17 November 2013
Wales Rally GB: Post-event press conference
The strategy, like I said, was to finish and stay ahead of Jari-Matti in the Championship. After qualifying I felt I was able to do something this weekend. We were interested to see where we ended Thursday evening, but without knowing the stages – or only having one slow pass last year – it was difficult to stay in the fight with Jari-Matti and Seb. They were flying. We had to take a lot of risk to stay at this speed. We had a lot of big slides so the strategy changed and we stayed in third place. On the last few stages, it was very stressful – we had no splits and no radio – we were fully alone with no communication. The network in GB is not the best, we had no information… We like the rally, but we felt alone. We had to push today, Andreas [Mikkelsen] and Mads [Østberg] were pushing hard and in a nice fight – we had to drive as fast as we could. Finally I am happy, we have done a good job.
How much are you looking forward to the challenge of a new team?
There's no comment for me at the moment, I'm not allowed. I want to say the decision I took wasn't easy – I had such a great season with M-Sport. It's quite an emotional moment to leave the team and join a new team – it's a nice future but hard work. But the best example is sitting in the middle [Ogier] and we work for this.
Nicolas, how has the event gone?
Now I am very happy to be at the end of the rally. Today was the longest day of my life. We were very stressed in the last stages, we absolutely wanted to get this title. It was a challenging rally with nice stages, but it was difficult even to read the pace notes in the dark and on the jumps. I have leaned a lot and now I focus on next year.
You and Thierry worked hard for this – between the rallies as well…
Between the rallies we try to find footage of the rallies and we have the back-up from last year and our own notes. Okay, we have changed the notes, but all of this with the new itinerary [on this event] we have been able to analyse.
Jost a Volkswagen one-two; Mikkelsen was trying to make it a one-two-three but sadly that didn't happen. A good end to a fantastic year though?
First, I would like to congratulate Nicolas [Gilsoul] on winning this – Michael Park 'Beef' Trophy. It is well deserved. 'Beef' was an outstanding co-pilot and exceptional person, one who should never be forgotten. He is always in our hearts and let's remember him year after year. And now, I think one thing I have to get straight for these guys… I lived in the UK for seven years and I enjoyed every day. When you come in to land, into Heathrow or something like that, you see how green it is and to be that green it needs a lot of water. I think it would be good for the Welsh tourist board to invite the guys over for a couple of days in the summer for them to see how nice it is in the summer! To come to this season, to finish an exceptional season with two one-twos in a row, and on the last rally one-two-five, our best result of the season, I am very proud of the drivers and co-drivers and the whole team. It's exceptional never to have had an engine problem, never all year. The reliability of the Polo is exceptional and the guys have been able to utilise the speed with their talent. For me, I would love it if this season would never end.
In your debut year you achieved much more than you expected, what are the goals for Volkswagen in 2014?
First, we never expected to win any Championships and now we won all three. The expectations are not getting less. The second year should be better than the first. We were the hunter and next year we are the hunted. This is a completely different situation. We have to stay focused with our feet on the ground. Our competitors will do a great job in the winter and they will come back hard. The cars are very equal, but we will stay focused and go to Monte Carlo and try to do the same job. We missed our home rally in Germany this year and we promised our bosses this year this is something we would try to put right. That's something for next year!
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