09 Oct 09
Citroen Total team driver Dani Sordo has had a fantastic 2009 WRC season so far. The Spaniard has taken six podiums from 11 rallies and has taken championship points on all but two rounds.
However Sordo saved his best performance so far for his home crowd. He snatched the lead of the Rally de Espana from under the nose of his team-mate Sebastien Loeb and held it for two thirds of the rally - before dutifully surrendering his winning chance in order to help his team and team-mate. Nice move, that.
In the UK for a pre-event test for Rally Great Britain, Sordo talked EXCLUSIVELY to wrc.com about the last round in Spain, his season as a whole, and when that elusive first win will come...
You and Sebastien had an incredibly close battle on Friday and Saturday in Spain, but I guess you always knew Sebastien would have to win in the end?
"Yes, that was always the plan, but there was always the chance that Sebastien had some problem with the car, or a puncture, or something like that. It was a good battle, though. I know Sebastien very well - we've worked together for three years - and I know he likes to push for wins. This year his times on the first day were similar to the ones he did last year - but this time I was much closer. We were both pushing hard, but it was important to do that just in case either of us got a puncture - or something - on the second day."
Last year Sebastien was quicker than you on all of Friday and Saturday's stages. This year you were faster than him on six - seven if you count SS12 where you deliberately slowed down. What have you done since 2008 to get so much quicker?
"It's experience; I have spent a lot more time in the car now. Last year the feeling with the pace notes was good, the stages were okay but my feeling with the car was very bad. We had lots and lots of understeer and the car was impossible to drive. This year that's all forgotten and I've proved I can be quicker than Sebastien."
When it comes to experience, Sebastien has driven seven full seasons at WRC level, while you've only done three. Does this mean you're still improving?
"Yeah maybe, but on tarmac I don't know. Maybe there's a little bit more to come but the problem on tarmac is that we've all just about reached the limit of the tyres. I was faster on tarmac when we had the [now outlawed] slick tyres. With those the feeling was very good, it felt more natural for me and I could attack more. Now you need to just drive according to the tyre and that can be very difficult. The car is always moving a lot, and you can't go flat out all the time. To go fast nowadays you need to know the tyres extremely well. Of course I can go faster - but not too much."
Is this the same with other drivers too?
"Yes. If you look at our time through the long stage [SS10] we all set pretty much the same time because we were all on the limit of the tyres."