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Rally de Portugal: Pre-event press conference

Rally de Portugal WRC pre-event press conference with Andreas Mikkelsen, Mads Ostberg, Elfyn Evans and Dani Sordo.
Drivers: Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Motorsport II) Mads Ostberg (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team), Elfyn Evans (M-Sport World Rally Team) and Dani Sordo (Hyundai Motorsport N).


Press conference


Q:
Andreas, it was exactly one year ago that you competed in your first WRC event with Volkswagen Motorsport. How has the first year with the team been and how do you assess your performance over that time?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
I must say it's nice to be back where the whole thing started. For sure, it's been a good year getting most of the kilometres done in each rally. Last year was about learning and getting experience. This year and at the end of last year I try to push a bit more and show more speed. We have been able to do this with the second [position] in Sweden, but it didn't go so well in Mexico. I hope to do better here.

Q:
Mexico was a difficult event for you, have you analysed what went wrong?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
Yeah, it's not so difficult: it was two mistakes on the recce. The driving felt nice and tidy, but it's about paying extra attention on the recce. I was doing that on the recce here, but I decided to make new notes this year and it was tough in the rain – I'm not so sure if that was good idea!

Q:
It was a difficult recce…

Andreas Mikkelsen:
When your wipers are not quick enough to clear the water then it's a tough recce!

Q:
Why is this event so tough?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
There are so many crests, it's so blind. It's so easy to misjudge a crest, especially if it is raining – that is so difficult in places. It'll be interesting to see what [weather] we get on the rally. Still a lot can happen.

Q:
Mads, you always seem to go well on these events with very tough conditions – why is that?

Mads Ostberg:
I don't know. When the conditions are difficult like we have seen before then it's normal to do a few mistakes. This isn't maybe to go off, but to miss braking points or miss the line. You need to be able to drive quite clean and I can normally stay out of trouble – that's the key thing when the conditions are difficult.

Q:
This event is noted in history as your first ever WRC win, but it was an inherited one. Does that give you more motivation to achieve a win, here in particular?

Mads Ostberg:
Yeah for sure. But I'm always very motivated to win rallies and I'm in a good position to do that quite soon. I still feel quite fresh in the team and I need to settle down a bit more before we aim to win from the first to the last stage. We will not do that this weekend. We will try to start where we finished off in Mexico. But not crazy. Okay, it was crazy in Mexico for one corner, but I want a clean rally here.

Q:
Bearing that in mind, what is a good result?

Mads Ostberg:
If I am in the position to fight for the win I will do it, but at the moment I'm not willing to take the risks to win the rally. I am willing to take risks and do what I can to be on the podium.

Q:
Are you confident in your pace notes?

Mads Ostberg:
No. We didn't see the stages yesterday; we saw the wipers and just... rain. It's so difficult to make the notes and correct them on the second pass through. When you have water running down the road and you are always driving through a river, you do not have the information you need. Normally you can see some lines and see the stones in the line, but yesterday it was impossible to see any of that. You just have to use your eyes.

Q:
This is your fourth rally with a new team. How do you think it is working? Are you moving forward with some fresh ideas?

Mads Ostberg:
Yes, for sure. I'm very happy with the team and the way we are working. They have ideas and I have ideas and we are trying to make them fit together. So far our ideas are working in different directions to see which line we take. But this time we are in the same direction, set-up and driving style wise. It already feels comfortable for me. It's brand new for me and not something I am used to – I hope we can make it work. If we are fast from the start then it's going to be easy for me to make it work on the stages.

Q:
Elfyn, you come to Portugal on the back of your best result in the WRC with fourth position overall in Mexico. This is the first event this season that you have previous experience of, does that give you a bit more confidence?

Elfyn Evans:
For sure, the two previous times I've been here in Portugal we have seen massively different conditions on the event. The first time there was a lot of rain and last year it was perfect, so we've seen both ends of scale. I hope it's more towards the better side this time.

Q:
How difficult was it making notes?

Elfyn Evans:
It's not easy. We had notes from last year for half the rally and this was a big help with the conditions being very difficult. But you can't be 100 per cent sure of the new notes, which is why the first pass will be a bit of a high-speed recce.

Q:
Now that we head into the fourth round of the season how would you assess your performance so far in a WRC car? Do you feel that you now 'know' the Fiesta WRC?

Elfyn Evans:
There have been ups and downs; good parts and some parts with still some improvements. Everything still feels new. The car is exceptional and getting used to the car is the main thing. As long as I keep improving then I will be happy.

Q:
What is the objective here? Now that you are on an event you know will that change your approach at all?

Elfyn Evans:
I won't take massive risks, but there will be a time when I need to learn to go faster and if it feels right we'll do that this weekend.

Q:
Dani, we see you back with Hyundai Motorsport for your first event on gravel with the i20. You tested before the event, were you happy with the results?

Dani Sordo:
I feel confident in the test. From the test I was really happy with the car and the chassis. In Fafe [Rally Sprint] also the feel for the car was good. I think for tomorrow, the conditions are really tricky, but the stages are still nice.

Q:
You competed at the WRC Fafe Rally Sprint this past weekend, taking third position overall. How was the experience?

Dani Sordo:
Incredible. Now it's like the Rally Sprint is like a party for everybody! There are a lot of people coming from the north of Spain – everywhere in Spain – and from Portugal. They all come in their 4x4s and on their motorbikes, sleeping in the stage overnight and having a good party. It's great for the spectators and for the fans, it's also a great organisation and a nice sensation when you are driving through the stage.

Q:
What's the secret to getting this event right?

Dani Sordo:
I don't know. Last year I hit a tree! You mentioned it before Andreas, there are a lot of crests and the grip changes so much when it is completely damp. When it's dry, it's good grip. It's difficult to take the speed when the conditions are changing. But when you see the stages like yesterday in the recce I don't know if I will arrive at the end – it's so slippery. But the stages can be good.

Q:
What's the strategy here?

Dani Sordo:
We need to drive as fast as possible and we will see what happens at the end.

Q:
How many more events will we see you on?

Dani Sordo:
I don't know. This was like a present – I am [doing] the four asphalt rallies. I am happy now. I have the opportunity on gravel to compete with the others. I am really motivated for this event, if we do a good result, maybe we can do more.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Dani Sordo (ESP) Marc Marti (ESP), Hyundai i20, Hyundai Motorsport
Dani Sordo (ESP) Marc Marti (ESP), Hyundai i20, Hyundai Motorsport
Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR), Mikko Markkula (FIN), Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport II
Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Mikko Markkula (FIN), Volkswagen Polo R, Volkswagen Motorsport
Elfyn Evans (GB) Daniel Barrit (GB), Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport World Rally Team
Elfyn Evans (GB) Daniel Barrit (GB), Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
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

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