FIA Rally de Espana Winners' Conference

With:

1st - Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Motorsport1st - Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Motorsport2nd - Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Motorsport 2nd - Miikka Anttila, Volkswagen Motorsport3rd - Mikko Hirvonen, M-Sport World Rally Team3rd - Jarmo Lehtinen, M-Sport World Rally TeamJost Capito, Team Principal, Volkswagen MotorsportQ: Sébastien, congratulations! You said this second world title* would be confirmation of your pace - how do you feel now?SO:Of course I feel very good – this is the target of every champion, to prove that it is not just luck. You always want to confirm that speed and that was the target for this year. I often said that to get one title is difficult, but to conserve it is difficult also and that was the case for many reasons this year. One reason is on my right (Latvala) – he was quite strong this year. There were a lot of close rallies where the gap at the end was only a few seconds. The season was really exciting and I’m really happy with the second title, especially with the win on this rally.Q:What was going through your mind during the weekend? SO:I was really frustrated with the weekend in France and I was really motivated to come here and really confident. But I have to say I still had a little worry about the first day on gravel. I knew it was a big challenge to open the road. We did a fantastic gap on day one: the target was not to lose too much time and we did this. This was a surprise. I push the maximum and I had a lot of fun in the car. After this moment it was maybe an even harder rally; when you are pushing and not thinking about anything it’s not so bad, but to control the race is harder. Jari-Matti flew on tarmac. We had to stay on a strong pace and I was really happy with the management [of the rally]. I fought to control when it was risky, where there was risk of puncture and where Jari was taking some seconds, but in the end I conserved enough gap to take the win. It’s difficult at this moment, you know, for the ego, you can go a little bit faster. But you have to say: “Okay, this weekend the most important is the championship.” And then you have to accept that he is doing all of the fastest times this weekend.Q:You said last night that you would only worry if the gap to Jari-Matti got down to zero…SO:You said when would I start to worry, or when would I react? When the gap is zero then I have to react!Q:It’s been a great season, but you did admit you were a little bit distracted earlier in the year.SO:I had some difficult moments this season. I was a bit weak mentally, I was disturbed by the future of the sport, and my motivation really went down. When this happens then you are not performing at 100 per cent any more. Even if some people say it looks easy, it is never easy. Just a small moment of inattention, if we don’t give anything [back], then things start to go in the wrong direction. The most important thing is that I reacted. A lot of people helped me with this, the team helped me, Jost helped me and my wife helped me a lot. I focus on the present; I couldn't lose what I had been working on from the beginning of season. It would have been stupid to lose it like that. I am happy in the season when still, the sporting rules, maybe this is not the case in the future…Q:Was the second title as emotional as the first?SO:The first is something special. The weekend when I came champion [last year], I needed one point from three rallies, somehow I knew it would come. Here it was different. I had a great beginning of the season and had a 50-point advantage. In France there was some bad luck. I had lost one joker and then there was more pressure and you could be fighting equal on the last rally. It was good to get it here, now we have no stress in Wales and we can enjoy the end of the season. There will be a good fight with Jari in Wales and Mikko has been quite strong this weekend – maybe it will be the same in GB, he loves this rally. I think it will be a good show there.Q:Julien, what do you think?JI:Today is Daniel Elena’s birthday. This is how I will remember my second title!Q: I can’t think of a more fitting way...JI:Until the end, he [Elena] will always be there to tease me! This was quite a strange weekend, the stages were long, but not so long as France when we got up at five and finished at 10. But the stages were quite demanding. I want to thank the team. We had a lucky star on the first day, there was some dust… I will just say we have two stars in our pocket. Q:What was the feeling for you this year, personally?JI:Maybe more the feeling of greater achievement. There is no easy victory or easy rally, we fight on each corner, make a good recce and we must be performing well on all elements. This year we had some quite difficult and bad moments in Germany and France; emotionally it was a bit difficult this year. Also we knew the fight was tight with Jari and Miikka. We knew the fight would end and this was a great achievement.Q:You fought until the end Jari-Matti, you didn’t make it easy for them…J-MLIf you want to be champion, then you can’t give up - you have to fight. I really wanted to go to Wales and get the championship, but we did not succeed. Seb and Julien had a fantastic start on Friday. I was… I don't know where, I was not in this planet when this rally started. I felt really bad, bad driving. In my mind I was prepared for tarmac a lot. After France, I drive Rally Legend, I drove 1000 kilomtres on tarmac since the last time on gravel and it was difficult to switch the mode to gravel. That was what was needed for the first day. The car was fantastic on tarmac. I had a brilliant feeling on the tarmac.Q:You were never going to give up though…J-ML: Yes, I was determined to keep going. I was having a really good mood for the driving and overall it’s been my best season ever. I never had such a good season. I won four rallies and this is the first time I have the chance to fight for the target, one target is achieved, the next target is to reach it.Q:And you have to get your mojo back on gravel for Rally GB…J-ML:Yes, that’s one of my favourite events. There are some new stages coming up and I look forward to those new sections. Last year I was struggling a little bit, hopefully I will be there this time. Seb is very relaxed, he will go very fast, then there is Meeke and Mikko – pedal to the metal!Q:And next year?J-ML:I know the areas I have to improve for sure. There are rallies I haven’t performed well on: Poland and Portugal I need to improve, but once you know the areas, if you can just work on them and improve then it will be good.Q:Miikka, you wanted the title, how do you feel about the result?MA:Under normal conditions, I would be quite pleased to be second in the rally, but this time it’s a bit difficult to smile. That’s why we do this job: we want to win. For sure, this is the first time we are in the situation that we fight for the championship, but it’s not done and next season we try harder. We have won four rallies this year and it’s been constant results almost the whole season through, so it should be much, much easier to try to get the title next year. It feels unfair that these central European gravel specialists come and fight with us asphalt specialists – we have nothing to fight!Q:Did you tighten the belts today, you were showing fantastic pace?MA:No. I said on Friday in midday service, that I never felt in the rally car as unpleasant as this time. All the dust – the dust is okay, but you need to have grip, you can escape the moment if you have grip. But here there was no grip. I did not enjoy this. On Tarmac on Saturday morning, the feeling was really fantastic. Only today there was one small moment and that was not even a moment, when we almost overshot the roundabout. We almost missed that.Q:What happened?J-ML: It is a great stage and three kilometres in I come and have the fantastic feeling. Every time I brake so early at the roundabout. This time I thought I would brake a little later. In my eyes there is a divider on the right side of the roundabout, I use this for the braking. I saw it and thought: “Ah, very good braking…” Then I see, on the left, the roundabout and I could only just pull the handbrake so that I didn’t go around the divider! Then I started to try to catch the time back.MA: That wasn’t even a real moment – more one where we were laughing.Q:Mikko, it’s really good to see you back on the podium again…MH:I’m really happy. Finally I get the podium I have been looking for. There have been some ups and downs, but we had good pace this weekend and we have been able to get back up here. Everybody’s really pleased.Q:What do you put your absence from the podium down to?MH: I just thought maybe about time, let’s do it… For me the new tyre worked well. I was quite happy with that. I managed to do a pretty good time. When we had mousse in the tyres and the construction of tyre was softer that worked for me. I always seemed to struggle on the harder construction of tyre – it didn't give me such good feedback on the grip level. Now the tyre is moving all the time and I feel confident and our car works really well on the tyre. Everything just happens, which means we can push harder without thinking about the grip – you know where the grip is. It makes it all easy.Q:You found a very good rhythm in the 50-kilometre stage…MH:It was good all the way through. The first 25 kilometres we have done many times. We got through that part and then carried it through until the end. It was good to fight with Andreas [Mikkelsen] and Mads [Østberg] and we managed to fight against Dani [Sordo]. I was really motivated to fight for the podium and finally to take it.Q:Where has the pace been hiding?MH:We have had good pace here and there, but it was not consistent through the weekends. We really have to fight, but now the most interesting fight is for who comes third in the co-drivers’ championship. Jarmo is now two points ahead of Andreas’ co-driver. I don’t care about me it’s for Jarmo now!Q:Talk to me about Rally GB - you like it there?MH:Sometimes I have been well there. Sometimes, well sometimes, I have been upside down somewhere. Without the championship, there will be a big fight on this rally next year – I think the teams need to get the trailers ready to collect us!Q:Does this give you more confidence for next year?MH:It always helps at this time of the year to have a good result; it definitely doesn’t do any harm.Q:Now over to the man chasing third place. Jarmo, what do you think of the result?JL:It’s great. It’s great to be back. It was really good on gravel, but not so easy being fourth car on the road. Okay, we did have a small advantage to the guys ahead of us. The only place to take advantage of this was to take big risks in the dust and that’s what we did. Like Mikko said, he coped well with the new tyre better than the other one. Straight from the four kilometre stage it worked. We were able to get into the flow and it worked. Q:I asked you where the consistency has been hiding, but you said it had never been away.JL:Maybe the consistency hadn’t been there. In Poland and Finland, they were really bad from our side, but in Germany and France we were good. We made mistakes, it seemed, when we were really on the case then the car failed and when the car worked, we made mistakes – not a good year.Q:Jost, how do you feel with the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships won?JC:In principle we have seen a great season so far, especially the battle between Seb and Jari-Matti. This weekend showed how great that is. Both drivers have made a fantastic performance; how Seb did on Friday cleaning the road, he did it all on Friday. Then it was impressive to see how Jari-Matti fought back. We have four true champions in the team.Q:Andreas isn’t here, but do you think he’s ready to win?JC:Yes. Unfortunately he had the puncture and he was not really on the pace of Seb and Jari-Matti. It’s no wonder: Seb had to win to seal the championship and Jari-Matti had to fight to keep the championship open. It was never bigger. He is still learning a bit to get to that level.Q:Have you ever seen Jari-Matti more determined?JC:I think he is always determined. He was determined in Germany…Q:I didn't mention the Germany word…!JC: The way Jari-Matti has developed this season has been very impressive. How he came back from feeling very uncomfortable on Friday was also very impressive. On Saturday afternoon both cars were in qualifying set-up; they took the risks and to see how they handled the pressure was fantastic to watch for the team.Q:And all of your drivers stay next year – it’s going to be a big fight for the championship next season?JC:There will be more drivers than just ours fighting for the championship, but we are in a good position. We keep the crews and the technical staff, nothing is changed. We have a new car homologated in time for Monte Carlo and if we have our drivers fighting in the team then this is something we dream of.QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOORMarcus StierSport Auto, GermanyQuestion for Jari-Matti, you said you waited for asphalt to show the speed. Did you ever think it would turn out like this?J-ML:Good question, Markus. No. I think back to 2008, when I was running in the Stobart team because our Tarmac performances were not good enough – Francois Duval was in main Ford team together with Mikko. Since that performance when I struggled on Tarmac, I started to make it better. But better on Tarmac than gravel… I never believed it could work this way. When you are learning something, you take out from something else a little bit. Maybe I need to get all the pieces together again.Q:And a questions for Seb, you were distracted and mentally down with your worries on the future of the sport. The WRC Commission meeting says the sport will potentially make some changes.SO:Stay as it is now, it’s exactly what we didn't want. If you are in the lead of the championship then you open the road for two days and, on some rallies, you will have no chance to win. I don’t know a sport when the leader of a championship has no chance to win the next round. I want to thank people for their support, with all the people who helped me. In Australia, I dedicated this title to Jost, but I need to dedicate this title to my wife. She is on my side every day and she helped me a lot.FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIPPresent:1st - Nasser Al-Attiyah1st - Giovanni BernacchiniQ: Nasser, the WRC 2 title fight is looking good. How are you feeling about that?NA-A: I am so happy to win this race. It was a great weekend for us. We pushed a lot on the gravel stages and take a lot of time from everybody. After that we tried to manage for the two days. We did a good job and the team, Giovanni and everybody who supported us, this was a really great moment for me. I am quite happy.Q:You had no moments at all?NA-A:No nothing. It was a clear weekend without any big mistake. We are quite happy. We did a good strategy from the beginning and this helped us win this race.Q:Julien Maurin was taking time out of you, were you concerned?NA-A:No, not really. He tried to have a good speed in the morning, but it wasn’t enough. Maurin took good time from us, but we managed to keep small time between me and him today in the morning. This was a great time for us and we didn’t need to make a big push and then to start to make a mistake. The time we had was good and it was good to manage it without any problems.Q:Now, Wales Rally GB and a very difficult event. How are you feeling going into that event?NA-A:I like this race. GB is very special and this year I do a lot of races in the wet conditions, even in the cross-country, even in the small rally, and we have good experience. We try to manage the top seven; this will be enough to win WRC 2. Q:Giovanni, you had this under control?GB:Yes. We are not just quite happy, we are very happy. Our plan was that we know there are good drivers on Tarmac, like Maurin and Chardonnet, and our plan was to make good times on the gravel and to take a lot of gap, then manage it. We did it. Let’s say we were in a good situation. Chardonnet, Sousa and Kruuda had problems. The only competition was Maurin and he was fast on Tarmac. But we were leading by two minutes after the gravel. Even yesterday, we had very long stages with 50 kilometres and you never know what can happen. We made a great job. We are so, so happy.Q:Are you prepared for Wales Rally GB?GB:We are always trying to do our best. We had a great preparation here, it’s difficult to explain now. We are so happy our goal is to make the perfect job in GB. We don’t have so much pressure. Mathematically Kruuda and Bertelli are out of the game, it is only Jari Ketomaa who can fight with us. If it all goes well, we are in a good position.FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIPPresent:1st - Mohamed Al Mutawaa1st - Stephen McAuleyQ:Mohamed, you’ve taken the win – how do you feel?MAM:I learned a lot, especially on gravel. I was not really that experienced on gravel. And as well as that, on Tarmac I am much quicker than before. I wanted to find pace. I need a little more concentration for the next rally, but that is something we are working on. PH Sport and Abu Dhabi Racing set up a very good car. The DS3 is a very nice car to drive. This is a good weekend for me.Q:It ended earlier than expected yesterday…MAM:Yesterday, I went a bit too fast into a corner that tightened and we damaged the tyre. We couldn’t finish the day, I learned from that mistake – that is something I need to focus on is the concentration.Q:That 50-kilometre stage must have been a challenge?MAM:It was very challenging, especially with the pace notes getting faster. Before I used to drive at a lower pace, so I didn't need so much concentration. With more speed, I need more concentrationQ:Have the notes improved the pace?MAM:Yeah of course the pace has improved by one second per kilometre. I wasn’t that fast on gravel, but now the pace is about fine-tuning. Next year I want to compete with the top guys.Q:You are young, but you have big dreams…MAM:Yeah, Abu Dhabi Racing is a very good sponsor and they help me reach my dream. I hope one day you will see me in the WRC.Q:Stephen what have you thought of the weekend?SM: The pace was good pace. He’s a very young driver and considering this rally was his third time on proper gravel – yes, he drives in the desert, but that’s not really the same as this – his pace increased and he has a lot more confidence. Q:Who were you comparing yourselves to?SM:Generally, we were just going out to learn and drive the stages. We weren’t looking at times. The main thing was to get through the stages. Unfortunately that didn’t happen on the second day, but the gravel was very important. He has good experience on Tarmac and we had a good day on gravel.Q:How are the pace notes working?SM:The rapport… I’m sure you can tell there’s quite an age difference between us, but we have a good craic in the car. For the serious stuff, there is such an improvement – especially on Tarmac. There’s work to do on the gravel, next year I hope there will be more experience on the gravel and the Tarmac will come on even more.* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA