03.08.13

2013 Rally Finland - Post Event Press Conference

Transcript of the post-event press conference organised by the FIA for the 2013 Rally Finland
2013 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
NESTE OIL RALLY FINLAND
 
Post-event Press Conference
Saturday 3 August 
 
Present:
1st - Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Motorsport
1st - Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Motorsport 
2nd - Thierry Neuville, Qatar World Rally Team
2nd - Nicolas Gilsoul, Qatar World Rally Team
3rd - Mads Østberg, Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team
3rd - Jonas Andersson, Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
 
Q:
Sébastien, you said before this event that you dreamt of winning Finland, the dream is now a reality, how do you feel?
SO:
Of course very well. That was a dream that came true. I am very happy with that. In 2010, I was in a good pace, but not able to fight for the win, but now it’s here. With my team Volkwagen in its first year, I want to congratulate them – it’s incredible. We are going to celebrate tonight…
 
Q:
Did you have a definite strategy for this event? 
SO:
My stategy was to think about the Championship. My start to the race was a bit difficult, I couldn’t find the best pace – I wasn’t able to focus. Then on the second loop I could find more pace when I was sure with the notes. I was pushing and trying to be more safe – with the rain some parts of the stage were tricky and rough. We got through them and finished the rally with no problem.
 
Q:
On Thursday you said you had too much on your mind to concentrate on the win - what did you mean?
SO:
I knew my closest rival was out of the race for points and then I had a good opportunity to make good points. But, even if it looks really good at this moment you never know and it’s best to secure as many points as early as possible. I tried to stay on a good pace on the first loop and then push more and extend the lead in the second loop – this was the good strategy. Like always, I trusted my feeling: when I hesitate I like to keep it a bit back and wait for the next one.
 
Q:
You won both runs of Ouninpohja and broke the record - how was the stage?
SO:
I think I mentioned from the start of the rally that I was really looking forward to this stage and I would be trying to drive fast. This was my first time with the World Rally Car and it was impressive to see the speed that we carry the first time. Even if you have watched the video a little bit before and you trust the pace notes 100 per cent, the heart rhythm goes higher. When I was sure with the notes and we pushed, it was a lot of fun. In the end, it was hard with the tyres completely gone – it was too hot for the softs. It was fantastic to drive this stage and it’s also a small bonus to have this record.
 
Q:
Can you win the title on the next round?
SO:
To be honest, I didn’t do the calculation, but I know I have more than three victories for the advantage. Mathematically, it’s possible, but quite difficult. The most important thing is that it happens – I don’t care where, if it’s Australia, France or even later, I will be very happy for that. We have seen this weekend that competing is not easy, it looks easy, but in each rally it’s tough. Thierry and Mads have both made a very good job and Mikko as well before his mistake, he also made it look tough. It will be a big fight to the end of the season. l hope it [the title] happens as soon as possible to get my mind really clear – then I can push even more completely to the limit. This is another great step. 
 
Q:
I can see Julien doing the maths in his head…
JI:
We did it on the computer, but I’m not sure it’s possible in Germany.
 
SO:
Yes,  because it’s more than three victories for Germany and if Jari-Matti and Mikko don’t score points then it’s possible.
 
JI:
It’s slender…
 
SO:
It’s what I say – I don’t think it’s going to happen.
 
JOST CAPITO:
I just wanted to say that Seb and Julien have been out this world – they were outstanding, especially with Julien coming back and doing all the preparation needed. I am not sure I have ever seen such a performance anywhere. 
 
SO:
Thanks a lot Jost and thanks also to JulIen, without him this would not be possible.
 
JI: 
Thanks for that, and I have a song for you… just 20 seconds. AC/DC again. It’s a long way to the top for rock and roll! 
 
Q:
Julien, you came to this event carrying an injury, how has the shoulder handled the rally?
JI:
It has been really great. When I took the decision to come into the car it was not to make him stop in the stage or at the end of the day. Only on one stage I had a little bit of pain, otherwise it was great.
 
Q:
What’s it like to co-drive at those speeds?
JI:
Before the event, I was asked if it would be strange to get into the car without testing at this speed, but the body gets used to this after the years. You can feel it. Once you are in the stage and you know the driver will push like hell to make the best time in Ouninpohja then it takes another spirit. It was an experience you cannot forget for sure.
 
Q:
Were there any moments?
JI:
I must be honest, he did everything under control. I don’t think we had a moment this weekend. Yeah, one or two times the car lifted a little more than scheduled, but it was under control, congratulations to him he did a really great job.
 
Q:
Thierry, second position at Rally Finland - an incredible battle with a great result for you. Your season just keeps getting better!
TN:
I can only feel good. Nicolas and me did a really good job. I had good confidence from the last few results and we were able to fight and go and see where is the maximum. We found a good rhythm between just driving and pushing. Sometimes in the ruts, you had to be careful not to puncture – we got one but we got through. This is only my second time [in Finland] and everybody says you need lots of experience but we did good preparation and we made good notes which helped us to do a good result and have good pace.
 
Q:
When did you think a win was out of the question?
TN:
I was not thinking about the win. I knew Seb would be very strong and nearly impossible to beat. After the first day I could see he was not in such a good rhythm and it was going well for us… so I thought a podium was possible. But then Mads continued to push very quickly on Friday morning and he gave [took] 11 seconds and I knew then that we had to wake up. Once I was in the rhythm, then we were nearly always on the same stage time. I knew if I continue like this, I would stay out of trouble – but I had to push for the podium.
 
Q:
Going into the second running of Ouninpohja you were just 0.1 second behind Mads Ostberg, what was your thinking before going into the stage?
TN:
On the start line I was a little nervous. I could see Mads going into the stage in front of me and he was very fast into the first corner. I could see he was pushing and I had no choice. We did it and we are here. It’s a shame he had the stone [in Ouninpohja], I saw it as well. We had the same speed, but it went right for me.
 
Q:
Power Stage points as well - were you not nervous that you may make a mistake on the final stage?
TN:
I don’t know if Sébastien was on his maximum pace. I talk to Nicolas and said that we would go slowly, but then on the first braking it felt good and we went well around this corner. So I continue to the first split, the first split [we] were down and I thought: “okay, two points…” But then Sébastien was down to me and at the end I had a good drive – three points. Now I am equal with Jari-Matti and I just need a victory to get past him.
 
Q:
Is a victory possible?
TN:
It’s possible, but I think Sébastien needs to be in trouble. I am really looking forward to the first Tarmac event in Germany. I did it twice now, but I need to see how the Fiesta is working and if we can find good settings. If I do then it’s possible to fight with the Volkswagens and the Citroëns.
 
Q:
Nicolas, congratulations. How were your preparations for this event?
NG:
For each event, we do massive preparation. Here we have experience from last year and it’s important to watch the video to remember how the stages are and all the conditions we can find during the rally.
 
Q:
How are you feeling about the result?
NG:
It’s a very nice feeling and it’s nice to see in Sardinia on a completely different rally six weeks ago, we are second there and we are second here. The speed is there and it looks like an interesting step for us.
 
Q:
The next step’s a win – is it close?
NG:
I hope so, but we stay focused and continue to work – we have to stay clever for the second part of the season. We are very close to second in the Championship so we have to discuss the plan for the second part.
 
Q:
Third position overall and an incredible fight Mads, congratulations. That is certainly a good way to kick off the second half of the season!
MO:
This has turned it around, doing a rally with no problems is a big step. The car was really good this weekend. Okay we had some pucntures, but anyway almost everything has worked really well – it’s nice for the confidence that we have the speed and have been fastest on many stages. We have been able to fight for the top positions and I’m really looking forward to having my confidence back!
 
Q:
You led the rally and battled away, always at the front of the field. How happy were you with your pace this weekend?
MO:
I definitely think this was a good weekend after such a difficult first half of the season. My confidence was zero and it was difficult to know how to turn this around when so many different things were going on. If I wasn’t going flat-out all the time, I could turn it around, but it was difficult. With the break, I was able to understand what we needed to work on. I was really looking forward to Finland, even if the confidence was not very high. We saw early on the speed was quite good, then we slowly tried to get the confidence back, even if the speed didn’t change much. It feels better at the end of the rally and it will be easier to start a rally again after this weekend.
 
Q:
You were pretty psyched for the battle today…
MO:
For sure, but like I said, our confidence was not so high. We have been without splits all the time, I just wanted to focus on ourselves and only drive as fast as I can. I didn’t want to go to the maximum, I needed to be at the end of the rally. We decided to go maximum inside my comfortable level and more than that I wouldn’t do; if he was faster then he was faster and he was – I’m happy with third.
 
Q:
The second running of Ouninpohja is where the battle for second ended, what happened?
MO:
It’s a very fast section at the end of the stage – fast and narrow: slightly uphill braking to a third-gear right. I braked and turned and when I got back on the throttle I saw a massive rock on the line, actually it was further out than the line. I knew if I hit that then definitely it would end the rally, but if I go around it then something could also probably happen… I tried to go around it and for a moment I thought I would pass and continue. But I hit something on the exit and we spin for 180 degrees. I understand immediately that second is not possible and from then on it was all about hoping the car was okay and that we could get to the end. 
 
Q:
Jonas, how important was this for your confidence?
JA:
Like Mads said, it was important. It’s nice to have a break and get ready for the rally – this worked very well. We could step up at the weekend and we are really happy with the result.
 
Q:
What’s it like for the co-drivers in the battle?
JA:
It’s the same as for the drivers. We are competing together and even if we are good friends we still want to beat them, it’s always great to have a battle and it’s been so close through the stages. I have enjoyed it.
 
Q:
Is there any fighting talk between the co-drivers?
JA:
No, not really.
 
Q:
Jost, to win in Finland is not only a driver’s dream but also a manufacturer’s dream! How do the team feel about this success?
JC:
It’s really fantastic. If you ask the team and driver, even ask the car – if it could speak – which event it would like to win everyone would say Finland. We really pushed hard. Our boss Dr. Hackenberg has moved to Audi and we are very thankful to him. He made this programme and result happen – this is a nice farewell present. This is the last rally he is in charge before Dr. Neußer is coming and this is a nice welcome present for him. I am very happy for these presents. 
 
Q:
We expected a big attack from Jari-Matti, what were your thoughts on that?
JC:
We are very sorry for Jari-Matti, it was not at all his fault – it was his experience in the first season and the car should have been able to cope with hitting this rock and it did not. This is the second time he has had this and we are really sorry that we messed up his rally.
 
Q:
We heard Andreas’ co-driver Mikko Markkula had a problem with his back, what can you tell us? 
JC:
He finished the rally and that was his decision, we told him that if he did not want to do the second loop then it was fine with us. They wanted the experience and they did it – when he came back he said it was the right decision. Now he has to get ready for Germany.
 
Q:
What do you think of Finland as a blueprint for WRC rounds?
JC:
Rally Finland is the role model for WRC events. The position of the service park is close to the hotels and the city is great and there are a lot of activities for the spectators. The infrastructure in service: water, electric, it’s all there and the stages are also reasonably close. And the stages are fantastic. This is why the whole area and people from outside love the rally here – this is why people love coming here and it’s why from tomorrow we all want to come back here.
 
 
FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP 
 
Present:
1st - Jari Ketomaa
1st - Markko Sallinen
 
Q:
Jari, a win in Finland and the first win for the R5 in competiton. You led from the start and made it look easy!
JK:
Perfect. I have been so many times in Finland doing once good times in a World Rally Car. It’s my dream to win the whole rally, but step-by-step and maybe to the podium in WRC. Let’s see, but this was the perfect weekend.
 
Q:
How was the feeling with the R5 this weekend?
JK:
Like I have said many times from the first metres I did in the car, it felt very, very good and I knew I could push the car hard. It’s difficult to drive the car when you are not on the limit, but I felt the limit and I really found this car suited my style. I felt on the first run on the test in Latvia that I could push as hard as I could. Then I wanted to see how close the other cars are. This was a very good tactic, the other guys had no chance…
 
Q:
Tell us about the new DMACK tyre you were working with, how did they perform?
JK:
They were unbelievable! It was like coming from previous years, like 2011 to last year. In Ouninpohja, I had told DMACK they needed to improve the grip on the high-speed: when you are going 150 kph over a crest you need to know the tyre will be there and it was. Last autumn we did a huge development and now we can see the product of that work – it’s one year after. In Finland you have to have the high-performance tyre, if you don’t have this, if you have the s**t tyre then completely you can’t do it. This is the big proof from the tyre point and there is new development coming and new tyres coming. It’s been great for me to follow that development which has been happening.
 
Q:
Did you have any moments?
JK:
There was some huge rainfall in Himos, second time through and a lot of water on the uphill section where I almost spun. We got in the ditch there and then we had a huge slide on the final stage – it was with the full steering. But that was it for the whole weekend.
 
Q:
What about the rest of the season?
JK:
Tomorrow my daughter is in my grandmother’s place and we go to the summer house and have fun. I do the Chinese Championship after two weeks, but I am completely open if somebody comes to save me, please come! 
 
Q:
But this result has to help?
JK:
It was a strong event. We did a local event in 2010 with Marko [Sallinen] as my co-driver for the first time. He did the perfect event then and I worked with him since. I called him three weeks ago, when Kaj [Lindstrom] couldn’t come and it was great to work with him. I hope something comes up, I am confident I can do a great job.
 
Q:
Not being rude, but your co-driver doesn’t speak English… did he have a good time?
JK:
Yes! Marko is happy, he is having a good time.
 
 
FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP
 
Present:
1st - Keith Cronin
1st - Marshall Clarke
 
Q:
Keith your first win as part of the WRC 3 and Citroën Top Driver programme - and the win is here in Finland, a rally every driver wants to claim. How does it feel?
KC:
The feeling is absolutely brilliant. This was my first time in Finland and winning WRC 3 is great. We’ve shown the pace in the last three, but it’s gone away. We got the result this time. I didn’t expect it. You hear so much about Finland, I thought I might be at a disadvantage to the other drivers who have done it before, but I had a good feeling right away. There was a battle with Alastair [Fisher], but unfortunately he had his accident and after that we kept the gap the same.
 
Q:
You battled with Alastair Fisher until his off, how much pressure were you putting on each other?
KC:
I don’t think I was taking huge risks. I was a bit ragged, but I could have gone quicker if I tidied up. Alastair had it at the very beginning, but I was confident I could keep upping the pace. I didn’t feel I was taking massive risks. It’s hard in Finland, not knowing where the car would land.
 
Q:
Does this give your confidence a boost?
KC:
It’s huge for Germany. It’s back onto Tarmac and now I’m pretty confident that we can go well on Tarmac if we can bring this pace. Hopefully we can get a result there. There are three [events] to go and they’re all new to me, I need to keep doing good recces and I hope the results will come.
 
Q:
Remind us of the prize…
KC:
Winning Citroën Top Driver, you get a drive in a Citroën [DS3] R5 next year in the World Rally Championship – it’s a massive prize from Citroën and I have to thank them for it. I hope I’ll win it and be back here next year.
 
Q:
Were you tense in the car?
KC:
I was definitely very tense. After the stage when Alastair went off, the tension went up in the car and I didn’t drive it well at all – there’s so much at stake. I didn’t have a great Ouninpohja, but I got over that and found the rhythm. There were a lot of rocks in the next stage and I tried to avoid any holes in the road. I avoided the punctures and it worked out in the end. 
 
Q:
Were there any big moments out there? Any dramas?
MC:
Sitting with Keith the faster he goes, the smoother he becomes. If he’s ragged then he’s nowhere near the limit. We didn’t have any moments, nothing to talk about.
 
Q:
Marshall, confidence needs to be high competing here - how did you rate your chances of a win before the event began? 
MC:
No way. Having watched Finland all these years and hearing how specialised it is I didn’t think it was possible, it wasn’t a question of the speed, it was about the knowledge over the crests and all about lines. To be here on the podium after winning is fantastic.
 
Q:
How was the recce; did you make many changes to the notes?
MC:
Not many on the rally, maybe the odd plus to minus. Keith is very professional at making good notes and paying a lot of attention on the recce and that’s where the hard work is done – we took all the time we were allowed to take and it’s paid off in the end.
 
Q:
Were you a calming influence for Keith in the car?
MC: 
Keith’s his own man and he tends not to get too excited about very much, as you can see. I didn’t need to slap his wrists at all. We were calm through Ouninpohja, but my maths must be getting bad, I have counted and counted to make sure I didn’t make a mistake – watching the trip and the clock.
 
 
FIA JUNIOR WRC CHAMPIONSHIP
 
Present:
1st – Andreas Amberg
1st – Mikko Lukka
 
Q:
Andreas, congratulations on your first win in the Junior WRC Championship. A win at home must be special?
AA:
I am very happy for that. It was not an easy event for us, but we won and I’m really happy for that.
 
Q:
Why not easy?
AA:
On the Friday afternoon, we had a little technical issue, but I have forgotten that already. The other guys had little bit problem too, so no problem.
 
Q:
What about your run through Ouninpohja
AA:
This was an amazing stage – we jumped too long and one stone came to the windscreen and that was broken, it’s not an easy stage to drive, but I enjoy it a lot.
 
Q:
What did it mean when you crossed the line?
AA:
It was a good feeling. I have been dreaming, when I was young, to be in Jyväskylä. I won and I am really happy.
 
Q:
Sébastien Ogier gave you some good advice before the rally, did it help?
AA:
Of course. He had a few good tips.
 
Q:
What about the rest of the season – are you strong enough to win more?
AA:
Yes, of course, but it won’t be easy on Tarmac. I haven’t driven one event on Tarmac, so I don’t know what will be my speed on Tarmac.
 
Q:
Mikko, talk us through the rally…
ML:
It’s a nice feeling to win the home rally. It’s nice.
 
Q:
Were there any big moments?
ML:
Not any big moments, a few huge slides, but not any big moments.
 
Q:
You must take confidence from here?
ML:
This was the first time being here and of course we are feeling comfortable and better and better when you win – especially on the fast roads. We like the Finnish roads!