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One week after his mountain bike accident, Sébastien talks about how he’s feeling and how he sees the end of the championship in 2006.

So, how are you physically and mentally?
Sébastien Loeb: “I am ok, even if I don’t sleep really well. The pain is quite strong and I feel it even more at night. I also try to keep the spirit! It’s a difficult situation to accept. If you think about it, for me having to stay at home after a mountain bike accident when I usually drive at more than 200 km/h in between the trees, it’s weird! But what can we do? We cannot go back and now my new target is to come back in top form as soon as possible.”

Do you have an idea of how long it will take you to recover 100%?
“No as my doctor told me it really depends on the person. Some recover quicker than the others. All I know is that for Turkey, it’s too short. Now I haven’t given up for the three last rallies. I know it’s not easy but according to the first conclusions, the trend seems to indicate a quicker recovery than expected. I had encouraging physiotherapy sessions and I saw the doctor this morning who told me it was going ok. The pain on the side, we can be optimistic.”

Do you have more medical checks planned?
“Yes on a regular basis. I had one on Friday, then another one today. I am followed by the Doctor Farron. He operated on me last week and he is specialised in the shoulder. He told me that as far as mobility was concerned, I was running ahead of schedule. It’s a good sign! My arm isn’t as swollen as it was before and this is going better than expected. Dr Farron is usually quite pessimistic not to give false hopes, so when he said that everything looked to be going in the right direction I was happy.”

How is your rehabilitation planned?
“I have 3 appointments per week in the hospital to monitor my arm’s evolution. They inserted some brooches in it but I don’t wear any plaster. However I must not use my shoulder, but I should continue to move my hand, my fingers, my fore arm and my elbow to keep the muscles going. I have a support for my arm to keep it against my body, but I can take it off to exercise. I see a therapist every two days. There’s no need to do more. I listen and do exactly what the doctors are telling me. I trust them entirely. Now I need to learn to be patient and that’s the hardest.”

The rehabilitation scheme on side, what else can you do during your convalescence?
“Not much for the moment actually. I’ve asked the doctor this morning if I could do some indoor exercise like cycling, but this time with a bike deeply fixed to the ground and with no wheels ! He answered that I should wait a bit longer and that I shouldn’t go too fast. I still feel some side effects of the operation.”

So you play with your Playstation then?
“Yes a little bit with the steering wheel and with only one hand ! Like a tourist who drives down South in the summer time with the arm at the window! But my hand is on my tummy!”

If Marcus Grönholm experienced a technical problem in Turkey, Daniel and you would be World Champions. Would you still try to come and participate on the three last event of the season?
“I am not the one deciding. The doctors will tell me when I could go back to driving. If they say it’s ok for Australia, believe me, no one would have to beg me to come back. If I haven’t 100 % recovered after New Zealand and if Marcus has won the three preceding rounds, we would have to see what to do for Great Britain and maybe try to score the missing points for our third world title. Of course, if there are no risks for my shoulder. Anyway, I have in mind to be fit again before the RAC.”

How have Marc Van Dalen and Guy Fréquelin reacted when you told them about your fractures?
“Exactly like when you announce bad news to someone! Of course they were disappointed but they didn’t blame me. First of all they were worried about my health condition before trying to sort out the situation for the rest of the championship, and find a solution to try and clinch both titles. I am sorry for them because I really wanted to offer the world crown to Kronos. They did a fantastic job all year round and I hope I haven’t spoiled all their chances.”

Have other drivers called you?
“Yes, Carlos Sainz, Ari Vatanen, Eric Hélary, Soheil Ayari, amongst others have rung to see how I was”

Within a few days, you have received over a thousand messages from your fans on your website. Do you realise your popularity?
“Yes, but I am still surprised and it really pleases me. I wasn’t expecting as much support. I can assure you that in those moments, this is just great. By the way, I would like to thank all the people who have shown me their sympathy. When I was in hospital, I had the time to read all those messages. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t sleep. The night nurse came round to bring them coming from everywhere in the world. I cannot tell you how nice it was for me. I also wanted to thank the media who have respected my rest just after my operation. I wasn’t in the best conditions to answers any questions with tubes in my nose and my head not really clear.”

Do you think Citroën will still allow you to train on your mountain bike next year?
“Good question! I don’t know but normally when you go for a mountain bike session, you don’t really think to come back with a destroyed shoulder. You don’t have the feeling to take more risks than at the start of the Rally of Finland. I need to exercise and where I live now, it’s fab’ for mountain biking. There nice uphill sections as well as downhill ones. Maybe I will try to simply go uphill to avoid falling off.”

What is Colin McRae’s job in Turkey?
“His mission will be to make Marcus’ task harder. Today the pressure is on his (Marcus) shoulders because if he wants the world title, he hasn’t got the right to make a mistake.”

Do you agree with this choice?
“Yes. On the list of available drivers, Colin is the most experienced one, with the best record and on top of that, he knows the Xsara well. There aren’t many drivers who can rival with Marcus. I think Colin is the one who has best chances to come and ‘tickle’ him as well as bringing big points for the championship to Kronos. There were three possibilities. Martin, Galli and McRae. It’s not easy to say which driver suits the situation better. It has been a while that Markko Martin has lost contact with the championship and he also left the business in difficult circumstances. Galli is without any doubt the one with the most assiduity in the current championship, but he clearly has less experience than McRae. I really think that Colin is a good choice.”

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