It was time to go back to France after two years. Earlier the competition was driven on the island of Corsica but now we went to Alsace in Strasbourg. It was the first time to drive the race here and the super special was driven in Sebastien Loeb’s birth town, Haguenau. So this was Loeb’s home rally. The weather was rainy and pretty cold. This was why we drove with soft tarmac tyres (there is a hard version, too). We drove on mixed tarmac surfaces and on different kinds of other roads. There were lots of cuttings and in wet conditions mud appeared on the roads a lot. Some stages were more gravel than tarmac because of that. The roads were fine otherwise but there were too many cuttings. Luckily we had our personal safety crew whose work was demanding. Safety crew can only be used by WRC drivers who have the FIA classification and who drive the whole series and it can only be used in tarmac rallies. My safety crew was Juha Miettinen and Pentti Kuukkala like so many times before. The rally was one of my best races on tarmac because I was able to drive four fastest times. In previous tarmac rallies I haven’t been able to drive so many fastest times even all together. I had a positive race but there are still lots to be improved: my stage times varied a lot due to the conditions. I was able to drive well when it was either dry or dirty but if the conditions were mixed I could not drive well. On Saturday mud made me spin and I broke my car’s rear oil cooler. Fortunately after the stage we were able to take the broken cell off and lead the oil back to its right place. We also added some lubricant (it was brake fluid because we had nothing else) which helped the car to the next service. But these mishaps were not all: while I was trying to catch Petter Solberg and the third position on Saturday evening I span at a crucial moment losing about ten seconds. And they even cancelled the second last stage because of too many spectators so that was it. This race was the most demanding ever for me due to mixed conditions but on the other hand my Focus felt better than ever on tarmac. The French got their public festival because Loeb made sure he will win the title for the seventh time after winning this race. The Citroens will also win the manufacturer’s world championship title.
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