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Rally Mexico: Post-event press conference

1st - Sebastien Loeb, Citroen Total World Rally Team
1st - Daniel Elena, Citroen Total World Rally Team
2nd - Petter Solberg, Petter Solberg World Rally Team
2nd - Phil Mills, Petter Solberg
World Rally Team
3rd - Sebastien Ogier, Citroen Junior Team
3rd - Julien Ingrassia, Citroen Junior Team
Olivier Quesnel, Team Principal, Citroen Total World Rally Team

Welcome to the post event FIA press conference.

Q: Congratulations Sebastien on your fourth win here in Mexico and your first win of the season. You dominated on Saturday and made it look easy, how did you find it this weekend?

SL: Very good. For me it was really perfect. The first day we were second on the road and I tried not to lose too much time. Then we were third and I was pushing very hard to try and make a gap and increase my lead. Today was a question of making it to the finish. It was perfect for us today.

Q: On Friday we were waiting for tactics to come into play at the end of the day -- but were you driving flat out on Friday or were you holding back throughout the day not to be first on the road?

SL: There was nothing in reserve. It was difficult enough to try and gain a lead. I had to drive as fast as possible.

Q: Was it odd not to be battling with Mikko (Hirvonen) this weekend?

SL: For sure, I was surprised. We saw quickly that the Citroens were better than the Fords here and finally it became a fight between all the Citroens. That was good. I am sure it will be different in the next rallies. We will see.

Q: Citroen has three drivers here on the podium this weekend. You must be delighted with the outcome of the event? Were you surprised?

OQ: I do not feel surprised. I am not sure what happened to the Fords. Maybe it was the engine and the altitude. We were confident here anyway, because we have won the last three rallies in Mexico. Saying that, I was surprised they were so far behind.

Q: If you had to single out one Citroen crew, which one would you say did the best job?

OQ: All of them did a good job, but I will make special mention of Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena!

Q: Mexico was not included in the 2009 calendar, what are your thoughts on this event and would you like to see it held annually?

DE: Yes because it has very good stages, but they are very funny when you drive because there is no power here. After that the stages are nice. It is easy with two passes. It is a nice rally and a nice atmosphere.

Q: Petter congratulations on second position. What an incredible battle it has been between you and Sebastien Ogier -- it went down to the wire on the super special stage, what did it feel like to realise you claimed second?

PS: Me and Ogier had a big fight. He is a professional sportsman. Okay it was better for me on Friday and I built up a good lead. I needed to lead after the first day to play the game with Seb (Loeb) and Ogier. First on the road was also good practice for me for later this year... I dealt with it. I started yesterday flat out. Okay it was tricky and I lost time. It ended up with me and Ogier very close.

This morning I knew it would be tough with him behind me. Every car on the road helps. I tried hard. Before the last stage the difference was 0.6s and I knew he had been fast on the super special all weekend. Sebastien (Loeb) told me 'you are too old', then my brother (Henning Solberg) said 'come on!'. I really focused on the road section and analysed the stage. I was running each corner of the stage through my mind and, starting seventh, I was running on the stage to see him (Ogier) driving.

I thought okay and it worked. I had a good start. Sweden was tough for me. I had promised a lot for my sponsors and there was pressure on myself and the team. I have a very good car now and we came here and came second. I finished the super special and then I was completely exhausted and all the feelings were coming out. I am very happy.

Q: Are there any regrets on not using tactics on Friday night?

PS: A little bit. It doesn't matter now because we got second. I needed to learn to be first on the road and again, like I said, it was good publicity for the sponsors as we will need to get through the whole year. It is a different situation for a factory team. Our whole team is working very hard and it is impressive to be on the podium.

Q: Phil, what does it feel like to have achieved this result?

PM: Obviously it feels good. It really is a different ball game being a private team. Leading on Friday was important after Sweden. We are back on track again. There is much to consider when you are not in a factory environment. Saying that, we have no politics; just Petter and me. It is very satisfying.

Q: Sebastien, it's third position after what has been an incredible weekend in Mexico for you. You just missed out on second, how are you feeling?

SO: It was, for sure, a disappointment as a driver who tries to do his best and beat the others. Petter was very quick on the super special and he took the second place. I am happy with my week. It was a good result for me and a good start to the season. I must forget it now and try and get revenge on the next one!

Q: It went down to the wire on the final super special stage -- what was the feeling like before you went into the stage, were there any nerves?

SO: I was a little bit nervous. If I finished second or third it was okay. I know that you can do a big mistake on a super special and go off. I tried to do the same as before. Before I was quick and I thought I would drive the same. Petter found something else. I just have to congratulate him and let it go. I work for a team and he works for his own team. For me, it was important to finish the rally and help the official team. We did this stage two times yesterday and it was possible to push hard and not take too many risks. I must forget it now.

Q: It's been an impressive drive from you; you must be pleased with your performance?

SO: Two years ago helped me a little bit. I want to compete with the best drivers. The rally two years ago was my first in the WRC and it is different now. We have new pace notes now. There are too many evolutions from the other notes. I love the roads here and now I want to fight for victory.

Q: Julien, you have seen Sebastien improve progressively; almost from rally to rally. When do you think that your first win together might come?

JI: We feel we grow up in a good way. As Seb says, we can fight with the big guys in front of us now. We will have some work to do in places like Finland and rallies where we need experience, but we are learning all the time.


Martin Holmes
Martin Holmes Rallying (GB)

Q: Petter, it was a thrilling finish to the rally. Did your experience in rally cross help you on that last super special stage?

PS: I haven't been that fast on a super special for a long time. I told myself I had to focus properly and I was just thinking back to how it should be and how it worked. I knew Seb (Ogier) was very fast on the super special and I needed to go one more step. I don't think I took a breath at all. I was holding my breath all the time. I never used to breathe during rally cross either!

1st -- Xevi Pons
1st -- Alex Haro

Q: Xevi, it's been your debut event in the SWRC and you have come through to win; you must be delighted!

XP: It is the first event for the car. I am very happy. We did no testing before and this result was very good for us. It was good for the team. Yesterday we had some problems with the clutch. Today was very good. I wanted to finish the rally.

Q: You haven't had much time inside the car before the event, what are your thoughts now?

XP: The car is different to a WRC car or a Group N. It is not easy to drive the car. In the middle of the fast sections it is good, but in the soft it has no power and also altitude makes a difference. These are very different conditions.

Q: There were a few problems this weekend though, clutch problems in particular?

XP: We had limited spares and not much testing with the tyres. Yesterday we had the clutch problem.

Q: Alex, it was your first World Championship rally together with Xevi. How much did you learn about each other?

AH: Okay, my first rally. It was very good to start here with Xevi and to win is the best for me.

1st - Armindo Araujo
1st - Miguel Ramalho

Q: Armindo, first win of the season for you after a tough rally, you must be pleased!

AA: Of course I am happy with this result and it puts me in the front of the PWRC. This is my second victory on PWRC on a very tough rally. It was a very difficult rally. We had very good teamwork and I am very happy.

Q: It was a great battle with Toshi (Arai) until he had problems yesterday morning, then you led by quite some distance. Was it difficult not to be in a 'battle'?

AA: Yes the first part was a big fight with Arai yesterday. In the middle of the day we had the same time and I thought one or the other will crash or take a problem. We were on the limit. He made a mistake and crashed. My target at the end was to save the car. It was boring to save the car, to go slow. But I am happy and it was important for the Championship.

Q: Were you happy with the car's performance this weekend?

AA: The Evo IX is a very good car. I won the World Championship (PWRC) with it last year and also some rallies in Portugal. Now we are working with a new Evo X. This is a very good car. We had problems with logistics and things and the car for Mexico one month ago was not ready. We had to use the Evo IX, but all the other rallies we will use the Evo X.

Q: You've had a fantastic start to the season; do you think that you can maintain this level of consistency throughout the course of the year?

MR: This rally is completely new for us. It was the first time. This is our fourth year in PWRC, so it was not so difficult.

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