Rally de Portugal press conference - finish
With Ogier, Ingrassia, Loeb, Elena, Sordo, Marti and Quesnel
Q: Sébastien, congratulations on claiming your first WRC win! How does it feel?
SO: It’s difficult to explain the feeling now. I am very, very happy. A few weeks ago it was a big disappointment not to win (in New Zealand), but finally I knew it was a great performance and a great weekend in New Zealand. But this weekend was just perfect. We pushed very hard from the start to the last day and I have the first victory. To get this against Séb, it’s very good. He is the best driver in rally and the best in history; he is the reference for everybody.
Q: Yes, it is special to win against Sébastien Loeb, isn’t it…
SO: I was thinking, maybe it’s good to wait and to get the first victory like this.
Q: What was it like when you crossed the finish line?
SO: It was a long wait before the start of the (final) stage. Everybody started to congratulate me and I was saying: “Can’t you remember New Zealand: three corners to the end!” I prefer to wait for the finish line. It’s special and nice to win in the stadium with a lot of people and a lot of my friends.
Q: When you look back to this time last year, things were very different for you; there had been mistakes and retirements but now you have totally transformed into a consistently fast driver – when do you feel it all changed around for you?
SO: It was difficult last year, arriving in WRC without the experience is difficult. Last year, I had never driven the big car, so it was difficult to adapt to the speed. Okay it was a fantastic moment for us, but we progress with that and the team has helped us a lot. They continued to put confidence in us and I think I have to thank them. It’s thanks to Citroën that I’m here today. The second half of the (2009) season we progressed rally after rally – it’s almost perfect. Now we have the win and now we have to progress on tarmac where we don’t have a lot of experience. My next goal is to progress on tarmac.
Q: What was it like when you stood on top of the podium?
JI: It feels good, for sure. I said in New Zealand we were in progress and it was a question of time. We have to make more work in the recce and in the race. Each night we watch the video together, it’s a big job, but it’s great when you get the result like this. Mr Quesnel and the whole team trusted us and we are better today.
Q: Were there a lot of nerves coming into the final day? Did you imagine your first WRC win would come so early on in your career?
JI: I usually heard Daniel (Elena) say for sure the pressure is in tyres, but the pressure was here! This weekend we never felt stress or pressure. We drove for the good result and last night we said let’s continue like this. Today there was no pressure and we are happy because we are here. We had a little story from Daniel and Séb: they took us like rabbits and they were the hunter, we have to be fast to avoid the bullets!
Q: Séb, you take second position away from Portugal – it seems there was no catching Ogier this weekend?
SL: Basically… I try. He was really strong all the weekend, especially on the second pass he was very, very fast. We couldn’t make any difference today in the afternoon. Maybe I was not fast enough the first day; I was thinking to the mistake in New Zealand and didn’t want the same risk – I was waiting a bit that it happens. Finally, we lost a bit of time and we couldn’t catch it again. He showed me here he is faster than anybody else in the Championship. We couldn’t do anything.
Q: Citroën team boss Olivier Quesnel said there would be no team orders other than for you both to stay on the road – did you continue to push flat-out until the end of stage 17 or was there any note of caution this afternoon?
SL: I took the risk; I had to take to fight. I was pushing as hard as possible. I was confident I was driving well, there were no big moments, but on this rhythm something can happen; you know this. Okay, there were no big mistakes or moments, but for sure a few small ones. And yes, it was a big battle. In the stage we couldn’t think not to go off the road, we are 100 per cent pushing.
Q: You and Sébastien Ogier have both been brought through with the support of the FFSA, and of course Citroën. You are both incredible endorsements of the driver programme in France.
SL: Yes. A few years ago we thought the French driver can’t drive on gravel, now it seems to be okay! Now we are both French drivers fighting, it’s good for the team and for us.
Q: Daniel, this is a special day for Julien…
DE: He pays for the drinks tonight! Sure it’s a special day. I am happy for him, he works well, he’s friendly and a funny guy and tonight it’s a free night for me!
Q: You picked up some great points for the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships today.
DE: Sure, for us it’s good, we have two points more after New Zealand. Now it’s 38, not 36 and now it’s Sebastien Ogier who is second. For Citroën, it’s a good result to have the cars on the podium. It was a good race with the pressure for Citroën and (Petter) Solberg and (Mikko) Hirvonen. It was possible to have four Citroëns (in the top four positions), but Petter made the mistake. For us, for Séb, this time there were no spins, no trees and no bridge!
Q: Dani, your first podium position this year – it’s good to see you back. It’s been a tough event here in Portugal and a tough fight for that third position today!
DS: Yes I am happy to stay here at the end of the rally. I am also happy on the first day, the performance was good. On the second day we have a problem with the tyres, at the end I am third, it’s okay.
Q: You said you have felt some pressure this year – has that eased a little now that you are back on the podium?
DS: Today was nice to drive, the stages were nice and we had good split times. He (Solberg) was three seconds faster and before the stage I was four faster than him, then I was one second slower – it was really nice and to arrive at the end with it so close. It was a really nice race.
Q: Yesterday you lost some time on the afternoon stages – what happened?
DS: We broke the tyre three kilometres before the end of the stage. I make a small mistake in the hairpin, I can’t remember on which stage – it’s the race.
Q: Marc, does this result take the pressure off?
MM: This result will help a little bit. It’s also very important for the team. We have a lot of points in the pocket now and we have to be happy for Dani and me. Everybody was driving flat out – we have no team orders, it’s very nice.
Q: Olivier, Sébastien Ogier takes his first WRC victory, you must be delighted at his achievement here and during this season so far. What do you make of his performance?
OQ: Yes. This morning I was not as calm as you can imagine, I did not know what will happen. I say drive, but not out of the road – but I know it means nothing when I say this to them! Everybody asked me: “Are you sure you know what you are doing?” They pushed and pushed, but this is it. It was a regular win. Séb (Loeb) lost time on Friday. Yesterday we missed some split times and they (Loeb and Elena) lost six seconds, anyway it would have been really close. This is it; there are Citroëns on every step of the podium.
Q: The only team order was for them to finish – were there a lot of nerves back at service as they battled each other?
OQ: Everybody was nervous, especially me. It finished well and everybody is laughing, but if there was a problem it would have been a big damage for the Citroën team. What we did today for the rally was really good and for Citroën - and for the crew - it’s good for rallying today.
Q: Did you believe when we first saw Ogier back in 2008 that he would develop into a WRC event winning driver so quickly?
OQ: No. Even for this rally, I didn’t think he would be able to win. This is it, I’m pleased for him. He goes very fast for his career. But we can’t forget there are four rallies on tarmac, they need some training and my main objective is to get both titles – for Sébastien Loeb and for Citroën.
FIA SUPER 2000 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
1st - Jari Ketomaa
1st - Mika Stenberg
Q: Jari congratulations – two wins in a row!
JK: Well yes, thank you so much. It was a hard rally and the best thing was the team kept our car in good condition and it lasted until the end. I don’t complain about myself at the moment, either!
Q: We expected the competition to be close in SWRC this weekend, however the gaps in the overall classification were sizable. You seemed to stay out of trouble that some of the other drivers found.
JK: Well, it started close on Friday. The gaps between me, Nasser (Al Attiyah) and Andersson weren’t big. So with those guys, if there hadn’t been any mistakes, it would have been a tough battle. But on Friday I was getting used to the notes. It was my first time here and then on Saturday, the plan was to push and see if we can achieve more and get closer to Nasser and give more pressure. It’s rallying, anything can happen – that’s the reason for the gap.
Q: It’s been a tough event – have there been any problems at all for the Fiesta S2000?
JK: On Friday and Saturday morning I wasn’t looking after the car. I was pushing so much, but after that we reduce the speed when the gap was two minutes to the next car. Our biggest issue was Saturday evening; we missed some oil from the steering on the road section after the last stage – that was lucky this didn’t happen in the stage. The guys fixed the problem. We also had a problem yesterday evening with a leaking exhaust manifold. All these small things can cause something, but everybody needs a bit of luck – we had it and we won.
Q: What do you think for the Championship now?
JK: The most important is that we can win the rallies and be strong. I will do my best on each stage on every rally. I will do my best and try to be in the position to fight with Xevi (Pons) to win. But it’s so far away, so many corners to come – it would be a nice year.
Q: The next SWRC event for you is home – Finland. After two wins in a row do you feel you go there as favourite?
MS: I think so; this has been great, so far. I hope it will be like this in Finland also.
Q: This is a good result after the start of the season in Jordan…
MS: It was bad luck in Jordan. I hope we use all our bad luck there. Maybe it’s gone now.
Q: There was another Finn driving an S2000 car, but not scoring points. Did you keep an eye on Juho Hanninen?
MS: Just a bit! Of course we are a little interested in his times.
FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
1st - Kevin Abbring
1st - Erwin Mombaerts
Q: Kevin congratulations on the second win of your JWRC career. On Friday you felt it wasn’t looking good – but here you are!
KA: It was good for us, we dropped from the lead to third place in Turkey, so this weekend it was my luck and Burkart had what we had in Turkey: he dropped from the lead to third place. It keeps the Championship very exciting.
Q: Did you think the win had gone?
KA: We came here to fight for the top three and then to fight for the win, but on the third stage we got the puncture and this cost three or four minutes. The hope was not gone, but we thought it could be tough to win.
Q: This is a tough rally isn’t it?
KA: Yes. Part of it is because of the weather. The weather was much better this time, a bit warmer. It’s worse for the tyres, especially for me. They were destroyed early with the Clio. We couldn’t push maximum in the stages, we had two slicks at the finish.
Q: And what about the Tarmac rallies coming?
KA: It’s not that bad. We have a disadvantage with the weight and brakes in the Clio, but like we have seen in Ireland a few years ago, we drove good times with the less powerful car. If it’s slippery we can make a good chance. It won’t be that bad, but it will be hard to fight for the win.
Q: How important was it for you to take maximum points here?
KA: Important. We are very happy with that. We have only five results (to count) this year – so the one taking the five results is going to be World Champion, I suppose.
Q: You said at the pre-event press conference that you were concerned for the car on the Tarmac rallies, is there anything you can do to improve the outcome when we head to Bulgaria?
KA: We hope we can do some test work and maybe we go to Ypres Rally two weeks before, so we can do some practice over there. Ypres is also good for the German rally – and of course it’s Belgium!
Q: Erwin, congratulations – did you feel all was lost after the problems on Friday?
EM: To be first, you can only continue and continue. We lost a lot of time in the third stage. How many come after? We need to continue and continue – we are not alone driving on four tyres. Everybody can have the puncture, so you don’t stress – you go, go, go.
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