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Wales Rally GB - Post-event press conference

17 November 2013

Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Motorsport) and Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (Qatar WRT).

Team principal: Jost Capito (Volkswagen Motorsport).


Press conference

Q:
Sebastien, a great end to the season; the championship title, your team scoop the manufacturers crown and you take the final win and your first win at Wales Rally GB. Rounds off the year nicely?

Sebastien Ogier:
I think it was here four days ago that I said this result would be the perfect end. But I was a little cautious, I have never been so successful on this rally in the past. In the past I showed some speed but made some mistakes. I was careful at the start, but after a fantastic season I approached this rally with a lot of confidence and the pre-event test was really good. I knew it would be possible to do something good. We had a great start and then after that I wanted to control the lead. But at the same time, I don't say it was easy. Jari-Matti was always close and I knew this was one of his best rallies and keeping him behind was not easy. We did a good rally and this is the ninth win. I am more than happy with this.

Q:
Were there any moments or mistakes?

Sebastien Ogier:
There was a moment where Evgeny [Novikov] went off. On the first loop the marshal slowed me down, but I confirmed this was the tricky place on the second loop. I braked a little late but I didn't register on the first loop that this was so slippery braking, but I stayed on the road. Other than that the car worked well and everything went well. When you are in this position you can afford to back off a little. I knew I had to be concentrated and careful – I had bad memories from this rally.

Q:
Were you confident that you had done enough today?

Sebastien Ogier:
At the start of the day, we showed him it would be hard to come back. After this 22 kilometre stage we knew there was a 20 second gap, I relaxed after this one was done.

Q:
Do you get a holiday now?

Sebastien Ogier:
Not immediately no. I start to really need it, though. This year was like a dream, and I have got a real passion to get the trophy in Monte Carlo, but we already have testing for next year and then I go to Bangkok for the Race of Champions. It's a busy time for me. But on December 20 I am on holiday for two weeks. Then I want to come back to Monte Carlo Rally in my hometown, refreshed and ready.

Q:
Julien, great to finish the year with a win. How has this event been for you?

Julien Ingrassia:
I don't forget that everything we did comes from 2012 and we could not expect such a nice season this year. I am very proud to say this, I am very proud of what I have done and from the team. We never had an engine problem, we had some very small mistakes and problems, but nothing more. It was unbelievable from the team and to sit back in front of the fireplace and say: “okay, we did a great season,” it makes me proud. It's been a nice year from my point of view.

Sebastien Ogier:
You can be proud. You make no mistake at all. In Germany I make a small one, but Julien, you did not make any at all and I think this deserves a round of applause…

Julien Ingrassia:
Thank you. For sure many things happen this year – we had some worries in Portugal [for example] but we still won it. I try to enjoy rallying with some AC/DC moments, Mr Mysterious and some songs in the press conference. I don't get the trophy of Michael Park, so I have to progress next year.

Q:
Jari-Matti, a good fight but a win was not to be. How are you feeling about the result?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
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.

Q:
How much were you pushing on the opening stages today?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
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.

Q:
It has been the first year for you with Volkswagen, what can you improve on next year to really challenge Ogier?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
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.

Q:
It hasn't been a disastrous year though…

Jari-Matti Latvala:
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.

Q:
Miikka, this rally has moved north for this year – what have you thought about that?

Miikka Anttila:
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.

Q:
Miikka, how would you evaluate your debut year with Volkswagen?

Miikka Anttila:
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.

Q:
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?

Thierry Neuville:
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.

Q:
What's been the highlight of the season?

Thierry Neuville:
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.

Q:
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?

Thierry Neuville:
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.

Q:
How much are you looking forward to the challenge of a new team?

Thierry Neuville:
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.

Q:
Nicolas, how has the event gone?

Nicolas Gilsoul:
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.

Q:
You and Thierry worked hard for this – between the rallies as well…

Nicolas Gilsoul:
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.

Q:
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?

Jost Capito:
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.

Q:
In your debut year you achieved much more than you expected, what are the goals for Volkswagen in 2014?

Jost Capito:
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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