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Greece – Pre-event press conference

Acropolis Rally of Greece pre-event press conference with Jari-Matti Latvala, Mikko Hirvonen, Khalid Al-Qassimi and Evgeny Novikov

Drivers: Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen Motorsport), Mikko Hirvonen (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT), Khalid Al-Qassimi (Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT) and Evgeny Novikov (Qatar M-Sport WRT).


Press conference


Q:
Let's talk to the Flying Finns first… What happened in qualifying Mikko?

Mikko Hirvonen:
We played different tactics!

Jari-Matti Latvala:
We are having a Finnish Championship! To be honest, I was not happy at all. This was probably the worst qualifying I have ever done. I try to understand and we realise the rear diff wasn't the set-up we should have. I am changing it right now for this afternoon.

Q:
Mikko, what went wrong?

Mikko Hirvonen:
Many people ask if I am interested in circuit racing and I think today I proved that I am not good at qualifying at all!

Q:
But what went wrong?

Mikko Hirvonen:
I don't know. After the stage it felt very good. It was clean, maybe too clean – no excuses the car felt fine. I was just slow.

Q:
You're not changing anything on the car?

Mikko Hirvonen:
No. It all felt good, I won't change anything.

Q:
How was the test this week?

Mikko Hirvonen:
It was good. We did half a day, but we got quite a lot done and it felt like a good set-up. I believe this set-up will work perfectly. It's good to have those kilometres under my belt.

Q:
Can you fight for the podium? The top step?

Mikko Hirvonen:
We will just have to try. The road position for the long stage is not ideal. We haven't started the rally yet, though – everything is possible. We need the perfect rally. I have made silly mistakes this year, I have to shape-up myself and if that happens, anything is possible.

Q:
The pace was good in Argentina?

Mikko Hirvonen:
The pace was there, but I made a silly mistake. I have to avoid those.

Q:
And what about the Championship battle?

Mikko Hirvonen:
I am concentrating only on this Finnish Championship with Jari-Matti…

Q:
And now seriously?

Mikko Hirvonen:
The gap is big with Ogier, so we go rally-by-rally. Hopefully we will start winning and then we see what happens. The main target is the Manufacturers [Championship], but if we win rallies for that, then it brings points for us as well.

Q:
How did the recce go? You seemed to have an issue with the recce car, what was it and did it impede the recce?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
We had a power steering problem with the recce car – it was overheating and then it stopped working. It didn't make a difference to the notes, but in the dark all of the crests look different. We had one recce run in the night conditions and it seemed to be okay. In night, you might lose more time than in the daytime if you are not confident with the notes.

Q:
How are the stages looking out there? What do you think the long stage this evening will be like?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I was adjusting lights for almost one hour last night – they are good now. It's very important to have the lights right. It's unusual to do night stages, but it makes it a bit easier when we do the same stage as stage number one then the same one but a bit shorter. It's exciting, but it's asking a lot from the notes to make sure they are accurate and the dust can influence as well. I don't think we will have a dust issue – it's going to be interesting.

Q:
What are your hopes for this event?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
Qualifying wasn't a great start and normally you should have a better position. The rally is long and there are always incidents on this event; it's the toughest event. It's important to drive fast, but also to stay away from the problems. It would be great to fight for the victory, but Seb Ogier seems very strong now and you need a very good run against him. There are also other guys who are pushing hard. It's about balancing the risks in the bad places. Hopefully my tactic will work on this rally.

Q:



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Khalid Al Qassimi. Qatar International Rally. 2013 Middle East Rally Championship [Pic credit: Citroen]
Evgeny Novikov (RUS) Ilka Minor (AUT)), Ford Fiesta WRC, Qatar M-Sport WRT
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila (FIN), Volkswagen Polo WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN), Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila (FIN), Volkswagen Polo WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport

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