WRC - Loeb: "Six years later it’s an amazing feeling." | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WRC - Loeb: "Six years later it’s an amazing feeling."

28.10.18

Transcript of the post event Press Conference organised by the FIA for the 2018 Rally de Espana

Present:
1st - Sébastien Loeb, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
1st - Daniel Elena, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
2nd - Sébastien Ogier, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
2nd - Julien Ingrassia, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
3rd - Elfyn Evans, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
3rd - Daniel Barritt, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
Pierre Budar, Team Principal, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
 
Q:
Seb, we all wondered if we would ever see you back on the top step of a WRC podium and here you are! How does it feel?
SL:
It feels incredibly good, especially in this time when we have no splits and the fight with Seb [Ogier]. Finally, I finished and I didn’t know if I had won or not. It brought extra pressure and finally you discover you won – six years later it’s an amazing feeling.

Q:
Tell us about that tyre choice this morning, how much did your experience help?
SL:
This was a bit the experience. It is always complicated to choose the tyre in mixed conditions. We checked on some comments from when I drove the DS3 with the same tyre and we had some similar conditions. We knew the hard one, even if it’s a little bit damp, it was working well if it’s hot. I was sure it was a good choice, if it didn’t rain. We had the information it wouldn’t rain, but we’d had the information that it wouldn’t rain yesterday and it did! So I wasn’t so sure whether or not to trust it. I imagined some other drivers would take the [hard] tyre and if they did and I was on the soft I thought I would lose. But we did it.

Q:
Were you on the limit?
SL:
Today I was OK. I was on my limit, but I was feeling well in the car. The stages, when they’re dry, I feel well. Yesterday was much harder to get the feeling and the rhythm, today I felt, before I start, the motivation and I wanted to push for the win.

Q:
You were quite emotional at the finish…
SL:
Yes, for sure. It’s a long time and I don’t win for a while and in WRX I didn’t win so much! To win nine rallies in a row is good, but this one is with six years in between.

Q:
Does the result give you more motivation to recapture that feeling next year?
SL:
Maybe. yes. For sure I enjoy the weekend. It was a really nice feeling to fight again and win the rally. This is where I feel better than any other discipline, but in another way I know why I retired [from the WRC]: you do only rallying and it’s a lot of time and involvement. It’s not what I want today and coming back even for some rallies is complicated as well. I achieve a great result here to finish two seconds ahead of Seb. I don’t know, it’s too early to think about it.

Q:
Daniel, did you imagine this could happen?
DE:
Er yes… it’s a fantastic victory, can I imagine that? Why not? When you see the times on gravel in Mexico, it’s not bad, and in Corsica too. And when we arrived here fast in gravel and on tarmac; you have to know you don’t have a puncture, don’t stop to eat food special of the country and the result is here!

Q:
Did you feel the pressure?
DE:
You have pressure all the time, but after the spin today it’s not easy. You have to push more and take more risk. But it’s fun.

Q:
Emotional for you too?
DE:
Yes. A lot of emotion, but more emotion for the roof – it’s destroyed with my weight!

Q:
Sebastien what an event, you’re back in the lead of the championship going to Australia – happy?
SO:
I feel good. It’s been an eventful weekend as is often the case. We knew starting second on the road here would be difficult, it’s always a big cleaning effect. We struggled as I expected. But with the rain and tarmac many things happened. Ott was far away like he is often, then he caught some, I don’t know, some bad luck – I have not seen what happened. We were still in the fight for the podium and we never give up. In the end we missed it (the win) by a little bit, but we still take 22 points. And to answer the question, yes I’m happy and yes I’m happy going to Australia in the lead. It will be tough, but we can have problems, anybody can have problems. It’s going to be a tough last one, but I’ve done everything I could this weekend and we have to pay some big respect to Seb and Daniel. They have been impressive, even if I said it would be no surprise to see them win. I would have bet money on them at the start of rally. We saw them start at the back on gravel and then they have the C3 on tarmac – unfortunately they did it! Congratulations to them.

Q:
We saw you celebrating on the roof with them…
SO:
It felt in this moment, I don’t know… natural. We have a lot of respect, we had a big fight and both enjoyed it. It’s natural in this moment to congratulate them and enjoy this moment.

Q:
It was an intense fight this morning – how much was it in your mind for the hard option tyre?
SO:
The truth is that I didn’t think even think to it for one second. We were completely wrong this weekend with the way we managed the information we had. It didn’t work in this area, we made the wrong choice every single time except the last loop. In pure speed and the right tyres we could have been much better, but it’s a big if. And this is still a good result. This morning I had no idea I could take the hard tyre.

Q:
Only three points between you and Thierry, will you do anything different between the rallies?
SO:
I don’t think so, just disconnect, have time with family and for sure that’s the best way to relax for the next rally. I know I have some job, but I believe in my chance.

Q:
Julien, you must be glad to be back in the lead of the championship?
JI:
I think Seb said how we are feeling. We know it will be tough in Australia, but we have seen we are happy with our car and the pace we could have. We have good things in the last rally, so we go with good confidence, but sure we know we will have to work for it.

Q:
On a personal level, happy to see Danos [Elena] back?
JI:
I am really happy to see them back, it’s a long time since we meet each other. But now he’s smoking all the time, he’s not doing any sport and he’s able to fight against us, that’s something!

Q:
Elfyn we’ve seen great pace – tell us about your performance, what’s changed?
EE:
Not a lot has changed, things haven’t gone our way for multiple reasons, but reading between lines you could see the speed was there. Often we were not able to turn it into results. I’m relieved to be back fighting at the sharp end and it’s great to secure a podium here.

Q:
We saw you fend off Loeb yesterday morning, but it seemed to ebb away in the afternoon?
EE:
We had different tyre choices: some moments the slick works better, but other times the wet was better. In the end there wasn’t a massive amount in it. Through the weekend there were a lot of different choices, but in the end I don’t think anybody got it absolutely perfect all the time. There was not a lot in it in the end. It kept it exciting and it worked out OK in the end.

Q:
How was the feeling going into the final stage?
EE:
Going into the midday service I was a bit deflated. We’d lost time on the second stage and I couldn’t really understand where it had gone. I felt we had a decent stage, but we lost a chunk of time to the Hyundai guys. I managed to change it around the first stage back out then we had a good run and good feeling.

Q:
That showcased what you can do…
EE:
I’ve not done anything massively different. We have prepared exactly the same, same mentality – it’s worked out this time. There were no mad risks, it was just a case of concentrate and bring all together.

Q:
Will it help for next year?
EE:
Ask the man sat over there [Malcolm Wilson].

Q:
Dan, are you satisfied with the pace?
DB:
Yeah, very. We’ve been mixing in some really illustrious company here with a five-time and nine-time world champion and it’s been pretty close all weekend. We’ve come out on the podium and I’m really happy.

Q:
Did the intensity of the battle make you raise your game even higher?
DB:
Yeah naturally, you keep working to move forward. I think we’re both maybe a bit more hungry to see it over the line and in the end it worked out OK.

Q:
Pierre, describe those final moments – nervous?
PB:
Yes we were stressed. It’s never finished before the end. It was very nice to see the last corner. All the team was expecting this result for a long time. It’s one year without a win so it was a good time to have one, sorry Seb [Ogier] maybe not the best time. But I hope next year to see you [Ogier] here very often!

Q:
Were you surprised at Seb’s tyre choice this morning?
SL:
He had no time to react. It was 10 seconds and I left!
PB:
I was quite convinced at that moment it was a good choice. When we have decided to go for the soft it was quite clear that Seb was not very convinced and I was not in my head – when he changed his mind I was happy. It was a great moment. I was sure he was right.

Q:
Any news on a third car for next season?
PB:
No news for tonight. You will have to wait for some more news.

Q:
When do we get news, before Australia?
PB:
Probably not before because we are in discussion with some partners. We don’t have everything in our hands to make this plan. You have to wait like us

Q:
Will you speak to Seb about next year tonight, maybe over an espresso?
PB:
An espresso? Maybe not… I’m not sure tonight. We will have something to drink, but not tonight [to talk]. We have plenty to do before. We don’t know what to do next year. First we have to confirm a third car. If we can’t have a car then we can’t have a driver.


FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st - Kalle Rovanperä, Škoda Motorsport
1st - Jonne Halttunen, Škoda Motorsport

Q:
Great win for you Kalle, but this was a different challenge and you were up against some great drivers, you must be very satisfied?
KR:
Yeah for sure. Our plan was to be quite fast on gravel because we can do it and then be not far away from the others on tarmac. But we did it and I’m really happy.

Q:
Conditions were difficult with the rain coming on Friday night…
KR:
It was full rain [on Saturday], but that was easier. We took the rain tyres and this makes the car less precise. It’s a bit more easy to change to the tarmac driving like this.

Q:
Competing against Jan Kopecký, Eric Camilli and Petter Solberg, you must be very proud…
KR:
I think it makes me really proud. We knew Camilli and Kopecký would be really fast on tarmac and we matched their speed. And, of course, it was nice to see Petter here, he was really fast in some places as well.

Q:
What was the biggest challenge?
KR:
The tarmac was going well, but in the gravel we had one broken damper and we lost a bit of time there. I think gravel was hard, but the tarmac still a bit harder.

Q:
We’ve seen you go from strength to strength this season. What’s next?
KR:
I don’t know. Next year we have to make the complete year and have better results in some races, but the speed has been pretty good this year.

Q:
Jonne congratulations on back-to-back wins. How was the weekend for you?
JH:
We thought we could be on the podium and maybe we were a bit surprised to match the pace on tarmac. We know we are quite OK on gravel, but still we are learning the tarmac and we don’t know all the tricks. All the stages were new for us, so this is nice.

Q:
Everything worked well from the recce?
JH:
We do more work than the others, we sleep at 11pm then we are watching the onboards or other guys’ onboards. We learn from the other guys’ onboards. This is a new event and if we want to close the gap then we have to make more work than them.


FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP (event winners and provisional champions*)

Present:
1st - Enrico Brazzoli
1st - Luca Beltrame

Q:
Great win Enrico and you take the WRC 3 championship as well! Happy?
EB:
Yes, I’m very happy. It’s a dream that became reality. It’s very fantastic. It’s very emotional. The last three kilometres of the last stage was very difficult for the concentration, but this is a very good result. I feel fantastic.

Q:
It’s been a great season…
EB:
The season started with the win in Monte Carlo, that was fantastic, and then Italy and Germany, fantastic results. I win this race in Group N three years ago and now it’s not bad!

Q:
How much of a challenge was the event?
EB:
The gravel for us is very difficult, but on the tarmac I had a problem with the throttle control. Today has been difficult for the concentration, it was not so easy. But it was good, this is a very great moment. I have to thank the team and Pirelli for the success through this year. And my team and my sponsor fought for this to be possible and to do this is great.

Q:
Tell us about those last three kilometres Luca…
LB:
It was not easy to have a big gap – you have fear of every noise in the car. We were so focused on what we have to do, I’m so happy for the result. For us we start the championship together and say: “OK we do WRC 3, but only for fun.” And now it’s a little bit different.

Q:
It became serious!
LB:
Right! And now I am so happy to go to Australia only to do the rally for amusement with no focus on the championship. We drive for fun to see a different country – it’s a good job.

Q:
You’ve had a busy season?
LB:
We make a rally completely different from the others, starting in the snow in Monte Carlo and then the gravel in Sardinia and Wales, the tarmac in Germany and a mixed rally here. It’s a completely different situation, it’s a complete season.


* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA