08.02.14

Rally Sweden - Post-Event Press Conference

Transcript of the post-event press conference organised by the FIA for the 2014 Rally Sweden
2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
RALLY SWEDEN
 
Present:
1st - Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Motorsport
1st - Miikka Anttila, Volkswagen Motorsport
2nd - Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Motorsport
2nd - Mikko Markkula, Volkswagen Motorsport 
3rd - Mads Østberg, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
3rd - Jonas Andersson, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
 
Q:
Jari-Matti, congratulations on your ninth WRC win and your third win in Sweden! You have never won a sole event three times - a special moment?
J-ML:
It’s right. This is a very special moment winning three times – but there are also some very legendary drivers; five drivers have won more than two times here. It’s great to be among drivers like Stig Blomqvist, Bjorn Waldegård, Tommi Mäkinen and Marcus Grönholm. This is a special event, one I won first time in 2008 – it’s a very special moment. 
 
Q:
It’s been a great weekend for the whole team and we've seen you battling against your team-mates. High pressure weekend would you say?
J-ML:
There has been pressure to be honest but if you look at my start for the first day it didn’t look like I’m going to win the rally. Okay I was 10 seconds behind Ogier and not winning any stages but then luckily things changed on the second day morning and I started to get the feeling for the car after some set-up change. And I started to improve the driving in the ruts. When the conditions started to be a bit more demanding that was suiting me. Unfortunately Ogier went off the road for four and a half minutes. But then I started a big fight with Andreas [Mikkelsen]. Yesterday evening I started to doubt how we can make it because Andreas suddenly gained so much time on the Super Special where I had problems with my tyres and also a little bit my driving. That was not great but this morning I really, really focused on this morning and to attack on the first two stages.
 
Q:
You took points on the Power Stage also, were you still on the limit on the final stage?
J-ML:
We discussed with Miikka before the start. Basically our plan was to go out there and drive as fast as we had done but we were not trying to score the points. If it comes with normal driving as we had been doing on the day then it’s great but we don’t add any extra. It was a very clean, very nice run. There was maybe a little chance to push but then always the risk is going higher. We were happy with that and Mads [Østberg] did a very good stage so I’m very happy with those points. All the rally was a good rally.
 
Q:
When did you feel the pressure come off?
J-ML:
This morning with Andreas, he touched a bit the snowbank with the front and he took too much snow in the front bumper. The engine started to get too hot and he lost some time in Torntorp, the second one this morning. At that time, I started to feel less pressure. With 30 seconds’ lead I thought I could relax… five per cent.
 
Q:
Jari-Matti you have been very… not solemn on this event, but very, very focused. Are you more relaxed now? 
J-ML:
I am, but you are right I have tried be more focused and concentrate. I have had difficult starts to the season so many times and not done so good starts. And when you are at a low point in the start, it’s so difficult – halfway in the year you have already lost your Championship. I really wanted to concentrate to get a good start for the season – I got fifth in the Monte and I knew it would be important to get a good position over here to keep the Championship interesting. Maybe I was taking too much pressure myself before the start, but then it was getting better and then it started to work. I really wanted to say thank you to Christoph [Treier], my mental trainer. He has helped me a lot. This was something the team was asking and I was considering for me that it could be good. So thanks for the team for thinking about this. Mental training, I believe – on every sport – you can do work.
 
Q:
Miikka, Sweden is where is you won your first WRC event back in 2008, how does this win compare?
MA:
I have to say it feels a bit different. In that time it was coming maybe even too easy in that year because the conditions were quite similar but in that time we were starting from behind and we managed to get the lead and finally it was only Mikko [Hirvonen] we were driving against. Now it’s different. Basically on the first day on the Thursday we were in a good speed but not in a perfect fit. Then on the next morning when Ogier got stuck on the snow bank we knew that now we have to play a really, really clever game. Basically we thought of the strategy we needed to do to win this rally. We followed this strategy and the only time it didn’t work out was on the Hagfors Sprint stage yesterday when we lost some time and Jari-Matti was very upset. But I said it was better to carry on in the rally than be in the snow bank because we have seen this is possible on the Hagfors Sprint in the past. But everything went according to plan.
 
Q:
Any moments this week, Miikka?
MA: 
No, there was no single moment when I thought: “This is going to be snowbank for us…” This is normal for the Scandinavian drivers, they get used to the snow and the snow is the surface where they really enjoy driving. This group of us [on the podium], only the Scandinavians; tells us about driving on snow and ice.
 
Q:
Andreas, congratulations on your first ever WRC podium! You put up a brave fight for the win, how does it feel to stand on the podium?
AM:
Coming into the event I really wanted to put on a good display and I knew Rally Sweden was one of my strongest events even though I haven’t done it since 2008 in a World Rally Car. We had a good test and I was really hoping for this and I knew if I had a perfect weekend I could end up on the podium. When we started the rally we were already fighting for the lead, basically throughout the whole rally except the second stage this morning where I did a mistake. After that it was all about securing the second place.
 
Q:
Andreas, you talked throughout the weekend about being ‘in control’ and not getting too excited - do you think you managed to do that? 
AM:
Yeah, I’m very happy with the performance. I never came to that point where I said: “Let’s give it everything and hope for the best…” I managed to really control the driving and took the small risk where I had to and stayed safe where I could. I’m happy with the way I controlled my rally.
 
Q:
Were there any nerves for you going into that final stage?
AM:
I wasn’t so bad – it was much worse last night. I woke four or five times thinking of different situations. In the last section, in the ski area, it was terrible, my legs were shaking, it was the most tricky section of whole rally – I took it very steady.
 
Q:
The fight for the lead ended on the morning stages, tell us what happened?
AM:
The first stage was really tricky and we decided after five or six kilometres that now the conditions are difficult let’s be a little bit smart, drive fast but not taking any risks. Then on the second stage a stupid mistake from me when I went into a corner too quickly and filled the front of the car with snow. So we just had to carry on out of the stage on road mode because the engine was running up. After that it was too far up to Jari so after that we said let’s secure the second place.
 
Q:
Mikko, congratulations on your first WRC podium! How does it feel after a tough weekend on the stages?
MM:
First of all it’s nice to see we can match those other two guys. Then again wouldn’t it be ideal to finish 1-2-3 with Volkswagen? Then unfortunately Sébastien did a small mistake and it ended up like that but it could have happened to any one of us basically.
 
Q:
How about you, Mikko, were you nervous?
MM:
Maybe age brings calmness… 
 
Q:
You’re not that old…
MM:
I start to be with these guys in front... The first podium is great for me. You start the stage second and you want to finish in the same place. Something in the brain says what maybe will happen, but you need to finish your work in the right way.
 
Q:
Mads, this is your fourth time on the podium in Sweden. You take away third position, maximum points from the Power Stage and lie third in the Championship standings. Are you happy with your weekend?
MO:
Yes I am pleased. It’s been a good weekend. I was mainly a little bit surprised in the beginning because I felt quite early on the first stage the feeling was not right and I understood very quickly that my dream of fighting for the win would be difficult straight away. But we managed quite quickly to reset and start over again especially for the next day. We tried some new things with the car and also during the weekend I was adapting my driving style. To be honest I totally changed my driving style in three days. It’s been a good learning curve for me. Three days in the car and I feel my driving style is new and I started to get really confident with the car. For me it’s been a great weekend even though we hoped for a bit more. In the end I am very happy with third position. And with the stage times we had today and the Power Stage three points is actually very good. It’s very nice to end Rally Sweden like this.
 
Q:
I asked you before the event if you had fully got to know the Citroën DS3 and you said no. Do you feel differently now?
MO:
No. I know a lot more about the car and understand a lot more but there is still some work to do and I’m not totally comfortable. I was not able to completely change my driving style and find the perfect set-up in three days so we still have some work to do on the gravel. To be honest I’m very happy with the car now – we are becoming good mates.
 
Q:
Mads, you were third today, did you risk your position for the Power Stage points?
MO:
We have been very safe to be honest, we haven’t touched the snowbanks at all and we just continued like we did on the previous stages. We had a split, which I think was wrong, which said we were plus-three and I thought: “I must be going far too slowly…” So, I increased the speed and then we were ahead. I think the split was wrong, but maybe we pushed too hard. We ended up with three points and this was good for us.
 
Q:
We have two Norwegian drivers on the podium, that’s nice…
MO:
It’s a very nice thing. And I have to say it was very impressive drive for Andreas. He was fast from the start and he has done a very impressive weekend. Unfortunately he was a little bit too good!
 
Q:
Jonas, how do you feel?
JA:
I feel good. Like Mads said, we had good progression with the feeling in the car. The driving in the car has been getting better and better it looks really good and now I’m looking forward to trying it on proper gravel.
 
Q:
It’s nice and close in the Championship – that’s good for the Championship right? 
JA:
Yes, that’s very good. It’s really good to see it’s so close in the Championship and there are a lot of guys up there fighting for the points. Hopefully it will be a really close Championship with lots of really close battles throughout the year.
 
Q:
Jost, it’s great to see a Jari-Matti win…
JC:
It’s a great result to see all four [Volkswagen crews] on the podium – it pays off that we don't have team orders. All the drivers can show what they are capable of. They have the confidence and have the same treatment. This means that if one of the guys makes a mistake then the others have the confidence to fight for the win. 
 
Q:
We saw good stage times from Andreas last year, but this is the first time we have seen him fighting consistently at the top of the field. Are we going to see more of that, Jost?
JC:
Yeah, I’m sure. Last year was really the learning year for Andreas. Sebastien [Ogier] had 10,000 kilometres of testing in 2012 for 2013, so he was by far in the best position and then Jari-Matti had quite a lot of test when he joined, but Andreas had the minimum test and – you know – there are not a lot of test days allowed each year. He had his first rally starting in the middle of the season and he had much less experience. It was a learning year for him last year, some events he had more experience than others and some less or none. He did a fantastic job learning last year and this year we said that where he is confident and he has done a couple of times then he can fight for the podium. Sweden was the first of these and I think he has done a fantastic job, not just fighting for the podium, but also for the victory. What’s very impressive is that this is not a result which was given to him by failure or mistakes of others, he was fighting from the beginning – setting the fastest time in the first stage – and then he was on the top all of the weekend. That was much more than we have thought and we have expected a lot of him this weekend, but it was much more [that he delivered] and everybody in the team has been impressed by his performance. 
 
Q:
Were there moments during the weekend when your heart was in your mouth watching them all fight?
JC:
I’m very confident with the capability of the guys, that’s why they are driving for us otherwise we wouldn’t be confident. I have to say one thing special about Andreas, one of the secrets of his success today is he voluntarily tried a highly confidential new Scandinavian fitness plan we introduced. It did him so good that he really is now up to speed and I am sure he will try it again…
 
Q:
You have to elaborate…
JC:
It’s confidential or the others will try the same thing.
AM:
I will wait for next year…
 
 
FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP
 
Present:
1st - Karl Kruuda
1st - Martin Järveoja
 
Q:
Karl, congratulations on your first win in WRC 2 which was claimed on the final stage of the event! A very exciting finish! How are you feeling?
KK:
I have to say very good. I have never won a proper event before and for that I am speechless, actually, I couldn’t believe it or say the words that I had won. To win by 21 seconds is incredible.
 
Q:
You went into the final stage 18 seconds behind Jari Ketomaa, it must have been the drive of your life through the stage?! 
KK:
On the road section to the last stage I started thinking second place was better than nothing. I tried to keep the car on the road and thought to myself I would drive as the previous stage before. If something comes it comes if it doesn’t then maybe next time.
 
Q:
What was your reaction? You didn’t believe it…
KK:
There’s a good reason for not believing I had done it – the guy ahead! Jari Ketomaa was jumping up and down on his car. I said: “No, he has won!” When they said twice or three times then I began to believe it.
 
Q:
How difficult were conditions out there?
KK:
I have to say, no moments. I had one this day on the first stage but the biggest down we had on the rally was on Thursday when we had driveshaft problems and lost the front differential. Because of that we did a spin and lost around two minutes. The main objective was to keep the car on the road and gather more experience for the future.
 
Q:
You’ve started the season with maximum points. How do you feel about the rest of the events?
KK:
Scared. There’s still a long way to go and this was the first event. Nothing is finished yet and there are still six events to go before the end of the season so we shouldn’t jump too far ahead.
 
Q:
Did you imagine you could win, Karl?
KK:
I thought the podium was realistic, but if everything went to plan then winning was an option. I didn't want to be cocky. 
 
Q:
Estonia must be happy Karl. What’s the response been from friends and family?
KK:
I haven’t had the chance to open the phone yet. But it’s been always buzzing my pocket – I think it’s good!
 
Q:
Congratulations Martin. What was that final stage like?
MJ:
The feeling is great. Karl made a great stage and… that’s all.
 
Q:
The feeling must be good
MJ: 
Of course, it’s very good.
 
Q:
How nervous were you starting the final stage?
MJ:
Actually I am not very nervous, we both weren’t very nervous.
 
Q:
How difficult was this event from a co-driving perspective?
MJ:
Actually for me it was a little bit more easier than two weeks ago when we did the Arctic Rally. There was only white snow there but here there was gravel coming out and we could see the road.