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Rally Finland – Pre-event press conference

1 August 2013

Q:
Kris, a great opportunity for you this weekend as we see you compete with the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team in a DS3 WRC. How much are you looking forward to the challenge?

Kris Meeke:
It's been a long time. I haven't actually done any rally since 2011, so to get the call to come to Finland with the Citroën factory team is pretty special and an opportunity I didn't think would come. I'm really happy and excited and it's already been a pleasure work to with the team. But now is the opportunity to build the confidence and try to show some good speed once I'm comfortable in the car. I'm coming here and battling with these guys after a year and a half out; I need to have my eyes wide open. The main thing I hope is that we can improve.

Q:
I believe you did a big test, how many kilometres?

Kris Meeke:
We managed 380 kilometres in one day – my neck was very sore after that. We ran through many things and I got confidence in the car. The car was beautiful to drive from the beginning and doing that in this kind of professional environment is the sort of chance that I've been after for a very long time. We'll see what happens…

Q:
We have not seen you compete at a WRC event in over a year, how ready do you feel to get back to full competitive form? What do you think you can achieve here, can you challenge for a podium spot?

Kris Meeke:
Obviously every driver is here to do the best they can. I have to be realistic after a year away and trying to fight for the podium [is unrealistic]… For me I have to take my time and focus on my own driving. I have belief in my own driving. Tonight in qualifying, we beat the stage record by a tenth of a second, but that was only good enough for ninth – these guys move the level all the time. But I'm here with a smile on my face and I'm very happy.

Q:
At the moment this drive is a one-off? Is there talk of any more opportunities with the team this year?

Kris Meeke:
No, at the moment, it's simply Finland. But what an opportunity on one of the biggest rallies in the world! I drove Ouninpohja last in 2006, when I was in a Junior [World Rally Championship] car, so that's going to be pretty exciting! My focus is on the rally. I just want to improve on this rally and then you never know what happens after a good result. This is the main focus – let's see what happens.

Q:
Jari-Matti, you competed in an Audi Quattro in Estonia recently, does that help get used to the roads here?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
That's right, I drove the Audi in Estonia; the roads over there are fast like here, but sure the grip is different. I am very happy with the car and with the rear of the car. Maybe I was just a bit careful in the qualifying sometimes today. The driver needs to improve tomorrow, the rally starts tomorrow.

Q:
It seems this weekend that we will have an epic battle for the win here in Finland. Jost Capito has already stated that he will let you and Ogier fight it out - how are you feeling about the prospect?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
Well, I think there are other hungry drivers next to me and Mikko [Hirvonen] has done the best time in qualifying. It's going to be a big fight. It's free from the team, we can fight, but the main thing for the team is the manufacturers' [championship]. For the team, it doesn't matter which order we come home as long as we both finish.

Q:
Is there a secret to winning here?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
It's five different things. It's confidence; the commitment of the team; stay relaxed; enjoy; be brave…

Q:
Do you think the roads will clean? Are you happy with your position on the road?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I took [position] 10. Last year, Sebastien Loeb was 10th or 11th on the road and I started behind him and could not catch him for the whole rally. On this rally, it doesn't make a big difference once the road is cleaned – after that there are only very small differences. It will matter how you drive, not the road positions.

Q:
How much pressure do you put on yourself at your home event?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
Maybe I am still younger on that side, I feel more pressure than Mikko – he has always been better on that side than me; this is the biggest enemy for myself. But I am getting older and closer to 30 – it's step by step.

Q:
Mads, it's been an up and down first half of the season for many reasons but your pace has certainly increased from last year, what is the strategy now for the second half of the season?

Mads Ostberg:
We know the speed is good. We try to forget the first half [of the season]. There are a lot of nice rallies coming up and this is one. I try to start the new season tomorrow morning and enjoy the second half of the year.

Q:
Can you challenge for a win here?

Mads Ostberg:
Everything is possible. At the moment it's been a bit too difficult in the first half of the season, but the main thing is to find the conditions and then push as hard as we can. In free practice, it worked well. Qualifying was not perfect, but it looks good.

Q:
How was the test?

Mads Ostberg:
I am very happy after the test. It was a bit drier and the roads are similar to Friday and Saturday, so I will do some small changes for tomorrow. But nothing too big, I'm quite happy with the speed so far.

Q:
Mikko, how confident are you ahead of the event?

Mikko Hirvonen:
I have a good feeling. It's going to be a big fight with a lot of drivers. I hope I can do it.

Q:
I asked Jari-Matti this question… you have won here before: what's the secret?

Mikko Hirvonen:
I only won once – maybe I was just lucky… who knows!

Q:
You were testing last week, did all go well? Were you testing specific things or was it general?

Mikko Hirvonen:
Everything went well. We didn't do so much, but we have a good feeling with the car. There are some changes from last year, but nothing huge. The car is good to drive. If we have enough power then we should have a good chance?

Q:
Who is your main rival here?

Mikko Hirvonen:
There are many drivers who can fight like we saw in qualification – the guy who was 10th was only two seconds from the front. Last year it was really close. If everybody has a good day it'll be a close fight through the weekend.

Q:
This is your home event, how much pressure is there?

Mikko Hirvonen:
It's my birthday today… I think I'm getting too old to take pressure. It's always the same thing.


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