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Rally Sweden: Post-event press conference

Rally Sweden post-event press conference with Jari-Matti Latvala, Andreas Mikkelsen, Mads Ostberg and Jost Capito.
Drivers / co-drivers: Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Motorsport), Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula (Volkswagen Motorsport) and Mads Ostberg and Jonas Andersson (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT).

Team principal: Jost Capito (Volkswagen Motorsport).



Press conference


Q:
Jari-Matti, congratulations on your ninth WRC win and your third win in Sweden! You have never won a sole event three times - a special moment?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
It's right. This is a very special moment winning three times – but there are also some very legendary drivers; five drivers have won more than two times here. It's great to be among drivers like Stig Blomqvist, Bjorn Waldegard, Tommi Makinen and Marcus Gronholm. This is a special event, one I won first time in 2008 – it's a very special moment.

Q:
It's been a great weekend for the whole team and we've seen you battling against your team-mates. High pressure weekend would you say?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
There has been pressure to be honest but if you look at my start for the first day it didn't look like I'm going to win the rally. Okay I was 10 seconds behind Ogier and not winning any stages but then luckily things changed on the second day morning and I started to get the feeling for the car after some set-up change. And I started to improve the driving in the ruts. When the conditions started to be a bit more demanding that was suiting me. Unfortunately Ogier went off the road for four and a half minutes. But then I started a big fight with Andreas [Mikkelsen]. Yesterday evening I started to doubt how we can make it because Andreas suddenly gained so much time on the Super Special where I had problems with my tyres and also a little bit my driving. That was not great but this morning I really, really focused on this morning and to attack on the first two stages.

Q:
You took points on the Power Stage also, were you still on the limit on the final stage?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
We discussed with Miikka before the start. Basically our plan was to go out there and drive as fast as we had done but we were not trying to score the points. If it comes with normal driving as we had been doing on the day then it's great but we don't add any extra. It was a very clean, very nice run. There was maybe a little chance to push but then always the risk is going higher. We were happy with that and Mads [Ostberg] did a very good stage so I'm very happy with those points. All the rally was a good rally.

Q:
When did you feel the pressure come off?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
This morning with Andreas, he touched a bit the snowbank with the front and he took too much snow in the front bumper. The engine started to get too hot and he lost some time in Torntorp, the second one this morning. At that time, I started to feel less pressure. With 30 seconds' lead I thought I could relax… five per cent.

Q:
Jari-Matti you have been very… not solemn on this event, but very, very focused. Are you more relaxed now?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I am, but you are right I have tried be more focused and concentrate. I have had difficult starts to the season so many times and not done so good starts. And when you are at a low point in the start, it's so difficult – halfway in the year you have already lost your Championship. I really wanted to concentrate to get a good start for the season – I got fifth in the Monte and I knew it would be important to get a good position over here to keep the Championship interesting. Maybe I was taking too much pressure myself before the start, but then it was getting better and then it started to work. I really wanted to say thank you to Christoph [Treier], my mental trainer. He has helped me a lot. This was something the team was asking and I was considering for me that it could be good. So thanks for the team for thinking about this. Mental training, I believe – on every sport – you can do work.

Q:
Miikka, Sweden is where is you won your first WRC event back in 2008, how does this win compare?

Miikka Anttila:
I have to say it feels a bit different. In that time it was coming maybe even too easy in that year because the conditions were quite similar but in that time we were starting from behind and we managed to get the lead and finally it was only Mikko [Hirvonen] we were driving against. Now it's different. Basically on the first day on the Thursday we were in a good speed but not in a perfect fit. Then on the next morning when Ogier got stuck on the snow bank we knew that now we have to play a really, really clever game. Basically we thought of the strategy we needed to do to win this rally. We followed this strategy and the only time it didn't work out was on the Hagfors Sprint stage yesterday when we lost some time and Jari-Matti was very upset. But I said it was better to carry on in the rally than be in the snow bank because we have seen this is possible on the Hagfors Sprint in the past. But everything went according to plan.

Q:
Any moments this week, Miikka?

Miikka Anttila:
No, there was no single moment when I thought: “This is going to be snowbank for us…” This is normal for the Scandinavian drivers, they get used to the snow and the snow is the surface where they really enjoy driving. This group of us [on the podium], only the Scandinavians; tells us about driving on snow and ice.

Q:
Andreas, congratulations on your first ever WRC podium! You put up a brave fight for the win, how does it feel to stand on the podium?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
Coming into the event I really wanted to put on a good display and I knew Rally Sweden was one of my strongest events even though I haven't done it since 2008 in a World Rally Car. We had a good test and I was really hoping for this and I knew if I had a perfect weekend I could end up on the podium. When we started the rally we were already fighting for the lead, basically throughout the whole rally except the second stage this morning where I did a mistake. After that it was all about securing the second place.

Q:
Andreas, you talked throughout the weekend about being 'in control' and not getting too excited - do you think you managed to do that?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
Yeah, I'm very happy with the performance. I never came to that point where I said: “Let's give it everything and hope for the best…” I managed to really control the driving and took the small risk where I had to and stayed safe where I could. I'm happy with the way I controlled my rally.

Q:
Were there any nerves for you going into that final stage?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
I wasn't so bad – it was much worse last night. I woke four or five times thinking of different situations. In the last section, in the ski area, it was terrible, my legs were shaking, it was the most tricky section of whole rally – I took it very steady.

Q:
The fight for the lead ended on the morning stages, tell us what happened?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
The first stage was really tricky and we decided after five or six kilometres that now the conditions are difficult let's be a little bit smart, drive fast but not taking any risks. Then on the second stage a stupid mistake from me when I went into a corner too quickly and filled the front of the car with snow. So we just had to carry on out of the stage on road mode because the engine was running up. After that it was too far up to Jari so after that we said let's secure the second place.

Q:
Mikko, congratulations on your first WRC podium! How does it feel after a tough weekend on the stages?

Mikko Markkula:
First of all it's nice to see we can match those other two guys. Then again wouldn't it be ideal to finish 1-2-3 with Volkswagen? Then unfortunately Sebastien did a small mistake and it ended up like that but it could have happened to any one of us basically.

Q:
How about you, Mikko, were you nervous?

Mikko Markkula:
Maybe age brings calmness…

Q:
You're not that old…

Mikko Markkula:
I start to be with these guys in front... The first podium is great for me. You start the stage second and you want to finish in the same place. Something in the brain says what maybe will happen, but you need to finish your work in the right way.

Q:
Mads, this is your fourth time on the podium in Sweden. You take away third position, maximum points from the Power Stage and lie third in the Championship standings. Are you happy with your weekend?

Mads Ostberg:
Yes I am pleased. It's been a good weekend. I was mainly a little bit surprised in the beginning because I felt quite early on the first stage the feeling was not right and I understood very quickly that my dream of fighting for the win would be difficult straight away. But we managed quite quickly to reset and start over again especially for the next day. We tried some new things with the car and also during the weekend I was adapting my driving style. To be honest I totally changed my driving style in three days. It's been a good learning curve for me. Three days in the car and I feel my driving style is new and I started to get really confident with the car. For me it's been a great weekend even though we hoped for a bit more. In the end I am very happy with third position. And with the stage times we had today and the Power Stage three points is actually very good. It's very nice to end Rally Sweden like this.

Q:
I asked you before the event if you had fully got to know the Citroen DS3 and you said no. Do you feel differently now?

Mads Ostberg:
No. I know a lot more about the car and understand a lot more but there is still some work to do and I'm not totally comfortable. I was not able to completely change my driving style and find the perfect set-up in three days so we still have some work to do on the gravel. To be honest I'm very happy with the car now – we are becoming good mates.

Q:
Mads, you were third today, did you risk your position for the Power Stage points?

Mads Ostberg:
We have been very safe to be honest, we haven't touched the snowbanks at all and we just continued like we did on the previous stages. We had a split, which I think was wrong, which said we were plus-three and I thought: “I must be going far too slowly…” So, I increased the speed and then we were ahead. I think the split was wrong, but maybe we pushed too hard. We ended up with three points and this was good for us.

Q:
We have two Norwegian drivers on the podium, that's nice…

Mads Ostberg:
It's a very nice thing. And I have to say it was very impressive drive for Andreas. He was fast from the start and he has done a very impressive weekend. Unfortunately he was a little bit too good!

Q:
Jonas, how do you feel?

Jonas Andersson:
I feel good. Like Mads said, we had good progression with the feeling in the car. The driving in the car has been getting better and better it looks really good and now I'm looking forward to trying it on proper gravel.

Q:
It's nice and close in the Championship – that's good for the Championship right?

Jonas Andersson:
Yes, that's very good. It's really good to see it's so close in the Championship and there are a lot of guys up there fighting for the points. Hopefully it will be a really close Championship with lots of really close battles throughout the year.

Q:
Jost, it's great to see a Jari-Matti win…

Jost Capito:
It's a great result to see all four [Volkswagen crews] on the podium – it pays off that we don't have team orders. All the drivers can show what they are capable of. They have the confidence and have the same treatment. This means that if one of the guys makes a mistake then the others have the confidence to fight for the win.

Q:
We saw good stage times from Andreas last year, but this is the first time we have seen him fighting consistently at the top of the field. Are we going to see more of that, Jost?

Jost Capito:
Yeah, I'm sure. Last year was really the learning year for Andreas. Sebastien [Ogier] had 10,000 kilometres of testing in 2012 for 2013, so he was by far in the best position and then Jari-Matti had quite a lot of test when he joined, but Andreas had the minimum test and – you know – there are not a lot of test days allowed each year. He had his first rally starting in the middle of the season and he had much less experience. It was a learning year for him last year, some events he had more experience than others and some less or none. He did a fantastic job learning last year and this year we said that where he is confident and he has done a couple of times then he can fight for the podium. Sweden was the first of these and I think he has done a fantastic job, not just fighting for the podium, but also for the victory. What's very impressive is that this is not a result which was given to him by failure or mistakes of others, he was fighting from the beginning – setting the fastest time in the first stage – and then he was on the top all of the weekend. That was much more than we have thought and we have expected a lot of him this weekend, but it was much more [that he delivered] and everybody in the team has been impressed by his performance.

Q:
Were there moments during the weekend when your heart was in your mouth watching them all fight?

Jost Capito:
I'm very confident with the capability of the guys, that's why they are driving for us otherwise we wouldn't be confident. I have to say one thing special about Andreas, one of the secrets of his success today is he voluntarily tried a highly confidential new Scandinavian fitness plan we introduced. It did him so good that he really is now up to speed and I am sure he will try it again…

Q:
You have to elaborate…

Jost Capito:
It's confidential or the others will try the same thing.

Andreas Mikkelsen:
I will wait for next year…


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Jonas Andersson (NOR), Citroen DS3 WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Jonas Andersson (NOR), Citroen DS3 WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT
Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR), Mikko Markkula (FIN), Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport II
Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR), Mikko Markkula (FIN), Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport II
Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #7, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila (FIN), Volkswagen Polo R, Volkswagen Motorsport
Podium

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