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Rally Jordan: Post-event press conference

1st - Sebastien Loeb, Citroen Total World Rally Team
1st - Daniel Elena, Citroen Total World Rally Team
2nd - Jari-Matti Latvala, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
2nd - Miikka Anttila, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
2nd - Petter Solberg, Petter
Solberg World Rally Team
2nd - Phil Mills, Petter Solberg World Rally Team
Olivier Quesnel, Team Principal, Citroen Total World Rally Team

Welcome to the post event FIA press conference.

Q: Sebastien, congratulations on victory here in Jordan, your second win in a row this season. We expected to see you first on the road this morning -- were you surprised to be second?

SL:I was surprised. Really, I did not know. I knew that Mikko (Hirvonen) would be with Jari-Matti (Latvala) and that I am going into the stage, so it was tactics from both teams. We changed something to be first and second on the road. Finally, I think we speak too much about the tactics and not about what we are doing. For me, (Sebastien) Ogier and Mikko are in some games and maybe we have to find a solution.

Q:Let's talk about what you were doing this weekend and what a challenge Jordan has been for everybody. How big a challenge was it for you and did you enjoy it?

SL:It was a good rally. Jari-Matti started very quickly the first day, he was very fast and decided to stay first on the road for the second day. I tried to take the opportunity to take the lead and I could do it the second day and finally I decided like him to stay and in front for the third day. It was a very good fight. Petter (Solberg) was also very fast. It was very close times in the stages and really tricky stages. It was difficult not to make a mistake. Finally we won with the benefit of Mikko not scoring any points. So it's good for the Championship.

Q: Was there a point today when you thought --"I'm okay, Jari-Matti can't catch me"?

SL:Yesterday evening, I thought I will try everything to stay in front. You don't know, but I was confident that I could do it. In the first stage I saw I had the same times as him, in the second stage I was quicker, so I was confident that I could do it.

Q: With risks come mistakes. Did you have any dramas today?

SL:Yes I had dramas. Today I nearly came down to the motorway on the second part of the first stage. On the crest I turned a bit too much and nearly went down.

Q: Does this win here in Jordan make up for the disappointment you both had here the last time?

DE:Yes sure. Okay it is good for us to win here because two years ago we are leading with 34 seconds and crashed just one minute after the stage, a stupid crash. This year is better.

Q:Jari-Matti congratulations on second position and Happy Birthday! Maybe not quite the present you wanted today, you were hoping to pick up that win, but it wasn't possible today.

J-ML:First of all it's a big difference from my last year's birthday when I was rolling down a mountain in Portugal, and this time I'm on the podium so it's a bit different so I feel much more comfortable and now I can enjoy much more this evening. I was pleased with the weekend. I could not match the speed of Sebastien today and yesterday but we were still closer than two years ago.

Q: How tough was it sweeping the road clear yesterday, did you lose more time than you expected?

J-ML:I could not find rhythm to drive in that stage (Jordan River), being first car on the road. It was very difficult for me, both times. Even the second time it was as difficult as the morning one, or maybe even more difficult as the lines were so narrow. So that is something for the future to think about.

Q: And what about today, did you start pushing immediately this morning or did you realise that the gap was just too big?

J-ML:I gained the maximum on the first stage this morning, I really pushed as fast as I can. I had two moments and when I came in at the end of the stage our difference was 0.4 seconds and I thought, that's it, I didn't have a chance to catch Seb so then I started to back off in the next stage. And then I noticed that Petter is coming quick, so I had to start pushing again in stage two.

Q:This year has got off to a great start for you, three consistent performances and now second place overall. In contrast to last year it's a vast improvement...

J-ML:Yes last year was such a disaster but, on the other hand, we learned a lot of things. If I had been driving fast, I haven't been consistent. I have done good stage times but I haven't been able to do many good results. So we started working last year with Mikko and some other people, we have done a lot of progress and we are going forward. It's very good but we have still work to do and you need that consistency if you want to win the Drivers' title one day. But, perhaps, it's going now, it looks good.

Q: Was there pressure on your shoulders to finish after your team-mate Mikko retired yesterday?

MA:Well, for sure, there is some more pressure but, on the other hand, the job that we did until the point that Mikko retired, it was like a normal performance from us and we just continued the same job that we were doing. Our role this year is to keep, if something happens, like yesterday, the pressure on the car in front and we were doing that well yesterday.

Q: Petter, your second podium of the season, this time it's third overall. You must be pleased with yet another strong performance?

PS:Yes, very pleased actually. It's been really good fun. The thing I have to improve also is...in Mexico we did two days testing before the rally. Here I didn't do anything and it's a new rally, different type of surface so I had to cut back a little bit, it's a little bit too much already this year. At the end of the day my result here is absolutely fantastic. It worked very well and it was in just one stage, both times, that I lost a lot of time. Every other stage was absolutely perfect. But I am happy to be third and I hope not to lose a lot of time on a long stage again.

Q:That's the Jordan River stage you are talking about, Jari-Matti said he feels that's where his rally disappeared. Why were you losing so much time on that stage?

PS:I didn't get the proper rhythm and I struggled, but every other stage was working absolutely perfect. The first day was working very well, but then I thought this would be difficult and I lost a lot of time -- I was 16s behind Latvala this morning. The biggest difference is between first and second car and after that it's difficult, with the tyres getting warm and you try to gain time and it's at the end of the stage so you have to drive very sensibly with these tyres. This is what I learned on this rally and I took down all these details, so it doesn't happen again.

Q: You began the day with Jari-Matti in your sights, when did you realise that second position was slightly out of touch?

PS:First stage this morning went very well from the start but then I did a mistake half-way through the stage and lost four and a half seconds to both guys. After that it was okay but one mistake is enough. I could have maybe gained two seconds if I look at the split (times). It's difficult as the tyres get warmer to push harder. If it was colder definitely it would have been a bigger difference between each car but that's the way it is... we are trying, it's good fun to be back again, it's nice. We are on the podium and me and my team are very proud and hopefully one day soon... we will see. We are trying and it's good fun to be here.

Q:You have a limited testing programme, but despite that you were very much on the pace from the outset. It makes you wonder what would happen with a bit more testing...

PM:We are very much a private team and everything is cut to the minimum - 40 minutes (test) before this event in the car. I'm sure it wasn't 40 minutes for other teams. That's how it is; you have to make the best of what we've got. More than the best of what we have. I would say this was the most technically demanding rally of the whole series for drivers and co-drivers. It is very difficult but one of the best challenges of the Championship and well done to everyone in Rally Jordan.

Q: It's been an interesting day; firstly what happened to Sebastien Ogier this morning?

OQ: I think it must be the 20th time I speak about that. He got an electrical problem and lost five minutes. That is what happened.

Q:You now lead both the Drivers' and the Manufacturers' Championships after this event, so it's been a successful outing here in Jordan.

OQ:It was a great success. The drivers did very well. The strategy was okay. I think Seb was driving really well. And Sebastien Ogier was really good too. For us it's really good because now we have three drivers with Sebastien Loeb, Sebastien Ogier and Dani Sordo. So it's ready for the Championship, this could be the year for us.

I think Dani does not like too much Jordan Rally. We have to remember we got the title for the Manufacturer the last two years and Dani did well and I am confident and I'm sure if we get the title this year that Dani will be there. There are 13 events and he is fast on tarmac and gravel. I have no problem with him, everything is going well. I ask him to be at the end and get points for the Manufacturer and this is why he did not drive too fast.

Q: This morning there was a special strategy for the Citroen team. How much did this help you to win?

SL:It was not a special strategy for the Citroen team. It was a special strategy for both teams. I heard that Mikko is going to clean the road and that Ogier is coming for me. Okay they are both now our road cleaner and it is like that.

1st - Xavier Pons
1st - Alex Haro

Q:Xevi congratulations on your second win in a row, it's been a great start to your SWRC campaign and what a really tough rally here in Jordan.

XP:Yes, after the recce, I speak for Alex and me, it was a very difficult rally, lots of stones inside the corners and sometimes in the middle (of the road) and okay I drive carefully and the car is very good, no problem, working very well to finish the rally. We win the rally, it is the second victory and is good for the Championship.

Q:Many of the SWRC cars fell by the wayside but you were the only driver not to have any major problems and on Friday we lost nearly half of the competitors. Were you taking it quite cautiously on Friday?

XP:Yes. I was surprised on Friday. It is only two cars not in SupeRally. For us the team was working very well and also I was driving very carefully. For the Championship it is very important because two rallies in two weeks and the next rally is New Zealand. I like New Zealand, in the past I have had good results in Group N car and I think for the next rally it is possible to aim for the victory.

Q: You were battling it out with Bernardo Sousa, but today after Bernardo was excluded it was such a huge gap between you and second position. Was it difficult to keep focused on what was going on because you seemed to be in a rally on your own really?

XP: Yeah, of course. Today was a very long day for us. It's very difficult for the concentration. Today, also for me, it was a very difficult day, very twisty, a lot of gravel in some parts. Okay, I drove carefully but a very long day.

Q:Alex, congratulations on the result - you now lead the SWRC. This result must be a good confidence boost for your Championship chances?

AH: We started the Championship and we try the best possible. We will try to continue in this line.

Q:How tough was it this weekend? We know it's quitae difficult to make pace notes for this event when you're out in such a terrain. From your perspective what was the most difficult thing this weekend?

AH:For me when we made the notes and there were a lot of crests and a lot of stones in the road. So we had a very difficult rally all the weekend. Maybe it's because of the crests, you can't see the roads okay, and it's our first time here. He drove very carefully and we tried to explain the notes very carefully and finish with no problems.

1st - Patrik Flodin
1st - Goran Bergsten

Q:The last time we saw you was in Sweden, as a 'Guest Driver' in the PWRC, but you're back with us and with another win under your belt; you must be delighted.

PF:Thanks. It was very, very good to start the season with two wins in Production. So far this year we have been winning everything, the rally in Russia and in China, so, so far it's very good.

Q: So you've won every single rally you've competed in this year so far, is that run of skill going to continue do you think?

PF:Last year and the previous year I had bad luck many times. Now I had really good luck because during this rally we had punctures but, at the end of the stage, we broke a steering arm but we could continue through the stage. We broke the cross member before the last stage but we were able to finish. So, a lot of small things but on the right side this time. We are here and we won it and I'm very happy and glad for it because we deserve it and the team did it and I think we are back in business.

Q:Let's talk about the challenge of the event itself. I know in the last couple of days you have struggled with the heat here, it affected you quite badly yesterday -- you said it was quite difficult to keep your focus because of the heat.

PF:It was especially on the long Jordan River stage -- there it was the biggest problem. The rest was okay because it was just 12 or 15 minutes and then we take the helmet off. But Jordan River was terrible. We had a small problem with the car -- we broke a link to the anti-roll bar so the car wasn't nice to drive and I had to be more focused so as not to go off. I had to push otherwise Armindo (Araujo) would catch me. So it was hard and this heat is not the best.

Q:The last time we saw you was as a Guest Driver and we thought we'd only see you in one round of the PWRC, and you hoped that win would get you more rounds. That has been the case, yes?

PF:Yes, we also won the first rally in Russia. We were fighting there with Novikov and it was very important to win. Last year I won the Russian Championship, but Novikov wasn't there and now this rally was very important to show that we can go at Novikov's speed and also I can go a bit faster. Then we continued two weeks after Sweden with the second round in the Swedish Championship and we won there overall. So, one day before close of entries for this rally we decided together with the team that we would go for Production, so it was brilliant.

Q:What have you found the most difficult aspect this weekend? We know Patrik was suffering from the heat yesterday. It's been a difficult challenge for everybody, what was it for you?

GB:The heat is a big problem for us. Otherwise we had really good pace notes and we found a way to handle all these blind corners. It was really good. When we had to push we could push like hell. We had some drama along the way but it was on the right side this time.

Q:This is a pretty unique event on the Championship calendar, we don't see anything else like it really. What do you think of Jordan Rally?

GB:I think it's too tough for these cars that we are competing with, but we survived. Like today when we were running the stage, the third one, we have been there four times now. It is too much for the Group N cars to go over. All the other stages were very nice, but when you are going in the second group four times is too much for us. I am really looking forward to smooth roads in Finland. We know we are very fast there. It is my home rally and it will be nice to compete in this.

     Rally Jordan: Red Bull preview
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     FIA World Motor Sport Council notes 2010-03-11
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     Rally Mexico: Citroen WRT final leg summary
     Rally Mexico: BP-Ford final leg summary
     Rally Mexico: Stobart M-Sport final leg summary
     SWRC: Rally Mexico: M-Sport event summary
     Rally Mexico: Citroen Jr Team final leg summary

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