WRC - E. Evans: "It is good points and what we came here for" | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WRC - E. Evans: "It is good points and what we came here for"

20.09.20

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

2020 WRC - Rally Turkey - 1st place E. Evans / S. Martin (Lenormand/DPPI)

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st Elfyn Evans (GBR), Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team
2nd Thierry Neuville (BEL), Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
3rd Sébastien Loeb (FRA), Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
Tommi Mäkinen (FIN), Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team

Q:
Elfyn, a hugely dramatic day today. You find yourself with maximum points in terms of the win. How are you feeling right now?
EE:
Of course, very happy. I would say it is not the sweetest of my wins. You never want to win in these circumstances. Of course, it is good points and that is what we came here for. Fortunately here, as we know, it is a bit of a lottery. There is only so much you can do to influence that. This time, we were on the right side of that. There have been situations in the past where we have been on the dark side of circumstances. I think we have to take that and be happy for it.

Q:
That first stage this morning caused a huge amount of drama. You came through unscathed. On the second pass, you did say that you thought you may have a puncture. Was that maybe being too aware of the feelings in the car and the noise?
EE:
No, I think, close to the start, I felt a few knocks early on the rear. I just felt straight away I had quite a few corners where the rear was trying to slide and I said to Scotty it felt quite clear. What I said was I am not sure if we have got a puncture here. Obviously, I carried on and it turned out we didn’t. It was all okay at the end.

Q:
All okay at the end, but how much of a tough challenge has it been this weekend?
EE:
It has been very tough, of course. The first pass through that long one was very difficult this morning. Everybody had dust at the start and Kalle had a puncture in front of us and the gap was only two minutes, so I was constantly in his dust then all the way to the end and it was quite difficult, you know, in and out of the dust, non-stop, with that many corners and that many things to hit. It was quite stressful, but happy that we came through in those conditions.
 
Q:
Into the lead of the championship now with an 18 point advantage. How critical is that at this point in the season?
EE:
It is better that way than the other way round. I haven’t given it too much thought. Who knows what will happen between now and the end of the season. We know that, ultimately, one retirement and it is flipped on its head again. We have to keep our heads down for the next rallies.

Q:
Thierry, your never-give-up spirit really came through strongly this weekend. Disappointment obviously this morning but you came back very strongly and sealed those five points as well on the Power Stage. What is going through your mind right now?
TN:
Obviously, there is a lot of disappointment right now. To be honest, we had a really strong performance all weekend. The speed was there and we didn’t make any major mistakes and we had a clever management of the tyres as well. Unfortunately, not everything came together this morning. We knew we were going to try and drive carefully in the stage and we were exactly following our target. For many other drivers as well, luck was not on our side and we got the puncture. We lost first position, fought back to P2 after that and we took five Power Stage points. I think we have to take the positives away from this weekend. We are a bit closer to the lead of the championship. That was our main target. We are still able to fight for the championship on the upcoming rounds. We are P5 and have a good road position for Sardinia.

Q:
In has been a strange year and not many rallies. We are not sure how many more there are to go. So you have to keep pushing out there?
TN:
Anyhow, I am not a guy to give up until it is mathematically finished. I am going to push hard. I want victories as well. I am hungry for more. We were very motivated this weekend, especially after the disappointments of Mexico and Estonia. I think we deserved the win this weekend. But, obviously, it wasn’t ours. We look forward to the next event. The organisers and the FIA should really take care of this dust situation. It is not nice for anybody. Nobody feels safe. It is a matter of luck how the wind comes to give you a bit more or less visibility. Playing a championship in those conditions is not really nice either. It is an important point but also I want to mention that it was very hot in the cars this weekend. I think all the other drivers agree on that. We have been complaining since long to get the side film on the windows to be at least a little bit protected from the sun, especially in such hot conditions on such very slow stages with no cool air coming in the car. It is really something we have to focus on. I said it to the other drivers and some replied the same. I felt dizzy at the end of some stages and also getting out of the car. It took 10-15 minutes to recover. I am physically quite fit but it is just too hot in those cars.

Q:
Seb, let’s turn to you now. On to the podium with third position but what a dramatic weekend. But it turned out okay in the end?
SL:
At the end, we are still on the podium but we had some ups and downs all the weekend. It was a very complicated rally. It was really rough and very hard for the tyres. So it was a surprise for me to lead the rally on the first day. I was happy for that. I started as fast as possible to get into a good rhythm to have a good road position for the rest. It was an amazing moment for me to be leading after the first stages. Then it went a bit more complicated on the second day with the bad tyre choice in the morning and I lost a bit of contact with the lead. I tried to survive with that. The second pass of the long stage, I destroyed my tyres again. Luckily not as much as Elfyn. I had the rest of two tyres left for the last stage so we could come back to second place. Today, in the morning, we had to start flat out but with the dust we had, it was just amazing. The conditions in the stage were not driveable sometimes and when I had the information that nearly everybody had stopped in the stage, I tried to secure a bit my drive and not take any risks and not get a puncture. Then I also got a puncture! From where, this I don’t know. I didn’t feel anything in the dust. Luckily, we restarted the fight until the end of the rally and we were able to finish on the podium. It is a great result for me. I think I was here to secure the points for the Manufacturers’ Championship and the result for Hyundai is not too bad.

Q:
When you went into the afternoon stages, you were only a handful of seconds behind Sébastien Ogier. Did you back off when Ogier stopped?
SL
I didn’t really back off. I didn’t want to change the rhythm in the stage, so it was a mix between pushing and going around the stones. The conditions were too rough to go 100%. It was really a lottery in the first pass. I managed a bit but I don’t think it would have changed anything. I could not have beaten the two guys here with me. I think it was a good strategy.

Q:
Are you any closer to knowing what your next event will be?
SL:
I have still the same question and still the same answer. We did not speak more. It is not the result we have done. I enjoyed and had a lot of fun. I am proud to have been able to fight with these guys. It does not change the approach and I have not spoken with the team about the next rallies.

Q:
Would you like to come back this year?
DE:
I believe, for sure, when you finish a rally like this one. I had a lot of fun in the car. Why not?

Q:
Tommi, a Toyota win but it was a tough event with a lot of dramas. Let’s talk about Elfyn first. How pleased are you for him?
TM:
Obviously I must be very proud of our team and what they have done preparing a car for this kind of conditions. We could see they were concentrated. Today Elfyn was the man of the weekend. He did some good speed with controlling the tyres and everything, and that is the result we have in these extreme survival conditions.

Q:
What happened with Sébastien Ogier today? We saw smoke and flames. What went on?
TM:
All the weekend, he has been on the unlucky side. He could win the rally. He was very fast and was performing yesterday very well. On the first and second loop, he had some gear shifting failure that dropped him down. He could fight clearly. Today, finally, the engine leave him alone in the forest and that is what we need to investigate. I am sorry for him but I am sure he will be very strong in Sardinia.
 
Q:
Elfyn has a good lead in the Drivers’ Championship. You continue to lead the Manufacturers’ and extended that advantage as well. How are you feeling about both championships heading into Sardinia?
TM:
We have to do our rallies while everything is still open, of course. We have a good advantage but Sardinia is not the best place to be first. Elfyn will be first on the road and Seb second. I am not sure what distance they have on the first day before they change the starting order. Anyway, we are confident in those conditions.

Questions from the floor

Reiner Kuhn – Motorsport Aktuell (GER)
Q:
What is your opinion on the special conditions that Rally Turkey offers and will you be looking forward to coming back in 2021?
EE:
I sort of vouch for Rally GB on the basis that it offers something unique and we maybe don’t get maximum driving enjoyment out of Turkey. But it adds something unique to the championship and is a challenge but it is not nice sometimes. It is the World Rally Championship and it is always historically harder with the rougher events like Greece or Safari or something of this nature.
TN:
The rally itself is nice and enjoyable and I like the profile of the stages. I have always been fast here so it’s a rally I like to come back to but we have to look at the roughness and the conditions. I think all the stages can be driven really except the stage of today, the long one. There are some sections that should be cut out. We could easily do the first 10km and the last 10 or 15km and the middle section I think you just throw out. It is just too rough for the cars nowadays, especially on a short championship like this. To play your results on luck or not luck is maybe a bit too much.
SL:
I enjoy driving here, the stages are nice. You have some fast and twisty sections and some rough and clean sections. You have a bit of everything. Like Thierry said, the long one is a bit too rough and too much a lottery. But, for the rest, I enjoy to come here.
TM:
It’s challenging conditions and, of course, we all know what it is. Pretty much lottery at the moment with the current regulations. To be here is okay, but I would recommend unbreakable mousse tyres which could make it equal for everybody. Then, no-one would need to care about the punctures so much and not worry about the tyres.

Bo Christer Bolfedt, Worldrally.se (SWE)
Q:
This is the best season of your career. Two wins so far. How are you feeling?
EE
It has been a positive step in my career. I have never really had a championship campaign before. We made big improvements last year and some flashes of speed in the past. It has started to come together for us. It didn’t quite go our way with the broken back and a few bad events. Joining Toyota has been a nice experience as well. I have settled into the team and am enjoying driving the car. I am much more happy to be fighting at the front.

 
FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st Pontus Tidemand (SWE), Toksport World Rally Team

Q:
Pontus, congratulations on your FIA WRC2 win. What are your thoughts after Rally Turkey?
PT:
I am happy to take this win here on Rally Turkey and happy to lead the FIA WRC2. It is good for the championship. It was a tough rally but conditions were the same for everyone. I was just looking for big points and we did it. I tried to be quite careful on the long stages to get the maximum so there was not much to enjoy but it was all about being clever. A big thanks to the Toksport team and Škoda Motorsport for the strong and great support and providing me with a good car. We need to keep going for the next event.

Q:
What are the plans now Pontus?
PT:
I will be back in Sardinia and I hope I can take some experience from Turkey because, in Estonia, we were not on a perfect pace. 


FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL)

Q:
Kajetan, a win in FIA WRC3. You must be delighted with this weekend?
KK:
Yes, I must apologise that my race suit is not so clean. We were working very hard between stages. I am really happy. It was a perfect weekend for us. Lottery, gambling game – we knew it from before. Now we did it after a huge crash in Estonia. It wasn’t easy. It is also nice to fight with Pontus. It is like dreams come true. Believe me, it is a pleasure. 
 
Q:
We saw such pace from you in difficult conditions. You must have felt very confident?
KK:
We won this rally last year and we know you have to push but, sometimes, you have to find compromise. This is Rally Turkey. This is one of the most difficult rallies in the WRC. You need to be a lucky man also at the same time. It’s strange. That is why I am proud to be with my team. Our car is very strong. Thanks for the Lotos Rally Team. It was an amazing weekend and I think we deserve it.

Q:
When do we see you again?
KK:
Of course, in Sardinia. I focus on WRC3 and this is our target.

Q:
It’s shaping up to be a fascinating battle in the championship, isn’t it?
KK:
We lost one rally but we never give up.