Finland - Post-event press conference
31 July 2010
Drivers / co-drivers: Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT), Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (Citroen Total WRT) and Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroen Total WRT).
Team principal: Malcolm Wilson (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT)
Jari-Matti congratulations on your first win at Rally Finland. How does it feel to stand on the top step of the podium at your home event?
It feels really amazing. It's unbelievable. So good, and such a relief, and with all these people you saw at the podium and in the stages, they come to support you so you can win it. There are no words to describe it. I'm so happy to hear I am the youngest too. Sebastien Loeb has beaten all the records; at least something is left for me!
How does it compare with the other wins you have achieved?
One of the greatest moments for a driver is to win the first world rally: every driver can say that. But being Rally Finland is special as well. It's hard to compare this to New Zealand, that was a long rally, but maybe this goes further ahead of New Zealand, this is the second best win in my career so far.
After Mikko's retirement did you feel the pressure to go out and push for the win? Did you believe on Friday you could win?
Well, I started with the speed okay and then I had a big, big jump in Urria. Everybody knows that jump and still I was jumping too far – I couldn't get myself relaxed and I hurt my back. Mikko was flying, but when he retired I was sorry after he started so well. I didn't want to think anything about the situation. I spoke to Miikka in the car and then I just tried to do my job. There was only one car in the team and I just had to concentrate on my job and enjoy it – like Malcolm said, that was the key thing. After that, I got my back sorted at service and got the relaxed feeling and then the rally went in a better direction. But at that stage I couldn't imagine we could win the rally. But I got a good feeling after first proper service.
How many risks were you taking today?
Honestly, I was a little bit lucky with the rain. It helped a lot in the first stage, then I concentrated in the third stage after I lost time in the second stage. I made a big attack in the new four kilometres of the third stage and that helped me a lot. Sebastien was pushing very hard, both of them, they make my position very uncomfortable. But then towards the afternoon, I was able to take time, but then they catch me, then I made more time, they take it back – it was cat and mouse. I honestly have big respect, with the experience of Finland they have, for Sebastien Ogier and his co-driver that they were able to push so hard.
I know you don't normally drink, but will you have some champagne this evening?
I might have a little taste, but I'm not going to drink so much. Tomorrow is a free day, but on Monday I test an Escort BDA for a rally next weekend. The recce for the event starts on Wednesday, but I need to be ready and focused on the new suspension on that car.
Miikka – congratulations! How does it feel to be added to a list of incredible names who have achieved victory at Rally Finland?
Yeah, for sure it's something that's a big moment. Before the rally I didn't even think about winning, I thought about a podium place, but not a situation where we fight for the victory and finally have the victory.
What was the reaction like in the car when you crossed the flying finish?
Well, luckily it was quite easy to concentrate; we have some help from Sebastien and Julien because they push so hard we really had to concentrate. Over the finish line, it was an amazing feeling. There are so many elements. After Mikko retired and we were the only car in the team, knowing Ford is having so many rallies scoring points: so if we retire we break the chain. Another interesting thing is, I think, this is the same car we rolled in Portugal last year. And then we rolled it in Turkey too...
The third time tells the truth…!
Sebastien, it's second position at the end of the event, a great result in Finland.
For sure, I am very happy with this result. It's difficult to be happy when you are second, but Finland is very special. With my experience, this is better than I expect. Today was a very good day; maybe I was too careful yesterday. If I knew yesterday I would be second, maybe I would have adapted another strategy.
Why the cautious approach yesterday?
It was my first rally with the official team and there was more pressure on my shoulders. But, I gained confidence in the first stages and I'm very pleased with the second day – it was almost perfect. It was impossible to catch Jari-Matti - he deserved today.
But you really pushed him all the way.
I tried to put pressure to him all the way. We saw in New Zealand that we can lose the victory close to the end, and maybe I thought he could do the mistake. But he drove very well, he deserves this and it's really something special for the Finnish driver to win at home.
Julien, great points in the bag for both Championships here in Finland, a successful weekend for your first time representing the main Citroen team.
We didn't expect this, as Sebastien says. This was a crucial moment, for us to be in the manufacturer team. We had to continue the way we start the season, it's a great moment.
What was it like in the car?
As we said in New Zealand, we really had fun and pleasure in the car. When it's this way, we feel good and we try not to take too many risks. For sure there are some moments, but nothing crazy, we just enjoy the stages and the fight with Jari-Matti was a challenge. It was fun.
Seb, it's third position at the end of the event – you did say before the rally began that a win wasn't the goal here. What is your feeling on the result?
For sure I prefer to win, but like you said, my priority was points for the Championship, but if I can fight for the win I will try. In the first day I lost time in stage two, three and four when I broken the bumper. Then I was a bit far from the lead. I know in Finland to take some seconds it can be very difficult; I had to balance that and take the right choice.
You mentioned at the end of the final stage that you didn't feel Finland was 'your' event – what do you mean by that?
I mean it's a lot of fun to drive but I won it only one time, only one time. Here you have to be on the limit. And the Finnish drivers are strong, they defend very strongly their home rally. For me to fight here I have to take more risks and today I was not in the position to do it. I am satisfied with the result.
Daniel, Rally Finland used a new format this year with the stages condensed into two days, do you think it has worked well?
Yeah sure, it's okay. It's a very long day and road sections. The more difficult is that you have to drive every road section slow with the police, it can be very difficult. You have a lot of stages which are different. Okay, it's 21:00 hrs now, but it's not a problem. It's early for Saturday night in Jyvaskyla!
Malcolm, after a difficult previous event it's a return to winning ways. Is it a relief for the team to be back on competitive form?
You can imagine it's a big relief. We've had a difficult time on the last few rallies where we didn't deliver the pace. But it's at moments like that that you have to work as a team and to try and find the solution. As you can imagine, I'm really pleased we got this result. It was also great for Mikko to lead at the start, but then Jari took over after Mikko had the biggest accident of his life. For Jari to withstand the pressure from these guys was a terrific result for the team.
When news came in of Mikko's accident early yesterday did you believe Jari-Matti could go on to win the event?
Yes, I think the important thing for us was to get back to being really competitive and to win. It's a while since we were in that position. Jari was in a really good place, he was confident and he had learned a lot from New Zealand – after a lot of pressure from certain gentlemen around this table. He coped with that, but it's always difficult for Finnish drivers to come here with the added pressure.
There were risks; was it bin it or win it? Were you nervous?
As Jari said, it was good there was some rain which put us in a good position, but when they reseeded the top five for the final two stages, that took some pressure off. The combination of that, and the way that Jari is developing, got us the perfect result.
Questions from the floor.
Q: Martin Holmes (Martin Holmes Rallying, UK).
Jari-Matti, you've just won your fourth world rally. Your hero won three. What is the emotion?
It's right, it's something special. Henri [Toivonen] won three world rallies: two times the RAC and one Monte Carlo, and now I was able to beat his record. It feels good, but Henri was – as a driver – extremely quick, but he also did mistakes in his career. The times have changed a lot, but I'm happy to say I have been able to progress, but still it feels good to beat his record.
Q: Marco Giordo (Autosprint, Italy).
What was the most important moment of the rally?
The second last stage was the moment when I really knew Ogier was pushing hard. I was nervous before the stage and in the stage I was not so comfortable, but when I saw the first split I was okay and after the stage I was half a second quicker at the maximum. That gave me 11 seconds for the last stage and I thought I could handle it. I didn't think about winning when I came here, but things went well yesterday, then last night I had the feeling for the victory. But, everything had to be perfect to win. We were a little bit lucky.