WRC - Rally Espana: Conference 2
Post-event press conference organised by the FIA
RALLYRACC CATALUNYA-COSTA DAURADA, RALLY DE ESPANA
1st - Sébastien Loeb, Citroën Total World Rally Team
1st - Daniel Elena, Citroën Total World Rally Team
2nd - Jari-Matti Latvala, Ford World Rally Team
2nd - Miikka Anttila, Ford World Rally Team
3rd - Mikko Hirvonen, Citroën Total World Rally Team
3rd - Jarmo Lehtinen, Citroën Total World Rally Team
Yves Matton, Team Principal, Citroën Total World Rally Team
Q: Sébastien, congratulations! How do you feel at the end of your full-time WRC career?
SL: I feel okay. It’s the last rally of the season, I really wanted to win it – I won it eight times in a row. I didn’t want to lose the last one! For sure, the situation is a bit strange to know that I won nine titles in a row and now decided to retire. It’s strange, but on the other side I know I still have some rallies next year and some more plans with Citroën in some other discipline. I don’t feel the career is finished and that I’m old and need to retire. But I feel I need this, to help me when I stop the rally career.
Q: Will you come to Rally de España next year?
SL: It’s not in the plan. If I said yes to every rally, then it’s the full season again and this is not the plan! I didn’t plan yet. We start with Monte Carlo, Sweden…
Q: Have you pushed at 100 per cent on this event?
SL: It was really a difficult one. Since they put the gravel in it’s more difficult and this time with the weather, the first day was really tricky. I was happy to be second and still on the road on Friday. There were 100 corners where you could go off the road. I was satisfied, but when we came to the Tarmac, it wasn’t easy. And then today we had some difficult tyre choices – it’s been a very difficult rally.
Q: Have you been able to enjoy this rally?
SL: Sure. There was no big pressure. I prefer the good tyre choice, but I didn’t play for the season on that. Finally at the end we are at the front, but only by seven seconds from Jari-Matti, who was pushing really hard all weekend. But finally we are here.
Q: What’s your workload like before the end of the year? You’re doing Rallye Monte-Carlo, so you must have a test coming up, or are you able to take a break?
SL: No. Citroën wants to make me work until the end of the season. I do some test on gravel, I’m not sure why – until Christmas we have a lot to do.
Q: Congratulations Daniel, what was this rally like for you?
DE: Sure, it’s today a lot of emotion. It’s the last time for driving and co-driving for the Championship. Next year, it’s more about enjoying the race, with no more pressure. But for the last race of the season, it’s difficult with the road condition and the choice of tyres.
Q: Next year, what plans for you?
DE: I have a big programme... I drive in two weeks in Rallye du Var. And after that my company will continue to help Sébastien Chardonnet. But we also have some tests and rallies. And then I look to the FIA to ask if they want help for the future.
Q: Your last event for Ford, and Ford’s last event; how do you feel Jari-Matti?
J-ML: We had a very emotional moment at the last service. For five years I drive as a factory team and we have had a great time, a fantastic time. In a way I am disappointed in these years that I couldn’t deliver the Manufacturers’ or Drivers’ Championship. The car was very competitive, but we didn’t have the consistency. I would push too hard and then go off the road. I should have learned, but it looks like I am a slow learner – I hope this will come! For the future, of course, I wish M-Sport well.
Q: Can you work on things for the future?
J-ML: I know the weakness areas and I work on them.
Q: What areas?
J-ML: If I lose time, then I push harder and try to catch back the time and then I go off the road, instead of admitting and accepting the situation. When I don’t have the feeling to drive at the speed, I need to realise this. This afternoon I could push, but it’s just doing the limit and then understanding when you have the moment… it’s about when to push hard and when you are pushing and you will go off. It’s a difficult situation about knowing when you can push.
Q: We have seen good times from you on the Tarmac here, you must be happy with that?
J-ML: I am very happy about that. It was my hope to win on Tarmac this year, but I couldn’t do it. At least I did win Rallye du Var last year and that has given me a great memory. Now winning the Tarmac round is something for the future, I would really like to do this.
Q: You switch to Volkswagen soon, can you tell us when?
J-ML: In the coming week we meet the team and then they have a big testing plan for the end of November and December. We have the permission from M-Sport to do the test, but we need confirmation from Ford to do this testing. We are still waiting for confirmation from Ford.
Q: Miikka, there’s been a lot of emotion here…
MA: It has been a really emotional moment. When we go into the last service and see Team Principal Malcolm Wilson and his wife Elaine in tears, then it’s really emotional and for sure it is emotional for them – it’s so big a part of their life. They are doing the WRC programme for Ford and now after this rally, it’s finished. Of course it is natural that it’s emotional.
Q: What was your best moment?
MA: All the victories, they are all my favourite moments. Also I remember so well when we went after Rally GB in 2007 to M-Sport and Malcolm said: “Welcome on board, you are part of the future of the team.” They are great memories.
Q: Third for you Mikko. How do you feel about that result?
MH: It’s okay, but I was hoping to be more competitive after France. I hoped we could make a step forward, but I wasn’t able to do it – I was always a bit behind. The differences were not big, but when you have long stages, we lost a bit of time. But okay, we were consistent and we made the podium, this is nice.
Q: Why weren’t you quick enough?
MH: I don’t know how to brake! Sometimes it’s really good, but then in some stages I just can’t keep it consistent enough.
Q: You will be number one at Citroën next year. Ready for that?
MH: I feel really, really good. On gravel I am sure I’m ready for the fight. It’s going to be quite a different season, with Jari-Matti and Sébastien Ogier in a new team with Volkswagen – it’s going to be exciting to see the pace of the new car, and I’m really happy to be part of such a strong team. I’m going to be ready and I’m really looking forward to it.
Q: Can you get any tips from Sébastien before he goes?
MH: I’m going to steal his shoes!
Q: Asses your first season with Citroen for us…
MH: It’s been what I expected. I’m never happy until I’m winning. There’s still room to improve, but what I expected, I set some goals and we got them. I wanted to help the team win the Manufacturers’ Championship, we got that and I wanted to be as close to Seb on as many rallies as possible and I wanted the gravel pace to be good. As well as this, I feel I have settled well in the team and I’m happy.
Q: Jarmo, what do you think of the first year?
JL: The preparation has been mostly done for next year. We know the team and the car and we set ourselves targets. The first target was to know the car, the second was to deliver the Manufacturers’ title and the third was to put Mr Matton in a position where he had to give us team orders to slow down and we did this on a few rallies. I think we’re ready for next year.
Q: Are you happy with the season?
JL: Yeah, I’m really happy. Maybe on this one, Wales and Sweden I would like to have been a bit quicker, but that’s how it is.
Q: Yves, look back and describe the season for us…
YM: I am proud of the team’s season. Everybody from the team did an exceptional season. This was the first time we did a one-two in the Drivers’ Championship and we won 10 rallies and the Manufacturers’ title. It would be difficult to do better than this.
Q: Can you tell us anything about who will be in that second seat next year?
YM: That’s a good question… it’s the first time somebody has asked me that! We are getting closer and closer. I didn’t take the final decision; it will be maybe tonight or maybe next week.
Q: What drivers? Tell us who you are looking at…
YM: We are looking between Mads Østberg and Dani Sordo.
Q: Did you look at the results they achieved here?
YM: No, not we’re not looking at results from one rally. We have been in a position to wait until the end of the last rally and we will see.
Q: Who impressed you most on this rally?
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: Sébastien, did ever think of achieving so much success?
SL: No. For sure you cannot imagine that when you start a career in rally. You think about one World Champion title. Then the years were coming and going and I won every time, but for sure I couldn’t imagine to be at that level today.
Q: Jari-Matti, what are your thoughts on next year’s Championship?
J-ML: If Sébastien is not doing the whole season, this means we will have a new champion for the first time in many seasons; it will be very interesting. Personally I have wanted to beat Loeb, but it doesn’t work out. But with guys doing the full Championship, with Ogier and Mikko, and probably Ford drivers, it can be strong, so I hope to be there fighting for the Championship. But I don’t know about the car. We need to see how the car is and give some time for the car, but the team will be big and this will be a big challenge.