1st - Jari-Matti Latvala, Ford World Rally Team
1st - Miikka Anttila, Ford World Rally Team
2nd - Sébastien Loeb, Citroën Total World Rally Team
2nd - Daniel Elena, Citroën Total World Rally Team
3rd - Petter Solberg, Ford World Rally Team
3rd - Chris Patterson, Ford World Rally Team
Malcolm Wilson, Team Principal, Ford World Rally Team
Q: Jari-Matti, good to see you back on the top step of the podium, how do you feel?
J-ML: Very good, I’m very pleased. It’s a long time since Rally Sweden. We started the season with high hopes; in Monte Carlo we were leading and went off the road and then luckily we managed to come back and win in Sweden but we had a very stressful springtime. The car was very quick but I was making mistakes and I couldn’t find the pace to bring the results. So, I’m really happy that we managed to win because you are in a situation where the team can see how quick the car is, and the drivers can be very quick, but when it doesn’t happen it becomes a very frustrating moment and I’m so pleased and happy for that because I know this victory will boost everybody in the team to work harder and better.
Q: Does this result now make up for some of the disappointment earlier this year?
J-ML: Of course it makes up some of it. If you look at it, I have lost all the chances for the Drivers title and the Manufacturers’ Championship is almost gone as well. So, these were our targets, but now we need to look forward and try to fight for the victories. That would mean a lot for the team. But for sure the win feels very good. It’s a feeling I have missed for a long time.
Q: Ford has led from the very start, you took the lead on stage three. We saw some great pace coming from you this weekend, was there anything different about the car? Or maybe about yourself?
J-ML: I think overall if you look at the rally, all of the Fords have been very strong in this rally. Petter started fantastically, he was leading the rally after stage two, then I got my feeling on my favourite stage in this rally, Myherin, where it all came together and then it started to go, but to be honest we have done some work with the rear suspension of the car since Rally Finland because we saw the dominance of Citroën and we were worried how it was going to be so we did some work and we saw now some good positive results. But, also I can tell you, I wasn’t relaxed enough to drive in Finland. I didn’t feel comfortable like I did here, so for me it’s more that all the things come together, then it works. But when you see all the Fords were very quick, I think overall, this is a very reliable car.
Q: Was there any time during the weekend when you could relax? You said you were waiting for the Citroëns to pounce at one point?
J-ML: Yeah, I never, even though I was leading, was relaxed, I was always waiting for the strike back, like in Star Wars. Empire strikes back! That’s why I was waiting, so I was always prepared for when it was coming. It was a help when it didn’t come, that was a good feeling! Then I managed to start to relax a bit this afternoon. Even this morning I was waiting after I knew they had done a change of the set-up, so I knew that still I had to be prepared for the strike back. But luckily it didn’t happen and then it was good.
Q: A relief to be back on the top step of the podium Miikka?
MA: Yeah, for sure, it’s very good to win this event, second time in a row actually, so it’s the first rally we’ve been able to win twice in consecutive years. So, it’s been a very nice weekend for us. The trade centre used to play a song for here but if I would have the player I would play the rock song Joy Ride, as it’s been a joy ride for us in the stages this weekend. Not on the road sections, but stage sections.
Q: There was a little bit of a moment on Friday though wasn’t there?
MA: On Friday on the second stage; there was one slippery corner and we were going sideways, full sideways, to the trees. I thought we were going to end up hitting a tree but luckily we did not. And also on Saturday morning there were a couple of moments, but anyway, despite those, it’s been a very, very good weekend for us.
Q: Sébastien, what a fantastic battle we’ve seen throughout the weekend, but especially today. It was thrilling with you and Petter Solberg going into the final stage with just a tenth of a second separating you. That must have been an enjoyable battle?
SL: Yes, for sure it was really a great battle with Petter all the weekend because we started very quickly on Friday, then we were just behind. We started to battle together and then suddenly Jari-Matti woke up and he left us where we were. He was very fast, he took the lead and still I was fighting with Petter. Yesterday my goal was to try and catch Petter and we couldn’t make it, and today again the same story. We were really fast in the morning, the car was going very well and the feeling was really good. Always in the afternoon we were losing some time and I don’t have really the reason why, but it was a hard weekend for us. We would try different settings and today was essentially a bit better. But it was really enjoyable to start the last stage with a tenth of a second lead; it was really exciting and so we had to fight until the last corner. So it was, yes, a great battle.
Q: How much were you pushing on that final stage? Was it absolute maximum?
SL: Yes for sure it was, we were pushing very hard. I had a little moment in the last corner of the last stage so that would have been stupid to have been there. It was a really hard battle and we push really hard.
Q: We always expect to see you out in the lead at rallies now, you are such a dominant driver. Why hasn’t that happened here?
SL: You cannot win every time. It shows that it’s not so easy as sometimes people imagine. Every victory I had this year was really a good battle, we had to fight for it. It was always some very little gaps and fighting until the end of the rallies. It’s not easy and this time it didn’t work like we wanted. Jari-Matti was really very fast, he was flying the stages and so we had no chance.
Q: You mentioned some set-up changes for this morning, what kind of things did you change?
SL: We changed just some little adjustments. Yesterday evening I asked to my engineer ‘which are the last rallies I won on gravel this year?’. So he agrees Greece, New Zealand, Finland. New Zealand looks a little like here so we put the set-up from New Zealand and tried with that. So that’s the set-up we had today.
Q: Daniel, it has been a really exciting day, what’s it been like for you guys in the car?
DE: Today it was a fantastic battle with Petter. I’m happy because it’s a revenge for 2004; I won the last stage, because in 2004 Petter won the race with an incredible fight in the last stages. It’s a very long rally for everybody, I calculated it 29 hours road section for three hours of stages, it’s fantastic...
Q: Daniel the possibility was that Citroën could have sealed the Manufacturers’ Championship here if you’d finished six points ahead of Ford. That now moves on to France and there is the possibility of the Drivers’ Championship there also.
DE: Yes, I feel sure the Drivers title is for Citroën. Mikko [Hirvonen] or Sébastien now Petter is out of the battle. Maybe you have both in France or in Sardinia or in Catalunya. You will see!
Q: Petter, tough battle today, you were in second position, you lost out to Sébastien Loeb but it really was great to watch, how was it for you guys?
PS: Honestly it’s been a great weekend, really good fun, Jari-Matti has been very fast. I have been trying to keep up with him. But obviously Loeb lost a little bit in the afternoon and I lost a little bit in the morning, that’s how it is sometimes. In the afternoon, out from service, I was ready, but not to take the big risk. You know, I did it in Greece and it was not good fun to meet Malcolm after. I don’t enjoy that, you know, to have mistakes like that. So today I was quite calm, no big risk, and I push like normal and after that it started to rain a little bit and then we were equal. And the last stage, I think I was leading up with him on a couple of bits then I touched one small bank and I lost two seconds and then I got back 1.2 seconds at the end I think. So it was straight away disappointing but it’s more important for Ford to get two Fords on the podium basically. It’s good to see two Fords there and I think it’s very important for us.
Q: You were trading just tenths of seconds between the stages this afternoon - were you both trying to psyche each other out at the stage starts?
PS: Loeb didn’t even talk to me! He stopped talking to me, you know, nothing!
SL: He was speaking too much so I couldn’t concentrate!
Q: The pace of the Fords has been impressive this weekend. You mentioned that there had been a lot of work done to the suspension, was this improvement made at the recent test?
PS: Well, we have been fast in many, many rallies this year. But obviously, like Jari said, we have done some changes and feel much more comfortable and safer. I haven’t had any moments, maybe a small one, through the whole rally and I think that makes the confidence much, much better. I must say it has been really good, the car has been easy to drive and it’s really fun. There have been no mistakes, no problems, nothing. Absolutely fantastic weekend, we’re going to hope to continue this now for the rest of the year.
Q: Chris, third position but overall a great result for the team, what is the atmosphere like this afternoon over at Ford?
CP: Very much so, you know it’s been a great boost for everybody within the team. You know, really the difference has been incredible and we kicked off on Friday morning, we got to the first service, everybody was on top form, really highly motivated and, you know, a lot more support. Everybody is just really highly motivated now. We’re going to carry it through to the next rally.
Q: Did you have to calm Petter down at all today with this incredibly intense battle?
CP: He’s quite cool, he’s quite calm all day. I think everybody else around us was a lot more excited than we were. It was just business as normal as far as we were concerned. It was a big push so we just got focussed and did our jobs.
Q: It was in Sweden the last time we saw you at a press conference, the last time we saw Jari-Matti on the top step, it’s been a while Malcolm but finally it is another Ford win. How are you feeling?
MW: You can’t imagine, I think I’ve been more nervous on this rally than I have in the past 15 years. I think that comes with the pressure of not winning since Sweden. As these guys have said, we’ve had the potential, we’ve had the pace to actually do it but it hasn’t actually happened. So, I think it’s really down to everybody in the team; it’s the effort and the commitment and sticking together that has helped us get this fantastic result today. I think that the performance of the guys has been superb, along with the customer guys as well.
Q: Was it more tense watching Petter fight for second than Jari-Matti for the win today?
MW: It was very difficult for Jari-Matti because we had no splits, so we had no tracking at all, so we couldn’t tell whether he was on the move or he was stationary or anything, so that was obviously very nerve-wracking for everybody in the team because we had no idea. But I mean this was an incredible battle, we knew that Sébastien would push very hard, but I have to say I think Petter has done a fantastic job. And as he said he didn’t take a wheel off like he did in Greece, he managed to just keep it nicely there. Not even a small dent so a great team effort to be honest.
Q: It has been a great team effort, but talk to me about the importance of the win for the team moving forward now?
MW: I think there is nothing like a win to give everybody in the team confidence. We’ve seen in Germany we were very competitive. Again we had three drivers with fastest times and there was only Sébastien in the red car who could post his quick times so we’re okay. We’re going to Seb’s home rally now, which is not going to be easy but I think we go with a lot of confidence from this victory.
Q: Now we’ve seen this development on gravel, as Jari-Matti mentioned, but what about for tarmac?
MW: If you believe those boys about what we’ve done then you’ll believe anything! We’ve been doing some work for sure. I think we saw in Germany that we were competitive and, for sure, we will continue to evolve wherever we can.