What the drivers said in a press conference ahead of the start of Monte Carlo Rally
Sebastien Loeb, who is only contesting 4 rounds of this seasons WRC.
“For sure it a bit different, but I feel happy about that. I spent a long time thinking about retiring, now I make the decision and I have other plans – and I am excited about those plans also. It’s exciting to be here at the Monte-Carlo Rally, it’s a nice rally from which I have good memories and it’s my co-driver’s home rally. It’s important to start this one, but the situation is not the same. I am just here…
“The goal is not the same, but the preparation for the rally is the same. On the recce, everything was really serious. If I am able fight for victory, I will try to do it. But if not, it’s not as bad as in the past. I am here for fun and in the conditions… it will be fun. I have never done the rally with a lot of snow, it’s always been one stage or half a stage, but usually more like a tarmac rally. At the moment, it’s not like this, the conditions will be tricky. On the shakedown, I think we were lucky it was in the field, because I think some time everybody went in the field somewhere! But tomorrow, it is not in the field, tomorrow we have walls, rocks and ditches. Let’s see what we can do.”
Q: Who do u think will win the championship this year?
“I wouldn’t put my money on anybody – but it’s exciting! [The champion] Will be another one and, for sure, it’s going to be interesting to see Jari-Matti and Mikko. I am looking forward to seeing what happens.”
Jari-Matti Latvala who is now driving for VW
“It was a great feeling to get out there in the Polo R WRC for the first time this morning. I feel right at home in the team. Everyone is working very passionately and is determined to succeed. The weather conditions were not easy today, and I expect the situation to deteriorate further over the coming days. “
“The Rally Monte Carlo is renowned for its fluctuating weather – with asphalt, snow, ice and mud, you can potentially face every possible surface except gravel. As such, the tyre selection will be difficult: if you make the right decision, you can suddenly find yourself up front. At the same time, the wrong decision can soon see you lose a lot of time and positions.”
Sébastien Ogier, who has been testing and developing the VW Polo last year:
“This morning we didn’t learn anything, the condition was changing all the time. It’s too early to talk about victory, we will do our best. Last year I pushed as hard as possible to see what is possible and we are interested to see the times. But I really need to finish this event. The team needs me to finish and it’s going to be difficult with this condition.”
Q: Are you disappointed Sébastien Loeb is retiring and you won’t have the chance to fight with him on each event?
“We have to respect his choice. He has won so many rallies. We have to understand. It would have been great to fight like two years ago, but it’s not like this, it’s a few events. We won’t have to focus about him. We want to fight for the victories and the Championship. At the moment I don’t know about my car, I just want to focus on my race and not anybody else.”
Mads Ostberg, who is now the lead driver of the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team.
“I have been working many years as a privateer and now I reached one of my main goals. But now I need to prove that I deserve the seat. We need to show that I can perform well and give some good results to the team. Some challenges are bigger than others. Like this one…”
“I am ready for the challenge, but you need a different approach for this rally. If you have been to this event before then you come with a different approach and you know how to drive slow enough to get through the rally. Anything can happen here – it’s easy to do a mistake. We will try and stay focused.
Q: As part of a manufacturer team you can take advantage of a full test programme before events, something you have not experienced in the past. How much will this benefit you and how has testing gone so far?
“For this one, it’s difficult to know. But for the next rallies we can do better preparation [than last year] and this will definitely help us. I am happy to do a lot of testing, to get the chance to drive the car on snow on tarmac tyres and things like that. It’s been good to do a couple of days in France, getting used to everything – now I need to start the rally.”
Q: It is the start of the season and every driver will be aiming for the title; is that your plan and what will it take to achieve that?
“The main ambition for me… I’m not starting with the main goal of winning the Championship. I need to start and get some good results early on, but we will have a new champion. Mikko [Hirvonen] is the only guy in the same seat this year, everybody else been changing and we have Volkswagen coming with two good drivers. But nobody really knows. I feel ready to push hard on the events I have done before and be careful on the new events, but it’s going to be a very open season.”