WRC - Rally Mexico - Press Conference | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WRC - Rally Mexico - Press Conference

07.03.16
Transcript of the post event press conference organised by the FIA for the 2016 Rally Mexico.

Present:
1st - Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Motorsport
1st - Miikka Anttila, Volkswagen Motorsport
2nd - Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Motorsport
2nd - Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Motorsport
3rd - Dani Sordo, Hyundai Motorsport
3rd - Marc Marti, Hyundai Motorsport
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport

Stop Press: The Stewards received a report from the FIA Technical Delegate stating that competitor No.4 (Sordo/Marti) used 29 tyres during the rally instead of the 28 authorised as per Art. 7.2 of the Supplementary Regulations. The Stewards levied a two minute penalty to competitor No.4 for this breach. As a consequence, Mads Østberg/Ola Floene moved into third, and Sordo/Marti dropped to fourth.

Q:
Jari-Matti, you have now started your 2016 season! Congratulations on WRC win number 16.
J-ML:
Yes it is fantastic. I said to Miikka that maybe we will start the season here and it’s great to win on the first gravel round. Before the start we said it would be really good to win. But I was only dreaming of winning here. It has been difficult for me in the past. This year, I had a different approach with Miikka and we concentrated on a clean drive and tried to use our road position and avoid the rocks. It went according to plan.

Q:
You had a great road position. But you didn’t make any mistakes either…
J-ML:
It was maybe the cleverest run we have ever done. In Finland I drove for my life last year, but that was at speed on fast stages at high speed. Mexico is 400 kilometres of stages and some of those are 55, 42 and 80 kilometres. They are longer stages and some of the longest used in the WRC in 30 years. The approach was different. It was more like an endurance event and I am happy to have won in these conditions.

Q:
Jari-Matti, how did you get on in terms of focus on the long stage today?
J-ML:
I thought the first 10 kilometres was the most difficult and I needed to find my rhythm for it. Then I felt it and didn’t want to go too fast. I got it right until 50 or 55 kilometres, I did not have any problems at all, but then I got this feeling around 58 kilometres that the rear brakes went away. I looked on the trip and saw that there were 22 kilometres to go and I tried to calculate if my speed was going to be enough. I asked Miikka if it was enough. He told me it was enough. That’s what I wanted to hear.

Q:
What does the win here do for your challenge for the Championship?
J-ML:
I knew that Seb would make a great effort to take the points on the Power Stage after being first on the road for two days. I tried hard and I managed to catch back six points and this is important. At least we are catching. No points here would have put me out of the championship. At least now we have a chance to keep fighting. Being consistent now is the key. We need to keep this going on the next events.

Q:
It is also an extra special weekend with your father winning an event in Germany?
J-ML:
Yes, that’s very special. It’s the first time it’s happening, father and son winning on the same weekend. I remember in 2004 in Finland in the national championship we had numbers after each other then in World Rally Cars.

Q:
Miikka, congratulations on the win. Does it feel good to get the season off to a good start?
MA:
Yes, it’s always nice to start the season like this (round three)! It’s really a big relief for Jari-Matti and myself. We did not doubt it could happen. Our starting position was good and we had to try and build a solid drive to win here. After the shakedown we were the last of the VWs to leave the service park and the first ones to finish the shakedown – that’s a good sign. It’s a big relief and now we have a good starting position in Argentina. We will try to maximise the result from this.

Q:
Sébastien, Jari-Matti mentioned his brake issues at 58 kilometres. Did you notice anything?
SO:
Not so specific, but we had the same problem around kilometre 60. It was the same problem. But this stage ran quite smoothly and did not feel so long.

Q:
What are your thoughts on the weekend in general? The Power Stage and extra points?
SO:
For sure, it’s not a secret that it was a frustrating weekend for us. We did the best we could and finished second. We could not ask for more and we have a lot of points for the championship. I see Jari-Matti as my main rival this year. But, you know me, I don’t like to accept this frustration.

Q:
What was the most difficult part of the rally for you?
SO:
On Saturday, there was a lot of pollution (surface gravel) and I lost even more time on Saturday. Today, I finally had a good position and had two nice stages.

Q:
Did you think you had a chance to catch Jari-Matti on the long stage?
SO:
If the difference had been up to 30 seconds we could give it a try. But to take 1 minute 30 seconds in 80 kilometres is one hell of a task. I had a great drive this weekend. To finish the rally and get three extra points on the Power Stage was great.

Q:
What are your thoughts on Argentina?
SO:
It might be the same situation there as well, unless the weather helps me out. Saying that, I don’t want to win with that kind of an advantage. Let’s see that happens then. This was a good weekend.

Q:
Julien, it was a challenging weekend for co-drivers. What are your thoughts on the long stages?
JI:
I am a cow driver now! We were not alone on the stages, there were goats, dogs and some cows. It was very challenging, but Mexico is always a good event and the roads are nice to drive and the atmosphere is always the same with enthusiastic people around. Like my colleagues also, I had to work a lot. The roads were nice but bumpy and I cannot write (the notes) properly. Even with my famous magic pillow on my knees it was not easy. It’s a great event though. On the 80 kilometre stage I had 106 pages of pace notes. Miikka had 78 pages and I was surprised, because John Kennard only had 57 – half of me. So, yesterday night, I checked the road book to check the stage! I

Q:
Dani, third overall and another podium finish. You showed some great pace as well this weekend?
DS:
I have a really nice feeling to have a podium finish here. It’s the first event on gravel with the new car, so I am happy. We had a good position in the rally and, at the end, we take the third place.

Q:
You had a good fight with Andreas Mikkelsen. Were you happy with your pace?
DS:
Andreas was really fast, but maybe he was too fast and he make a mistake. We can push hard and take more risks, but it was very slippery. I can go faster and do better but I am happy. I think the long stage, 54 kilometres, was the most difficult. This stage was really long and the feeling in the car was really hot. I had to be very careful to keep in the lines, because there were always crests and rocks. It was really difficult.

Q:
What are your thoughts on the car?
DS:
The car is progressing step-by-step. It is better than last year and we have to improve the set up. We are in a good way and making good progress.

Q:
Marc, this is a unique event with the endurance and the atmosphere. What are your thoughts?
MM:
The rally is unique. It has the good weather when we are all coming from Europe where it is cold. The people are friendly and they are looking at you and supporting you. From the beginning, from the shakedown and the ceremonial start, people are speaking Spanish and that is more easy for us.

Q:
Marc, what do you think of the challenge of the event?
MM:
Of course to be concentrated on the long stages is not easy. Most of the first and second day the stages were quite twisty and more difficult than the last 80 kilometre (stage). Also, Dani and myself, we made only one and a half days of test with the new car, so we do a good job

Q:
Jost, Jari-Matti and Miikka have sealed the win in Mexico. What are your thoughts on their performance?
JC:
The performances of Jari-Matti, Miikka, Sébastien and Julien were perfect. With their road positions they did the best they could do and it showed with perfect performances. Not one was better than the other, they had different starting positions. I think this is one of the best rallies we have had so far and it was so important to get the maximum points.

Q:
Andreas (Mikkelsen) went off the road. Why did you not fix the car?
JC:
It was quite a big hit and there were parts in the engine that were broken and needed replacing. We do not do this at rallies.

Q:
What are your thoughts on the ambience at the event?
JC:
We say the same every year, it is a fantastic rally. The team wants to come here and looks forward to it. Just fantastic stages and the fans are great and the location is a role model for WRC events. The service park is in a great place, the hotels are good and close and so are the stages, and we have the weather. We always love to come here.

Q:
Do you think it’s a good move to have an 80 kilometre stage on the final day?
JC:
I don’t think rallies should be the same. We need specialities. We don’t like night stages in gravel rallies. Let’s hope we do not see them again. It’s always possible and exciting for new ideas and it changes the strategy for the teams and the drivers. Variation is welcomed by everyone. Finally, I would like to thank the Volkswagen people from the two plants on Friday. Our drivers stopped and got out of the cars and got great support. We dedicate this win to them.


FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st - Teemu Suninen, TGS Worldwide
1st - Mikko Markkula, TGS Worldwide

Q:
Teemu, congratulations on your first WRC win of the season in WRC 2. How are you feeling?
TS:
I feel pretty good. This is the best way to start the season. The stages are very narrow in places and we had to drive quite carefully. It was on Friday we had to drive fast.

Q:
You had such a big lead at the end though Teemu?
TS:
This was not the case at the beginning. But we drove quickly for two days and then I learned to drive safely and I drive fast without taking risks.

Q:
What were your thoughts on the stage of 80 kilometres today?
TS:
To be honest, it felt quite a long stage but we did not have to push all the time. If we had needed to push it would have been different, but we were able to drive safely to save the tyres and the brakes.

Q:
Has this win given you confidence for the future?
TS:
The past rallies have been good for me but, in Portugal, there will be every driver and it will be a much tighter race. We have to prepare well for this. Hopefully we can get some extras events in before Portugal.

Q:
Mikko, great results in the past two events and a first win for you since you registered in WRC 2.
MM:
Of course, we want to win always. We never expected everything, but we have good tactics and good luck. It can happen and it happened. Some sections were very rough at times and we had to drive slowly all the time to see all the stones. It was very difficult to keep the concentration and try to stop making mistakes with the big lead. We had 85 pages of notes for the big stage – we had 70 for El Chocolate.


FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st - Michel Fabre, Sainteloc Junior Team
1st - Maxime Vilmot, Sainteloc Junior Team

Q:
Michel, this is your second win of the season. How are you feeling?
MF:
The feeling is very good. I enjoyed the rally. It has magnificent organisation .

Q:
What were your thoughts on the stage of 80 kilometres?
MF:
It was superb, perfect. I am used to stages as long as that. I have done them in my time, but the stage of 50 kilometres was more demanding physically.

Q:
Maxime, another win in WRC 2. What are your thoughts?
MV:
It was a nice challenge and the first time on gravel for Michel. I am happy for Michel and hope that we continue with this. The event has a good atmosphere and the long stage today was fantastic. The aim was to keep calm and have no problems. I liked the challenge. The plan is more of the same. We work hard. Michel found it a little difficult with the pace notes and he lose the speed sometimes. We will continue to work with this.