Loeb, Sordo and Frequelin Q&A
Ahead of Rally Mexico, Sebastien Loeb
, Dani Sordo and Citroen team boss Guy Frequelin talk of their hopes for the coming weekend.Sebastien Loeb
- What is your analysis of the three winter events?
"Regarding the team, first of all,
it was like they hadn't been away for a year. It didn't take them long at all to find their marks again. In championship terms, the situation isn't ideal because we're not leading. But there were numerous positive points too. To begin with, the CitroŽn C4 WRC is clearly very competitive on asphalt. We then saw that it is also strong on snow and ice which is encouraging with regard to its potential on gravel. The basic package is good. We now need to keep up the work Ė especially on the suspension Ė in order to be competitive everywhere."
Is Rally Mexico an event you enjoy?
"Up until last year, I did enjoy it but it wasn't very successful for me. After winning it last year and I like it even more! The stages are globally fast and tough on tyres because the weather is often hot and the surface is quite hard-packed. But there are also some slower, sandier, technically demanding portions. The other big feature is the altitude which causes a big drop in engine power. The phenomenon is a bit surprising to begin with but everyone is in the same boat and you soon get used to it. The country itself is very different and there are more and more spectators every year.
Rally Mexico is the first gravel round of the year and you won't be first on the road on Day 1. What is your objective?
"It's effectively been some time since I last wasn't first on the road. It's a double-edged thing though because it also means we're not leading the championship. But that could play in our favour in Mexico. We will try to profit from the situation to achieve our goal which is to win."
Dani Sordo - Looking back, how do you view your first outings as a works CitroŽn Sport driver?
"I was pleased with my performance on the Monte Carlo Rally which went well for CitroŽn and for me. It was the C4's debut, so that was important. Things were more difficult after that, both for me and the team as a whole. Competing against the snow specialists, I drew two blanks in Sweden and Norway. It didn't take me long to adapt to the C4 on asphalt but I still haven't found my marks with the car on ice. Bit by bit, I'm seeing the pressure that being a works driver brings. The atmosphere in the team is very good though and it's a real pleasure working with everyone at CitroŽn Sport. They are doing their utmost to ensure we have the very best chances, especially in the difficult moments."
What do you remember of your first participation in Rally Mexico last year?
"What surprised me the most about Mexico was the fall in engine power you get at altitude. I enjoyed the stages which are not too rough but can be very fast. Road order was important because of a thin top-coating of loose gravel that can make conditions very slippery. The second pass can be very different from the first because there's more grip. You also have to be very wary of the numerous high-speed dips in the road."
What sort of result are you looking to come away with?
"The actual position doesn't really matter; the important thing is to finish ahead of as many other drivers as possible! I will be under a little pressure to begin with, but that's part and parcel of my job as a driver and it's up to me to cope with that. A good time on Stage 1 would be the ideal way to kick off the weekendÖ"
Guy Frequelin - After CitroŽn's difficult weekend in Norway, what do you see as the best approach to Rally Mexico?
"Is there a good or a bad approach to any rally? One thing is sure: everyone at CitroŽn Sport will be out to do their very best job, as they always do. That's how we approached Sweden and Norway but we weren't totally successful there. When your two drivers go off four times in two events; it's difficult to come away with a good result. But that's all behind us now. During our debrief meeting in Hamar, everyone in the team was looking forward to the next rounds, although we won't have any margin for error on the reliability front."
What will be your tactics in Mexico?
"It's not easy to talk in terms of tactics before the start. Everything will depend on how the event unfolds. As usual, Sťbastien and Daniel will start with the objective of winning. The fact that they are not leading the Drivers' championship has at least one positive spin-off: they won't be running first on the road. And depending on the way the results go, that could continue to be the case for some events to come."
What are the key features of this rally?
"The high altitude is an important factor that has to be taken into account in Leůn. Also, the stages are globally quite fast. They're not all that rough but even a small caution can become a big hazard at the high speeds the crews reach in places. We saw that with Sťbastien's misadventure in 2004."
Source Citroen Sport