WRC - Ott Tänak: "I was much more confident in the car." | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WRC - Ott Tänak: "I was much more confident in the car."

05.06.22

Transcript of the post-event press conference organised by the FIA for the 2022 Rally Italia Sardegna on June 5, 2022.

2022 WRC - Rally Italia Sardegna - Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja, Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT - Final event podium (photo: Nikos Katikis / DPPI)

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st - Ott Tänak (EST), Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
2nd - Craig Breen (IRL), M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
3rd - Dani Sordo (ESP), Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
Julien Moncet (FRA), Deputy Team Director, Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team

Q:
Ott, congratulations on the win here in Sardinia. You seemed to be very much in the zone. How pleased are you to be on the top step of the podium again?
OT:
It’s quite a big change over compared to two weeks ago. It was quite a big struggle there (Portugal) and a bit frustrated. But, after this, we gave it a big push. Luckily, we had a test day between Portugal and Sardinia and we could continue working and we definitely did some good improvements. Before the rally, I was much more confident in the car. Obviously, it has worked out pretty well. Friday was still so-so with the road position and the roughness and some things still happening. But, Saturday, everything was working and we had a good feeling. For sure, it was nice to have a weekend like this.

Q:
It's great to see the smile back on your face. What did you feel this morning? We’ve seen heartbreak before on this final day. Were there any nerves this morning?
OT:
It is like this. Also, years ago, I have had nerves Sunday morning and things are happening. To be honest, I knew this morning I would do everything from my side. The rest I cannot change. The rest was operating this weekend and we definitely had some luck on our side.

Q:
You have moved up to third in the championship. And two of you on the podium is good for Hyundai in the Manufacturers’ Championship. How important is this for the team in terms of morale?
OT:
I think it is more morale than championship to be honest. We want to fight for the championship but for that we need to have the car. We have a lot of things still to do. We are nowhere close to perfection, where we want to be. Still, the factory is working long hours. We needed that little pressure off. The job they are doing is for winning rallies. I am pretty sure it is an extra boost for them and then we start fresh tomorrow morning.

Q:
How are you feeling now heading to the Safari Rally?
OT:
I know something very demanding is again waiting for us. Last year we were there. It was an extreme challenge. Nothing is easy there. Let’s say, Sardinia is full of surprises, so double that for Safari. It will be tough there, for sure. First you need to finish and take care of the cars. It’s two weeks. First, we have a bit of rest after this hot and demanding weekend.

Q:
Craig, second position and it feels like a different Craig Breen here. How are you feeling to take second away?
CB:
Good, tired. It’s been a long weekend but I feel more relaxed. Honestly, come what may of the result this weekend, whatever would have happened, I felt better with myself and my driving. I would say I got slightly lost on the last couple of rallies, trying to chase something that I probably didn’t need to be chasing. Just tried to resort back to the car doing the work and enjoy the weekend. The speed was a lot better and I was really happy with the pace of the car. It’s the first time that I have felt confident on these type of roads and these type of stages. I think the pace was quite strong and there was a margin there where I could push a little bit more. It was important that we had a result like this and a podium.

Q:
You extended your lead over Dani on the first stage this morning. He was running behind you. How much did you risk in that first stage?
CB:
Honestly, it wasn’t so nice at all to be honest. Normally, Sunday morning, first stage, is a bit nervous because you never really know what someone is going to do.  I was a bit nervous from the flying finish to the stop control what the time was. I felt like I was really slow, but the time was not too bad and I was really happy with that. It was nice to be in a race with Dani because for the last few years when I have been driving, he wasn’t. We never really got to come together in the same rallies. It was nice.

Q:
Does this renewed confidence help heading towards a really tough event next?
CB:
For sure, it won’t make the situation any worse. It will definitely make us feel better. Safari will be completely new for me. I have never been there. I am looking forward to it. I have heard it will be a big challenge and I’ve heard how the guys got on there last year. I would say it will be a proper challenge, an adventure nonetheless. I am all about the adventure of running in the World Championship.  I am looking forward to going and discovering somewhere new. Let’s try and bring the speed forward that we had here. 

Q:
Dani, another third position. You came back into the championship in Portugal. You are just one of those drivers who you can put in a car and you go and score the big points?
DS:
Sometimes it was a good battle but sometimes they set some really good times and it was difficult to follow. Honestly, I take third place and it was nice. 

Q:
You said after Portugal that you wanted to find a little more speed. How do you feel now after this weekend? Are you up to the pace or is there still more to come?
DS:
For sure, in some places I was a little bit faster in the previous year. This year I struggled a little bit more with the car, like Portugal. I have problems to give the power of the car to spin the wheels a lot. But it was okay. Some of the stages, I lost a bit with the dust and I didn’t want to take risks and I lost time. I think I was 10 after the first stage but, after that, I pulled back some and it was better. Ott was on another level. He was good sometimes and, other times, he was very fast. Some stages he was like, wow. On two stages yesterday, he made the gap. There were too many risks today to try and take second place. For sure, if I go fast in the first stage they will see and they will push in the second. So we have this fight for nothing.

Q:
When do we see you next?
DS:
After the summer. I have holidays now. After two rallies, I need to rest (joking). I am 40, you know. My next is Acropolis in Greece. I wait until there. It’s up to the team to have decent preparation and we try and take points with Ott and Thierry for the Drivers’ Championship. I want to see my team going up.

Q:
Julien, congratulations for Hyundai’s first win of the season. How are you feeling with two drivers on the podium and a really strong weekend in terms of pace out there?
JM:
Thank you, it’s a very good result for Ott and the brand as well. We come back in the Manufacturers’ Championship. I would like to echo the words from Ott: it’s a boost for the whole team that we really needed. We know that we have a lot work to do and everything is far from perfect. So, once again, let’s enjoy and celebrate a bit today. Back to the office tomorrow and we have to push to improve the car.

Q:
In what areas do you feel the improvements are needed?
JM:
I would say all. We want to improve on all levels. We know, first of all, that we need to improve general reliability. We all know that the rallies are quite tough and to finish first, first you have to finish. The famous sentence, nothing new. We have to work on the chassis as well. Still, we showed a competitive pace all weekend. So, this is a good boost. It’s up to us to improve again.

Q:
A celebration tonight? It’s been hard work all week, yes?
JM:
It has been hard work, I would say, since mid last year. It started very bad in Monte-Carlo. The weekend was terrible for all of us. We work hard, all the team, and today I think we deserve this result. So, we should take a little bit of a break until midnight and then we attack again tomorrow! The first flight, I think, is at 07.00hrs…

Questions from the floor

Reiner Kuhn (DEU), Motorsport Aktuell

Q:
Congratulations for all the success. In Portugal you had a quite long day and yesterday the break was super short. Do you think the FIA has changed a little bit the itineraries of these kind of rallies?

OT:
I think these discussions have already been there for quite some time. We have this great service park and all the hospitality to bring to people and that is what manufacturers actually like in order to bring the people to the service park to show how we are building the car and how we are working. This is also part of the show. For sure, we would prefer to do at least one service break during the day. It would be quite important. Sometimes, you know, it is a bit tricky when the stages are far and it is difficult to fit everything.

CB:
On the record for our team, yesterday it would have been nigh on impossible if we didn’t have the likes of Mick to keep us going between all the regroups. The temperatures and the heat, it was incredibly difficult. From my side, at least, without having some people there yesterday. In our case it was Mick, I would have been completely lost.

DS:
For me, I think it is better to don’t talk. I can say many words about things changed but..It is not possible after one long day to have 15 minutes regroup to eat. We are not machines. Also, you come from the recce. It is not just three days of rally. We work from Monday. The people do not see this. I don’t want to say more.

Q:
How does it feel to be the first time on the podium? Will we see a big difference in the car in Kenya and Estonia for the different kind of gravel rallies?
JM:
We want more, definitely, and we will push again to be there in three weeks in Kenya. That is the target every time. Kenya is more or less tomorrow…We will be back in the middle of the week in Germany and next week we go again to Kenya for five days. That is very short so we will improve what we can, mainly on reliability but also performance wise it will be quite tricky. Then we have the focus on Estonia and Finland. We will focus on performance and bring some updates as well and I hope we will improve the performance of the car.

Marco Giordo (ITA), Autosprint

Q:
For me it was the hottest of all the Sardinia rallies that I have done. Was it the same for you? I am 60 and I don’t remember temperatures like this.

OT:
I don’t know if it was outside temperature. These cars are like an oven. Inside, it was too ‘well done’, definitely. It was well cooked….

CB:
If you ask Paul (Nagle) definitely. I felt sorry for Paul and all the co-drivers. Obviously, the way the exhaust system is in the new cars it’s like a blanket wrapped. It was incredibly tough. We managed to do it but there were a couple of times when the air coming into the car was making it even more hot. It was quite a challenge.

DS:
For me, it was not the worst. It was not sun during the days I remember before, the worst year, was Portugal. At some point it was windy and you put some water and it was really hot. Fortunately, there was no sun. We have lucky.

FIA WRC2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st - Nikolay Gryazin, Toksport WRT2 (ANA)

Q:
Nikolay, the first FIA WRC2 win of the season on a really tough rally in Sardinia. How are you feeling?
NG:
I feel quite good. It was a really hot race. It was really tough. After Portugal, it was almost like two weeks in a row driving. We were really lucky this rally. We had almost no issues with the car, no punctures and the team was in good shape. This is totally the work of everyone in the team, from our side, from co-driver, everyone who did this result. We can be really happy this weekend.  

Q:
The pace you showed out there was good. There was a great battle within WRC2 on Friday and Saturday. How did you feel about the pace you delivered against your rivals?
NG:
It was nice because I felt like I had some space to improve if I need it. Normally in the Friday and Saturday we felt a good rhythm and it starts to increase to have some fight. Definitely in some stages it was still not enough. It may be related to set-up and the shape of the stages.  Sunday, we had a decision to drive safe just to get the result and finish.

Q:
How tough did you find yesterday (Saturday) with no mid-point service, hot and lots of stages?
NG:
I will tell you a small secret. On the second pass of Tempio Pausania we hit a little bit a rock and I finished all day with damaged arm on the rear, but it was not disturbing. There was no reason to repair because we saw it was not so big. But it was nice that we were able to adjust the driving to the car.

Q:
What other events are we going to see you on now for the rest of the season?
NG:
Difficult to say. We are expecting to be in Finland. 

FIA WRC2 MASTERS CUP

Present:
1st – Freddy Loix (BEL)

Q:
Freddy, great to see you back in action and the WRC2 Masters Cup winner. How did you find it out there this weekend?
FL:
I had a great weekend I have to say because it was a really rough rally and it was from 2011 that I didn’t drive a rally on gravel. So, after so many years, to be back on gravel was not so easy to find straightaway the right speed. But the rally was rough, so it was also more important to finish to get away from problems. That’s what we did. We drove quick when we had to drive quick and we just watched out a little but when we needed to be careful. I was very happy with the finish.

Q:
It must have been quite a surprise to be back on a loose surface after so many years?
FL:
Yes, definitely. When Peter came with the idea to do the Master rallies, I was thinking let’s do some tarmac rallies. At the end of the story, we said we go only for the fun. We wanted to be in Sardinia and also we go to Finland. We decide a few weeks ago to do a small one-day test in France to be back on the gravel. After 60-70kms, I had a good feeling and I was enjoying the rally.

Q:
It was a great rally but it was hot with tough days. Any dramas for you yesterday (Saturday)?
FL:
No, we had no problems. We had a good car and a fantastic team also, even not had a puncture, nothing. I was only not used to doing so many road sections and so many stages without a service. I never did that. My last WRC rally was 2004, so it is a completely different way of driving. But, at the end of the story, we enjoy it.

Q:
So, the last time you did Finland would have been that year then?
FL:
No, 2004, I did four or five rallies I did Spain, I think Greece, Monte-Carlo and Sweden and that’s it. In 2011, I did my last gravel rally in Cyprus, also with the Škoda, so it was nice after 11 years to be back in a rally car on the gravel. Finland will be a different story altogether. But that doesn’t matter at all. For me, to be back and enjoying rallies with my co-driver Peter is already something.

FIA WRC3 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
Jan Černý (CZE)

Q:
Congratulations in winning your category. How was it out there this weekend?
JC:
It was amazing. I have to say we were not lucky on Saturday afternoon because we had a technical issue. But this morning, Diego (Dominguez) had also a technical issue and retired. We lost, yesterday, five minutes but when he retired, we just needed to pass the stages and we won, which is incredible. I have been waiting for this moment a long time. I am back in WRC after 10-11 years, so we finished second, just seven seconds behind, so today we won so I am happy.

Q:
This is such a tough rally. What was the toughest aspect of the weekend for you?
JC:
The race is really nice. My last race, 10 years ago in Sardinia, I forgot everything. After the first day of recce, I thought, wow, it was really difficult. But it was really nice. I am happy that the car was okay except for one small trouble that cost us five minutes, But the rest was fine.

Q:
What was the small trouble?
JC:
Some electric problems.

Q:
What other rallies are we going to see you on this season? What is next?
JC:
I will do the Rallycross in Sweden in a month. We are thinking about Greece or Finland. We do not know yet.