After a troubled day at the head of the field on the opening leg of Rally New Zealand, six-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb is back in seventh place heading for the evening superspecial
Q. What exactly happened on the fourth stage this morning?
Sebastien Loeb: There was a right hand corner, which narrowed at a bridge. On the entry to the corner, I lost the rear of the car, it was my fault – I braked too late. The car slid and we hit the bridge on my side.
Q. Did you stop straight away?
SL: No, I carried on. I thought it might be OK, so we drove a little way. But then I had to stop, the door was open and I was going to lose the door. I knew we only had the remote service after the stage, so it was not going to be possible to replace the door for the team. I had to stop and try to fix the door myself.
Q. Did you get out and work on the car?
SL: No, not get out, but I had to loosen my belts and work down at the side of the seat. It wasn't easy, I had my gloves on and everything, I lost a lot of time, maybe one minute trying to get the door fixed. But then, it wasn't working, so I went again and held the door shut. The dust was terrible, though.
Q. Was it a big impact?
SL: Not really. It was a slow corner, maybe 40 or 50 kph. It wasn't so bad, it was just the door.
Q. What had the road been like before that?
SL: Difficult. There was a lot of loose [gravel] around this morning. I had really enjoyed the roads, but I knew the times were going to be quicker and quicker behind.
In some ways, I'm a little surprised some of them weren't a bit faster behind; I didn't know if it wasn't cleaning so much or if I was just driving really fast. This is a nice rally, but this one stage was not so nice for me.
Q. What can you do now?
SL: We're more than one minute behind. I don't know. It's going to be tough.
Q. A podium?
SL: I don't think so. OK, maybe it's possible, there's a long way to go, but when you look at the times this morning, the leading cars were separated by a couple of seconds – and I'm one minute and 20 seconds down.
Q. The drivers following you said some of your lines were quite wild...
SL: What can I do? I am first on the road and I have to sweep to find some grip. I was pushing, I was trying hard.