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Greece – Pre-event press conference

Khalid, welcome back to the WRC, it is great to see you return after a year's absence. How are you adapting to the Citroen DS3 WRC?

Khalid Al-Qassimi:
Coming back to the WRC, it's quite a [long] time since I was at the high level. It's four years since I last did the Acropolis – it's difficult. The car is new and we are with a fantastic team. We have a lot to do and a lot to do to the car to adjust it for my driving style. It's a very sensitive car, you need to be sure about what you are doing - it can catch you [out]. The measure of changing [the car] is quite big, but just a small thing can make it different. We are still setting the car to how I like to drive it.

Q:
And how's it working with Scott Martin, your new co-driver?

Khalid Al-Qassimi:
It's fantastic, we are developing very well. But don't forget, it's just two or three rallies – it will take more time. I have tried a couple of co-drivers before and all are okay, but the chemistry was there in the previous team with Scott, when we were together for a while.

Q:
What will be the biggest challenge for you this weekend? What is your strategy?

Khalid Al-Qassimi:
First of all, I am first car tonight – I will have all the surprises in front of me. I will not have any dust, but there will be cleaning with a lot of loose gravel and you can lose a lot of time in places. The only advantage is the dust, let's see how it goes

Q:
It's a tough job…

Khalid Al-Qassimi:
It will not be easy, especially as I have not done this for a long time. It's a lot on my shoulders.

Q:
How do you feel ahead of the event, Evgeny?

Evgeny Novikov:
I am feeling well. We will see if the qualifying position is good. The 47 kilometre stage to start is difficult and then the night stage is tough, but we will see.

Q:
This is the event where you secured your first ever stage wins, becoming the youngest driver to win a stage in the WRC. Is that still a good memory for you?

Evgeny Novikov:
Yes, in some ways. I have good memories from 2009 and I like this rally and I know this rally quite well. This is my fifth time here, I hope this will help.

Q:
You have been close to securing a podium position on the last two events but it just hasn't happened. What can you do here?

Evgeny Novikov:
There is no straight answer, everything is possible, but we just need to drive faster – but for that we need everything to be good. We are trying to do our best and to improve our results.


Question from the floor


Q: Martin Holmes (Martin Holmes Rallying, UK).
Jari-Matti, 10 years ago you had an experience here. Tell us about it...

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I came here as a young boy, 18 years old. This was only my second world rally and I was in a Ford Focus World Rally Car. Before the rally I had many interviews, I never thought there would be so many. I was surprised there was so much interest. It felt nice and exciting. Then the rally started. I was very, very tired on the road sections, I couldn't get used to the heat – it was so hot. We had short nights and long days. Physically, I was alright, but I could have been better. It was so good memory from 10 years ago, I finished 10th overall and that was my best result in the WRC. On the Sunday, I was once faster than Didier Auriol, he was in a Skoda. I was ninth fastest and that meant a lot to me. We had a moment... but I survived. I could make you a story that lasts all day, but we have to stop now. I had no idea with the set-up and my notes were horrible, but there was a lot of passion.




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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