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Rally de Portugal: Post-event press conference

Rally de Portugal post-event press conference with Sebastien Ogier, Mikko Hirvonen, Mads Ostberg and Jost Capito.
Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Motorsport), Mikko Hirvoen and Jarmo Lehtinen (M-Sport WRT) and Mads Ostberg and Jonas Andersson (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT).

Team principal: Jost Capito (Volkswagen Motorsport).


Press conference

Q:
Sebastien, congratulations on your fourth win at Rally de Portugal and your 19th win overall! You now equal Markku Alen on rally wins. A good feeling at the end of this one?

Sebastien Ogier:
Very good, thank you for this resume of what's hopefully the early part of my career! I am very pleased with this. I have only five starts in Portugal with the World Rally Car and this is the fourth win – I'm very happy with that. Again this was not an easy one – the boys on my right (Hirvonen) were putting pressure on me especially on the first day. It made a big difference with what is one of my main strengths that I was able to manage the tyres and then we were able to relax a little bit today before a big push on the Power Stage. This gives us a break in the Championship and it's important to have one joker and I am very happy to get it.

Q:
You were running third on Friday… what was going on?

Sebastien Ogier:
Later on in the season we may see more of this and maybe worse. When you open the road on day one you are at the disadvantage. I was a little bit lucky with the weather – we had some rain before the race and that made my position not as bad as it might be. We suffered more because we were not so clever with the tyres, but this was not so bad, because we had them to use later in the rally. I was really surprised to see that we use the soft tyre for the whole rally. When it is like this normally I am quite good and able to save them to my advantage.

Q:
What was the strategy, to push hard all the time?

Sebastien Ogier:
Not to push so hard. We see here that there are a lot of drivers making mistakes – especially my main rival for the Championship (Latvala), so I knew that I had the good chance to make a difference and yesterday I was not pushing so hard. Maybe this was the best strategy. Yesterday most of the stages were dry, but still the soft tyre was the best one. I heard the comment from our video guy who was saying that in the stage I was not looking so aggressive, just very clean and that was what I tried to do in the car.

Q:
Maximum points in the Power Stage also, were you conserving tyres through the day for that?

Sebastien Ogier:
In the two first stages this morning I was more than cruising. In the second one there were still some tricky sections with mud. Me, Mikko and Mads had nothing to play for in those stages so we were cruising. And then we tried in the Power Stage. I felt really good and the feeling from the car was perfect, as always. I saw from the first split it was all good and so I thought: “OK, we go for it.”

Q:
Julien, this is a good rally for you, how do you feel?

Julien Ingrassia:
I feel very good also. When we cross the finish line in the last stage I tell Seb: “Maybe we could ask for the Portuguese passport now…” We have four wins here, we like this country and it seems to like us. It's great to take a big gap on Jari-Matti and Miika and for the Manufacturers' [championship], even though we are only at the start of the season. But now there are three runs on more sandy events, especially in Poland where we did not go since 2009.

Q:
We saw a really tough start to this event with a very wet recce – how was it coming from a wet recce to a dry rally?

Julien Ingrassia:
Finally, it was almost fun to see this much rain falling down. It was really impressive, maybe you saw the pictures of us at lunch when we were having to hide under the boot of the car because the conditions were so bad. We know we can get these conditions and we rally in every type of conditions… so I like it.

Q:
Mikko, congratulations on your first podium of the season. Happy with the result this weekend?

Mikko Hirvonen:
We are happy with what we got. Of course, we always want to challenge for the win and to be up there. At the start, it was working, but there is still a bit more to do before we can do it on three days. He (Ogier) is right that he is always good at managing the tyres. But I am too old now to be learning new tricks like that; I think the FIA should think about this and give me some more tyres!

Q:
Was it just the tyres or were there other factors?

Mikko Hirvonen:
You can always improve in all areas. But I am really happy, the car worked really well. That's about it – there are no more comments from me. Thank you.

Q:
You were leading on Friday, were you happy with the pace that you set and how much were pushing on that opening day?

Mikko Hirvonen:
The tyres were the biggest problem. We had used the softs on Friday. At the press conference that night, Seb told me I did the clever choice, but I'm not so sure in the end. That's how it is. I did all I could with the tyres. I had done really well – second after a tough start to the season. This gives more energy to the team for the rest of the season.

Q:
Does this give you a confidence boost as well?

Mikko Hirvonen:
I didn't lose my confidence. I was happy in Mexico and I feel more happy the more kilometres I am doing with the car. When all works I know I can do the results.

Q:
So, do you go to Argentina fighting for the win?

Mikko Hirvonen:
Definitely that's the aim, let's see how it goes…

Q:
You are very cool and calm, maybe you are getting old…

Mikko Hirvonen:
That's the story now.

Q:
Turning to your younger co-driver Jarmo… that was a great result after a great fight. Is it what you wanted?

Jarmo Lehtinen:
It's really been a fantastic time in the car. It was a difficult season last year and not so fantastic start to this year, so it's nice to be back in the fight. It's hard to describe, but it's been a while since I have seen him (Hirvonen) smiling in sixth gear – and that's what I mean!

Q:
How do you work on this tyre management issue?

Jarmo Lehtinen:
He told the secret, we need those extra tyres! The next three rallies are more sandy, so I am not so worried.

Q:
Can you win?

Jarmo Lehtinen:
If not, I stay at home.

Q:
Mads, congratulations on third position overall. Are you happy with the result?

Mads Ostberg:
I think so. When the rally is over we see we have done what we came to do. When you come to do a rally, you always have a plan before, but it can get boring to follow the plan. It's always frustrating when you want to do something, but then you have the boring plan and you have to follow the boring plan. But, it paid off quite well, but I was slower than the other two guys. We did our clever strategy to save tyres, we lost some time [on Saturday] and saved them for today. We had good tyres, but it didn't work and we didn't win the Power Stage, but we did finish the rally with the best tyres.

Q:
The plan can't have been too bad – you took a point on the Power Stage…

Mads Ostberg:
Yes, true.

Mikko Hirvonen:
He wasn't flat in the first corner [of the Power Stage]…

Mads Ostberg:
We discussed this at the start and I claimed the first corner to be flat; everybody said it wasn't. I didn't take it flat, I was trying to trick you!

Q:
What about Argentina, can you win?

Mads Ostberg:
Maybe, I don't know if we have a different plan for Argentina. I did a mistake in Mexico and if we didn't do the mistake in Mexico then we would have had a good plan here. We needed points, we needed to be careful to get to the podium and that's not so easy in the WRC. I hope, after this result, we can change and try to push for some more.

Q:
Was there more pressure when your team-mate retired?

Mads Ostberg:
Not immediately, but when I started to think about it and discussed it in the team it became even more important that I get to the end and take the podium. It was maybe a bit harder, but we did the job very well in the car – we stayed relaxed and focused; I'm happy with that.

Q:
Jonas, that was a good weekend?

Jonas Andersson:
Like Mads said, we enjoyed it. Maybe we were not making the cleverest tyre choice, but the pace was very good and we did the best we could with those tyres. I'm happy enough.

Q:
Tell us about the tyre choice – is it between you and Mads?

Mads Ostberg:
No! It's just Jonas.

Jonas Andersson:
Actually, it's just Mads – but I told him we needed softs! Of course, it's the whole team, but Mads has the final say. Everybody agreed with the choice we took.

Q:
Mads wanted to win the Power Stage, how hard did you push?

Jonas Andersson:
Not to the maximum. We pushed a bit, but no risks. We did a good pace and had a clean stage with good rhythm. I think it was three or four seconds to pick up and that would have been tough. It was a good pace, no big risks.

Q:
Jost, the Volkswagen stats just keep getting better – 88 per cent of the podiums. How do you feel about the success?

Jost Capito:
What Citroen has done in 10-plus years is really impressive together with Sebastien Loeb and we could never think we could come close in a long time, so to equal the number of consecutive wins in just our second season and after only 17 rallies is something I never imagined could happen. The team is outstanding. Every win is something very special – this is what drives the team. We are having fun when we are winning and when we are not winning then we push harder, but team spirit is what drives this team on.

Q:
Andreas Mikkelsen wanted to rebuild his confidence and he did that with fourth position. Are you pleased with his result?

Jost Capito:
Yes, he has done a fantastic job. He was conservative on Friday, but he had crashed two times in Mexico, but this time there were no mistakes. On Saturday he improved with more confidence and pace. He had a slight technical problem, but then he was top five and then fourth. These points are good for him and he will be strong through the season.

Q:
How do you assess Jari-Matti's rally?

Jost Capito:
It was a slight mistake with a big effect. The mechanics did an outstanding job – this was the biggest job they have ever done. We had two forklift trucks pulling the car apart to get it right. We had to prepare it this way and that he could make best stage time yesterday is fantastic and the job of the mechanics was amazing. This team never gives up, it is always working hard. It was a fantastic job of the team that he could take some Power Stage points, these will be very valuable.

Q:
And a final word for the winners…

Jost Capito:
There are no words left. On Friday they stayed calm and did the best they could do. Fortunately a stupid tyre choice became good across the whole rally – they can't do better than that.


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
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN), Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport World Rally Team
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN), Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport World Rally Team
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #8, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #8, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #8, Volkswagen Motorsport)

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