Rallye de France press conference
With Loeb, Muller, Ogier, Latvala, Jourdain, Arzeno & Kosciuszko
Q: Seb, a big weekend for you here in Alsace, the prospect of a 60th WRC win and clinching your seventh Drivers title – all in front of a home crowd. How much pressure are you feeling going into this weekend?
SL: Yes, we do have more pressure here, but we just need to deal with it. The stages are fast and difficult and it might be slippery. Before speaking about Sunday, there is a lot of work to do.
Q: Everywhere you turn here there are images of you! Everyone is Loeb crazy! How are you coping with the attention – is it more than you have ever experienced before?
SL: I have more attention from the media and the fans than in the past. I must protect myself, prepare for the rally and concentrate as much as possible. It’s ok, we will find a solution.
Q: As we are on home territory for you do you know these stages well, are there sections on which you have competed before?
SL: Regarding the stages, I can remember one stage – at least one long part of one stage – that I drove probably in 2001 and 2003, but I haven’t driven here since then. I hope to find a good feeling, and I can sometimes be good on tarmac...
Q: We read recently that next year maybe your last in the WRC – is that the plan?
SL: As for 2011, I can tell you I will be there, but I have not made any decision regarding 2012 yet, I will think of it next year.
Q: Yvan, welcome to the WRC. This is also home territory for you, but maybe you are more at home on a circuit than the stages! What has prompted you to compete here this weekend?
YM: This is my very first time at WRC level and I feel quite bad! I spent a lot of energy during the recce but I feel pleased to be here. It’s a home rally but there is no circuit in the area! Why am I here? Well, I have decided that this was the moment. I have always said I would try one day.
Q: You are competing alongside Petter Solberg this weekend, how much advice has he given you?
YM: Petter is a great help and gives me a lot of advice, but even too much! I can’t listen to all of it. I imagine that the difference between circuits and rallies is the same one you find between football and rugby.
Q: What will be your approach this weekend and what is your aim?
YM: My target here is to finish the rally, have experience and fun. I have no ambition for results.
Q: Sébastien, a great result for you in Japan just a few weeks ago, your second win of the season and now we come back to tarmac in your home country. How are you feeling about the weekend ahead?
SO: I am very happy to be competing at home and I have a very good feeling.
Q: You have been on the podium at the past three events; do you feel it’s possible to do the same here?
SO: I believe a podium is possible as this is going to be a first rally for everyone. I believe I will maybe take more risks to try and be closer to Seb (Loeb). The second loop might be tricky but we have a good starting position.
Q: The battle maybe nearly over for the title, but it’s still on for second position, which you currently hold. What would it mean to you to be able to achieve second in the series this year?
SO: It’s fantastic if I can be second for the Championship. I need to finish well if I want to keep my position as vice champion. I focus on this rally, but I don’t forget the WRC (Championship).
Q: Jari-Matti the last time we saw you compete on tarmac was in Germany where you secured fourth position. You said after the event you felt more confident on this surface – can that confidence help you achieve a podium here this weekend?
J-ML: I have a good feeling and good confidence, and we made a good recce, but the conditions can be very tricky.
Q: How would you describe this event? We seem to have a variety of different areas; is it like Germany in the sense that there are three very separate days in terms of character?
J-ML: The stages are more demanding than in Germany. I hope to fight in the top five. The stages are very good and fast on Friday, and more technical with more junctions on Saturday. I believe we will have mixed weather conditions, but I would prefer dry conditions. It could be slippery, but we can’t chose!
Q: You are currently third in the Drivers’ standings, with Petter 14 points behind and Ogier 26 in front. How are you feeling about your position in the Championship – can you mount a challenge to achieve second overall?
J-ML: In the Championship I am closely watching Petter (Solberg) and Sébastien (Ogier). Loeb has a very strong position and it will not be easy to beat Ogier and Solberg here. I need more experience (on tarmac).
Q: We have watched you compete in the PWRC this year. You have an incredible history as a circuit racer, so why the switch to rallying?
MJ: I am very happy to be here in France. I have decided to come to this rally after some first experiences last year. I started with an historic rally last year, going from south to north of Mexico. It was my very first experience and I loved it. Then I drove the Rally of Mexico and then the sponsors came! I went to New Zealand, Finland, Japan, Germany and all the stages were very fast and tough, but I was always close to scoring points absolutely everywhere. As for the tarmac stages in France we saw some fantastic stages during the recce, especially the narrow parts in the woods. It’s possible to push really hard there. I hope to rally for some years, after 20 years on circuits. I would like to repeat some rallies and not feel as a stranger!
Q: This is the first season we have seen you compete within the JWRC. Despite some mechanical problems your pace has been impressive, how do you assess your progress this year and aims for this rally?
MA: I learn a lot for the moment. I like the stages of the first day and I hope to start a big attack. It is my home rally and I have good feelings. The podium is possible and I need results for the Championship. I want to win! The recce went ok. I was in San Remo last weekend and the car is very good.
Q: Michal, we have watched you compete in two cars this season; a Fiesta and a Skoda S2000.There have been mixed results along the way – how do you feel the season has gone and what are you hopes here?
MK: I am having my first events with the Fabia and I am very happy with the new car. I am optimistic as we have good set ups. It might become difficult with the mixed surfaces but I am happy. My struggling with confidence is over, I just focus on clean driving. The most difficult aspect for me is that the stages are very fast, as in some Polish rallies, and there is a lot of difference in the grip. You must adjust and use the pace notes to be flat out. We did the recce on mixed surfaces. I want to have fun here and I don’t want to think of points.
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