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Rally Finland: Rally Reactions

2 August 2009

Mikko Hirvonen [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"I've watched this rally since I was a kid and now I have won here myself and joined so many of the sport's legends who have won here. It's such a fantastic sensation to win my home rally that I can't put my feelings into words. It has been such a great weekend for the team that there will be big celebrations tonight. I felt in control throughout the rally. It was a great battle with Loeb and when he had a problem, I could afford to take it a little bit easier/"


Sebastien Loeb [Citroen Total WRT]:

"I would have preferred to have won, but there was little I could do about the result this weekend. Mikko put in a flawless run on his home event after being on the limit from start to finish. We've dropped another two points in the title chase, so it looks like it's going to be a close-run thing to the end."


Jari-Matti Latvala [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"It's one of the highlights of my career to finish on the podium on my home rally. After my mistake on the final stage in Poland last month, I was under the biggest pressure of my life here and it took time to regain my rhythm and confidence. Then I fell ill, but overtaking Dani Sordo to move into third was a turning point and my times became better and better. I feel I have grown up mentally since Poland and my role for the rest of the season is to support Mikko's drivers' title challenge in the way I did here."


Daniel Sordo [Citroen Total WRT]:

"It's a shame we didn't manage to hold on to third place, but there were times when we succeeded in rivalling with the drivers who were fighting for victory. More than anywhere else, experience is vital here in Finland and I feel I progressed to a higher level on this year's event."


Matti Rantanen [Munchi's Ford WRT]:

“I'm very happy today, my result last year was great but this one really tops it. I started to think I should be closer to the top drivers but I have to remember that the four people above me are full-time professional rally drivers. The car that M-Sport provided for me has been fantastic and we hardly changed any settings all rally. I found it difficult on the second day and I felt we were a bit too sideways in some of the stages and lost some time on the loose gravel. But the fight with Ogier today was exciting and a really great feeling to come out on top.”


Sebastien Ogier [Citroen Junior Team]:

“Missing out on fifth by just 0.3 seconds doesn't really matter if you look at the way that the rally has gone for us generally. I'm very happy with how we drove on the second half of the event. We enjoyed ourselves a lot and built up a lot of confidence, thanks to a perfect car and good pace notes. We were able to up the speed as the rally went on and this continues our learning curve well. Now I can't wait to get to Australia!”


Jari Ketomaa [Ketomaa WRT Subaru Impreza WRC]:

"I wanted a better result definitely - our times could have been better but I am very happy to have been near the top five. We have only had 100 kilometres of testing in this car."


Matthew Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:

“It has been a really valuable learning experience and we always pick up more things here than at any other rally. We made changes to our notes after Rally Poland to make them more accurate on the wider roads and that has worked fairly well; it's made them more precise. It has been good to see that I'm improving and this is my best ever result here. I've gained a lot of experience of the new stages which will help me next year.”


Khalid Al Qassimi [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

“I am really pleased. To finish in the top ten is a very special result in what is a very tough rally. It is a credit to the team that we were able to be in a top nine which included five Finns who are specialists on these roads.”


Juho Hanninen [Red Bull Rally Team Skoda Fabia S2000]: [Group N winner]

“When I realised that I could still catch Villagra in the WRC, I simply took the risk. And now my delight has of course been doubled because it all worked out [and I finished in tenth overall]. I didn't have a single problem with the car the entire weekend long – thanks to the entire BRR crew for that. Our teamwork was excellent.”


Federico Villagra [Munchi's Ford WRT]:

“This has been a very difficult rally but we are happy to finish with no problems and get another year's experience of competing here. Experience counts for a lot and when I made my pacenotes for this rally I thought they were fine. But the top drivers really know the lines here, especially over the crests, and I'm having to adjust to it a bit more. It's difficult to find the exact speed for the corners and I'm struggling more on the first pass with this. We came here from Rally Acropolis and it's a shame we didn't compete in Poland as it may have helped us to adjust to the high speeds. The car has been working well all weekend and it's also a real pleasure to compete on this rally; the stages are fantastic fun and very exciting.”


Anton Alen [Abarth Fiat Grande Punto S2000]: [Group N runner-up]

"It was not what we were hoping for and our problems meant we have had to finish second which is not the result we wanted."


Martin Prokop [Citroen C2 S1600]: [JWRC winner and 2009 JWRC champion]

"What a relief! 2009 JWRC champion! We are very happy and a result like this is just the best feeling. We have worked so hard and now I am at the top of the list - fantastic and thank you to my excellent team."


Kalle Pinomaki [Renault Clio R3]: [JWRC runner-up]

"We had a really good weekend with no mistakes. I am really satisfied to be second in class."


Urmo Aava [Honda Civic Type-R R3]:

"It has been a good rally. The car has been working quite well. The only problem was the suspension damage we had on Friday where we lost time repairing it ourselves on stage. Still, a good event and we enjoyed it."


Henning Solberg [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:

“We came to this rally aiming for another top-five and things were looking good but unfortunately part of the suspension broke and we had to retire at the start of the second day. With our aim not possible I had to focus on getting more points for the Stobart team. We tried our best for this and on the final day our times were good; it was also useful to have that extra driving ahead of Rally Australia.”





Notable retirements:

Evgeny Novikov [Citroen Junior Team]: [retired from day 1 after SS2 - went off the road - re-started on Saturday under SupeRally]

"It was because of a mistake in the pace notes, which shows our lack of experience. On roads as quick as this, you need a really good rhythm. I just missed a note over a crest and we ended up in the trees. Now, my goal is to finish the rally and hopefully set some good times on the second runs through the stages [on Saturday]."


Petter Solberg [PSWRT Citroen Xsara WRC]: [retired from day 1 in SS4 - went off the road - re-started on Saturday under SupeRally]

"Everything was going well [and we were second overall] but then we got a puncture which made us go wide just before the finish [of Mokkipera 1] and into a ditch…"


Henning Solberg [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]: [retired on day 2 in SS12 – suspension damage – re-started on Sunday under SupeRally]

"I am really disappointed to be out today. Things had been going really well this morning and we had moved ahead of Rantanen on the first stage which was one of my main goals for the day. The suspension broke at a hairpin and the damage was just too bad to continue but the team have done a good job in getting the car back to normal and I'm glad we will be able to rejoin tomorrow. After retiring so early today, it will be important to get some more fast gravel kilometres under our belt before Rally Australia."


Petter Solberg [PSWRT Citroen Xsara WRC]: [retired from rally on day 2 before SS14 - engine]

"Yesterday morning the engine was perfect, but today it's not working properly. There's no power, we cannot make a proper attack, so it's better to stop now to avoid more damage."


Evgeny Novikov [Citroen Junior Team]: [retired from rally in SS14 - went off the road]

"We were going at a quick pace and our first splits were good. We had two big moments - one jump on which we landed with the back bumper touching the ground and then a high-speed encounter with the trees. That was it."


Conrad Rautenbach [Citroen Junior Team]: [retired from rally in SS22 – went off the road]

“That's not how we wanted to end our rally. We weren't taking any risks but these are always very complex stages. I'm bitterly disappointed.”





Team principals:

Malcolm Wilson [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT - team director]:

"Both Mikko and Jari-Matti delivered a perfect job for the team. Without question, it was Mikko's best drive. Winning Rally Finland is a turning point in his career, but I never doubted he would take victory here one day. He has increased his lead in the drivers' standings and the destination of the title could go down to the final round. Jari-Matti drove superbly, especially given the pressure he was under."


Gerard Quinn [Ford of Europe - senior manager for motorsport:

"Victory in the country that is regarded as the spiritual home of rallying is a tremendous achievement. Four consecutive wins in conditions ranging from the blisteringly fast roads in Finland to the rock-strewn tracks and searing heat in Greece demands a blend of strength, speed and reliability from both man and machine and I look forward to us challenging in Australia next month."


Olivier Quesnel [Citroen Racing - director]:

"Of the four rounds which remained ahead of this weekend, this is the one we feared the most. I think it's fair to say that we were beaten by the best man on the day. Seb and Daniel's performance cannot be faulted, however, while Dani's result means that we have only dropped three points in the Manufacturers' standings. We still enjoy an enviable lead of 14 points. I would also like to congratulate Martin Prokop who has succeeded in securing the C2 Super 1600's second consecutive crown in the JWRC."


Benoit Nogier [Citroen Junior Team - manager]:

“It was a big accident for Conrad. Luckily the crew is uninjured, even though the car is damaged. Sébastien has driven an exceptional rally. Very few drivers have been able to set a fastest stage time here on their debut in a top category car. He obtained this great result by gradually increasing his pace, to mix it with the frontrunners by the middle of the second day. For three rallies now, he has shown his capability to challenge for top results. This is very satisfying, particularly after what is well known as the most difficult event of the season. Now we are going to concentrate on Rally Australia, where we will run two cars for Conrad Rautenbach and Sébastien Ogier. Until then, we have a lot of work to do to prepare our C4 WRCs for their next challenge.”


Malcolm Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT - team boss]:

“It has been a solid team performance on one of the hardest and most specialised events in the championship. Experience counts for so much here and both crews did a great job to bring the cars home and earn yet more manufacturer points for the Stobart team. It's a pity that Henning had to SupeRally as I believe that he could have achieved another top-five finish.”


Andrew Tinkler [Stobart Group - CEO]:

“Finland is famous for its high speeds and demanding stages and both Stobart crews have done extremely well to earn manufacturer points. Matthew and Scott have taken a lot from this event and the experience and improvements they have made with their pacenotes will stand them in good stead for the future.”


Mario Isola [Pirelli - rally manager]:

"We have been very pleased by the performance of our tyres on what is certainly one of the toughest events of the year. The sustained high speeds and big jumps mean that our tyres are constantly subjected to extreme forces: especially the sidewalls that have to bear the load when the cars land. Despite these very challenging conditions, we are pleased to report that none of the leading runners experienced any problems directly related to the tyres at all. Even in cases where the tyre was knocked off the rim due to an impact with a rock, the tyre stayed up and enabled drivers to complete the stage with minimal damage. Now we look forward to the next rally, in Australia, which will be a brand new event for us and no doubt present a completely different type of challenge."


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