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Rally de Espana - Post-event press conference

27 October 2013

Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Motorsport) and Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT).

Team principal: Jost Capito (Volkswagen Motorsport).


Press conference


Q:
Sebastien, what an incredible result! How do you feel?

Sebastien Ogier:
Quite good. I was mentioning I didn't come here [to the press conference] since 2008 and then it was only the pre-event press conference for JWRC. Since then I never have a good result. I crash in Juniors then for two years I have engine failure and finally we are here with a good result and the best we can get. It was not an easy weekend. Our strategy was to push from the start and make a gap, we had a good start on Friday night, but I was not completely on the pace and I was struggling with the tyre wear. Normally this is my strength, but this time I was using the tyres more than others. Something was wrong, and definitely I need to work on the tarmac to make a better set-up. Yesterday I took risks and pushed, but then I had the puncture. Finally, it was a nice strategy, we were fourth on the road, but this was not an easy job. We had the dust, but I think we were the only ones who took time from Jari-Matti [Latvala]; we had to take risks, it was very accurate and I am very happy. It's not the most important – that is the title for Volkswagen.

Q:
This morning you started 45 seconds off the lead. Did you wake up thinking you were going to absolutely go for it?

Sebastien Ogier:
I knew there was a chance but it was difficult to estimate how much we could get at the beginning but I knew we would have trouble with dust and that happened. When it was clear, I took time and the cleaning gave me an advantage. But the dust was horrible. At midday service I believed more and more of my chance with only 15 seconds to catch on the second loop. I was quite confident I could do it. It was also difficult for Jari-Matti being first on the road on the second loop because he still had to clean a little bit in his position.

Q:
There must be a lot of bravery – you just kept the pace in the dust. Did you feel brave?

Sebastien Ogier:
I don't enjoy this condition. I was motivated to fight for the win. I didn't want to lose my chance and the price for that was to take risks. The only moment was another puncture, this time we were lucky, it was only four kilometres with the flat tyre. You always need a bit of luck to win in rally. We had some with us this time.

Q:
You've had many wins this year Julien; this was a great fight back though. How does it compare to the other victories?

Julien Ingrassia:
This is not fair to ask me this! We've had eight victories this year and got a real taste for it since the first one in Sweden, then the one in Mexico with the atmosphere, the one in Finland was great, the one in Portugal where Seb was really sick but managed to finish in first position and then in France three weeks ago. Each of them, we must take inspiration from the value of each of them. At Christmas or in January I will tell you which victory was the best.

Q:
Tell me about the puncture – did you still think you could win?

Julien Ingrassia:
For sure we knew we lost 50 seconds and this was a big gap. It was another rally the next day on gravel. We expected to push hard – but Seb took the maximum risk. It was a strange feeling in the dust, he was listening to the notes 200 per cent! It was great excitement – you need to be even more perfect than usually. We knew it would be hard, but checked our notes and we were ready on Sunday morning.

Q:
You started the day sweeping the road. It was always going to be a touch challenge especially with Sebastien Ogier so motivated. How are you feeling after all this?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I have to be honest I was disappointed when you fight for the victory and you get technical problems. It was a difficult position being first car on the road. I was gaining a little bit this morning not having the dust problems like the cars behind but it was difficult running first on the road with all the gravel. The cleaning effect was bigger than I expected. Also in the afternoon I knew it was not easy. There was a bit of a cleaner line but it was still very narrow from the cars running behind. The grip level was better but was changing a lot. At the end of the short stage the transmission gave a strange feeling and then in the second last stage it broke completely the front diff. On top of that we got a fire. There was a fuel pipe leaking and we were lucky to come back here. It was a close call to finish the rally but the marshal taking the fire down at the end of the stage saved us.

Q:
A lot of dramas! You didn't get the rain you wanted. Did you benefit from no dust?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
We knew in the past there had been dust in these stages and I knew there might be a section where I could gain. But even the zero car had given some dust for me and it was difficult with the sun shining low. I don't think it was the best place to be first on the road. It would have been very difficult to take the win. My mood was there. I wanted to have the moment to be manufacturers' champion and I knew I couldn't risk absolutely everything for the rally. But still I love the fighting. That's the way it is. At least the team is manufacturers' champion and that is very important.

Q:
You have contributed to Volkswagen winning the Manufacturers' Championship. How does that make you feel?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
It feels good. I have been running in the World Rally Championship now for 10 years – 10 years – and now I am [part of] winning the manufacturers' championship for the first time. There is still some work to do being a driver but now it's a very good feeling for the whole team.

Q:
This is a great morale boost for the team…

Jari-Matti Latvala:
It is a great feeling in the team. In the way Volkswagen has come through the season, it's incredible how strong we are. It's amazing. But I have to say the team is a big thing, every time when you win or the team wins they are arranging some nice moments for the team and the people. The team itself is keeping all the time everybody motivated and I think this is part of the secret why we are so strong.

Q:
Finishing second is good points for the Championship. How good is this result?

Miikka Anttila:
For sure I feel very relieved to have got the manufacturers' title for Volkswagen. Basically we are there in the team to get the manufacturers' title - that was the main target since the start of the season. For sure it's a good feeling even though we did not win the rally but our team got a one-two and that's a great experience for the whole team.

Q:
Did you think you might not claim the podium?

Miikka Anttila:
When the problems started and the car caught fire, I thought at that point it doesn't look so good. But fair play, the marshals did it. When they use the extinguishers it doesn't look so good – the cables and sensors are so sensitive, but the fire went down and we carried on and got some airflow. When I saw the flames, there were some heart movements.

Q:
Mikko, you said you were planning to keep the pressure on the boys in front – if anything went wrong then you were there to pick up the pieces…

Mikko Hirvonen:
Yeah I'm happy to be on the podium but I'm not so happy for Dani [Sordo] because it would have been nice to see him finish the rally and get a podium on his home event. I had a strong event in any case and it was better than in France and that was the main thing. I didn't have a good pace there and after a rally like that you want to get behind the wheel and go testing and find a better solution.

Q:
Was it down to conditions or did you change the way you tackle Tarmac?

Mikko Hirvonen:
Conditions were more consistent. We changed a few things around the car, but the main thing is how I got the feeling and felt more confident. It was more down to that.

Q:
Was the feeling better on gravel or Tarmac?

Mikko Hirvonen:
Of course the dust was a bit of a problem and I didn't feel so confident in the dusty conditions like Seb and I slowed down quite a lot in some places. But I was still confident in catching Jari-Matti and Dani. That didn't happen in the second loop so we took it a bit easy just to get to the finish.

Q:
Talk to me about the season. Can you reveal anything about 2014?

Mikko Hirvonen:
We are still talking and waiting…

Q:
Who are you talking to?

Mikko Hirvonen:
I can talk to you if you want! There are lots of people I am talking to.

Q:
What teams are you talking to?

Mikko Hirvonen:
You try to keep all the doors open.

Q:
But you have the passion to come back next year, right?

Mikko Hirvonen:
Yeah – I want to be in a position to get back and fight for the title.

Q:
Jarmo, how are you feeling about the result?

Jarmo Lehtinen:
I'm always happy to be on the podium, but not fully satisfied with the performance – it was still a bit up and down.

Q:
Mikko, what are you laughing at?

Mikko Hirvonen:
He's been like that all weekend…

Jarmo Lehtinen:
Well, after the first stage, I've been messing up the pace notes all the time! What was the question? Yes! I'm happy to be on the podium, the performance wasn't brilliant, but here we are.

Q:
One more round left to go – Wales Rally GB – how much of a hope is there for ending the season with a victory?

Jarmo Lehtinen:
As much as before every rally. Everybody is on zero when we start on the start line and it's possible for everybody.

Q:
Congratulations Jost. Volkswagen has a one-two in the rally, and the title. What an incredible season. How do you feel?

Jost Capito:
France was incredible for Sebastien and the drivers' championship. We had a reasonable chance here, but we know it went wrong in Australia and it could go wrong here. It was nearly the same in the last two stages here – it was upside down. Just when we think we won, we went to the phone with trouble with Jari-Matti's car. But now it's a great feeling to win the two championships with a new car and a new team. We don't realise it yet, but I hope they will realise it tonight.

Q:
Jost, was there a time when you thought Jari-Matti might not make it to the finish?

Jost Capito:
Yes. It was very close. We felt very sad for him. He drove an outstanding rally and tonight we celebrate two wins. Last night a tarmac rally ended and this was his first win on tarmac, so we celebrate and we are very happy for him!

Jari-Matti Latvala:
Thank you, Jost, thank you.

Q:
What Sébastien Ogier did was spectacular. What did you think?

Jost Capito:
No need to say anything. When he got the 50 minutes… sorry 50 seconds… back it was amazing. It shows when he is really under pressure he can really do miracles.


Questions from the floor


Q: Marcus Stier (Sport Auto, Germany).
Jost, who was responsible for the music that was played when the cars arrived back at the Volkswagen service area?

Jost Capito:
You have to find out tonight! Maybe the same songs will be played and you will see who the DJ is.

Q: Marco Giordo (Autosprint, Italy).
Jari-Matti, this is the first time you have won a title in your life. How are you feeling – why don't you smile?

Jari-Matti Latvala:~
I try to smile. You are right. If you think about it I haven't even won a Finnish Championship, I've finished second. I finished fourth in the Production Championship. In the previous year I was second and then third so I don't have victories yet but this is my first victory so I have to be happy. It was a really hard job for me on the last stage because I had a really nasty moment when I nearly went off the road because of the transmission problem. I was really tired at the end of the stage and it was a big effort to get back to service.


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