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Rally de Portugal – Pre-event press conference

Andreas, your first WRC event with Volkswagen; there has been a lot of build-up and preparation to this moment so how much are you looking forward to it?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
For sure the feeling is absolutely amazing. It's finally nice to stay for the whole rally, instead of doing the recce then going for the plane on Thursday morning. This will be the most difficult rally of season for me. I have only done it one time before in 2007 – I was quite a young boy then! The main thing is for me to get experience. I am here to learn the Championship, to get to the finish of rallies and get experience.

Q:
You must have been about 12 in 2007…!

Andreas Mikkelsen:
I had just turned 18. I'm starting to get old now…!

Q:
How does it feel to come here as part of a manufacturer team?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
It's a dream come true. It was a hard decision in 2008 when I stepped back, but I learned a lot. It was all about getting back to the WRC. I have done two years in the IRC and I have learned a lot with Skoda, and I am very grateful for that. But now I feel ready to tackle the WRC again. To come with Volkswagen is fantastic, especially seeing what they have achieved. Now I need to be back – it's indescribable.

Q:
How have your preparations been?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
I've tried to get ready as good as possible. I did a two-day test in the Polo and some development driving in Germany. I have also done some cross-country ski races and some other physical training; I have done what I can to get ready for this event. Also, I have a new co-driver. We have done some events in Norway, but this is with English notes. It's a lot of new: new car, new co-driver, new language and new stages.

Q:
How are things with Mikko Markkula? Will having the notes in English slow you down?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
It's hard to say. It's working really well now. In Norwegian I had quite lot of words describing the corners, but in English I am struggling to get them in – so I have had to make less words. Mikko is doing an amazing job. It won't slow me down.

Q:
Last year in the S2000 we saw some good battles between you and Ogier - what can we expect to see from you now that you step up to a WRC car?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
The plan is to get to Srbastien [Ogier] and Jari-Matti's pace, but not in the first rally, definitely not in the first rally! I take my time. I have a good contract with Volkswagen, which is not ending this year. I take no pressure, I take my time and build step-by-step. I will be quite confident when I have the car in my body and I have the feeling – I have the speed to be there. I could go very fast here and then make mistake on second stage and that would not be smart.

Q:
Yves, Citroen leads the Manufacturers' Championship by four points over Volkswagen going into this event, but there has been only one win so far this season and that was for Loeb in Monte Carlo - what are your thoughts on the performance of Mikko Hirvonen and Dani Sordo so far?

Yves Matton:
I will say, when we go to the rally we try to win, but when we are in a good position with two cars and we can do a good operation for the Championship then we do it like we do in Mexico. Mikko [Hirvonen] had a big disappointment in Sweden, the fact he went off in the first stage on a rally very important for him meant it took some time in Mexico to come again to be confident. And Dani [Sordo] was not so happy in the set-up of the car. We had a good test before Mexico, but we were not able to give him the parts for Mexico. After Mexico we tested again and it was a very good test, and now here he is qualifying first and [winning] Fafe last weekend. He seems very confident – we hope we can do a very good weekend.

Q:
As far as we are aware Sebastien Loeb is due to compete in another three rounds of the WRC. Is it possible that we could see more of him should you require his winning services?

Yves Matton:



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Jonas Andersson (SUE), Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team
Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR), Skoda Fabia S2000
Yves Matton [Pic credit: Citroen]
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila (FIN), Volkswagen Polo WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila (FIN), Volkswagen Polo WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport

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