WTCR - Race of China-Ningbo - Race 3 press conference | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WTCR - Race of China-Ningbo - Race 3 press conference

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2018 WTCR Race of China-Ningbo - Race 3 press conference transcript 

Present: Thed Björk, YMR, first position Gabriele Tarquini, BRC Racing Team, second position Denis Dupont, Audi Sport Team Comtoyou, third position Yvan Muller, YMR, first position Race 2 Ma Qing Hua, Boutsen Ginion Racing, leading local driver

Q: Winning not just once this weekend, Thed, but twice – a fantastic result and exceptionally important for your championship aspirations. Just talk us through your race win today in particular. 

TB: It was a fantastic race from the start, just flying way from the others and having a race by myself. After the red flag as well I was just flying away. I must be really happy with the team, who work so hard putting the car together all the time. It felt so good, in the window [of performance] all the time and I just had to drive.

Q: The race had to be temporarily suspended for safety reasons. After that red flag, were you concerned in any way?

TB: No, usually I’m not so concerned: just keep the same pace, try to do a good restart and follow it from there. In that flow I had I was not worried. I got fresh tyres as well!

Q: You talked before the weekend about the importance of your preparation. Was that the key to your success?

TB: Yeah, but preparation also started last year when I was here when we drove in the rain. That made it easier for me to find the window around the track.

Q: We come next to Race 2 winner and Thed, your team boss Yvan Muller. What happened to you in Race 2, but also in Race 3?

YM: Race 2 happened very well for me. Good start, I could take the lead from the first corner and then I pushed as much as I could for the first lap, then managed my gap to Mehdi Bennani. Race 3, I don’t know, I had contact on the front right on the first lap. Then my damper was damaged and finally I lost some rubber from my tyre, so there was no point carrying on. So I stopped, changed the tyre and checked the car, and came in. That’s it.

Q: You then had a great view watching your team celebrate Thed’s victory. That must be very satisfying.

YM: Yes, it was very satisfying, of course. You cannot imagine how hard it is when you don’t manage a team. For some years I know now to a big level and when you have a fantastic weekend like this you have to appreciate it. Two qualifying [sessions], two pole positions and three race victories. OK, the man of the weekend is Thed. He did a fantastic job, the best driver of the weekend by far, and we are the best team of the weekend. Q: Gabriele, you have an advantage of just eight points heading to Wuhan next week. You’ve had an eventful weekend. Just explain Races 2 and 3 please. GT: The toughest was just to survive with a five-place grid penalty for Race 1. But I finished fourth so it was a very good Saturday for me. Unfortunately, the second race was not as good as the first one. I had a big accident on corner number 11 because there was a big fight in front of me and a car stopped in the middle of the chicane. I broke the intercooler and the race was over for me. Fortunately, the guys were fantastic for me during the second race and the repair time. They changed the radiator, the intercooler, the front splitter and everything. In the end, the car was almost perfect. The third race was very good for me because I gained two positions on the first lap and after it was just following Thed. I mean he was faster than me in the initial part of the race and also after the restart, so there was no chance to follow him. I’m happy with the second place.

Q: Finally, Denis Dupont, we are joined by you in a press conference and also on the podium. Just explain the transformation this weekend, because you’ve worked all season long to get here. How did it happen?

DD: For sure, we have been struggling so far and this weekend has been really good. But already in the Slovakia Ring we showed quite good performance here and there, and now we could put everything together and make sure we had a really strong weekend. All weekend we were fast, but I really think the most thing is when you see the work the team has done during the summer break. All four cars are very strong now and everybody is scoring points. That’s really the key. Now we can work and move forward. I’m really thankful for that because it makes a big difference now.

Q: Can you give us any secrets about what the team has been doing over the summer?

DD: Aw, not so many things! It’s the small details actually that makes the difference at such a high level when you miss a few points on the car, then you start far behind and you can never come back. Now we have just found a window that works quite well. I also think it’s the strongest weekend for Audi in the WTCR so far, and that’s very positive also for Audi. Q: It’s also a great endorsement for the RACB national team initiative because they have found you and given you this great opportunity, and now you have repaid them with this podium in a world series. DD: Yes, it’s the second podium for the RACB this weekend, so it’s a good weekend for us, of course.

Q: Ma Qing Hua, the weekend has not come your way with a problem in Race 2 keeping you out of Race 3.

Can you explain what happened in Race 2 please?

MQH: First of all, thank you and congratulations to all the drivers this weekend and well done. The first race this afternoon was a good start for me and I gained some positions, fighting with a group of cars. Then I did some overtaking and then in the last few laps I saw Yann Ehrlacher had dropped some places with some contact before, and at the very last lap I’m just catching the front car of Oriola and I’m trying to overtake, I know this is the last chance. I pulled out and tried to overtake and I think the pace of Yann, I think he must have had a problem, he was not as fast as normal. So I was side by side with Oriola and Yann was already in the middle of the corner and I tried to stop the car… Yeah, I feel very sorry for him and for him it was very unlucky. I want to say sorry to him, it was not my purpose. My target was just to overtake Oriola and this was not the consequence I wanted. My car then had some damage at the front and I could not start for Race 3. And in qualifying I had a problem. In Q2 I had an anti-roll bar broken so my Q2 was really destroyed. Anyway, this was my first weekend and I learned a lot. It was a new car, new team, new circuit. Now I have more confidence and more idea to push and perform in the race weekend. So I think next weekend in Wuhan I will be more prepared and I’m looking forward to it.

Q: You mention Wuhan. No one had yet raced there, but what do you think we can expect from that city and street track?

TB: It is always not easy to race on a street circuit, but for me it is a good thing because they don’t now the track and I don’t know, so the starting point will be a bit more close. Also I’ve seen the track layout and it looks quite a good place for overtaking and it’s a good circuit for touring car racing. I hope we can enjoy the Wuhan street circuit and we can bring a good show to the local people. Questions from the floor: Neil Hudson,

Q: Thed, Yvan and Gabriele, there’s a breakaway group in the championship and you are covered by just nine points. Who do you think is your biggest threat between the three of you?

TB: It was really good for me to catch up. Even though Gabriele and I are close, I think other people will catch us up. It will maybe be hard to stay in that breakaway group, as you say, and I think it will close up.

YM: It is impossible to answer that question because many other cars will lose weight for Wuhan, so we will struggle a lot. That’s the first thing. Then if you look at the whole season, everything can happen – everything. It can be that even another one can win the championship other than us three, so I cannot answer that question.

GT: Also for me it’s only three races, but it’s nine possibilities to score a lot of points, more than 80 per weekend. I think it is not only three to play for the title. Some others can re-join us an play very hard until the last corner of the last race.