WTCR - Race of Japan - Race 3 Press Conference | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WTCR - Race of Japan - Race 3 Press Conference

28.10.18

2018 WTCR Race of Japan- Race 3 press conference transcript

In attendance:
Gabriele Tarquini, BRC Racing Team, first position Race 3
Aurélien Comte, DG Sport Compétition, second position Race 3
Kevin Ceccon, Team Mulsanne, third position Race 3
Rob Huff, Sébastien Loeb Racing, first position Race 2
Tiago Monteiro, Boutsen Ginion Racing
 
Q:
Gabriele, you have won Race 3 and stretched your WTCR OSCARO points lead to 39 – a very satisfying weekend for you.
 
GT:
Yes, you can see the smile on my face. The gap is bigger than I expected because after the grid position penalty yesterday it was not easy. Yvan [Muller] recovered 10 points on me. But today was a different day. I got the chance to score some points, made a fantastic start in Race 2 and even better in Race 3, and this was the key to my success. I am very disappointed for Kevin because he was the fastest guy here, uncatchable for everybody. But unfortunately he got his five-second penalty and to be honest when they informed me I let him past. I did not have to challenge for the race, I was thinking about the points for my fight for the championship. But after I tried to be as close as possible, but he was very, very fast. But even with this fast car he was not able to gain five seconds. For me it was a good chance to score this victory.
 
Q:
Rob, you won Race 2 and like Gabriele would it be fair to say the start was key for you?
 
RH:
Yes, but first of all a huge congratulations to the guys on my left, but bigger congratulations has to go to this guy [Tiago Monteiro]. To achieve what he has achieved after only 18 months after a life-changing crash and to perform as he has this weekend, the whole championship is very proud of you, mate, so well done. From my side, what a relief to have this weekend. We’ve had probably one of the most trying seasons I’ve had for a long time, certainly the last four meetings, so to be able to reward the team with a win, certainly after first qualifying… the car was still not where I needed it to be and the guys did an amazing job. Apart from that Alfa Romeo we probably had the fastest race car of the weekend. I was lucky enough to put my experience to good use and make two really good starts. Certainly in the first race today, which gave me the lead of course and just managed to pace myself. It’s really hard on tyres here and we didn’t do the full race yesterday, so we didn’t know exactly how the car would perform. But I just managed to keep Pepe [Oriola] behind and he had trouble from Norbi, which gave me the space to do what I needed to do. Those 25 points are 25 of the most valuable of my career.
 
Q:
Aurélien, you were second in Race 3 for another podium on your first weekend at Suzuka. A good weekend for you?
 
AC:
Yes, of course. I am very happy. In Race 2 the car was not easy and my team made a lot of set-up changes in [OSCARO] Repair Time, so good job.
 
Q:
Kevin, you have taken the chequered flag first not once but twice this weekend. But unfortunately today the victory wasn’t yours. Just explain what happened.
 
KC:
I didn’t realise I was not in my starting grid position. Also I did a very bad start so after Turn 1 I was very far behind. Then I overtook again Aurélien in Spoon, then I took Ehrlacher as well, then I caught Gabriele but had the five-second penalty. He is a gentleman so he let me by because there was no race between him and me.
 
RH:
You don’t know him so well!
 
KC:
At least, Rob, he was kind to me!
 
RH:
Fifteen years and I’m still waiting!
 
KC:
I passed Gabriele and it was then like qualifying practice for me, for six or seven laps in a row like there was no tomorrow, not for myself but for the team because we were really quick this weekend. And at least I would catch another podium for them. Gabriele was not pushing because it was an easy race for him after that point. At least I arrived third, but of course I am not happy because it was my mistake and I am sorry for the team, but it can happen. We will see what will happen in Macau. Anyway two podiums, one victory and one pole position in Suzuka I think is not too bad.
 
Q:
Tiago, it is fantastic to have you back and you have achieved so much, but just missed out on points today. But that really wasn’t important to you, I’d imagine.
 
TM:
Well, well done to you guys for some great racing this weekend, and to Kevin with a good pole, a good win and good for the championship. I think everything will be heating up for Macau finale which will be interesting. Unfortunately, I will be sitting outside this time because as you know I will not participate in Macau. But I will be rooting from the outside. It was very important, obviously, this return and the way everything went down. I would have loved to do another qualifying this morning, my weekend was just starting and was gaining some confidence with the car really. It was a big, big relief that it felt good, I felt natural, I felt as if I hadn’t stopped. Of course I need some more rhythm, I need to understand this whole thing a bit better, but I had so much fun. It was, as we said before, a very emotional weekend, so much great support from these guys, the whole family and this is what pushed me and gave me the strength to come back here. I will never thank them enough and without this motivation I probably would have stopped. But I’m here, I’m back and already looking at winter testing and next year definitely.
Q:
A final word from Gabriele. Macau is next, but you have not been there for a few years. How are you going to make up for that lost time and how confidence are you of landing that first WTCR OSACRO world title?
 
GT:
It is true I have not raced there for three or four years, but I remember well the corners and the hospital! Macau is a special race for everybody. Apart from Rob, who is the king of Macau, it is very tough. It’s the best position to approach the final race for me and I will be concentrating on the title. But it’s a lottery and everything can happen in Macau. You can have trouble, an accident, you must survive the start especially the first corner. It’s probably not the best place for me when you have an advantage, probably it’s the best race for Yvan when he must recover. But that’s it. I will be with a smile as in Suzuka and thinking about my title dream.
 
Questions from the floor:
 
José Caetano (A Bola and Autofoco, Portugal):
 
Q:
To Kevin: where were you until now? And to Tiago, returning after 14 months and fighting for points, has this exceeded your expectations?
 
KC:
Until Slovakia I was at home working. A bit different to racing. In Slovakia it was good, but of course I had been at home for eight months without any injury compared to Tiago who has been forced to be outside. I stopped racing with a GT3 car with a lot of downforce and rear-wheel drive. I came to Slovakia without testing with only front-wheel drive and half of the horsepower, so I have to say that I needed three or four races to get used to it. In the meantime, we have scored points and I have been really quick in Wuhan as well, but just missed Q2. This time we were really aware not to miss Q2 and we passed to Q3. At Suzuka the Giulietta was fitting very well, a bit better than other circuits we have been before. Hopefully it will fit well in Macau as well. But it’s a shame for Gabriele he hasn’t been there for three years, but I haven’t been there in my life! I would like to have his experience in Macau. I will try to follow the king of Macau that is Rob and leave Gabriele fighting for his championship, to learn from these guys because they have plenty of experience.
 
TM:
Obviously I didn’t set any targets for this weekend, I just wanted to have fun and see where I was and how I felt. But of course internally and personally you always want to do your best and get the best results possible. So to be in the group… Okay, so I started far off at the beginning of the weekend and the way the format was done this weekend was not ideal for me because everything was on the first day, but I gained confidence with the car and with myself as well. I pushed myself to the limit to see where I was, with fourth fastest lap in race two and fighting for the points in Race 3 in that big group. I enjoyed it so much, so yes, it exceeded my expectations and I am very happy about it.