2 August 2009
Rally Finland - Post-event press conference
Driver / co-driver: Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT), Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroën Total WRT), Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT)
Team principal: Malcolm Wilson (BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT).
Mikko congratulations on winning your home event for the first time. How does it feel?
It feels fantastic. I have been following the rally since I was a kid in the forest and if you look at the list of drivers who have won it before it is very impressive. So I am glad I am there myself now. This is definitely one of the best victories in my career. After the last stage I was shaking. I couldn't believe I had actually won it and like I said, for me the biggest thing was being up there with all the great Finnish drivers: Alen, Vatanen, Mikkola and Mäkinen have all won it and they are my biggest heroes. And now I manage to win it as well, so it feels really good.
It's your third win in a row and this is win number 10 overall – how does it rate against the others?
So there is only 40 more to go! Okay, this is Rally Finland and I know the event really well. Yes, we had really good rallies in Greece and Poland as well but there Sébastien made a mistake and now here too. But we had a great fight over here and I won it in the end but I will see how easy it goes in Australia and Catalunya and GB. They are very fast rallies like this so I am confident I can do really well.
Last year it was Sébastien Loeb who dominated on the opening day, but this time it was you. What did you do differently?
This time it was our turn. I felt really confident before the rally and everybody said you must have lots of pressure coming to your home event with the Championship so close, but I didn't feel the pressure at all. I felt really good and for sure I knew it would never be an easy fight against him but I thought if everything worked then we could definitely do it. It went exactly to plan.
We go to Australia next and the last time you were there you won, but this time it is on the other side of the country and into the great unknown. How are you feeling about it?
Like you said, it will be a new rally for everybody and I don't know what the surface will be like. In the past it has been very difficult to be first on the road. But we will see. It is now three to go and we are leading by three points. If all goes well in Australia we can take the battle right to the end.
Jarmo, congratulations – you missed out last year, how does it feel for you to win your home event?
It is emotional to be honest. It must have been 1977 when I spectated on this rally for the first time and now I am here winning it. I am almost out of words to describe how it feels. Before the final stage that was the longest time to wait because the running order was different. We had to wait 10 minutes and that felt like an entire weekend. But like Mikko said, when we crossed the finish line I didn't realise we had done it as it just felt like another stage win. But on the road section it started to sink in!
Sébastien, second position for you at the end of the event, but it was a great fight between you and Mikko on the first day and yesterday morning. It's a shame it didn't last longer; did you feel it was all over when you picked up that puncture?
Yes, for sure. I was pushing really on the limit and Mikko was still ahead. Before my puncture I was more than 10 seconds behind so it was still possible but difficult. I tried very hard and then I had the puncture. It was then that I knew I couldn't take him and I began to think of the Championship. Trying too hard was not the solution because the only thing I could do was so wait for him to make a mistake. So I drove for a second place.
Last year you dominated on the opening the day, it didn't happen this time around – why?
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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