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Mexico - Post-event press conference

10 March 2013

Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Motorsport), Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT) and Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (Qatar WRT).

Team principal: Jost Capito (Volkswagen Motorsport).


Press conference.


Q:
Two wins in a row for Volkswagen Motorsport, the season just keeps getting better for you! Congratulations on a great win here in Mexico! But you look slightly different than you did earlier this afternoon. What happened?

Sebastien Ogier:
It looks like we had a gate issue! I was a bit late for the podium and was running in the service park and, at the same time, I was signing autographs. Then I hit a door with my head and now I look like a boxer….

Q:
But happy with the result, obviously.

Sebastien Ogier:
For sure, I am very pleased. It has been a perfect weekend for us. The car was perfect again and I thank the team again for that. They are doing a really good job. From the start of the season we have had no problems with the car. We know we have a few things to improve but I have had so much fun. I have really enjoyed the rally in Mexico with all the support and we have a good lead after three races.

Q:
You won this event back in 2008 in the JWRC, did you imagine back then you would be as successful as you are today?

Sebastien Ogier:
That was the target. It was the timing. I remember it well from the start. It is just like a dream for me to come in WRC and win. I remember coming here and winning in the junior category for the first time. We won the Junior Championship but then I found it a bit difficult to adapt and did not have so much experience at the start. It is good now and after five years or so we are here in the top category and taking another victory. I hope this is just the beginning.

Q:
Were there any issues at all this weekend? We heard there might have been an issue this morning...?

Sebastien Ogier:
Just a small one before the Power Stage with a sensor – it was a bit of stress with that – maybe it could get worse. It could have been bad but no real drama. It meant I could not accelerate 100 per cent, only 95 per cent.

Q:
You kept a great pace this weekend, not really slowing down at all - did you just feel comfortable at that pace?

Sebastien Ogier:
I think on day one I had to drive fast because Mads [Ostberg] was driving very well and we needed to make a gap. Then, on day two we started to make a gap and I was pushing and I was the faster in the afternoon. When Mads was not here I continued on the stages quite hard and they were beautiful. I just wanted to avoid the rocks and not push the car too hard. I think it is the best when you have fun and you are fast.

Q:
Julien, a second successive win for you. What are your thoughts?

Julien Ingrassia:
For myself, we have many stories especially from yesterday. I learn how to jump out of the car. Now I also see how we can finish with 28 points as well. It is another challenge here. We have now done three different rallies. We must wait to see the performance of the car on each surface. Our car is working very well here as well. It was a big challenge for us.

Q:
Mikko, you take away second position here in Mexico, first time on the podium for you this season. How was your weekend here in Mexico?

Mikko Hirvonen:
I am happy, at last, to get a second place after a difficult start to the season. It looks like Volkswagen has raised the game and we have to fight hard. We have to work even harder now, I am sure we can improve everything. I am still sliding a little too much and losing time. Without the power with the altitude you lose even more time like this.

Q:
How much were you pushing on the stages this weekend? Were you at the maximum you could go or not?

Mikko Hirvonen:
I knew Thierry [Neuville] was keen and Malcolm [Wilson] told him to go fast and catch me. He is really fast. The gap was not so big but he made it a bit easier for me. I was maybe a bit sleepy in the first stage on Friday but, after that, I was quite pleased. I was not able to match Seb's pace so we have to go back to the drawing table again. We are always wanting to fight for the win. People know I have been in this position many times and we will try again.

Q:
What do you think can be done on the next rallies to improve? What was your mind set this morning?

Jarmo Lehtinen:
We know we have to work harder to improve and the answer to that is to improve the driving and be faster in every corner. It is early in the season and there are still a lot of points available. The rally was good this week and the driving and the feeling felt okay. If someone is quicker than you that is the name of the game and you need to look in the mirror and start again. Especially in the Manufacturers' it was a good rally for us with second and fourth. We had made a bad start to the season and now this is our first proper result and we are back in the game.

Q:
Thierry, congratulations on your first-ever WRC podium! How does it feel to have achieved your finishing position?

Thierry Neuville:
Honestly, I have to say I felt confident in the car and, after qualifying, I thought we could find the pace and be competitive. On Saturday I was not so happy and I made a little mistake and a rock broke the steering and we had to slow down. Then we had problems with the temperature and we slowed down again. But we went fast again and it was a good experience today. Malcolm [Wilson] told me to push and I tried hard until 15 kilometres where we were equal [with Mikko]. Then I made a mistake and I knew we must just finish the day for the team.

Q:
Was it stressful for you in the build-up to the first stage this morning?

Thierry Neuville:
I sleep well and my head was clear to push. I knew it was the right choice. I think, okay, sometimes you take a decision and I decided to push. I know it is going to be an interesting year for us and I have so many things to learn.

Q:
Do you think you will get any more podium finishes this season?

Thierry Neuville:
It will be very difficult against Sébastien [Ogier] but I will try on the tarmac rallies. We are working hard to prepare the car and be competitive.

Q:
Thierry, Mikko mentioned yesterday that you would be 'wet' if you got on the podium, Was he right?

Thierry Neuville:
Completely right – I am very wet and smelling a lot! I am honestly really happy that Nicolas and me managed to get this finish.

Q:
How do you feel to be on the podium for the first time? How big a moment was it for you on that first stage this morning?

Nicolas Gilsoul:
Of course, the first time is fantastic. For one year now we have worked hard together to understand the WRC and improve our pace notes on each event. I understood there was no damage on the car but, even 100 meters before the corner, I knew that there was no way to make it [the corner]. We learn now and it will be better next time.

Q:
Jost, two wins in a row for Volkswagen Motorsport. How are you feeling after this second win? You must be over the moon?

Jost Capito:
We are over Mars now! This was completely unexpected for us. The first two rallies were not hard on the cars. This victory is dedicated to our engine guys at Volkswagen Motorsport and Volkswagen AG, who have developed an engine for altitude and one that could cope with the challenges of this rally and deliver the power for the team. It is extraordinary. This win is for the name of the new Volkswagen plant and we have delivered it for the Mexican people.

Q:
Can you win again on the next rally in Portugal?

Jost Capito:
We will see. Portugal is a new challenge and the first of the standard gravel rallies to decide the Championship – a lot of teams have done well with their first three race results. We will work hard and do a good preparation but the confidence is rising and we will see there.

Q:
What are your thoughts on Jari-Matti Latvala's performance?

Jost Capito:
We did have some small troubles during the rally and we did benefit from the bad luck for some of the competition. Jari-Matti had limited chances to adapt to the Polo before the rally and he was not pushing. I think that his performance today proved that he has made great progress after more time in the Polo. Having been first on the road in the Power Stage, to take one point was a great achievement.


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