Sorry for the short delay in getting some thoughts online. I know you all must think it was a heavy party night after our win in Catalunya but in fact there were a lot of press and PR commitments, and a really nice team dinner, and then I drove back home really late at night. I’ve needed a ride on my bike this morning just to get properly woken up!
Anyway, it was pretty much a perfect weekend in Spain. The key day for us was always going to be the Friday, because we had to stay in the lead bunch during those stages. We knew even before we got to Spain how much potential the C3 WRC has on asphalt, but we had to be in a position to exploit it.
We didn’t have a perfect day on Friday, frankly; we made not the perfect tyre choice in the morning, because we went too soft on the package and we got caught out towards the end of the final stage of that loop. The tyres overheated and delaminated. That cost us 10 to 15 seconds. Then I had a spin on the first stage after service and we lost another five seconds or so. So it was a little bit frustrating but we did managed to stay in touch with the lead; we were only three seconds or so away from it on Friday night.
We hadn’t done any testing in Spain on the asphalt so that probably gave me an extra lift and motivation on the Saturday morning. I was telling myself, ‘I’m not going to be caught cold on this surface, against these guys who’ve done their testing on Spanish tarmac. I’m going to hit the ground running.’ And fortunately for me, that turned the tide. We were able to catch a few of the other guys on the hop and pull out an advantage.
From then on, the car just gave me so much confidence. It was a pleasure to drive. You’ll have seen that on the Sunday; I was driving open and freely, and it was a really nice experience to be able to drive with a smile on my face again.
It’s another box ticked, for sure, to win on asphalt in the WRC. And in Spain; as I finished the last stage, I remembered walking up the same road 20 years ago to watch Colin McRae in the Subaru. I never thought back then that I’d even drive a rally car, let alone be in a position to win the Rally Catalunya myself.
I’m delighted for everyone in the team. It’s a timely boost for everyone after a very difficult period. We always knew the C3 was fast, and we’ve showed it.
We have to take care, though, because this doesn’t change the world in terms of the wider, overall championship. We still need to work in certain areas. But a victory always helps, and it gives everyone in the Citroen Racing team a boost going into Rally GB. We’ve another test coming soon – for Wales but not in Wales, if you know what I mean – but hopefully everyone now can work in a calmer way and we can use this as a stepping stone.
Thanks, as always, for your support.