WRC - "When I saw the weather, I felt the pressure on my shoulders." Neuville | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WRC - "When I saw the weather, I felt the pressure on my shoulders." Neuville

19.11.17

Transcript of the post event Press Conference organised by the FIA for the 2017 Rally Australia.

Present:
1st - Thierry Neuville, Hyundai Motorsport
1st - Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai Motorsport
2nd - Ott Tänak, M-Sport World Rally Team
2nd - Martin Järveoja, M-Sport World Rally Team 
3rd - Hayden Paddon, Hyundai Motorsport
3rd - Sebastian Marshall, Hyundai Motorsport
Michel Nandan, Team Principal, Hyundai Motorsport

Q:
Thierry, congratulations on securing the final win of the season and your fourth of 2017. Has this been the most challenging Rally Australia yet?
TN:
It was quite challenging. Coming here I knew there was a chance of the podium, but I hoped there would be a chance to fight for the win. I was committed and focused on doing the best I could do in the slippery conditions. It was OK. We lost some time on one stage, but after that we had a better start position and it went pretty well. I was comfortable when I went to sleep last night, but this morning when I saw the weather, I felt the pressure on my shoulders. When the rain came I knew anything could happen and I had never experienced this. In 2011 they said it was the worst conditions they had ever seen. Now I can see this is the truth, we see these conditions this morning, but luckily it was all positive and we were able to secure another win – the fourth win of the season.

Q:
How difficult were conditions out there today? After Latvala closed the lead on Bucca you extended your advantage on Wedding Bells. A lot of risk taken there?
TN:
I tried to find a good compromise, but when I see Jari-Matti making his push-ups, you know it’s a big attack. He did it again this morning, he tried until the very end and he was right to do this. With the rain we got, it was getting worse and worse with every car getting slower. There was a real opportunity for him. We had to resist in a clever way and not take too much risk in the tricky places. But when the road cleared a little bit we gave it everything. This went quite well and on the first run at the Power Stage we increased the time, then before the final stage we had a gap of 14.7s and then I was sure we could do the job.

Q:
The season now concludes, looking back on it, how do you assess your performance?
TN:
Very good, I think. We have impressed a lot of people. The whole team has done an incredible job. We are not world champions, but we drove like a world champion and this is something I’m very proud of.

Q:
Nicolas, the last win of the season. How important is it to seal the final victory? 
NG:
First of all I would like to say that I was really happy to work with my voice back. It was really difficult in GB to tell the notes and here we are all the time up and down, twisty, it’s quick and over the bumps…but I enjoy it a lot to work again with the full package and I’m very happy with our win. We showed the pace of the car and our pace was fantastic this weekend. I enjoyed a lot and already I am looking forward.

Q:
What have you thought of the 2017 season?
NG:
After one season with this car, it’s incredibly enjoyable in the car. It’s difficult to describe, but it’s like a drug, when you are two or three weeks without being in the car, something is missing. Winter is coming and this is a difficult period. It’s insane from inside how are these cars. I like my job.

Q:
Ott, it’s a surprise second place after the drama of the final stage! The last outing for M-Sport too, how does it feel to achieve a podium with them for the final time?
OT:
It’s definitely important to finish the season like this. It was actually quite a difficult event if we think about this on Friday. We were not so comfortable in the car, losing some parts and missing some pace, but we found some average speed and we were just on the pace enough to get close to the podium and then to achieve it. I think overall it’s been a great season and to finish like this is definitely positive.

Q:
How tough a weekend has it been competitively and can you tell us about the conditions you faced today?
OT:
The conditions were tricky. Most difficult was to read the changing conditions: the slippery places were super slippery and the other places were kind of OK. Consistently slippery is OK, but this time it was a good challenge.

Q:
2017 has been a season where you have picked up your first WRC win and challenged for the title. Best season of your career so far?
OT:
Yeah for sure, there’s no doubt it’s been the best. Maybe our approach was not right for fighting for the championship. When we started the season we were missing the first win and I was more focused on winning rallies rather than collecting the points. At the end of season we were close to put pressure to Seb [Ogier], but overall we were not ready to fight for the drivers’ championship. In Monte we will have a different mind-set and different targets; we will need to approach in a different way. It’s good to be in a winning team and great to see a private team can win the manufacturers’ championship. It’s been a great season, all the M-sport guys have all pushed so hard. It’s a nice family. 

Q:
What are those targets for next year?
OT:
I think there is no secret we want to fight for the drivers’ championship, this is our personal target. We have been close this year, so I see no reason why we don’t do it in the future. Yes we change the team, but we can see Toyota is capable of doing anything.

Q:
Martin, it has been your debut year at the top level as Ott’s co-driver. You round out the season with the final podium with M-Sport. Good feeling at the end of the year? 
MJ:
For sure it was my best season also: first season and best season. As Nicolas mentioned these new cars are special with the speed. All the season was a pleasure to read the notes. Considering today’s weather, before I calculate it’s been 10 rallies with rain: it’s been a wet season.

Q:
Hayden, you didn’t expect to be in this position but you take away a podium from Rally Australia. What did you think when you witnessed the drama on the final stage?
HP:
It was unfortunate for Jari-Matti and on speed alone we don’t deserve the podium, but we stuck at it. We knew the rain would make it tricky, but we had an idea it was coming and what to expect – we took it nice and easy. This is a nice way to finish what’s been a trying year. We are starting to see light at the end of tunnel. We see some things we can work on now.

Q:
Seb, you joined Hayden halfway through the season and you’ve now been on the podium twice. How does it feel to round off the year with third?
SM:
I’ve been working with Hayden in the background for quite a while, but I started [co-driving] in Portugal and to take the debut podium in Poland was great. After that there have been some trying times, so after that to finish with a podium on my first time in Australia gives us happy memories heading into the closed season.

Q:
Michel, you wrap up the season with the final win of the year. How would you sum up the 2017 season?
MN:
Well, I think our season was globally not too bad. We won a lot of stages, we won four events. Unfortunately we are not champions and there are some reasons for that. To be world champion you need to be perfect everywhere and that’s the reason why we have to learn from the mistakes and all these things. We have to be stronger for the future.

Q:
You finished runners up in the manufacturers championship this year, what can the team do to secure the win next year - what do you feel was missing this season that can be improved on?
MN:
A lot of small things. We need durability. We had some small trouble in car and a lot of these things are important – if the package is not perfect you can’t reach it. We have to focus on it and think about the future and be strong for next year.

Q:
Did you give the title away?
MN:
I don’t say that. We lost the championship it’s not to give it away. As I said, you should have the best compromise everywhere in every aspect: the car aspect, the team aspect, the drivers aspect and we didn’t have that and in the end we haven’t got it. But this doesn’t mean we have to close everything and get away. No. We have to come back stronger and think about the future.


FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st - Kalle Rovanperä
1st - Jonne Halttunen 

Q:
Kalle, what have you learned from your first outing in Australia?
KR:
I have been learning a lot on the road conditions and how to drive in some mud in Australia.

Q:
Are you satisfied with what you’ve achieved?
KR:
Yeah, quite happy. We were looking at the times and the seconds between us and the fastest guys and it looks quite good.

Q:
You are now the youngest ever point-scorer in the WRC. That must be nice?
KR:
Yeah I think it’s really nice to be the youngest one. And I think this will be quite hard to beat. 

Q:
What can you tell us about your future plans?
KR:
I’m not sure yet, but hopefully seven or eight rallies, then hopefully we can do them all [in 2019].

Q:
Did you expect this event to be so enjoyable or was there some stress?
KR:
Of course there is some stress when we do the race, but here it was nice to drive with no stress. I could drive and enjoy the roads and have some fun.

Q:
Jonne, what are your thoughts on the rally?
JH:
The race was quite beautiful with some really nice roads. It was quite challenging, but overall very nice.

Q:
What’s it like to sit alongside somebody so young?
JH:
You don’t see that he’s so young, he’s quite mature. OK sometimes you can see he’s playing games [on his phone], but he is a very talented driver.