14 November 2013
Wales Rally GB: Pre-event press conference
Wales Rally GB pre-event press conference with Robert Kubica (Abu Dhabi Citroen Total World Rally Team), Thierry Neuville (Qatar World Rally Team), Malcolm Wilson (M-Sport) and Sebastien Ogier (Volkswagen Motorsport).
Present: Robert Kubica (Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team), Thierry Neuville (Qatar World Rally Team), Malcolm Wilson (M-Sport) and Sebastien Ogier (Volkswagen Motorsport).
Robert, after a successful year in WRC 2 and a Championship title under your belt, we now see you switch to a WRC car. How has preparation gone and how much are you looking forward to the experience?
It's a bit different compared to the RRC I have been used to, but the biggest task is not really the car. The rally is a fantastic rally, but it's very difficult to judge the grip level and read the road. There are a lot of places where there is a sudden grip loss and surface change. But the biggest difficulty is that I had to change co-driver. I am going with Michele Ferrara and I have to use Italian notes – he doesn't speak Polish. It's not easy after one year with somebody in the car speaking Polish and sometimes it happens on the recce – I was asking something [to Ferrara] in Polish. I have to control myself. Pace notes have to go through the mind very quickly and without being translated. This is not ideal. There are many new things for me and Michele: a new car, new system, we never raced together – but we have one mode here and that is to gain experience and try to learn as much as I can.
Are you feeling any pressure ahead of this event? How was the pre-event test?
I try to do my best, this doesn't mean I try to drive as fast as I can, it means to learn and prepare as much as I can, but I got short notice – it was only eight days before the test and only 11 days before the rally starts that I have to find a new co-driver. And it's not easy to find the right person. I believe Michele is the right person. There are a lot of things we need to take care of that normally happen automatically with the car and the pace notes. It's very difficult. The first loop in the night will not be easy, my confidence can only get higher and higher through the rally – at the end of the rally I hope I will be better.
What have you thought of the stages here in Wales? What will be the most difficult aspect of the rally?
The stages are no more difficult than the others, they are all new for me this year; like every rally I discover new things and I hope I have a go in GB rally to learn as much as I can. If I am able to finish the rally then I will know much more than I do know now.
When will we have a decision on your plans for next season?
I said I will make up my mind after GB and I will try to do that. The time is running. If I want to move forward in rallying then I have to make decisions. The loss of co-driver is not helping with this; I have to find somebody – hopefully Michele will be the right person – if I stay. But if not I can always come back where I am coming from. I think some people will make huge welcome to see me back on the track, but maybe I don't want to risk one year… next year would still be a learning process with rallies I haven't done before.
Thierry, we heard news that you were moving to Hyundai as of next season. How tough was the decision to make?
I am not allowed to speak until December 10, this is an agreement. The only thing I can say is that every decision is not easy to take and this one wasn't…
You have had a sensational season with Qatar M-Sport, when you look back across the season how would you describe it?
I knew, and we have seen in the last year that I have the speed, but the consistency and expectation wasn't there, but going in a new team this year I discover the car which suits my style and a very motivated team around me to make the car better. I have been quicker and quicker and my co-driver has done a great job. Together we have gone forward, sometimes we have the surprise to make eight rallies in a row – but it's a nice way to finish.
You are battling for second in the Championship here, what will be the strategy this weekend?
I want to secure second, we have done this for four or five rallies. I have to stay on the road with no retirement. It would be a shame to take more risk this weekend and possibly lose this place. I'm sure Jari-Matti [Latvala] will be on the pace and we can't go slowly – we have to calculate our result against him and I'm sure we will be close to the pace.
Can you win this rally?
Tagged as: m-sport , Robert Kubica , Abu Dhabi , Wilson , Sebastien Ogier , press conference , Citroën , Wales , Rally GB , Malcolm Wilson , Qatar , Ogier , Wales Rally GB , volkswagen , Neuville
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