WRC - K.Rovanperä: "I couldn’t have gone any faster" | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WRC - K.Rovanperä: "I couldn’t have gone any faster"

  • gb
24.04.22

Present:

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – Kalle Rovanperä (FIN), Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT – Ott Tänak (EST), Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT – Thierry Neuville (BEL), Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – Jari-Matti Latvala, Team Principal

Q:

Kalle, tell us how you are feeling after a really dramatic final day.

KR:

I’m feeling good of course. It was quite a tough weekend overall and when the fight is going like this on the last day you need to still push for it, it’s always more exciting and it feels better.

Q:

And that was a real push on that final stage. I don't think there was anything left, no?

KR:

No, not really. I couldn’t have gone any faster.

 

Q:

This morning you went with the hard tyre and Ott with the soft. Were you happy with that decision in the morning?

KR:

In the morning it looked good for sure. We knew the hard tyre would be quite good for the first one, it was dry and had quite good grip so we could use the hard. Through the first stage it was pretty OK, but then the rain came and then it was not so good.

 

Q:

You looked devastated when you lost the lead at the end of that stage…

KR:

Yeah, it was with two wet tyres we could cross them, but with two hard tyres in full wet it was not really working well. It’s tough when in the whole stage you know you are losing a lot of time and you cannot really do much about it. You try to carry speed but you do not have the grip. That kind of situation is devastating because you cannot do anything else.

Q:

For that final stage when the sun came out the tyre choice was still not optimal. How critical were the notes from the crew?

KR:

It was important all weekend. The gravel crews had a big job to make all the notes good and precise so we could trust them and they did a good job on the Power Stage also. Going into the stage I was convinced our combination was not the easiest one to drive, but at the end in some places it was good on the hard Tarmac, but we had so much mud and dirty places I don’t know if it was the best one. It was really tough, but I just tried to push.

Q:

Wins on gravel, snow and Tarmac. How does this fit in with the wins so far?

KR:

At least it was the trickiest overall. Of course it was tricky conditions the whole weekend. Everyone was having mistakes or issues, punctures and stuff, so in the end I had the puncture and the wrong judgement on the rain, so it was tough.

Q:

Ott, you were in the lead for one stage and it could have been the win. How do you sum up the day and how are you feeling about second?

OT:

After the first day, it turned out quite upside down, we would never have expected to be there. On Friday we were quite far away and every day we had some new situations to manage. In the beginning it was most easy when it was raining. But the stages are so far from each other it was like going to different places in the world. In one loop it was difficult to put the package together, but I would say our only strength was we were actually doing some very clever and good tyre choices. Yesterday and also today it played out really well. This was our strongest card.

Q:

It certainly played out well this morning. You took softs and Thierry a split, so great weather information for you guys.

OT:

Yeah, our guy did a good job. At least he tried. Even this morning himself he wasn’t sure about the rain, it was more like a chance and behind me there was a big gap. It didn’t feel like I was risking too much. Personally myself, I wanted to go for that. After the first stage it was so bad I was starting to worry it would last the loop with Thierry and Craig behind, but as we can see it turned out wonderfully on the next stage. It was quite incredible how the weather was.

Q:

What was your thinking going into the final stage. Was it win it or bin it, or not quite on the limit?

OT:

I tried to win for sure, but like yesterday when the conditions were straightforward the performance wasn’t really there. OK, Thierry was always a bit faster, but he was also pushing quite hard on the limit. We were definitely missing some speed to match the Toyota. Other than that I did a good stage, clean and no mistakes, tried to have no moments.

Q:

Thierry, it’s been drama all weekend and you didn’t let us down on the Power Stage! Did you think the podium had gone when you hit the bank?

TN:

To be honest, no. I didn’t know where the car had gone. I knew there was the ditch and I tried to save the car, but you know how it goes. It looked very spectacular, but from the inside it wasn’t that spectacular and I got away with only two punctures. Luckily only two because if not it would have been difficult to reach the service. Challenging, emotional, very up and down weekend. Lots of frustration and sometimes a bit of joy as well, like this morning when we were able to catch back the third position which was our main target after the several issues of the weekend. So I’m happy to be here now, even if we lost three possible points on the Power Stage. That’s the only thing me and Martijn gave away this weekend.

Q:

How is the car compared to where it was in Monte?

TN:

The car felt better, that’s for sure. But it would not be realistic to say that in one event we could catch up that much from the problems we had in Monte. We have to stay realistic, we  have made a step forward, we have got a bit closer but we are not there yet. In terms of performance but also in terms of reliability as well because in the first three races I got hit three times. I hope we can improve that as a team for the upcoming events. Somehow we have two cars on the podium so for the manufacturers’ it was a bit better weekend. But I think we still need to make some steps forward to win the championship.

Q:

Portugal is coming up as the first gravel event. Sébastien Loeb and Dani Sordo are coming back, probably Ogier. How are you feeling in that respect, given the drivers coming in with really strong road positions?

TN:

These six drivers who are far behind can drive for the win so it wouldn’t be realistic to say Ott, Kalle or me have a chance for the podium, but I think we both have to have some practice in the upcoming weeks that if we have similar weather to this weekend it could give us a chance for victory.

Q:

Kalle, how are you feeling about the gravel and being first on the road, whether you can even be on the podium?

KR:

Yes, it will be a few situation for me also. It’s going to be interesting and tricky. I think the plan is to take any good point from the races and try to keep a good pace going on. I know it’s not going to be a easy to fight for the podium and wins are going to be impossible in some. We just need to do the best we can.

Q:

How about you, Ott, looking forward to the first gravel event of the year?

OT:

Yeah, it will be nice to get the first test done and get the first feeling of the car on gravel. Portugal is always a fun event, there are some great stages. But let’s see. First time on the gravel it will be interesting to see where we are.

Q:

Jari-Matti, what did you think of Kalle’s performance this weekend? What was the feeling today?

JML:

It’s been… the emotions have been going up and down over the weekend. I must say Ott was really pushing us on the limit. This morning when it started with the tyre choice it looked very good for Kalle on the first stage. Almost like that we’re going to win it. Then things changed very rapidly, Ott did a great, great time on the penultimate stage and took the lead. At that point, in all fairness, we thought we had lost. I mean, the rain came and we knew it had also been raining on the Power Stage. Then we were looking at the first WRC2 cars on the stage, there was quite a lot of mud on the road, knowing that Ott has better tyres for the car. Basically I started to calculate the points of how much we were going to lose in this event, how much Hyundai would catch us. But eventually I actually threw the paper away and thought this was a waste of time, it’s nonsense to do it. Lucky I did it. Then the first split of Kalle appeared and everyone was amazed, nobody could believe it how he could drive that fast. It’s a miracle. The speed is so high, how he could manage it with the hard tyres. Then he did and he won the stage. For me, this is Kalle’s best performance ever. I mean, he has been driving well but this is by far and away his best drive.

Q:

That tyre choice: every team has its spies and Ott took his choice before Kalle. Was there any doubt in your mind about the hard compound?

JML:

The information we had was so clear that it should be dry tyres for dry conditions. Then at the every end we took the decision to take two wet tyres for Kalle. Luckily it was done. I think without that it would have been lost completely, but those two tyres save us a bit. I must say Hyundai played a bit of a gamble, but eventually they did better. They had a better choice than us. We were quite confident and we didn’t know this rain would come, so it was quite a surprise to us. But I think it was a surprise for many, many drivers. It was something which was very difficult to see and very difficult to prepare. Sometimes these kind of things happen, that’s rallying and you can’t prepare for everything.

Q:

I saw you last night having a conversation with Ott. in the media zone. What was he saying to you, Ott?

JML:

Honestly, we are old team-mates, we used to drive in the same team! And we had a very honest discussion about my Celica driving and old cars… It was a good discussion.

Q:

How many cars will Toyota be running in Portugal?

JML:

Four cars.

Q:

And who will be in the fourth car?

JML:

There will be Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans, Takamoto Katsuta and one more car.

Q:

And one more driver… we are not going to have a surprise, are we? It won’t be you?

JML:

That would be a nice surprise, but I don't think it’s going to happen! Unfortunately at this point I can’t confirm.

 

FIA WRC2 CHAMPIONSHIP

 

Present:

PH Sport – Yohan Rossel (FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2

Q:

Yohan, what a win, you led from start to finish. You and your co-driver were emotional How are you feeling?

YR:

The feeling is just perfect. He’s my friend and it’s the first win overall, maybe…

Q:

Certainly not for you, but for him…

YR:

Yes. It’s just perfect and after the Monte I worked very well with the team. The target was to try and win in Croatia on our comeback to the world championship, because we can win in two events. And now we win, it’s perfect. When you see the conditions of the weekend it’s very strong for me.

Q:

You were so confident in the worst conditions on Friday. How did you get that confidence?

YR:

I think it’s just experience, with the car, with the world championship. I don’t have the excuse of less experience. I know the rally and last year it was not so bad. I just think it’s the confidence of the car and the team working very well. My team is just perfect and my only target is to drive very well with no mistakes.

Q:

Was Valentin confident beside you this weekend with the notes?

YR:

Yeah, I think… it’s my friend and we have one target to go step by step. He lives just next to my home and for a walk it’s just perfect. He stopped his career for two years and to come back now it’s very difficult with the regulations, it’s just crazy. And we win and it's just perfect.

 

FIA WRC3 CHAMPIONSHIP / FIA JUNIOR WRC CHAMPIONSHIP

 

Present:

M-Sport Racing Kft – Tamás Kürti (HUN), co-driver of Zoltán László (HUN), Ford Fiesta Rally3

Lauri Joona (FIN), Ford Fiesta Rally3

Q:

How difficult has it been this weekend?

TK:

It was very difficult because this was my first WRC event and the first for Zoltán as well. I can say I didn’t have any experience from WRC, neither from ERC. So this stage was a new one for me. László did it last year so he has experience, but every night we spoke and we couldn’t recall every corner from the recce! It was the hardest rally ever of my career.

Q:

Did the relationship work well between you?

TK:

The first two special stages were really… we needed to get used to each other. But thankfully after that it was working fine.

Q:

No problems with the car mechanically?

TK:

Our team has done an amazing job to create the car and maintain it perfectly in the event, so we didn’t have any technical issues. The car was brilliant.

Q:

It must have been quite a feeling to take the flying finish and know you’d won in WRC3

TK:

Of course our main goal was to reach the finish line, so to win was very emotional for me. It’s the most beautiful experience.

Q:

Lauri, you must be delighted with your win?

LJ:

Yeah, it was a really tough rally, the toughest rally of my career. I didn’t expect this result because I only have a little experience of the Tarmac surface. Anyway, Friday went well. After that we made some set-up changes and they were not working so good, so we changed it back, and today was great.

Q:

The positions seemed to be changing moment by moment. It felt like a gravel rally at times. How difficult was Friday for you?

LJ:

Actually it was an easier day for me than Saturday, because Saturday’s conditions were quite tough with the Tarmac and tyres. It was like stepping on the Tarmac. Anyway it went well and we didn’t make any mistakes, so it was good.

Q:

Does this give you a boost of confidence for the championship?

LJ:

Yes, of course. Our next rally is Portugal and it’s going to be one for us because it’s gravel. We’ll have a boost for the next rally. It was my first victory in JWRC so we are really happy.

Q:

Big party tonight?

LJ:

Maybe!