Drivers: Mikko Hirvonen
(BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team), Evgeny Novikov
(Citroen Junior Team) and Petter Solberg
(Petter Solberg World Rally Team).
Olivier Quesnel (Citroen Total World Rally Team).
Mikko, we are at a new event here in Poland. Historically you have done well on new events, with wins in Norway in 2007 and last year in Jordan and Japan. Why is it that you excel on new rallies?
I don't know. There is nothing special or different. It's a good record and I hope to keep it that way.
Both the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships have got closer after the results in Italy and Greece; you lie seven points behind Loeb in the standings. How crucial is it that you take maximum points away from the next couple of events?
Well it would be my only chance. To still be second behind Seb will not get me anywhere. I need to win these rallies now and get closer to him to give me a chance of the title. Hopefully there will be no more seconds. The stages here are so fast and the difference between the drivers is going to be very small - tenths of seconds and where there will be no room for mistakes. It is so fast and narrow and now it is going to be slippery. One small mistake and you hit a tree. For sure, there is no room for mistakes.
Let's talk about the stages here in Poland. What have you thought from what you have seen on the recce and how will this weather affect them?
It (the rally) looks really nice. The stages are fast and flowing, with nice corners over crests. It's going to be very soft (stage surface) the second time through and that will make it very rough with some ruts. A perfect example is the changing road condition. We did a recce and the roads were dry and now it has been raining for two days. A lot of the corners we do not know and they are sure to be rougher and rockier. We are not like Formula One, where they cancel a race or are able to change tyres for the conditions. We do not have the chances like that. We are driving flat-out on narrow roads and there is no room for a mistake. This is something we should work on. We are not in need of a big effort for safety. For sure, having gravel crews to go through the stages would be the answer and that is not too big a cost. If the organisers and the FIA could be more flexible, we could easily have time to go through the stages one more time on Wednesday. This would be safer for everybody. We need to have more flexibility in the rules in these conditions.
The World Motor Sport Council met yesterday and one of the decisions made was to give rallies more flexibility to evolve the character of their events, and could possibly be run over two three or four days with the possibility of mixed surfaces within a stage or day – what do you think?
The only thing I don't like is the tarmac and fixing that problem would be a problem solved for me. Giving the events a little flexibility would make it more interesting, for sure.
You took a win in Greece and you did that while suffering a back problem - is that still an issue here?
No it was okay in Greece. There is no problem at all.
Evgeny, we have seen some real pace from you in previous events, especially Greece where you picked up four stage wins. Were you pleased with your pace there?