Thursday | 10 Sep 2015

Q&A: Stéphane Lefebvre

Citroën protégé Stéphane Lefebvre should be on his way home to France now after completing the recce for Coates Hire Rally Australia.

Instead, he's preparing to tackle the rally proper as last-minute substitute for the injured Mads Østberg. caught up with Lefebvre after Thursday's shakedown test to find out how he was feeling - and why he was wearing Paul Nagle's race suit.

Q: Three weeks after your World Rally Car debut at ADAC Rallye Deutschland and here you are about to make your debut on gravel. What do you hope to achieve this week?
SL: “Firstly I must say I feel very sorry for Mads and Jonas [Andersson], and also that I'm grateful to Citroën for giving me this opportunity and putting their faith in me. The plan was to make only the recce here, and without the usual build-up and preparation I’m expecting it to be a tough weekend. Okay, Citroën have not put a lot of pressure on me but I would like to make the most of this experience - to finish this rally with no mistakes and take some points in the manufacturers' championship."

Q: How much experience do you have of the car on this surface?
SL: "Before Shakedown I had driven it on gravel for about five kilometres - and that was giving passenger rides at a media event last year. Today I drove the stage five times, so that added another 25km. But that's it."

Lefebvre made five passes of the Coates Hire Rally Australia shakedown stage

Q: And how did the car feel today?
SL: "Completely different to how it did in Germany! It is a big challenge for me, and not easy, but it felt good. On the first pass I was very cautious, but I pushed a little more on the second run and gradually the feeling felt better and I got into the rhythm."

Q: And you are wearing Kris Meeke's co-driver's overalls?
SL: "My co-driver and I brought nothing out here. No overalls, no helmets. So we have to borrow it all. At shakedown, Stéphane and I are wore pairs of Jonas' overalls because Mads' were too small. For the rally I will wear Paul Nagle's spare overalls and Mads' helmet. It's not a problem."

Q: And what about the set-up of the car?
SL: "I have no idea how to set-up the car on gravel, so we have left it as it was set-up for Mads. I will start with his settings and see how we go."

Q: Have you been given any tips from the other drivers in the team?
SL: "Kris [Meeke] has given me some advice on driving style and tactics for the rally. I can also count on my co-driver Stéphane, he has a lot of experience of driving WRC and Asia Pacific Championship stages with Chris Atkinson so I hope he will give me some of his expertise."

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