Yvan Muller is taking a break from the World Touring Car Championship to contest his home round of the World Rally Championship in a Citroen Xsara run by Petter Solberg's team. The Frenchman had to retire from day one with a fuel system issue but is back out for leg two under superally rules.
Q. How do you feel about the rally so far?
Yvan Muller: Every kilometer I did with the car gave me more confidence. The car is so different from what I am used to on conditions which are so different from what I am used to. I was happy in the shakedown to have some wet and some dirt in the road because I had not driven in these conditions before.
Basically, the first four stages went well. I wasn't expecting too much: my only real goal in doing the rally was to find out a bit more about this sport and be part of the party. I didn't have any greater ambitions than that. With the rally coming to my home region of Alsace, I decided that now was the right time, so here I am.
Q. Did you do a pre-event test?
YM: I did only one day, 50 or 60 kilometers. It was three kilometers up and three down, but it was dry, so I didn't know what was going to happen when I try to push the brake when the road is wet and dirty.
Q. What were the conditions like?
YM: The stages were really difficult, because the roads were damp and the grip was quite inconsistent. It's not really what I'm used to in touring cars, especially all the mud on the road. I had been warned about that before the start, but I wasn't expecting it to be as muddy as it was.
Q. And things didn't get off to the best of starts?
YM: No. I started my very first championship stage with a stall off the line, but from then on things got a lot better. I certainly wasn't fully up to speed with my pace notes and I was a long way from seeing the full potential of the car. But as a start, it wasn't too bad. I found the twisty stages particularly difficult: when the road was wider and more flowing – more like a race circuit, in other words – it got a bit easier for me.
Q. Your time in the fourth stage was very good. What happened in there?
YM: That was the last stage I did, Grand Ballon. That one went really well, at least the first part of it. Then the second half, after the ski slope at the top, was massively slippery.
I know that we lost a lot of time but I was beginning to understand why and we still came out with 12th fastest time on what was the longest stage so far. That's why it was really frustrating to retire on the road section so close to Mulhouse where all my friends were waiting to see me.
Q. It's good to be back today?
YM: Yes, for sure. It was easy for the car and it's been fantastic to see such massive support from the crowds here, so I'm very glad that we're able to join in the show again.
I won't be taking any risks, as we're still leading the World Touring Car Championship and it would be stupid to hurt myself. But I'm sure I'm going to take away some great memories, and who knows, I might even be tempted to try some rallying again at some point.
Q. Can you take anything from racing and apply it here?
YM: Not really. For me, it's like comparing rugby and football [soccer]: both use balls and both take place on a pitch, but they are very different.