WRC - E. Evans: "The car was working well, that gave me the confidence to push." | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WRC - E. Evans: "The car was working well, that gave me the confidence to push."

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16.02.20

Transcript of the post-event press conference organised by the FIA for the 2020 Rally Sweden.

2020 WRC - Rally Sweden - Elfyn Evans & Scott Martin (DPPI)

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st – Elfyn Evans (GBR), Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
1st – Scott Martin (GBR), Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
2nd – Ott Tänak (EST), Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT
2nd – Martin Järveoja (EST), Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT
3rd  - Kalle Rovanperä (FIN) Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
3rd  - Jonne Halttunen (FIN), Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
Tommi Mäkinen, Team Principal, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Q:
Congratulations on your second FIA WRC win, Elfyn. How do you feel?
EE:
Happy! It’s been a really good weekend. We came and we found a good feeling in Shakedown, although we weren’t sure how that would be. We came with proper stages and the car was working really well. That gave me confidence to push the way I did. At the end, the result is really good. I’m happy.

Q:
What was that final stage like?
EE:
Difficult. I was half of the mindset to find a good rhythm and then think about some [Power Stage] points, but I gave that up straight away. To take points would mean taking some risk. There was a section of soft stuff near the beginning, this was quite tricky for the tyres and the puncture risk was quite big. I felt like I should just drive like I needed to do to get the win.

Q:
You’re the championship leader now, how do you feel about Mexico?
EE:
We’ve had two specialist events. It’s good that we’ve been able to capitalise on both of them and I suppose Mexico can be specialised as well. But then, gravel forms the majority of the championship so we need to get our teeth into the feeling of the car in there. Let’s hope it goes as well as it did on the first two.

Q:
First on the road in Mexico, that’s going to be tough?
 
EE:
Not if it rains. There’s always hope…

Q:
Scott, your first FIA WRC win – how does that feel?
SM:
I’m struggling to come to terms with it to be honest. It feels fantastic and it feels so good for the team. Elfyn drove fantastically all rally, we led from start to finish and like Elfyn said, that last stage was not the most enjoyable. The others were beautiful, we had a great rhythm and speed. It was a joy to be in the car, even if it was a bit nerve-wracking on the last stage. When I got the radio message [after the stage] and I could hear all the team cheering, I kind of half-knew [we’d won]. But when Kaj [Lindström] said we had won, that was the confirmation. It’s taken a while to get the first, but I’m sure the second will come a bit quicker!

Q:
You and Elfyn have gelled well with the team. Has it been easy?
SM:
From the outside, maybe it looks easy, but a lot of work has gone in. The team’s had three new drivers and the team’s done lot of work behind the scenes. We had a good result in Monte, maybe not the perfect one, but two cars on the podium here is a brilliant start. There are a lot of rallies ahead and lot of work to keep that going. One win out of the way, we came close last year – we can kick on from here.

Q:
It’s a rare day to see a British crew on the top step of the Rally Sweden podium…
SM:
It’s great for the sport, great for the UK, which is a big part of the history of the sport. This is a unique event, it’s somewhere the Scandinavians have done very well and the Sébastiens [Loeb and Ogier] have been great here, but me and Elfyn have been together just over a year. The more rallies we do, the better it feels. I think this is our 13th event together. Maybe it’s lucky number 13!

Q:
Ott, happy to get points on the board?
OT:
I’m happy to be here, to finally finish a rally this year. After Monte, it’s been nice to come back in the car. It’s been really limited seat time in the car, it was quite a rush at the start of the year. I’m sure this week definitely gave us some more. At least we have some understanding of what’s happening and now things are a lot more interesting.

Q:
How much have you had to adapt to the conditions?
OT:
Overall, the organisers did a good job. A week or two before, it seemed very risky to take the decision to run the event. It’s been not easy but I believe what’s been done is the right decision. I don’t know if there were any drivers complaining. The stages were high-speed and challenging, but it played out right enough with the tyres and everything. We had no option to do any more stages, but all the stages run were in good condition. The organisers have done very well.

Q:
What are the strengths of the Hyundai?
 
OT:
I’m definitely adapting, it’s step-by-step. This car is a different car to the two previous ones, it’s definitely maybe taking a bit of time, but this weekend was a good experience and I’m pretty confident many areas will improve and get better – these are possible to do. I’m looking forward.

Q:
Martin, how was it for you?
MJ:
Like Ott told you, it’s good to finish the rally. This was a positive weekend - a good weekend. Every rally we finished with Hyundai we are on the podium – that’s good! We need finish to the rally, but we still have to learn the car and the team. We need to push forward and look forward to Mexico.

Q:
How did you feel after Monte?
MJ:
I feel no difference after the pre-event test, I have the confidence we both are ready for the rally and the results show that.

Q:
Kalle, your first podium – how was that last stage? The best of your career?
KR:
I think so, yes. I think it was the best stage I have done. It’s been quite demanding today, but I felt I was quite clean on the gravel section so then I pushed on the snow – it paid off.

Q:
The confidence is good now?
KR:
It’s quite a nice feeling in the car. It’s doesn’t feel too much on the limit. There were a few mistakes stalling the car, but those are just things I need to learn from the new car. At least, I didn’t do them after two times and not any more. The feeling is really nice.

Q:
And how does it feel to beat your six-time FIA World Champion team-mate?
KR:
It’s a really nice feeling. I didn’t expect to feel so good in the car, talking Jonne [Halttunen, co-driver] he said it was maybe not enough. But it was and I was happy.

Q:
Jari-Matti Latvala is the youngest ever winner of a FIA WRC round at 22, can you beat that?
KR:
I don’t know, but of course I have to try to beat – it’s a long time before I get to that age.

Q:
Jonne, your second event and you’re on the podium – did you imagine it would be this quick?
JH:
To be honest, no. The recce and Shakedown were good with a good feeling. We do our best and it looks OK.

Q:
How was that final stage as a co-driver?
JH:
In the last straight, I said I did not think it was enough, it felt too slow in the first part where we made some mistakes. But time-wise it was very nice.
 
Q:
Any predictions for 2020?
JH:
I hope we can stay on the road. For sure there will be some mistakes, we are still learning. We don’t always know what we are doing or is this fast? I hope we can just keep on learning.

Q:
Tommi, tell us about this incredible weekend…
TM:
Absolutely - this was more than we expected. We’re all smiling, all very proud. We have a new crew in Elfyn and Scott who have the potential to win the title and we have Kalle and Jonne following behind. We cannot be more than happy – we give them maximum support to continue. There are many good ideas to support them and let them do even better.

Q:
Did you expect Elfyn to be leading the championship after Sweden?
TM:
I knew that in Monte, the performance was a little bit surprising – how fast and how quickly Elfyn was able to find the car to go fast. I think this was the surprise for everybody. In Monte, with the conditions, we knew he’s been very good. Here in Sweden, that was an even bigger surprise, I think his self-confidence is at a pretty high level.

Q:
And what about Kalle?
TM:
We changed a bit the set up on the last long stage and that gave the confidence to go fast. That was the result on high-speed stage – they show us what’s going on.

Q:
How was that Power Stage?
TM:
Of course, it was the most exciting Power Stage ever. I can say this 21km long stage was very hard done – I could see also for Harri [Rovanperä] it was, I think… it wasn’t an easy stage for him!


FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st - Mads Østberg (NOR), PH Sport
1st - Torstein Eriksen (NOR), PH Sport

Q:
Mads, congratulations on your second successive FIA WRC 2 win. How was it?
MO:
It was entertaining to drive a slightly different event to the past. The stages were nice and conditions not too bad. For us, we could just enjoy the fight with a lot of fast R5 [Rally2] cars – we had to be on it all weekend and I’m happy to end on the top of our category.

Q:
How easy was it to adapt?
 
MO:
Sometimes, it was difficult to judge the grip. I imagined from the past that the gravel would be the most tricky, the most slippery and difficult to judge. We learned as the weekend went on. I think it’s a long time since ‘ve  learned so much in a weekend.

Q:
But your confidence is building?
MO:
Yeah. We knew the first two events would probably be the most difficult for us, but we have two lots of 25 points. We’re happy about that, but we want to be the fastest R5 [Rally2] car as well. There were some really fast Finns and I was not happy enough with my car. Not happy enough to drive fast enough – we just couldn’t do it. I would have had to go over the limit and it was not physically possible to catch them on the fast parts and I could not take enough back on the technical parts.

Q:
How was it from your perspective, Torstein?
TE:
I’m happy with the result, but always we want to be quicker – this is something to work on. To get better, we need this kind of things to work from.

Q:
Were you distracted by the conditions?
TE:
It was a bit strange to leave the hotel at 1100 this morning, but we stay focused and worked at 100 per cent in the stages. It was fantastic and great to enjoy this with so many friends and family on the stages.


FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st – Jari Huttunen (FIN)
1st –  Mikko Lukka (FIN)

Q:
Jari, great result for you – and a big battle in the final stage?
JH:
The feeling was really good and I’m really happy to be fastest R5 [Rally2] here. It’ been difficult – we’ve had the problem with the oil sump, we lost almost all oil [on Saturday] and on Friday, we had big problems with the gear system – but the pace is really good now.

Q:
Difficult dine stage, were you on the limit?
JH:
It’s difficult to say I was on the limit because it was special in some places – lots of ice. But it was coming quite well. There are always some moments in these conditions.

Q:
What’s the plan for the year?
JH:
I will drive the Polish Championship, Rally Finland and hopefully some more.

Q:
Mikko, how did it feel in the car?
 
ML:
It was so nice because your mind is focused all the time. That helps a lot.

Q:
And that final stage?
ML:
I concentrate on my own work, that’s the best way!


FIA JUNIOR WRC CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st – Tom Kristensson (SWE)
1st –  Joachim Sjöberg (SWE)

Q:
Tom, business as usual – back on top step after a brilliant weekend!
TK:
I’m so happy to be here, there’s been a lot of work done. Finally, we are able to start the season. I didn’t drive for one centimetre in the test – I prepared myself with pace-note practice, but not one km in the car. This was a long time out of the car. Then I did not drive Shakedown to save the tyres – we had a good strategy for the rally. We had no tests so it was quite tricky in the first stage. I said to the team to give it three corners to get the feeling, but I decided to go for it after two! We started every day really well, we get some gap on the stage wins in some great conditions here. We had a lot of fun and the result is a dream coming true again.

Q:
You might be Swedish, but you don’t do much snow driving…
TK:
Yeah, I live 600km south of here, so we don’t have much snow at home.  We need to go far to drive on snow, but I found the grip and could trust it.

Q:
How will you keep yourself fresh before the next FIA Junior WRC round?
TK:
To get to the rally is a lot of work, try find budget for the rest of season... I will try to drive something at home, that’s the main thing. I have experience of Sardinia, Finland, Germany and Wales – that will be enough!

Q:
Joakim, how does it feel?
JS:
It feels great, we start with the plan to push hard from the beginning - this paid off. We were not cruising, but today’s stages were the trickiest ones. We didn’t need to push.

Q:
What is it like as part of the Junior experience?
JS:
It’s been good, very interesting as a learning experience. This rally has been a lot of waiting and a lot of sleep. It’s been OK.