12 Aug 09
Having finished third the last two years, did you think you'd ever win the title?
"I really thought I would be champion last year, but I wasn't - and I started this year thinking that if I don't win the title now, something really is wrong. With the experience I have, I had a lot of confidence and believed this would be my year."
Winning the J-WRC title has been a crucial career step for factory team drivers like Sebastien Loeb, Dani Sordo and Sebastien Ogier - where do you think the title will take you?
"We'll see. It's not a good time in the automotive business right now, and there are not too many manufacturers with budgets for drivers. Of course I would like to speak with Ford and Citroen about WRC projects but I am not sure there are any free places for me. For sure we will try and ask. Everybody knows that we are very fast and quite experienced because we have done five years in the World Championship now, but we will probably have to find some more budget if we are going to move into a World Rally Car."
Citroen Racing boss Olivier Quesnel was one of the first to congratulate you after your win, is there any chance we could see you driving some events in a Citroen World Rally Car, perhaps as part of the Junior team?
"Of course we would like to continue with Citroen because we have very good relationship with Citroen Sport and we know a lot of people there. Also I tested a C4 WRC last year, so we'd like for sure to carry on with this very good team. For me it would be the best outcome but everybody knows it's about something else - first we have to find budget to do something and then we can ask."
How about the 2010 World Cup for S2000 cars. Might we see you in that?
"Maybe, but for me it's too early to decide - it's still the middle of the year! We expected we would fight until the end of the season and then see what to do next year. Now we are champions in August and we really don't know what to do! We have to wait until the FIA World Council meeting [on 21 October] to see what they decide about the future of the WRC and Super 2000. Then we can say what to do. If we will not find budget for WRC we have to choose whether to stay with P-WRC or do one more year in J-WRC or if we will try to buy Super 2000. I don't know if it's a good idea to invest the money in a Super 2000 car yet, I have to wait for the FIA decision."
So that's four choices, then?
"That's right. My team already has a few Super 1600 cars and a few Production cars, so the easiest way would be to continue like this. But everybody knows that we should make a step up - and for me that step is into Super 2000 or WRC - but it's quite a big step..."
You're competing in the P-WRC as well as the J-WRC this year, why did you choose to do both championships?
"It's about experience, because now I feel very confident on every surface in every country. I'm making many races every year and I have to change cars and surfaces - from snow to gravel and tarmac - and that builds experience and gives me more confidence every time. Also in Production I think we were ready to fight for the title but the exclusion in Argentina [where his car was fitted with an incorrect specification of front brake discs] was a problem for us. Otherwise we were three times on the podium, so it's been quite a good year there too."