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

WRC - Rally Turkey - Press Conference

13.09.18

Transcript of the pre-event Press Conference organised by the FIA for the 2018 Rally Turkey

Present:
Thierry Neuville, Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
Jari-Matti Latvala, Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT
Craig Breen, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Teemu Suninen, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Q:
Thierry, the first chess piece to move into place in this year’s silly season came with the news that you will remain at Hyundai for the next three years. As the answer has come swiftly does this mean it was not a difficult decision?
TN:
I am very happy to announce the agreement ahead of the next events. They will be crucial for the championship and, at least, that is done. Hyundai have shown a strong commitment to keep me in the team. I was born with this team and have been with them for the last five years. They are like my family. There is a great atmosphere. It is working well and we are aiming for more in the future. It was 100% a good choice.

Q:
Has it been a distraction with regard to dealing with the decision and the championship title fight?
TN:
It was a busy time. Now it’s done and we are ready for the fight. Especially this weekend it’s going to be very challenging. Straight away we have the longest stage on Friday. I have no idea what is waiting for us. We saw a little from the shakedown but it will be more complicated for the first stage. It will be so important to find a good rhythm straight away to save the tyres and get no punctures.

Q:
Let us focus on the newest edition to the championship calendar, Rally Turkey. What are your thoughts on the stages here?
TN:
Friday is going be to the toughest day of the rally. Our car is good in these conditions. It is a strong car and we have good grip on the second pass through the stages in deep ruts. Hopefully we can gain a little compared to the competitors. We have the advantage but I also have more to lose than to gain. I will try to increase my championship lead.

Q:
What will be your strategy this weekend?
TN:
For sure, the championship situation is intense with a few guys fighting and the others needing a good result. The prize here is fantastic (yacht holiday) and thinking about that makes it more difficult for us. It is all about finding the speed and balance, taking no risks and avoiding problems with the car and avoiding punctures.

Q:
Jari-Matti, you are another driver that has an interesting story for next year. We hear in the press that you do have a full time drive, but we don’t know with which team. Can you tell us anymore?
J-ML:
What I said in the Meet the Crews was that my car will have four wheels, 400bhp, a power shift and a big rear spoiler! Then we will see. Quite soon I think. It’s not far off. I will not say anything before I sign the paper myself – before GB hopefully.

Q:
You have competed in Turkey previously and were second overall in 2008. How does this event compare to the previous incarnations?
J-ML:
There is a nice prize for this hard rally. It’s really nice and a good job from the organisers. I think for this rally we have prepared well in rough conditions in Portugal. We have a higher car than ever before. It’s very high now. We make the suspension stiffer to take the impacts and then we have to control how you attack the corners and how hard you brake. Then we concentrate on the cooling side. This has been one area, like in Mexico, where we were weak. We always have unknown things on the roads as well. You don’t know if it will be okay or not or if there is a hole. You have to be focused and concentrate.

Q:
How demanding an event will it be for tyres, especially on the second loop?
J-ML:
When we have very hot air temperatures of plus 30 degrees, the road temperature can be up to 50 or 60 degrees. That is asking a lot from the tyres. It’s not going to be easy for the tyres. It’s rough and there is the risk of punctures and tyre wear. I’m glad we got four more tyres for the race otherwise we would be on the limit and it would be difficult to survive this rally. Taking care of your tyres is very important.

Q:
Craig, with a brand new event comes a brand new set of pace notes. How successful was the recce?
CB:
I think it’s the toughest challenge that the WRC has seen for a long time. We need to get into a rhythm. On the recce and on the shakedown we saw it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s going to be an endurance rally. We have the sprint rallies and this is part of the mix. It’s going to be a new dimension to the championship and I am looking forward to it.

Q:
How would you describe the stages? How rough are they? What is your strategy this weekend?
CB:
My road position is good. On the shakedown, it was so rough in some places on the first pass. Then, after 15 or 20 cars, you are cleaning the road. We have a good position to get through Friday and getting a decent starting position for Saturday is the important thing. We are all going into the unknown. It is a massive challenge for the co-drivers as well. Here it’s so slow and tricky in places and so many notes for Scott (Martin) and all the co-drivers to write down. It’s really incredible.

Q:
Any more news on next year for you?
CB:
Nothing to tell you for the moment. I will have a steering wheel of some sort. I would like to stay where I am. I am talking to the team about this weekend only. The rest will take care of itself.

Q:
Teemu you come into this event without a pre-event test, shakedown being your first experience of the conditions here. Will it be an issue this weekend?
TS:
Nobody knows what the challenges will be in this rally. I am more than happy about the season so far. The performance has been improving all the time. Finland was fast and also in Germany. We are still some way to go to be in the top three.

Q:
As this is a brand new event it will be a level playing field for the drivers. Do you feel it’s a good opportunity for you to fight at the front?
TS:
It was quite tough on the recce. There are a lot of new pace notes and the roads were really rough. The rally is asking more of us about managing tyres and punctures and it’s going to be interesting. There will be some surprises. Some young drivers can be fast here!

Q:
Can you tell us about your plans for next season?
TS:
Let’s say we have a drive for the whole season on WRC and that is good news. Maybe more than one….


FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP
 
Present:

Murat Bostanci, Castrol Ford Team Turkiye
Pontus Tidemand, Škoda Motorsport II

Q:
Murat, we welcome Rally Turkey back to the championship, what does it feel like to be competing in your home rally?
MB:
Yes, of course, it feels so special. It’s been a long time WRC has not been here in Turkey. The city of Marmaris is a great place to host the WRC. The stages are quite challenging and quite rough. But they are really nice stages. I think WRC has had no Acropolis or Safari and we bring that rough event to the WRC.

Q:
We’ve seen you on two gravel events this year. How confident are you that you can put in a good display this weekend?
MB:
There is no way to go flat out. The first stages are very rough. As Turkish drivers we don’t know the stages that well. This is only the third year the rally has been here and most stages are new for us as well. We are not familiar with the stages. I have not been in the Turkish Championship for three years.

Q:
It’s a huge challenge this weekend and especially Friday morning with the 38 kilometre stage. What strategy do you have in place?
MB:
There is a lot of competition in WRC 2. ERC was very high but it is even higher in WRC 2. It is a long event and you should not be pushing hard. You need to be clever and keep your pace. The situation is the same for everyone. We want to be at the finish.

Q:
Pontus it has been quite a while since we have seen you in WRC 2 action, Portugal being your last event. Are you ready for a brand new challenge?
PT:
Yes, for sure, we have carried out a lot of testing in the summer with Volkswagen and Škoda with the 2019 car. It has been quite busy. We are always going in the right direction. It is a very good car.

Q:
This is the first time we see you go head-to-head with championship rival and team-mate Jan Kopecky. Tough to be team-mates this weekend when you are fighting against each other?
PT:
This is a challenge for everyone and it is important to come away with points and not take risks. We need to smart. Jan will be strong in this rally and so will many other drivers. We need to be very smart, quite seriously, and need to start concentrated from the first stage.

Q:
What have you been doing to prepare for the event? What are your thoughts on the stages?
PT:
It’s hard to say, you cannot go flat out. This rally is not about pure speed. You need to save the tyres from punctures. It was raining on the shakedown and the first pass was good and we got a puncture on the second one. We will start the first stage at a safe speed.

FIA JUNIOR / WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIPS
 
Present:

Dennis Rådström
Buğra Banaz

Q:
Dennis, a huge weekend lies ahead. The final round of the Junior WRC and you are in contention for the championship title. It’s a double points weekend and maybe the toughest event of the year to end on?
DR:
This will be a really great weekend and, at the end, the championship will be over on Sunday. It is a new rally for everyone. It is a rough one as we have seen on the recce. There are very good cars and good competition. As usual we did training physically and the shakedown was a good clean run. We got a lot of info on tyre wear and how rough it will be over the weekend. We will not push too much to survive.

Q:
There are nine drivers who could walk away with the title this weekend. You’ve won a gravel event in Portugal. How confident are you of success this weekend?
DR:
I think we have a strong package. We won in Portugal and that is quite a similar driving style. I have a good feeling for these conditions. I would not be surprised if I was not on the podium on Sunday!

Q:
Buğra, you are also in with a chance of the championship mathematically. A big weekend for you as you also compete in your home country. How are you feeling?
BB:
It’s very special to be here for WRC in Turkey. I just want to keep driving and improve and improve my pace notes and give a good performance. Last year I did not race in my country. I did the ERC season. I miss my own country. It’s going to be very tough and a good rally.

Q:
What has the experience in the Junior WRC been like this year?
BB:
Amazing, you know. Racing in Corsica and Portugal and now here. Finland was my dream. It has been special for me to be a Junior. M-Sport is preparing good cars and they teach us a lot about the rallies.

Q:
What are your thoughts on the stages here?
BB:
Friday is the roughest day. There is a 34 and a 38 kilometre stage and they are rough. We want to come to the finish. I am sure if we do that we will be in a good position.

Q:
This is your last Junior event. Can you tell us anything about next year?
BB:
No, it is going to be a surprise.