Three questions to Sébastien Loeb prior to Rally of Turkey

The 2010 season’s got off to a good start for you with a second place and then two victories. You’ve already built up a good lead…

"That makes me smile as some said that my second place in Sweden showed a drop in motivation on my part! Just so as there’s no misunderstanding, I have no intention of stopping the clock at fifty-six victories. What’s interesting is that the 2010 season doesn’t boil down to a duel between Mikko Hirvonen and me. There’s also Jari-Matti Latvala, who now seems able to combine speed and consistency, as well as Petter Solberg and Sébastien Ogier. They’ll all able to fight at the front and that includes Dani too. For the moment that plays in my favour but it could also make my job more difficult.”

Rally Turkey is being held on a new route. What does that change for you?

“I’m going to have to concentrate a lot more during reconnaissance. When we’ve got our old notes and the route hasn’t changed all that much in relation to the previous event, I know where the major traps and bumps are and I don’t have to worry too much. In this case, we just fine-tune the details. When we reconnoitre a stage for the first time it’s a lot more complicated. At 70 km/h (NB: in reconnaissance, the speed is limited and checked by GPS), I have to try and imagine at what speed we’ll arrive there in the race to note the corners and the bumps. First time through in the rally we always give ourselves a bigger scare than usual! So it’s preferable to allow yourself a bit more leeway and then correct the notes for the second run.”

Once again sweeping will be a sore point…

“Yes, and I don’t like that very much. It’s a shame that all the attention is focused on this aspect rather than on the battle between the crews. My point of view hasn’t changed for over two years. I think that reversing the running order of the first fifteen on the second and third days is the best solution. There are no calculations to be made and everybody has to push from start to finish. The idea of using the shakedown as a form of qualifying to allow the drivers to choose their starting order makes sense too. Whatever! I just hope that the FIA will soon modify the regulations to give everybody a level playing field.”

Three questions to Kimi Räikkönen ahead of Rally Turkey

You scored your first World Rally Championship points in Jordan. Was that the first mission accomplished for this season?

“My only aim on my third WRC event with the C4 was just to reach the finish in Jordan. We saw particularly difficult road conditions with very specialised stages, which were extremely slippery and had very few reference points. The first day was definitely the hardest one I have ever contested throughout my short career in rallying. So I was really pleased to get through all these hazards and not to make any big mistakes. We weren’t particularly quick but this is just a phase we have to go through in order to make progress.”

How do you see your progress at the wheel of the Citroën C4 WRC?

“The terrain in Jordan was very difficult to Mexico. Over in Mexico, I felt quite confident. So I decided to push a little bit harder and then I went off. In Jordan, we decided to stay at a safe pace in order to be sure of getting to the finish. But I learn more about the Citroën C4 WRC and how to drive it with every kilometre. At the end of each stage, I have the feeling that I’ve learned a bit more. I’m beginning to feel more comfortable, and perhaps most importantly of all, I’m really enjoying myself in the WRC!”

Will the kilometres you covered in Jordan allow you to approach the Rally of Turkey with more confidence?

“Once more, we’re going to be discovering a very different environment in Turkey. The experience is coming to us step by step, but each rally is new. Once more, the goal is to be there at the finish. We’ll see where we are at after the start of the rally and if we get the chance, we will try to reduce the gap to the leaders a bit.”

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