Post event Press Conference

Present:
1st – Kris Meeke, Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team
1st – Paul Nagle, Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team
2nd – Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Motorsport
2nd – Anders Jaeger, Volkswagen Motorsport
3rd – Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Motorsport
3rd – Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Motorsport
Yves Matton, Team Principal, Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team

Q:
Kris, you’ve picked up your second WRC win. You seem to like the classic rallies. It has been a good weekend for you.
KM:
Yes, it's been a very good weekend. From a personal point of view, not to put a foot wrong all weekend. We came here knowing we could do something good. But we're not affecting a championship, so it’s just a case of picking some rallies this year that keep me sharp. I really enjoyed this rally last year – the stages have a really nice profile. And we had good speed here last year and I think we used our experience. The weather in the lead-up to the event, for sure on the recce, wasn’t looking like we would have any benefit but there were a couple of days of sunshine. Friday wasn’t perfectly clear but Saturday morning, for sure, we were able to make a good difference. From Saturday lunchtime, it was a case of trying to protect it and not to put a foot wrong. To come here, do my job and get the result is very pleasing.

Q:
Did you have that expectation before coming here? Did you think you could push for a win, without the pressure to score manufacturer points?
KM:
A few weeks back, when we knew what we were doing and this was one of our rallies, you suspected coming here with a good road position you could do something good. But it is never simple to win a rally in the WRC. The weather in the lead-up changed our minds a little bit but the road position did play into our hands a bit. I actually saved Seb some points today – he lost less points in the championship than he would have done, so he might actually be lucky I was here! It’s good for me, good for the team and good for PH Sport – not forgetting that we are not under the official Citroën banner this year and the guys from PH Sport have done an incredible job. So I am really happy.
SO:
It is the second victory for PH Sport in Portugal. My first win here was with PH Sport too!

Q:
Will you be yearning for a little bit more of this action?
KM:
Yes. As I said before the rally, I haven't been missing kilometres as I have been testing but after three or four runs of a test stage, you know it well and anticipate it. It is not like doing a rally where you are driving to your notes on every stage. You miss the competition, so maybe absence made me a little stronger. But we have to concentrate on the bigger picture. Citroen are going to come back next year with a full effort behind the rally program. This result proves I have taken another step in my career, so it is exciting for the future to be part of a team like Citroen, knowing what is coming. We have to concentrate on the bigger picture, do our testing and do a good job to arrive with a good package. But we have to use the events that we are doing this year to keep me in rally shape and keep me sharp.

Q:
We saw your first victory in Argentina last year. That was an emotional affair. How different did it feel this time?
KM:
The first win you will never take away. It is also probably going to be your most difficult. We led from the first stage in Argentina. That was my first time leading an event by that much. It was more difficult to manage then. This was a lot more simple and like anything in life, the more you do it, the easier it gets. A lot of people say the first win is a monkey off your back but I think the second one is. I think there were six drivers in the championship before this rally with one win. It is quite easy to call one victory a fluke, but to back it up with number two for me really is the monkey off my back. Certainly we know what to do when we get in this position again. But we have to stay realistic. We had good road position, we used it well and I never put a foot wrong and I’m really happy.

Q:
Paul, how does it feel for you?
PN:
I think without question it was our best performance to date. As Kris said, Argentina was special but this one was very much controlled from the middle of Friday, then Saturday morning punching-in fastest times one after the other. It was a very strong base for us and then, to control it up until the final stage, it was a big step for the future of our career and as I say, definitely the best performance of our rallying career so far.

Q:
Your lead built quickly. Did you feel pressure in the car or did it feel simpler?
PN:
It never feels simple. We might have made it look simple. You learn from other events – we learned from Argentina last year and even a couple of rallies on where there was pressure on to get points for runners-up in the championship for Citroen. It was more relaxed today and yesterday afternoon. We did carry two spare wheels for safety, in case there was rain but it was totally in control all weekend. As Kris said, he didn't put a foot wrong all weekend.

Q:
One more question to Kris. We notice that when you left the service area, you walked out with a razor, tackled a mechanic and shaved half his head of hair. Why did you do that?
KM:
It's a long-running bet I had with a mechanic from the PSA group I have known for a long time. He was with Peugeot and then Citroen. He joked with me many times that if we ever got to the rally where he was a mechanic on my car and I win, I’ll shave his head. He’s a guy with a bit of an affro hairstyle so the mechanics reminded me of it and handed me the razor. So in front of all the cameras, I started the job but I didn't finish it. I have to do that later. Or maybe I’ll leave it as it is!

Q:
Andreas, you walk away with second, which is a great result. You started slowly and Jost Capito told you to go quickly. Saturday morning, you said you were sick and tired of going slowly and from then on, you were flying. What made the change?
AM:
Well, Friday was not really good, partly my driving and also the car wasn’t really feeling like I wanted it to be. So I sat down with Richard, my engineer, and we made a plan for Saturday morning. That we should change the set-up of the car and I should think about my driving and let's meet the next morning. So we did and the driving was perfect and the car was just how I wanted it to be. When you are in that situation, everything feels not easy but it is just there. We managed to catch Dani and then, in the end, Sebastien. So the last couple of days have probably been two of my best days in a rally car.

Q:
In your whole career?
AM:
Well, maybe. There have been many good days and many bad days but yes, one of them,

Q:
Today, you had the opportunity to push for second. Did you get up this morning and decide you were going to go for it?
AM:
Yes, of course. I thought a lot last night and watched the videos a couple of extra times. I knew to catch Sebastien with three seconds will not be easy. But if there is a stage where I can make a difference, it is the first one in the morning. I concentrated on that one and we set a really good time on the morning loop, which put us in front with quite a bit of time. Fafe I know Sebastien is really fast from last year, so I tried to drive it really quickly the first pass through and we managed to increase the gap. After that, it was about making sure he didn't catch us. It has been a clever day. The morning loop was fantastic and the second part, I tried to control it as much as possible.

Q:
You're up to second in the championship but Seb is quite a few points ahead. What are you thinking of the championship?
AM:
It is nice to be back in second place. We lost a lot of points in Mexico but I think we are on the way back now. I feel that we can carry this momentum we have now into the next rally in Sardinia and hopefully, we will get a good result there and climb a bit closer to Seb, which will be nice.

Q:
Andres, are you happy with the weekend?
AJ:
All in all, we are very happy. We were a little disappointed after Friday – we didn't have the feeling and didn't get the times but we had a plan B and after that, Saturday was great. Today was really early in the morning but after the first stage, you were properly awake, for sure. It has been an amazing event for both of us and for the team and the organisers. It has been a proper event.

Q:
What are your thoughts on the stages here in the North? What did you think of the event?
AJ:
It's great – really. The stages were really nice during the recce and the fans as well – lots of people. And the weather – it was good. There were no big surprises for the conditions. It was perfect.

Q:
Sebastien, taking third position. At the end of day one, you said second was as much as you could hope for with your road position. You did a solid job Friday and Saturday but today, chasing down Andreas, it didn't go quite to plan. What happened?
SO:
First I need to congratulate Andreas and Anders. They had a really good speed this morning and they have done a really good job. In the same time, I think I was not so lucky. It has been a tough weekend overall. Of course, the two first days I knew it would be tough and I would lose time but I was very happy to have second place on Saturday night – that was a great result for me. And of course, the plan was to hold it today. But it started with the first slow puncture, in the beginning of the first stage this morning. That cost us a bit of time – it is not easy to say how much but I drove 15 kilometres with a slow puncture on the front. Luckily, the tyre stayed on the rim – that was a miracle – and I didn't lose even more time. But then I was under pressure for the rest of the day because I could not get another puncture as that would have meant zero points for me here. And that was not an option I wanted to have. So I tried to carry good speed for the rest of the morning. But at the same time, Andreas was driving well and fast and it was not enough to try to catch back second place.

Q:
As Kris was saying, it's not so bad on the points. You still lead the championship by quite a margin.
SO:
Now after five rounds, we have managed to improve the gap on every event, compared to second. It is always my main target when I start a rally – try to beat second in the championship and increase the gap. We have done it again and we have almost a two-win advantage. So for the points, it's a great operation and I am happy with that. Anyway, I have the feeling that I gave everything I could this weekend and achieved the maximum I could achieve.

Q:
How are you feeling about the next event – Sardinia, in two weeks’ time?
SO:
Yes, let's say if you want my true feeling, it is normally one of the most difficult rallies to open the road. I know it is going to be a tough one, once again. But I hope I will be at least a little bit more lucky than this weekend. Once again, I think it will be too optimistic to speak about victory but I will try again to score good points and try to make this plan working again, to beat the second guy in the championship.

Q:
Julian, I never know what you are going to say. How are you feeling after this weekend?
JI:
Firstly as Seb said, I want to congratulate Kris and Paul because they did some really good times. I was inside the car and I know the times they did. They were not cruising. Also to our Andreas and Mr Jaeger. Everybody had a really good drive this weekend, so everyone here deserves to be on the podium. But I am in trouble. Because when I come back home, I will call my grandmother – you know I am Italian, so I have an Italian grandmother. “I want to know everything. Did you win?” “Ah no, we didn't win.” “Why didn't you win? You haven't won for many rallies now. What are you doing? Do you want to be the shame of the family?” “No it's not so simple. The guys are strong this year and there is a question of rules. We need to clean the road.” “What! Clean the road? What do you mean?” So you understand this is tough for me when I go home!

Q:
I’m sure she won't be too disappointed. You have had some great results in your career.
JI:
Yes. I think I gave her some bad habits. Big expectations!

Q:
How was the event? We know it was tough and Seb has given everything he could. How was it from your seat?
JI:
For me, there are a lot of good things on this event. The organisation of the event was one of the greatest we have had, ever. Of course, sometimes it can go a bit far away, as when we speak to the photographers, they say it was blocked too many times. Or stopped or even close to being in jail because of the police! Maybe they need to adjust on some points but generally, all the stages were run. There were some hills full of people and coming back here to the podium, it was a really good emotion in the city. So it is really good to enjoy this rally in Portugal in the north.

Q:
Congratulations on the win Yves. Great to see the team back in a different incarnation. Did you expect to be on the top of the podium?
YM:
No, like Kris said, two or three weeks ago we knew there was something to do. But we didn't think about winning. After the recce, we were far away from thinking we could win after missing two events. Our target this year is not to try to win some events – we did not plan for this. Our only target is to work for 2017. But for sure, what happened this weekend is good for everybody for 2017 – it is very good for Kris and Paul – they have made a step and it will help us. We are really happy for what happened.

Q:
What have you thought of Kris and Paul’s performance? I know you analyse everything?
YM:
I have a lot of time, between the events! First, we always know the first win is exceptional. But the way they did it this weekend, it was really something that built during the weekend. It is a long work we did with them and the team to achieve this. We knew what the strengths and weaknesses are from Kris in the past and together, we really have done a step. And the way he did it this weekend, it is proof that now we are at another level.

Q:
How many times will we see them compete this year?
YM:
Some more times, I don't want to say how many because I want the freedom to change the plan during the year. Like I told them, our only target is to be back in 2017 to win some events.

Q:
We saw the new car for next year testing. How happy are you with it so far?
YM:
I have to say I am really happy with the job we have done so far. We have done two test sessions – eight days – and never stopped for a major problem. When I see the faces of the drivers and speak with them, it seems we are going in the right direction. We still have a lot of work before Monte Carlo but when it starts well, it is always easier to be on time.


FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st – Pontus Tidemand, Skoda Motorsport
1st – Jonas Andersson, Skoda Motorsport

Q:
It got off to fantastic start, you were dominant, the pace was incredible, then a bit of blip yesterday with a puncture. But then you got back and re-took the lead. It’s been a great weekend Pontus…
PT:
We had really good test days before this rally. The team are really good; they always do the best they can. All the mechanics and engineers work really hard. Also we’ve worked quite hard to prepare for this rally. We worked hard on the recce. We had a good first loop on Friday, which was a good opportunity for the rest of the weekend. It’s a hard rally, but when you have a car that’s good and a good co-driver with good pace notes and a lot of spectators and a great atmosphere you really enjoy it. Really pleasing to be here and a good start for WRC 2 and the main target is to win the Championship.

Q: You said you had some good test days before this, but did you expect to be so far ahead of everyone else so quickly?
PT:
Hard to say. I know some of the drivers in WRC 2 are strong but it’s a tough rally. We saw a lot of the competitors retiring. I think we had a good balance of good speed but also finishing the rally. I would say Jonas’ coaching was quite good; pointing out what was the right speed and the right pace. We’ve had quite a good rally I’d say.

Q:
You had a very quick tyre change. You changed that in record time it seems. That lead covered your tyre change time. Did you worry you wouldn’t get the lead back?
PT:
We have practiced some tyre changes before and I knew what the lead was. It’s not ideal doing it on the stage, but we did it very quickly, a good job also from Jonas.

Q:
Jonas, it is a new partnership we’re seeing this year and you’re already getting a lot of praise. What’s it like to be sitting here as winners?
JA:
It feels very good; it’s what we’ve been aiming for. Like Pontus said, we’ve worked very hard with preparation before and so on, and with the school of motorsport and trying the tyre change, so we knew exactly what we were doing. We knew we could change that tyre before the next car arrived so we stopped straight away and did it. I think Pontus has done a brilliant job in the car. He’s calm all the time, has a good speed, he pushed a little bit when it was time to push. Then he’s been quite cautious in places because it’s been quite rough. We’ve been driving around a lot of rocks for sure!

Q:
We’ve seen great pace from you. You went into today with not much of a lead but then you extended it. Was it just calm all the way today or were there nerves?
JA:
No, today it was normal. Today we had a 30 second lead and we knew that would be okay at normal speed. We just had to do our job and it worked out very well.


FIA JUNIOR WRC CHAMPIONSHIP 1/ FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st - Simone Tempestini
1st - Giovanni Bernacchini

Q:
You’ve won two here this weekend Simone, the WRC 3 and the Junior WRC. Congratulations on the win first. It’s been a tough weekend out there, how are you feeling?
ST:
It was a really long rally, really hard. The conditions for our car were really hard. We worked a lot to be here in the first position. It was our target from the start. We knew this rally was really important, so we tried to do it. It was nearly completely perfect. We had some problems yesterday that made us lose some time. We were leading with 20 seconds, but after the problem we were 1 minute 40 seconds behind the leader. But in the second loop of the stages we pushed hard to be nearly at the front and then this morning we had only 30 seconds. It was a nice day because we got up into first position.

Q:
It was all change this morning, Martin Koci was in the lead, and then he had problems. Did you think maybe you would be able to catch him?
ST:
Yes, I started in the first stage and I aimed to catch him to win.  I was also thinking it was possible, not impossible.

Q:
Tough stages out there. It was rough on day one certainly. How did you find the stages?
ST:
Here in Portugal the stages are really nice, I like the characteristics. But I think the second loop is really hard. You have to take care to not get a puncture. You also have to know when to go slower to save the car. I do think it’s really nice and it’s beautiful to win here.

Q:
It’s got your Junior campaign off to a really good start this season. What’s the hope for you in Juniors? Are you going for the title?
ST:
Yes, this year we really want to win the title. It will be really hard because our competitors are really fast. It was a good start and we hope to continue like this. We hope to go like this at the next one in Poland.

Q:
Giovanni, a Junior win, how are you feeling at the end of the weekend?
GB:
I’m very happy, I’m very happy for this victory. Let’s say that it was the first real rally together. It was important for us to start in a good way and a better way than this was not possible. For me it was also very important to come back to the Juniors. The last time was in 2005 with Baldacci. To come back with a victory is very, very important. I think that we made a good result of this weekend; it was not easy at all. It was a good start.

Q:
You’ve sat with many good drivers. What do you think of Simone’s style?
GB:
Honestly I was very surprised and impressed by his style. It’s very quiet, but whilst driving fast. The car was quick, but inside the car it was very calm and easy. I really think we can do a good job for the season.

22 of May of 2016

 

Back >>

 

Bookmark and Share

 

 
Sponsors/Partners