Before Rally Catalunya
Born January 8 1980 in La Roche sur Yon (F). Winner of the 2005 French C2 Rally Challenge. First season in the JWRC.
You are about to start your first year in the JWRC. How long have you been dreaming of an opportunity like this?
ever since I decided to drop circuit racing and Formula 3 and try my hand at something else. Back then, I decided to compete in the French Super 1600 Championship which seemed to me to be rallying's equivalent to F3. I didn't considered taking part in a one-make series at first but my experience of 2003 taught me that this type of series is a more or less mandatory step. They can go both ways however: either they work out for you and give you a foot on the ladder, or they don't and you can put a cross through going any further. I chose to do the Saxo T4 Trophy in 2004 – which was on gravel – and came 2nd. Then I won last year's C2 Rally Challenge on asphalt. I started to talk with the people from Citroën's Customer Competition department in the course of the 2005 season. On December 13, a day I will never forget, I received the call I had been hoping for from Yves Matton."
What was your first drive in the C2 Super 1600 like?
"After winning the French C2 Challenge in the Rallye des Cévennes, I entered the Rallye du Var in a C2 S1600, but I was eliminated very early on by a minor electrical problem. I then took part in a test session in the region where the Rallye du Var is held. First of all I sat alongside Kris [Meeke] to get a feel for the car before spending half a day doing familiarisation runs myself to try and reproduce what I had felt in the right-hand seat. The next day was a full day of testing work which proved extremely positive! I felt very comfortable in the car at the end of it. Before the start of the Rally Catalunya, I have a further day of testing to come, so I think I will be ready."
This is your first year in the JWRC, so many of the events will be new to you.
"All of them you mean! My co-driver Gilles de Turckheim competed in the 2000 Tour of Corsica and that's about it! However, it's not a situation that unduly worries me because I'm in fact accustomed to it. Last year too, most of the rallies were new to me. I spent lots of time watching videos taken during recce or supplied by the organisers and that naturally led me to take a close look at the way I take pacenotes. I think I now have a good system. That said, my objectives aren't the same as those of my more experienced team-mates. I am eligible to compete in the JWRC until 2009. My aim this year will therefore be to finish rallies, learn with the pressure off and gain experience. My approach will in fact be the same as previous years and is also that which I took when circuit racing, namely to analyse my performances, list my faults, correct them and try not to repeat them. That said, this will be my first time actually competing with this car and I know neither the rally nor my rivals, so I am incapable of predicting how I will compare performance-wise. I just know that I'm very much looking forward to it!"
Press release Citroen