11.05.14

2014 Rally Argentina - Post Event Press Conference

Transcript of the post event press conference organised by the FIA for the 2014 Rally Argentina

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
RALLY ARGENTINA
 
Post-event Press Conference
Sunday 11 May
 
Present:
1st - Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Motorsport
1std - Miikka Anttila, Volkswagen Motorsport
2nd - Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Motorsport
2nd - Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Motorsport 
3rd - Kris Meeke, Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
3rd - Paul Nagle, Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Jost Capito - Team Principal, Volkswagen Motorsport
 
Q:
Jari-Matti, congratulations on your first-ever win in Argentina and the 10th win in your career! How good does it feel to claim a win at a ‘classic’?
J-ML:
I’m feeling really really delighted and happy because it’s been a long time since a Finn won this event and a long time of Citroën domination, and now we managed to do it in a Volkswagen. It’s really really great for the team. But first of all I have to say that for the people who were here in the pre-rally press conference, Mikko Hirvonen mentioned how to prepare for the rally, which is to party then you might be strong, and I did it and now I won it!
 
Q:
I was going to mention that, so are you going to change the approach now for the rest of the rallies this season?
J-ML:
I don’t think I will do it in all rallies because if you start doing it in the middle of the week it won’t work all the time. In special cases it would be a little bit of relaxing.
 
Q:
Talk to me about the event cause we have seen a strong performance from you here, not only in pace but mentally strong dealing with the pressure of Sébastien Ogier behind you. It’s been a great event for you, what has made everything go so right?
J-ML:
It was a great fight. Honestly a great fight, but I guess it was a couple of little things I found together here. First of all I was really happy with the car; I changed the set-up a little bit in the last tests, and the second thing is that I enjoyed the fight and the driving; that is what is coming when you are enjoying what you are doing.
 
Q:
We saw great pace from you at the end of the day on Friday but yesterday when you and Seb [Ogier] were trading split by split we were completely amazed how competitive it was. Some mistakes came in yesterday from you both on the same stage, was that the pressure? 
J-ML:
Yes, SS8 I have to say I felt that somehow I don’t understand why but I became a little bit nervous before the stage and I wasn’t relaxed when I started to drive and then just a stupid mistake - too early on the acceleration and the wheels a little bit in the wrong position so the front right wheel dug into the sand and we spun. But I was very lucky that I managed to keep things running. I was very hard with the gearbox to get it quickly so we lost around five or six seconds and then I saw the next split that Seb was ahead about four seconds and I thought that things now are going to be difficult because I wasn’t having the best feeling. It was increasing five or six seconds his lead and he spun and we stalled the engine in the same place and I thought now we are 10 seconds behind, but we were 2.5 seconds ahead! I was amazed because I couldn’t understand that we are ahead, but then Seb was so strong that we were even equal, and then his tyre was delaminating. It was an amazing stage, all these kind of things happened on one stage.
 
Q:
In terms of the level of your pace out there, were you absolutely on it or was there still more that you could have given?
J-ML:
I said before the rally that this is a bit also about endurance and about speed and I think I was careful on some of the bad sections. There would have been a little bit more to go but the result wouldn’t be necessarily the same, so I think tactically this was really really right and the places we thought we can attack we did it, and the places where we didn’t feel so good we took it careful. So the only places that I could have improved maybe was on the Power Stage. I could have been going fast but it was such difficult conditions. I thought it’s better to stick to the plan, take victory and not to risk it for the three points. But Sébastien did an amazing time and that would have been the only place we really could have come faster.
 
Q:
Miikka, congratulations on the win. Jari-Matti complemented you several times during weekend about doing a good job - everything worked so well for you both here in Argentina! 
MA:
Like Jari-Matti said, it’s been a long time since we wanted to win this rally. It’s a great honour for us. Actually quite many years we have been competing and something has always come and then we lost the place and the fight, but this year we were able to fight for the victory and then finally get it. We were really really pleased. Jari-Matti has said very nice words about my job during the whole weekend. For sure it is nice for me. I think he is afraid I would ask for more salary for next year, but that is something that we can negotiate!
 
Q:
Talk to me about the atmosphere inside the car. It seemed very calm even though you were battling with your team-mates for the victory. Was the atmosphere quite calm throughout the event for you guys?
MA:
It was all the time a controlled drive, basically from the start to the end. We made a plan to do our own job, concentrate on our own rally and we stuck to it and like Jari-Matti said also before the end of the Power Stage, I don’t care about the Power Stage points. We are going to get through and that’s the target. If we get a couple of point it’s all extra, that’s not the main target. The main target is to win the rally and basically that’s what we did. We are very pleased. We finally got one point from the Power Stage, that’s really rewarding also.
 
Q:
Seb, what a battle we’ve seen this weekend. Second position for you and maximum points in the Power Stage. How did you feel about this battle between yourself and Jari-Matti?
SO:
The second best result I could go for. It is not bad to score 21 points here. I lost only five to Jari. So thinking about the Championship, it is really not bad. Of course I came here like always with the target of victory, but first I have to say that every time I repeat that I don’t like too much the rough rally and I think now it’s the roughest rally in the Championship, so it is not a big deal for me to not win this one. We still have a quite good pace and then with this condition we decided not to push to the maximum. I just don’t want to say that Jari won because of that, because he deserved the victory with Miikka. They did a fantastic job, the team as well because we have two very strong cars, no problem at all. When you see the conditions that we had to face, it is really remarkable. I’m still pleased with the end of this rally, even if you know that I don’t like to finish second. This weekend it is not a bad result.
 
Q:
Yesterday you said you wouldn’t be a crazy person and take risks. When did you realize that Jari-Matti couldn’t be caught?
SO:
I really hate the stage of Mina Clavero, it is really not my stage. If you start to push there, it is really a lottery. So, to be honest, I didn’t want to push there. I was really, really slow in the first three stages and I just pushed on the Power Stage to get the extra points. I don’t regret that I didn’t push this morning and I accept to finish second. I think it is not today that I lost the rally, it was before. On day one, my performance was not too bad; I suffered probably a bit from the cleaning, then, on day two, I think that without this puncture we’d be pretty equal on Saturday night. And at the end, we had to push like crazy to fight for the victory here, so maybe both cars would not be at the end. So for Volkswagen it is maybe better this way.
 
Q:
You did give a push in the Power Stage to get the maximum points; what was it like pushing in such bad conditions?
SO:
The first loop as I said, I drove very carefully, very slow. I took the time to note all the tricky places and all the muddy parts. I stated the stage, and on the first section it was not too bad; I got the first split, I was on the first position and I said I should continue even if the end was quite tricky, the last 5 kilometers were very muddy, very slippery, but when you’ve seen it once in the first loop, it is easier to anticipate the tricky places and we did it well with Julien. I think we all congratulate Miikka for his job and Julien deserves it as well because it was a tough job for them this weekend, a lot of fog and at that moment they have to be really in a perfect rhythm. It is really not the time to get lost in the notes.
 
Q:
Seb said second position is okay but he prefers to win; I guess the same for you?
JI:
They’ve been stronger than us this weekend. Let’s see next year, but for the moment I could say that we don’t like these tough conditions.  He likes to win, but we don’t like the tough conditions, so we have still to improve for sure, but second position is a good result.
 
Q:
It’s been a fantastic battle for us to watch this weekend between you two team-mates, so what’s it like to be part of that? 
JI:
It’s been exciting to watch from outside and inside also. Yesterday afternoon, for sure, we were in a good rhythm and we lost some time as Seb said when we had a little bit of a spun, but it was great to fight with these guys and even with Andreas Mikkelsen. He was also in a good pace and it’s really good to see the three Volkswagen cars fighting like this, and between us. I don’t think that between co-drivers there is so much competition. We like this dynamic.
 
Q:
Kris, third position overall; you said that your objective was to have a clean run through, finish the event and to make as few mistakes as possible. Did you bargain on getting a podium as well?
KM:
No, to be honest, no. Everyone was saying that this is the roughest Rally Argentina they have seen so for me in that respect it was probably good. I’ve done the rally before on the IRC but the stages were completely different. Basically it was new to me and I just made the notes as the conditions were. I was quite happy on day one, my pace was quite good on the stages for the first time and when we landed the third place after everybody retired on Friday I was in a completely different rally. Then I was just in survival mode to protect my position after the disappointments at Mexico and Portugal. I have to finish, I’m really really happy to come out with third place.
 
Q:
You said before the event that you competed here before but only on 20 kilometres of similar stages and we saw on the pass through in the afternoons the speed increased massively. So this is a case of getting more experience which helps?
KM:
Yes, for me especially on the southern stages, they are so fast and there are places with lots of blind fast corners, you really have to know the road to anticipate the speed and it is impossible for the first time. So I was really happy on Saturday. I had a big gap so I used that to learn and the pace notes didn’t necessarily change that much. You just understand the road better and instinctively your time improves a lot on the second pass, that’s what experience is all about. It takes one or two years in this Championship before you are fully aware of the roads and all the different types of surfaces. It’s all about experience. On the southern stages my speed was quite good on the stages on day 1 but for me it was not  technically difficult as in days 2 and 3.
 
Q:
Portugal and Mexico were difficult for you, has this result restored some confidence?
KM:
Portugal and Mexico were new events for me. After five events in the Championship I have two podiums in my first full season which is quite nice. It’s a learning experience for me this year and I have to continue to learn.
 
Q:
Today the stages were really difficult and Mikkelsen has had his foot to the floor. Were you concerned about him behind or you were just focusing on your own event?
KM:
I just have to focus on my own plan as he has been here a number of years with good experience. Everybody knows he’s really experienced, he has good speed even back when he was here with Skoda. During this weekend his speed was really good, he drove very well, his speed was really incredible but I just had to stay on my own plan. I was prepared to use every second I had to get the third place. I didn’t necessarily have to win it by a minute. I only had to do it by one second. I’m happy to come out with third place.
 
Q:
You had a lucky horseshoe in the car. Is it going to stay for the season?
KM:
It might! My engineer once told me that Seb [Loeb] once had a silver fern from New Zealand and he kept it in the car for six rallies and he won the six rallies. And the mechanic threw it out and he crashed on the next one. It might have to be welded on the chassis…
 
Q:
Paul, congratulations on your third position overall. How are you feeling at the end of a very tough event in the Championship calendar?  
PN:
Yes, it was very tough. Thing were not very well, so we needed a good result here. Picking up a podium was an extra bonus. We had to drive very carefully from Friday evening on. We had to drive slowly and carefully and as Kris said it is not the best to drive slowly. We managed all the weekend, the engineers made a great job. The car was adapted to the terrain. We are very happy and it is fantastic to be on the podium.
 
Q:
How tough was it out there today in those difficult conditions, especially with the fog across many of the stages?
PN:
It is very hard for co-drivers driving in the fog, you cannot see very far in front of you. For me, Mina Clavero and El Cóndor are like being in the moon. And I am so happy to land down here, far from that place!
 
Q:
Jost, nine wins in a row for Volkswagen and Jari-Matti winning in Argentina, great results. You must be a very proud Team Principal?
JC:
Definitely and I think everybody in the team is living in a dream right now and we have to be very thankful to Volkswagen which gave us the opportunity. We never thought that we could achieve this in the second season or what we achieved in the first season, and all the support we get from Volkswagen and the sympathy we get from Volkswagen employees around the world. It is fantastic. When we come to Argentina we have big factories and we see the employees that are coming and cheering us on. It’s absolutely fantastic.
 
Q:
It must have been a joy to watch this weekend, your two drivers battling for the win. You’ve always said that there were no team orders, that they are allowed to fight. Does that make things a bit tense?
JC:
No, not at all. The team enjoys the competition and enjoys the battle. And you see the mechanics at the lunch service, they work on their cars but not only their car because on the evening service there were both teams working on one car. There is no competition within the mechanics. They try to prepare the cars as good as they can and also like yesterday normally me and drivers and co-drivers sit and have lunch together, Seb came to the table and said: “Hey, Miikka you did a fantastic, outstanding loop” and that shows how it is in the team. We normally enjoy the internal competition and it is very sportive and very healthy.
 
Q:
What have you thought about Andreas Mikkelsen’s performance this weekend? Do you think we are going to see Andreas on the podium soon?
JC:
Yes, I think Andreas did a great job here, that he had the pace of Sébastien and Jari-Matti. Unfortunately he had this problem but it was not his fault at all and then he came back and he didn’t give up and I am sure that in the rallies he has some experience he will be very good and we will see him on the podium this year.
 
Q:
Jari-Matti was leading the way for the majority of the weekend. What have you thought about his performance?
JC:
If we haven’t believed that he is as good, he wouldn’t be in the team. We know that Jari-Matti can win rallies on his own without needing any luck and the same is for Sébastien and it shows that we were right.
 
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
 
Carlos Rodríguez
Autoradio Sport - Radio Excelsior AM1160, Argentina
 
Q:
Do you have a good chance to fight for the Championship with this victory?
J-ML:
You know when I crashed in Portugal it was quite a big hit for my Championship points. Of course there was a bit of pressure coming here because I thought if Sébastien [Ogier] wins here and I don’t score any points he would go far away. But now, with this victory, we can get five points closer and we are still in the fight for the Championship. So this was very important to keep going with the fight. It is all open.
 
Manuel Siella
Autoradio Sport - Radio Excelsior AM1160, Argentina
 
Q:
What does it mean for you to win Rally Argentina after all the years when Citroën and Sébastien Loeb were dominating in this rally?
J-ML:
As I mentioned earlier, for me it is amazing because in this rally it was a long time ago when there was a Finn winning, over 10 years ago. I remember in 1999 you had Juha Kankkunen, and I don’t know if Marcus Grönholm won it with a Peugeot, and then it has been Sébastien Loeb’s domination. So, I guess it was not a rally where you would expect a win, so it is really a great moment to win this rally.
 
 
FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP
 
Present:
1st - Nasser Al-Attiyah
1st - Giovanni Bernacchini
 
Q:
Nasser, congratulations on the result, second win for you in a row in WRC 2. You took victory in Portugal just a couple of weeks ago and now in Argentina. How are you feeling?
NA-A:
Thank you so much. I’m happy to win here. We have been really very clever all this weekend. We saved our car and we tried to do our best because the race was very hard. It was not easy but we found a really good pace and we lead by a big gap and after that we controlled all this weekend. It is a great win here.
 
Q:
You said you controlled the whole weekend. Were there any issues at all, Nasser? You made it look easy.
NA-A:
Not too easy. I think most of the drivers did not use the brain here. You know because when you push you get a lot of trouble and we have been really clever.
 
Q:
You talked to us about SS2 before the event and said how difficult that stage was. But today, especially on the El Cóndor stage, that was incredible. How difficult was it? 
NA-A:
Actually, today is slower stages. There is no high speed like stage 2. SS2 is really fast and very route with a lot of ditches. In general the rally is really hard and today the situation was very difficult because there was a lot of fog and it was raining. We are quite happy to have this result.
 
Q:
This looks good now for the Championship; two wins in a row. You must be very confident for the season ahead?
NA-A:
Yes. After Portugal, we worked a lot to keep going and to get a good result in this race. We found ourselves really in a good position. We had the first place all weekend without any problems and we are quite happy. 
 
Q:
Congratulation Giovanni. Nasser made it look easy but it is not an easy event. It is a tough challenge here in Argentina for you too.
GB:
First of all, thank you. Yes, actually not easy at all. It was very difficult because the first day the long stages were very difficult, especially number 2, but I think we made a perfect job. After that we were leading with a big gap and the last two days it was not easy to manage this gap. When you have a gap to manage you have to go slow and it is not so easy because you are scared to break the car and you try to avoid every stone. Today honestly, for me, it was all so difficult. In El Cóndor the first and the second passes with the fog and the mud everywhere, it was slippery. And in these conditions we had just to finish. So, every corner was, not a nightmare, but when you pass one, you start saying one less, one less, one less. But we did it. We made a very good job with the team. The car was perfect. So, two victories in a row in the Championship is a brilliant start to the season. We also won three rallies in the Middle East. At the moment we cannot ask for more. 
 
Q:
Does it feel special to win such a classic event as Rally Argentina?
GB:
Of course. It is great. Argentina is a classic in the World Championship. For me, it is one of the best rallies even if it is one of the most difficult. It is beautiful with the places, the people, the fans. There are amazing. They are everywhere. Many fans for us but especially for Nasser because they know him from the Dakar. It is very good to be here and win.