Rally Sweden FIA’s post event press conference

Post event Press Conference
Sunday 12 February

Present:
1st – Jari-Matti Latvala, Ford World Rally Team
1st – Miikka Anttila, Ford World Rally Team
2nd – Mikko Hirvonen, Citroën Total World Rally Team
2nd – Jarmo Lehtinen, Citroën Total World Rally Team
3rd – Mads Østberg, Mads Østberg
3rd – Jonas Andersson, Mads Østberg
Malcolm Wilson, Team Principal, Ford World Rally Team

Q:
Jari-Matti, congratulations on win number six for you, and your second in Sweden! A little bit of drama towards the end though!

J-ML:
I think I need to get to hospital to check my heart tomorrow! It’s getting better. It’s incredible how exciting it can get. We had a good lead yesterday, but then it changed like a thunderstorm and we only had an eight-second lead. I knew he [Hirvonen] would push and we have to really go hard, but we managed to take another four seconds in Rämmen – then we could breathe a little bit.

Q:
Was it absolute maximum attack through Stage 23, Rämmen?

J-ML:
Yes. I got zero points in Monte Carlo and I knew [Sébastien] Loeb was not having a great weekend. Points-wise, this was very important and a lot of pressure. The team has done so much good work, there’s no chance to disappoint them. I needed to survive this.

Q:
Does this result make up for the disappointment of the last event?

J-ML:
Of course, it would be different if I had points from Monte Carlo. We have to forget it. This victory takes the pressure away from the disappointment of Monte.

Q:
This is the 50th win for the M-Sport and Ford partnership. How aware of that were you?

J-ML:
You mentioned that at the end of day press conference yesterday and I said I would not think about it. I managed to put this out of my head and I’m glad about that!

Q:
What is the aim for Jari-Matti this season?

JML:
I guess our target is to really challenge Citroën on the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ Championships. I will be 27 years old and driving more than 100 rallies now; I need to be in the position to fight for the Drivers’ title. But it’s a long year and many things can happen, but if I can beat these guys then it’s okay.

Q:
Miikka, what was the atmosphere like in the car when the puncture happened?

MA:
It was a very hectic moment. But he [Latvala] didn’t panic, he just drove as fast as he could. He took no risks or made any silly mistakes. I am very pleased he did just what was necessary.

Q:
The event went well, though?

MA:
On Friday we had some problems with Mikko and Jarmo, but on Saturday we were able to open the gap a little bit more.

Q:
The battle was between you and your former team-mate – how did that feel now that you are on rival teams?

MA:
Last year between the stages it was boring to discuss the set-up all of the time – it’s much more fun now!

Q:
Mikko, what a great battle it has been between you and Jari-Matti this weekend! You had a second chance at stealing victory – how are feeling about second place?

MH:
It could be better… For sure, I was trying to win and hoping to win the rally. We worked really hard before with the car and I thought we had the pace to do it, but we couldn’t quite. I’m quite happy with myself. On Saturday I felt the confidence coming and, for the future, that’s good.

Q:
The times between you have been incredibly close but Friday afternoon is where the gap widened, what happened?

MH:
I just managed to destroy my tyres. I could have been more steady myself, but we were just losing them. On that stage, it was really icy and I couldn’t get any traction over there. We lost the time.

Q:
Were you trying to psyche your old team-mate out during the weekend? Was there a lot of fighting talk?

MH:
I tried everything I could. We were even talking about Jari-Matti’s sex life and even that didn’t work! The gloves were off!

Q:
Were you happy with your pace?

MH:
Okay… I thought on Friday I could have pushed harder. I was backing off a little bit. On Saturday things were better and maybe I needed a bit more mileage with the car. Maybe there was a mistake this morning, we did a small change to the car to try and save the tyres, but it didn’t work – I’m happy we are going in the right direction.

Q:
Did you think you had an opportunity to catch Jari-Matti when he lost time on stage 22?

MH:
I decided before the stage I was going to go for it. I tried to scare him. I made a bet with him to see who could make the most fastest times in the last three stages. But I only heard about his puncture after the stage, so it didn’t affect me.

Q:
Jarmo, congratulations on second position and your first WRC podium for Citroën – are you satisfied with the result?

JL:
Yes. The first podium with the new team, I am happy, but disappointed as well – we came here for the win.

Q:
Do you feel you are fitting in well with the Citroën team now?

JL:
Definitely. It was a lot, lot easier than Monte Carlo. The team was supporting us, it was nice to see the way they took the pressure from our shoulders. We are part of the family now. This was a normal day at work.

Q:
Mads, congratulations on third position overall! You were applying a serious amount of pressure to Petter [Solberg] throughout the morning – then Petter picked up a puncture. How are you feeling?

MO:
Yeah, for sure, I wanted to fight for a podium and we have done quite a lot of snow rallies this year in preparation for this. Of course we had some competition one week ago and our speed was okay. We had a puncture, but we thought we could fight with Mikko. I knew Jari would be quick here – no offence Mikko, but Jari-Matti is a bit crazy around here! But we couldn’t keep up with those two, we lost time on Friday and I don’t really know why. We tried to fight back, but we knew soon it would be a fight with Petter for third. This went well. We had some technical problems yesterday and then he had the puncture and we ended in third. Of course I believe we would have done it anyway, but that’s how it is.

Q:
Had you made any changes last night at service as you were very much on the pace this morning! Or was it a good breakfast?!

MO:
The porridge in Ford is quite good. I eat a lot of that. I had some extra sugar this morning and that helped! We had a good day. No changes to the car.

Q:
It must have been frustrating to lose contact…

MO:
Definitely. We had come to fight for the podium. We knew it was not realistic to fight for the podium straight away, but we wanted to see where we could get further into the event. We managed to get some experience from what happened and it worked out better in the end.

Q:
You’re on the podium again, though.

MO:
Of course. We had a podium in Wales, so this is two in a row. We want podiums on more events and we are going to some events for the second time. It’s not so easy going against the guys all of the time, but on some events sure we want to challenge the big four.

Q:
Jonas, congratulations – third position this year! Is it a relief to be on the podium after such a great fight this weekend?

JA:
Of course, this feels really good. We had a good weekend. There were some small problems on Friday, but then we had a really good weekend. There were some nerves for Mads before the Power Stage, so I told him: “Okay, I’ll drive!” He thought about it for a couple of seconds and then said,: “Okay, I’m not nervous now.”

Q:
What did you think of the format of running in Norway as well as Sweden?

JA:
I’m not allowed to comment on this. We talked about this in the car and I’m not allowed comment any more.

MO:
This is because I said that I actually like the stages in Sweden more!

JA:
And I’ve been on to him because we lost time in Norway!

Q:
Jonas, will we see you on the podium again soon?

JA:
Yes, I think so for sure. Mexico!

MO:
I don’t feel any pressure!

Q:
Malcolm, Jari-Matti’s win represents the 50th for Ford with their partners M-Sport – that’s a great result!

MW:
It is. I’m glad Jari forgot about it and tried to concentrate on winning the rally, but this is a great achievement. But also, it’s fantastic that we’ve had such a strong relationship – starting in 1997. We had two victories that year, but sadly no drivers’ crown, although we have had two manufactures’ titles.

Q:
How were the nerves this afternoon?

MW:
Yes, I have to say, there were some. The previous Ford Press Officer Georgina [Finney] texted me, she knew how I’d be feeling! We saw Petter had dropped time to Mads and we didn’t know what the problem was. Then, at the split, we saw that Jari dropped time as well. I spoke to Jari after the stage and he was still confident. This really helped to ease my nerves.

Q:
Petter just missed out on third here, what did you think of his drive?

MW:
He’s done another solid job. Petter always said this was going to be his hardest rally of the year and I couldn’t really understand that. Before the event he had a test, but it was in minus 25 and quite different conditions. He clipped something today, but he’s come away with a really solid result. He always goes really well in Mexico, so let’s see what happens there.

FIA SUPER 2000 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:

1st – Per-Gunnar Andersson
1st – Emil Axelsson

Q:
PG, congratulations on the SWRC win at home here in Sweden, your Championship challenge is now underway!

P-GA:
This is a great result for us and the team. We have been waiting a while for a great success on home ground and now we have it. We can prove the speed and the work done by the team.

Q:
You set some great times today…
P-GA:
In some stages we did some really good times. The car has been handling well – it’s  all been undramatic to be honest. There are still some variables for more speed, there’s still some more to come.

Q:
Does this result make up for the disappointment in Monte Carlo just a few weeks ago?

P-GA:
Yeah, sure. It’s great to come back strong, but if we had won in Monte Carlo then the Championship would have been really good. The main thing is that we showed the capacity and the speed of the car. It’s nice to be back.

Q:
What was the biggest challenge on this event?

P-GA:
It’s my favourite rally, the biggest challenge was with myself to try and not overdrive and keep the fight. We had a good fight with Pontus Tidemand, but then he had a problem. It can be difficult when you have a big gap, but we kept a good balance – I think this is something to do with age!

Q:
You’ve got an exciting year ahead…

P-GA:
It feels different compared to last year, when we struggled a lot. Now we can show the stage wins and we have the speed. The team has come out stronger since Monte Carlo, we can be really competitive.

Q:
How is the  team morale after the win?

P-GA:
They are pretty happy. There are a lot of people from Malaysia over. I think this is the first time they see snow! This is a great win for the team!

Q:
Big changes at the mid-point service yesterday which saw an improvement in the afternoon – what did you change?

P-GA:
It was a strange problem which left us with no traction and no feeling at the rear of the car. After we made the changes on Saturday, it started to work again. This problem came somewhere at mid-day Friday. Something happened with the suspension, I’m not sure what, but the team fixed it and it was fine.

Q:
Emil, how was the challenge of Rally Sweden in 2012?

EA:
It was great, especially with so many fans around!

Q: Was it nice to see the Norway stages?

EA:
It was. The Norwegian stages were a little bit different to the Swedish ones, but it’s great to have the two events working together.

Q:
How different?

A:
It’s still fast, but a bit more twisty.

Q:
Would you like to see more of this in the future?

EA:
Definitely

Q:
Who were you comparing yourselves to on this event?

EA:
Breen and Pontus, and Ogier and Mikkelsen, we were trying to see the time gap and stay focused.

Q:
What about the season ahead?

EA:
It feels very good. We are looking forward to trying to score another win.

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