compare this event with all the other Rallye Deutschlands you have won?
On the first day, conditions were not easy with rain and dry tracks. We had a good gap in the end and maintained it on the second and third days. Compared to our other wins here, this one was more difficult because of the difficult tyre choice. We did a mistake with the tyres yesterday, Marcus did on Friday but we came out on top.
Dani, a fantastic event for you. How does it feel to share the podium with Sébastien Loeb and Marcus Gronholm again? Were you expecting this sort of result at the start of the rally? At the start of the second day, you were actually taking time out of Sébastien. Do you think you could actually have challenged him for the win?
It is very nice. This rally was very special because of the difficult conditions, but the whole team did very well and so did Marc and I. I am happy. It is difficult to say whether I could have challenged Seb for the win. At the moment, Seb is the best driver, but in the future, I don’t know.
Marc, would you have let Dani challenge for the win?
Honestly, it wasn’t difficult for us to handle. Both are very clever, professional drivers and when you are leading with one and a half minutes, there is no question to do something wrong. They are clever and understand that. It was logical to keep things like that.
Marc, congratulations. Did you have any problems at all on the event? What do you think about the way Dani drove on this rally? Has his pace surprised you? Do you see anything similar to Carlos Sainz in the way he drives?
Maybe it was less surprising for me than for other people, but given the fact that he has little experience, his performance is remarkable. We try to do our best, but still have a lot of work to do. We need to discover all the rallies and gain experience. We can benefit from that in the future. Seb is the best driver of the world, but when Carlos was driving, the Championship had less events. It is difficult to compare; in Carlos’ days, the situation was different concerning testing, cars etcetera. Now, with only two recce runs, you have to make the best out of limited possibilities.
Marcus, third place – congratulations. Was the rain on Friday your biggest problem here? If you had had the right tyres for the right conditions all the time do you think that you could have challenged the Citroëns for victory?
We were not good on Friday when it was raining and we took the wrong tyres. We were not well prepared for these conditions and that is why I lacked the confidence to go really fast. With the right tyres, we could have been closer, but not two or three minutes.
When things were going right for you, you were very fast but you also went off the road a few times. What was your biggest moment here?
The first stage already had so many big moments it would take all evening to tell about them! Maybe the biggest one was at Erzweiler where Marcus tried to avoid a stone that was on the road and we ploughed through a field for 100, 200 metres and over two ditches before getting back on the road. I am pleased to see that this rally is over and that we have made it to the finish.
Your Championship lead is now more than 30 points with seven rallies to go. You must be feeling very confident now? Can you start to relax a little bit? Will you be able to challenge Marcus for the victory in Finland?
Sure, my lead in the Championship is good, but when you start a rally like here and you know it is tricky, anything can happen. When I retire and Marcus wins, it is a completely different story. But now the situation is quite comfortable and we will try to keep on winning. I will try to win in Finland as well. Last year I was able to challenge Marcus in Finland for the first time, but it wasn’t enough. This time, we will see.
Marcus, what do you think about Finland and the Championship?
Finland will be a hard fight, with Mikko (Hirvonen) also as a contender. About the Championship, no I don’t think that our chances are any good, but we never know. For sure, Seb’s advantage is too big to catch him.
Timo, what do you reckon about the title? Is it all over?
No, it is not impossible, but firstly, we have to catch up.
Talking about Finland, what do you think your chances are there? How much does a result like this help your future and do you think you have a good chance of being Sébastien Loeb’s team- mate next year at Citroen as well?
Finland is different. It is a rally where I can learn a lot and I intend to score as many points as possible for the team. I hope that this result helps me to stay. Sébastien is a very good team-mate and teacher for me.
One of the keys to this event was making the right tyre choice. Seb and Daniel always seemed to be on the right tyres for the conditions; how did you manage to get the correct information? Why do you think you were better at forecasting the weather than everybody else?
I think it was real teamwork. We are lucky to have Météo France as a partner and they helped us a lot during the rally, and so do the people of BFGoodrich. We get a lot of feedback, also from the team and the driver, and when it comes down to making the final choice, we are usually down to choosing from only two tyres, which makes it easier. The drivers have the final say.
How confident are you feeling now for the Championship? A one-two is a perfect result and it’s beginning to give you a good lead now.
This score is a dream for is. Everybody knows our situation and it is not easy as Sébastien is leaving at the end of the season. We have to enjoy it as long as he is there and celebrate the success. The motivation for everybody is 100 percent.
2006 FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Now for the final press conference of the FIA JWRC, we have the winning crew of Kris Meeke and Glenn Patterson.
Kris, an extraordinary event for you including punctures, brake problems, rain, tyre swaps, you name it. Talk us through it.
It was a good start. The first stage was cancelled for us, we had a lead of 20 seconds after SS3, but then we had problems with the brakes on the road section towards SS4. We only had the handbrake to use for the 20 kilometre stage and it stopped working halfway through. It was really challenging and scary. We tried to fight back after that, but the cancellation of some more stages limited our possibilities. At Bosenberg, we had a puncture and changed it in under one minute which kept us in the hunt. After nine stages, we were 1 minute 35 seconds down. The car and the tyres were working well, the whole package was really good and at Baumholder, I had a lot of confidence. This morning, we just did a nice pace with which we were comfortable and finally, the win was ours.
You’ve won before but this must be the one that will stick in your mind.
I have to ask Sébastien how to win this one easily, but overcoming all these problems and still getting a result makes things special. We are now in a good shape for Finland on the back of this result.
Congratulations Glenn. When you dropped all that time, did you think that victory was still possible?
When we finished the stage, the first thing Kris said to me was that it would be possible to win. We won back quite a lot of time.
How difficult did the weather conditions make this rally? Was it one of the most difficult events you have contested? You seemed to have a lot more speed than the other competitors here – where did you find it from? Were you worried about reliability at all, going at that pace?
I have the experience of last year’s rally and we were fighting for stage wins at every stage. The speed was there last year where I matched Dani and we continued this year. I had full confidence in the car and it was a magic feeling when it was working. Monte Carlo is always difficult with the ice, but here, the weather is so changeable and it can be as slippery as ice. Through Baumholder, the surface changes every 200, 300 metres. Your notes have to be accurate. It is so easy to have an accident, you have to be careful. I just had to push.
How does this put you in the whole Championship frame now? Are you in contention for the win this year?
I think we are now fifth, so it sets us up for Finland. It would be special to repeat this in Finland, but it will be more difficult as there are more drivers there.
Now we move onto Rally Finland, which should be an exciting event as we will have a full JWRC field. What sort of result do you think you are capable of?
Anything is possible and for sure, the Championship is on. We are only halfway through the season and everything is working well for me and the team. We are concentrating all the time to stay clear of any problems.
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