WRC - Rallye du Mexique - Conférence de Presse (en anglais) | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WRC - Rallye du Mexique - Conférence de Presse (en anglais)

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07.03.19.

Tanscription de la Conference de Presse pré-évènement organisée par la FIA pour le Rallye du Mexique 2019.

2019 FIA WRC - Rally Mexico - Lappi / Ferme

Present:
Sébastien Ogier (FRA), Citroën Total World Rally Team
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN), Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team
Elfyn Evans (GBR), M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
Dani Sordo (SPA), Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team

Q:
Sébastien Ogier, you own four overall wins at this event, so you know what it takes to achieve success here. You will start third on the road on the opening day, probably the first time you have been in that position. How much of a difference do you think it will make?

SO:
It will feel good to have the lines in front of us. But we all know that, for every success you have, the next one will not come easily. You have to be good. There are many drivers here who target good results. For the rest of the season, it should be a good fight at the top. I have a good feeling and we did a good job on the test. Citroën always performed well here in the past here and it’s been working well.

Q:
We see minimal changes to the route this year, however you mentioned yesterday that the surface has changed. Can you explain that a little more?

SO:
I feel that we have the same stages but the feeling is different. We have a lot of corrections in the notes from one year to another. They are small differences. I like to have precise notes and the lines in many corners and the rocks are not in the same place. Some roads may have been rebuilt and are nicer. And on others, there has been some rain and damage and there are ditches in some places. I expect some tricky sections, especially on Saturday. The rally could become rough with high temperatures. It will be very challenging.

Q:
Citroën has won seven of the 14 events run here in México - good odds! How has the car felt on gravel?

SO:
The test went well. But it is always different when you actually come here. The car feels strong and so does the engine, even with the altitude. The grip level was slippery this morning. I was a bit surprised and we made some small adjustments. The speed was not too bad this morning. The shakedown does not mean much. We will see what we can do tomorrow. Friday is important in the fight for the podium.

Q:
Jari-Matti Latvala, you have a good road position for this event. But how would you sum up your performances so far this season?

JML:
Not good. I don’t know what has been wrong. We finished the last race in Australia last season and won and the team won the Manufacturers’ title. In Monte, I was feeling confident and we were strong there, and I drove to fifth. We were comfortable In Sweden and it was going well and looking good. Then I did a mistake at the end of Friday on the last stage. It was a hard setback because I wanted a lot more from Sweden. The only positive thing we can bring from that is the good starting position for this race.

Q:
From what you saw on the recce, how tough a challenge will it be on Friday for you?

JML:
We know how critical it is to do well on Friday and then you get a good road position on Saturday. At the front, you suffer quite a lot. We saw that on shakedown this morning. The El Chocolate stage will be slippery, but my position is a bit better. You need to try and use that advantage that you have. I hope it works out and then you can fight for the better results. The guys at the front have a harder job to do. You still have to drive the stages yourself though.

Q:
Toyota have done a lot of work to the cooling system of the car. How confident are you that this will not be an issue this time around in México?

JML:
Last year, we came here and we thought we had sorted everything and we would not have any problem. But after the event last year, we had to do something. We used the wind tunnel in Cologne last year and the first step was for Turkey and it was working well. We knew that another step was needed and we have done that. I am 100% confident that it is sorted out.

Q:
Elfyn Evans, you had a solid result in Sweden where we saw you pick up three stages wins throughout the weekend. Seventh overall awards you a good road position here in México, is your confidence high? You also have a new aero on the car?

EE:
We want to bring that momentum forward to México. We changed a lot on the car between Sweden last year and this year. That does not mean it will work here. The car felt good in the test, but the shakedown was a surprise. It was not as we expected and we made adjustments to the set-up. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. The guys have been working to find every little improvement and small detail. It is not easy to make big gains. The aero is a small evolution. I have not been on any high-speed sections, so improvements are not obvious yet. We have to trust the engineers and see if the improvements will come later in the year.

Q:
Last year, we saw you retire early after an incident where your co-driver Dan Barritt was left concussed. Does the lack of seat time here in México concern you at all?

EE:
Not particularly. The stages are similar throughout the years we have been coming here. We have the notes from the recce last year and this year as well, so it should not be a problem. There are quite a lot of note changes. On some sections, there are a lot of changes. There was a massive amount of rain on some of Saturday’s stages and we could see some rough sections.

Q:
Dani Sordo, welcome back to the championship! You scored your best result at Rally Mexico in 2018 by taking second overall, although you were leading the rally at the end of Day one. No pressure, but do you feel you can be back on that pace?

DS:
It’s fantastic to be back. The podium is the target. But everyone wants to do the same. I will try and drive well on the first day. I have a good road position. I’ll try and do my best.

Q:
You recently won Rali Serras de Fafe, the first round of the FIA Iberian Rally Trophy and opening round of the national championship in Portugal in the Hyundai i20 R5. How was that experience and do you feel it helps in anyway coming here?

DS:
It was nice. I enjoyed the speed but it is not the same as a World Rally Car. It was a nice moment, but I would prefer to win here. I practiced a little bit and I won at the end. That is important and good for the rally here. It’s better to drive than to be at home and do nothing. The World Rally Car is much faster than the R5.


FIA WRC 2 PRO CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
Lukasz Pieniazek (POL), M-Sport Ford

Q:
Lukasz, your first time competing in Rally México. What have you thought of the experience so far here? How was the recce? How would you describe the stages?

LP:
It’s amazing to be here, with the weather so far compared to Sweden and we are enjoying it a lot. Let’s see what we’ll say tomorrow after driving in this heat. It’s great to be in México. The atmosphere is amazing and there are a lot of rally fans. We met them on the road sections. I expect a lot more fans on the stages. Already on today’s stage, it was crowded.

Q:
What have you been doing to prepare for this event? How was shakedown? How much did you feel the effect of the altitude on the car?

LP:
Actually we struggled with the containers and shipments. Recce cars came very late and we struggled on the recce to manage to fit in the time. We missed recce for the shakedown and we were driving for the first time on the stage this morning. I used a video from my team mates. It was not too bad. Maybe this is an idea for the future of rally…. The stage was very nice and quite narrow. I struggled a bit on my first run and after that, it was okay.

Q:
A difficult start to the season for you in Sweden, did it knock your confidence?

LP:
It was quite hard. The WRC Pro Championship is not going as we wanted. There is only me here. I need to finish and collect points but we are not here for this. We are here to compete. We want to fight with other R5 cars.


FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
Benito Guerra (MEX)
Alberto Heller (CHIL)

Q:
Benito, great to see you back at your home event! Circumstances last year meant that you missed this, it must be good to be back?

BG:
It’s great to be back. Last year was a shame and I was very angry because we did not have a chance to show a good performance in our home event. I have a new team from Spain and a new co-driver, Jaime Zapata, who I race with on the Mexican national events. The set-up is good and working well for us. The new car from Škoda is great. I hope that we will have a good weekend.

Q:
We see you in the familiar Škoda Fabia for this event, which you have competed in over the past few years. Are you happy with the set-up and the feel of the car after shakedown?

BG:
After two years in the Škoda in WRC 2, it is the car in which I learned to drive. I know how to drive the car faster. I hope to have a weekend with no problems. It’s easy to get damage on the car. We are ready to compete and I am happy to be back. We need to fight for the podium. The objective is to fight to win. I need to win here and that will push me to get a faster pace for the next events. The goal is to win the WRC 2 title this year, but there are a lot of fast drivers like Alberto (Heller).

Q:
Is this a one-off or will we see you compete on other events?

BG:
We can confirm that, thanks to my sponsors, we will start our programme here and then we will go to Argentina, Chile with the Heller brothers, Portugal, Spain and Wales and try to finish the season in Australia. 

Q:
Alberto, welcome back to the FIA WRC 2 Championship. We saw you take your first win in the category in Australia last year. Do you have big expectations for this event?

AH:
We will try. It is Benito’s (Guerra) home, but the goal is to gain experience, do my best and finish the race. There are very rough and long stages. This is the first time I’ll do a 32km stage. I’ll try to save the car and finish the rally. We will race six rounds of the championship – México, Argentina, Chile – my home – Portugal, Turkey and Australia.

Q
You’ve had a busy year so far, competing in Wales at the Cambrian Rally and then in Portugal. Good preparation for this event?

AH:
It was very good preparation for me. We made the Cambrian and Fafe rallies and 800kms to gain experience. Now I am here in México.