WRC - S. Ogier: "The season definitely has been special." | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WRC - S. Ogier: "The season definitely has been special."

06.12.20

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

2020 WRC - ACI Rally Monza - S. Ogier/J. Ingrassia (DPPI Photo)

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
2020 driver champion - Sébastien Ogier (FRA), Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team
2020 co-driver champion – Julien Ingrassia (FRA), Toyota Gazoo Racing Rally Team
Representative of the 2020 Manufacturers Champion – Andreas Adamo (ITA), Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team

Q:
What a season 2020 it has been! Here we are at the end of it: it’s your seventh world title! It’s fair to say you came into this event as the second favourite over your teammate Elfyn Evans. It’s been a rollercoaster this weekend on the stages. How do you feel now that you have sealed championship number seven?
SO:
Obviously I feel great. Like you mentioned, we didn’t come here with the card in hand. The season definitely has been special, much shorter than expected but, like I said, crossing the finish line today of course I am happy but I don’t jump in the air. It’s not the time for that, I think the whole world is in a difficult situation, a lot of people are suffering at the moment so I have to be decent, you know. Of course, I enjoy that we’ve done our job pretty well but I hope that soon, we will be able to celebrate more. This short season has been...With Julien, we’ve been quite happy with the performance we’ve had. Of course one of the bad turns was Rally Turkey for us, where we lost the championship’s lead. After that, not knowing how many events were remaining, it was never going to be an easy challenge to come back. We just said that we came here with this fourteen-point disadvantage knowing that the only chance we had was to put maximum pressure on Elfyn and try to win the rally and force him to score big point if he wanted to remain on the lead. At the end, it turned out to work well for us so, of course, when that happened, I also once again didn’t jump in the air because it was my teammate off the roads and at this moment we kind of lost as well the Manufacturers’ title, so it was...I couldn't really enjoy it. But personally, of course, it meant that if I finished the job this weekend, I could be there today talking with you about the seventh title. So I am of course very happy with that and very happy for the whole team.

Q:
What a challenge the event has been, though. I think maybe when a lot of people saw that Monza was the last round of the championship, they expected maybe to see just using the circuit, like the Rally Show does...They thought “ah, this is going to be easy for the drivers out there. A walk in the park, not a problem”. It’s not been that at all, has it?
 
SO:
Not at all. I think, at some point, we also thought, like, will it be enough, will it be challenging enough to really make a world rally event? I think we have to really congratulate the organizer, the people who made the event happen and gave us the chance to compete this weekend because at the end, it’s been a very challenging weekend for sure. And also I think this mixture of having the show here, plus these really beautiful stages in the mountain make a good challenge for us and for me, it is worth it as a world championship event. So why not maybe coming back in the future, honestly, having maybe even more time to prepare it to make it even better for a second pass. Ok, maybe the gravel section now are turning to be quite horrendous at the end of the weekend but I think the main word is congrats to the organizers. We had the chance to finish our championship in the safe way, I believe. I mean, our (COVID) bubble was definitely respected here and of course, as I was mentioning, why not coming back in the future with a lot of fans here. It could be a nice concept too.

Q:
Julien, tell me how you’re feeling at the end of this season because we’ve never known whether we’re going to have a rally coming up. It’s been a mixed season in terms of the amount of events we’ve had with everything that’s been going on in the world. You’ve been preparing for events - events have been cancelled. How difficult has that been from your perspective: getting yourself ready but then maybe not having a rally. How tough has that been?
JI:
Well, I guess it has been the same for all the teams and all the people working within the teams because, like you said, you don’t know if you have to prepare some tests, some rallies or whatever...Normally we are so used to know exactly six months in advance what we’re going to do – for example if I want to have a weekend with my family, I know I have to book it five months before because usually the rest of the weekends, we are working. So it has been disturbing for sure, I could ask the same question to you also! It has been strange not to have the same flow that we have been used to for all these years. At the same time, we knew that we would not have so many events and that we would have no other choice than to be successful in those ones. There wasn’t so much chances, like Seb was saying, to catch back some points if you were missing or whatever. So in the end, of course we had time to relax, to spend some time at home in those conditions. And I have been very surprised about the pace of Seb when we came back in Estonia. That was a new rally that is very fast and we know that, in those conditions, even if you have done a good day of test, you still need to be connected with your car and with everything because 180 km per hour is not the same as 100. I have been very impressed in this case to see that he was ready immediately on the first corner into the pace after all those weeks without driving fast. So I think we all stood in the starting blocks, let’s say, and everyone was ready to fight again.

Q:
It’s been interesting, hasn’t it? Because we haven’t had as many events obviously this year, only seven events. But still you guys have been out there working your absolutely maximum on every single event. Any mistake has been really highlighted because you haven’t had as many events. What does the seventh title mean to you looking back across the season?
JI:
Seb was mentioning it, we are quite proud and happy about our pace, about the way we managed this season with a new team, new car. We know what it means since the time we are here with you: you need a lot of adaptation, a lot of time to make some set up to the car, you need to understand how the team works also in itself and to be well coordinated with them. But with all the experience we have from the past, we managed to bring all that together. I’m very happy tonight because...yeah, ok, only a few rounds this year, but still it has been a big fight. All our opponents are here and they didn’t make our life easy, so I’m very proud of this title and the way we worked together with the team.

Q:
Yeah, you absolutely both should be. It’s been a fantastic season for you both.
SO:
I just wanted to say a small word to our friends from France at Michelin, who are leaving us today after many years of cooperation. I realized at the podium that somehow there was a kind of mistake: we didn’t have our cap and I don’t know...I know that. I like actually my podium cap because that means that we have done a good job, you know. It’s not that I want to have it but just that I think it is deserved for the job they’ve done all over the years with us to say a big thank you. Grand merci à vous tous et à très bientôt peut être!

Q:
I’m sure they’ll appreciate that...Thank you for that, Seb. Let’s turn to Andrea Adamo, congratulations to you. Second manufacturers’ championship victory for Hyundai, it’s been an incredible season and a huge amount of teamwork. I know you were very emotional earlier when it all happened, you’ve had chance to reflect a little bit now. How are you feeling at the moment?
AA:
It has been a rollercoaster till then, so I didn’t reflect too much honestly. Maybe I will have the time when I come back at home, even if I theoretically not live far from here. As Seb was saying, it’s been a strange year. It looked like that the situation was getting better, but then again we’ve had this second wave. I have to say, especially in the last months it has been quite difficult for many people of us, some lost relatives… We have especially around here many difficult situations and so knowing people that are no more with us and things like, it’s quite difficult. I already said this in the past, it is difficult to come back again to the same situation and so it’s a special taste. I don’t know it’s sweet, there are some bitter things but it’s there. I would say that, maybe if with our sport we have given the possibility to our fans, to the ones who are following us, to enjoy a bit some weekends to try to stay - let me say - a bit away with the mind, to their close problems, I don’t want to be misunderstood, it has been already good to have done also our job for that and to do the best the job that we are so lucky to do that I think is the passion for everyone and there are people outside that are suffering a lot. So if we could have given them a bit of a moment of, let’s say, relax, of enjoyment, I’m happy for it also.

Q:
Great words, thank you very much for those, Andrea. A word for the organizers here, because (ACI) Rally Monza was a pretty last minute edition to the championship calendar to create a round with only weeks to spare really. How do you think it’s gone here and, as Seb was saying, it would be nice actually to come back with some fans: do you feel the same?
AA:
I don’t know. Whatever I may say about before the Seb words could have seen as a sort of partisan approach as I’m Italian. So it would be a difficult situation for me. I have to say I’m...I think that we have seen that in such a short time and tight schedule, they have done something that is very nice. Of course, as it’s rightly been said, the image here with the possibility to have spectators, the possibility to do activations, doing the moments that the cars are on the stages and we have some co-drive, something also with journalists that are not really of motorsport or these that we call influencers or guests...You can do many things and on the other hand, you can also justify the millions that our manufacturers are putting in this sport and so you can really create a big feedback, a big attention to this kind of events and you can have a big race announce. So I think that we all agree that a world championship done like this maybe no, but to have some events like this when you have a structure like this, I think it would be deserved. So I want to say, if I can, but I don’t want to be called partisan Italian, Italian mafia as I’ve been named enough about these things: thank you for all who have made this possible because to finish the season in this way with another rally has been great in my opinion. And I have to say thank you for the job that they have done.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Marco Giordo, Autosprint (ITA) to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia.
Q:
What is your opinion about the event?
SO:
I think we have answered it in some parts already from Monday. I agree with Andrea, it cannot become the norm for the rally, of course we need to have “real” rallies...It’s not the right word, but like standard rallies as we are used to do. But sometimes, a “rally show” kind of event, I think it’s good and also from a sporting point of view. We just mentioned the fact that I think that it’s worth to make a competition with the conditions we’ve had this weekend. I mean, it’s hard to say that because I won this rally, but I think that the winner who won this kind of event deserves it because it was nothing but a easy challenge.
JI:
I would say that I know the other side of that. I know how many people are working there to create such an event, so I really would like to say congrats to them because I think everything went well, they did it well and I can tell you that it was very weird here to go in the stage in one way, the other way the other day, and to put all the chicanes, all the signals in place, working during the night with this weather, and everything with no mistakes from their part...I have to say that they did a really great job. Of course, when I watch some onboard cameras of Como Lake, those stages we used on Saturday, it was filmed in Spring or summertime and I would love to do those stages also, you know, in those (warmer) conditions. Of course there’s a few points that can always be better, but just thank you and congrats for organizing this this way. I have not always been on the same...when I had things to say to Sardinia organisers, I said it and sometimes we were not on the same (laughs) understanding but this time, I’m really happy for them that the rally went well and they did a good job.

Reiner Kuhn, Motorsport Aktuell (GER).
Q:
Specifically to the stages around the Monza racetrack for the final of the World Championship, in particular the Power Stage in terms of the layout and conditions, what did you think of this stage today?
SO:
I also mentioned it before. Globally, I think they’ve done the best they could around here. But of course, the gravel section...maybe also, I mean, nobody expected to have such a weather for the whole weekend. We’ve been under water here for the whole week, it’s crazy, so I think of course the gravel section suffered a bit more and I think that on some sections in the Power Stage even with the gravel car it would have been rough. So we were praying that the car holds this test. So, of course, if we will have to come back maybe there is some parts you can improve. You know, you can always do better so as a first time here, it has been good, like all of us agree to say. But if we come back, probably you can make some improvement. I am convinced that there is potential to come back and to make it even better.
 
FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
2020 driver champion – Mads Østberg (NOR), PH Sport
2020 codriver champion – Torstein Eriksen (NOR), PH Sport

Q:
Mads, congratulations on a brilliant Championship win. You fought really well and hard this year. And congratulations for surviving a really difficult final round here in Monza. How are you feeling now?
MO:
Now I feel finally very good. For sure, the weekend has been very complicated, I think that generally, the last months have been complicated without ever knowing what would be happening. Also I think, one month ago, we expected probably the rest of the season to be cancelled and we saw that the title and everything would go away. And then, a few weeks later, we knew there was going to be ACI Monza Rally. We were really happy about that and really excited, and I think that, when we came here, we knew that it wasn’t going to be easy with Pontus already having his five results in his pocket and just trying to improve. For us, to actually have to do our fifth event here, was very, very complicated - not the easiest of events to try and secure something. I think we managed the event really good, we had really high pace when we had to and I backed off maybe a little bit too much when we were supposed to back off. But at the end, looking back now, I think we made the right decisions all the way through.

Q:
Yesterday morning, in the really difficult conditions that we saw out there, you really seemed to excel, especially in the first stage.
MO:
Yeah, I think on the three stages in the morning was where we made really a gap. We took a lot of a time on the first stage in the morning and also on the third one. On Stage 2, we took also some but not as much. So we had three very good stages in the morning which gave us a one minute lead. That was enough to turn the mentality probably a little bit too much but looking back now, I think it was the right way to control the victory.

Q:
Yes, I think it was. Absolutely it was a brilliant morning for you yesterday. Torstein, as Mads mentioned, coming into this event and having to score those points, Pontus had that score to drop, the pressure was on - were you feeling that?
TE:
No, actually not. I didn’t feel the pressure, because I came here to do my job and that’s the most important thing for me. But I have to say, the last afternoon and this morning, I started to feel a bit nervous about this because I’ve never fought for the championship title before. But we managed it and I’m very happy.

Q:
Well, now you know what it feels like. What did it feel like coming across the final flying finish knowing that you’ve done it, knowing that you were FIA WRC2 champions?
TE:
It was a crazy feeling, yes. We had been nervous all day, me and Mad, so we were so happy to cross that finish line.
 
Q:
With all your experience, I’m surprised to hear that you were nervous, Mr. Østberg. Was that the case?
MO:
Absolutely, I think… To be honest, I’ve never been this nervous before. I really felt the pressure, and I knew that the rally would be very difficult. Always when I’ve been in these positions, where I’m trying to secure something and I’m mainly under control of the situation, if I do my best, it should always be enough to what I try to achieve. But I knew that the conditions were horrible on that last stage, I knew that we probably didn’t have the best tyres for the last stage and we compared the stage to one of the stages we did yesterday on the tyres that we had left and we knew that we were the underdog for the stage. And we could lose a lot of time, so I knew that we had to probably perform one of our best stages and it was not a nice feeling going into the last stage knowing that. But when I got to drive some corners, I calmed down a little bit and I could at least manage to drive quite well through the stage.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Reiner Kuhn, Motorsport Aktuell (GER) to Mads Østberg.
Q:
What are your plans for next year, for next season? What’s happening with you?
MO:
That is a good question. I would like to know by now of course, but I think… As you know, the situation is very complicated for everyone. We have had a very good relationship with Citroën for many years now, but also with the support of Total and Michelin. Michelin is not in the Championship next year so that obviously makes it a little bit more complicated for us. We are working on a solution, of course together with Citroën, but we are also looking at other options, and we are trying to stay in the rally of course also for the next year, knowing that things will change – the regulations will change quite soon. We need to stay in the game.

Marco Giordo, Autosprint (ITA).
Q:
What is your opinion about ACI Rally Monza, in terms of the level of the event, the itinerary… What have you thought of it?
MO:
I think it was an amazing event. Obviously, I didn’t enjoy one meter of it, I felt it was an horrendous weekend but...
TE:
You enjoyed Saturday morning, I know.
MO:
Ah yes, I enjoyed Saturday morning of course. To be honest, for the organizers to pull the event off was amazing - amazing job by the promoter, by the ACI Rally Monza organization, by the FIA, by everyone who made this happen. It’s just truly amazing and I have so much respect for that, in the middle of a pandemic… So I think we should all be happy about that, and to be honest, the event is really amazing! I must say that the stages in the mountains are absolutely incredible, it’s real classy and I really, really loved them. The conditions were horrible, but I can’t really blame ACI Rally Monza for that.

 
FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
2020 driver champion – Jari Huttunen (FIN)
2020 codriver champion – Mikka Lukka (FIN)

Q:
What an event we have seen this weekend, Jari. Really hard conditions out there, but you walked away with the FIA WRC3 championship title. How are you feeling right now?
JH:
The feeling is absolutely fantastic, it's been an interesting weekend. For me, it’s been also quite difficult because I couldn’t really push in any stages. It’s quite difficult to be driving not so slow but, without doing any mistakes or take stupid risks. So it was challenging but it’s been going well.

Q:
It certainly has gone well for you. How challenging with the conditions out there? We’ve watched it on the TV, we’ve seen it but to actually experience it as a driver, has it been the toughest challenge of your career?
JH:
Yeah, maybe, but for me, I think it’s a little bit easier because we didn’t have to hurry in there. So when we would see some snow or something, we could really slow down. Also the tyre choices we tried to make all the time were safe choices. Not easy but it’s been going well, not big dramas.

Q:
Which is a good thing because so many drivers had big dramas this weekend. It’s been a really good season for you, though. When you look back across 2020, are you happy about the performance you’ve delivered out on the stages?
JH:
Yeah, it was almost a perfect year. I’m quite happy about the performance and also I’m really happy
that I didn’t make any big mistake this year. We have been consistent and all the time on the podium, so I think that is the main reason that I'm here.

Q:
As a Finn, you keep your emotions inside, but what was the feeling when you’ve crossed the finish line today knowing the championship title was yours. Was there a smile on that face? Tell me there was.
JH:
Yes, I have. I think you can see it also. The feeling is amazing, I think it’s really been a little bit difficult to understand what happened. Like now, I’m not realizing what’s happening… Maybe tomorrow, I’ll feel this more.
Q:
I’m sure you will. Plans for next year at the moment? What do we know so far?
JH:
I think I’ll drive next year, but what and where I don't know...

Q:
All right, we look forward to seeing you. Mikka, let’s turn to you. Congratulations on a great result and a great season. How tough was this event for you?
ML:
For me that was not such a tough event. Only to keep my pace-notes dry, that was challenging. Of course, on the mountains, it was challenging but otherwise not so difficult for me.

Q:
What was the feeling like inside the car, the atmosphere...Was it a tense atmosphere this weekend, knowing there is a big prize possibly at the end of it?
ML:
I think we were a little bit nervous... but I can say Jari was smiling after the last stage!

Q:
This relationship has worked well, driver and co-driver together, are you happy with the way things are going?
ML:
I think so. Our relationship is quite good.

Q:
Jari, I think it’s been a good partnership, hasn’t it?
JH:
Yeah, it was really good.


FIA JUNIOR WRC CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
2020 driver champion – Tom Krinstensson (SWE)
2020 codriver champion - Joakim Sjöberg (SWE)

Q:
Welcome to you both guys, congratulations on an amazing result here. Tom, this was the big title fight weekend for the FIA Junior WRC category. You came into this with the possibility of taking the title and you were the favorite, but you have faced really difficult conditions. How are you feeling right now, knowing that you’ve sealed the title in your final year of Juniors?
TK:
Yeah I mean, it’s totally unbelievable. I think it will take some weeks until I will get this in my mind for real but for sure, I’m the happiest man in the world at the moment. I'm so proud of myself and of all the people that helped me around, and all of my sponsors, that enabled us to be able to start here and do this. To make it to the end as World Champion, I mean the biggest thing I’ve ever been into in my life. I’m really, really happy for it. For sure I am.

Q:
We could see your reaction when you stood on the top of the car at the end of the final stage. It has been a tough event to win your first Championship or wasn’t it?
TK:
Yeah, for sure. This rally... I think everybody expected a demanding rally and tough conditions, but I think, it’s been heavily raining for three days, it was just unbelievable. But still very good that the organizers managed to make this kind of event and we made it through. It’s really tough coming after all the other classes with our Rally 4 car, which is just front wheel drive. But it’s part of the game and we managed it. It was really tough, but it was really nice.

Q:
Any issues out there this weekend? Any hot moments? I’m sure there is something...
 
TK:
Sure, I think it was quite early when we figured out that we didn’t need to push that much. I think it was more to try and just be safe, to do the best we could and go to the finish of every stage. I saw no big moments this time, I need to be honest when I’m saying this, but for sure it was really tough and you need to think twice or three times until you come into a corner. It surely was tough.

Q:
I know it’s been a difficult season for everyone, not quite knowing when the next event is going to happen, but when you look back across your season in 2020 - your performance, the pace that you’ve showed… How happy are you with what you’ve delivered across the whole year?
TK:
Well, I started my first rally at Rally Sweden last year and I started with a really good result. I’ve always ended on the podium at every rally I could finish. It was just in Estonia this year that my car was broken, otherwise we would have done top results in every rally. So I really felt that it was my turn to win the Championship. It’s really difficult to find words, let’s say that it feels that it was my turn.

Q:
It certainly was your turn. Congratulations Joakim, what an incredible season you’ve had, what a great event (even if it has been tough) to win the Championship? Because you’ve been facing such trials, with the weather…
JS:
Yeah, thank you. This rally has been very, very demanding. We did the recce and the stages looked quite good. There was a little bit of snow in the mountains but quite ok. However during the rally.. I think one of the trickiest I’ve ever done.

Q:
And so, coming into the final day, the weather was a little bit easier today. But with the rain and the snow, the Championship title awaited you after getting through three stages. With the rain, any apprehension today at all or not?
JS:
We knew that part of the stage 15 and 16… or 14 and 15… was used yesterday, so there could be really bad ruts and so on. That was my only concern, otherwise I felt quite confident early this morning that we would fix it, that we would manage to claim the Junior Championship.

Q:
With one of the best results in your rally career, we hear that we won’t see you co-driving anymore. So this is your final event?
JS:
That’s correct. I made the decision to retire, so this is my final rally. I’m very, very glad and… I can’t really find the words… to do this with Tom… yeah, I’m just so happy.

Q:
Tom, we will obviously see you back next year because the Junior category has the best prize in rallying, so we’ll see you back again next year. But you’ll be on the lookout for new co-drivers: just a few words on Joachim’s performance with you?
 
TK:
Yeah, for sure, I will do all my best. I’m not prepared that much as maybe I should do for next year because I’ve put on all my energy for this year and to be able to be the Junior World Rally Champion. Joachim helped me to improve my pace-notes in a good way to be able to perform even better so he’s also a big point of good stage times and good stage performance. I’m really thankful for that, I think our cooperation inside the car is really good but well, let’s see how it will be. I will do my best to find the next good person on the right side and see how I will manage that. I’m looking forward.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Bo Christer Bofeldt, Worldrally.se (SWE).
Q:
How is Tom as a rally driver? How would you describe him?
JS:
I’ve never been with a driver who puts in so much energy before a rally. The driving style is very smooth, very nice and he’s very… how should I say… keen about how the pace-notes should be, just with the timing and also with which information.

Q:
What did you think when you first saw the stages before the rally?
TK:
Well, we did get some videos before from the organizer and they looked really good. You could see that they were preparing all these forest parts with gravel and that were mostly muddy roads. You could see that they were preparing it and it looked quite ok actually. And I was thinking that this would suit me really well because I think I’m really good on this kind of really tricky stages and situations. But when we had these three days of heavy, heavy rain, I thought that it would be really demanding to make the road good for all these cars, all these people going through… It was really demanding, and for sure, I liked the mountain stages, this kind of roads. I think, maybe in Corsica, we have cleaner and longer corners and so on, it is more like a race track, but here on the mountain stages, you could be more rough on the driving style. It fits me more as a gravel person. I really enjoyed both the track stages and the mountain stages.