17 November 2013
Wales Rally GB: Post-event press conference
There would have been a chance for the hat-trick, but it didn't happen. I did a couple of bad stages and that's where it went wrong. I had not the best start for the rally. The first stages in the dark were okay, but the first proper stage – Hafren – I lost 12 seconds to Sébastien and that was far too much when you are fighting for tenths of a second. I tried to get this back and made a few mistakes and then overall the differences were not… I was gaining then losing, gaining then losing, gaining then losing and at the end of the day it was almost the same difference that I had caught from the first four stages.
How much were you pushing on the opening stages today?
I was pushing and having quite a good run, but when I saw the splits we were a little bit behind by 0.3sec and we know with the driving you don't catch 20 seconds at the speed we were going. We couldn't increase so much more. In Penllyn, the new stage, I pushed hard and went into Clocaenog knowing that I'm going to push a bit more and I stalled the engine in the junction. I didn't slow down at all, but I knew by driving I couldn't catch 20 seconds.
It has been the first year for you with Volkswagen, what can you improve on next year to really challenge Ogier?
In the beginning of the year, at my start to the season, I didn't have the speed. I didn't have the confidence. We started in the spring time when things were getting better, but then came a bad middle of the season and I screwed Deutschland rally. Then I got the speed on tarmac and on this rally the speed on the gravel starts to be there. It's fine-tuning for next year now. I have a few ideas, I know where the problems are and if I can solve my problems then it can be an interesting 2014.
It hasn't been a disastrous year though…
It's been reasonable. Okay we've had some down moments and these were in the rallies where I would normally be strong which made it even more disappointing; in Sweden. The rallies were not going so well. Australia was also not going so well this year. It's been feeling a bit difficult this year. But the team has done a fantastic job: the cars are strong – everything is there for next year. It's just when you keep the head cool and that's what you need to fight for the Championship.
Miikka, this rally has moved north for this year – what have you thought about that?
The stages are nice, they are the best thing about this rally. But the rest, I have to say, since the Monday evening I have been very busy – I had no time to relax at all. For sure we have the physio in the team and yesterday was the first time I had time to use the physio for 45 minutes. It has been very, very busy. I have been working flat-out since Monday. I am not here to make a holiday, especially in this island… I do know better places for holiday – sorry to say this for you! But then, of course, I understand the days are long because of the road sections – the stages are so separated – that is the geography you can't change. The outcome is pretty okay. Like I said, a very tough week.
Miikka, how would you evaluate your debut year with Volkswagen?
It's incredible. Now we have been working one year with the team. The time has been flying, it's gone very quickly and, like the guys said already, it's a very nice professional team. I am very proud we can be part of this team with Jari-Matti. Let's see if we can have more competitors next year, we would all welcome them – they can bring other good things to the Championship.
Thierry congratulations on securing second in the Championship! It was the aim this weekend and you achieved it. How are you feeling about the result?
When we crossed the line Nicolas and me, we felt like a pressure was gone. For five or six rallies our aim has been this position, we knew when we focus on this we knew it would be difficult to try for victory which was our aim at the start of the season. We couldn't have done better. The team took us like two small children, we had had a lot of ups and downs last year, but Malcolm [Wilson] knew it would be a difficult year with young drivers. But he had confidence – he gave us everything we needed. We had 13 rallies without any problems and that is amazing. I really, really want to thank the team for their support. We gave our best and I hope they are pleased with our performance. We are definitely pleased. But like Miikka says, the time is flying. Now it's to the future.
What's been the highlight of the season?
There were many. Every time we get a podium it was a highlight. But for me, Finland was an incredible event for us. To go there for just the second time and be second was just incredible for us. Everybody was telling me that you need to go to this rally many times in the small car, this rally is all about the experience and it takes many years to learn. But this year we were already competitive. At the end we were not able to fight for the win, but we were close to Sebastien – this was my highlight.
You weren't fighting at the front with Ogier and Latvala - what was the reason behind that? Did you not want to risk your result?
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