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Rally Italia Sardegna: Post-event press conference

Rally Italia Sardegna post-event press conference with Sebastien Ogier, Mads Ostberg, Jari-Matti Latvala and Jost Capito.
Drivers / co-drivers: Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Motorsport), Mads Ostberg and Jonas Andersson (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT) and Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Motorsport),

Team principal: Jost Capito (Volkswagen Motorsport).


Press conference


Q:
It's been a really hot rally but some of you are looking a bit more refreshed than others. I have to say the Volkswagen crews look like they've got out of the swimming pool or maybe the harbour… Congratulations on win number 20 of your career and your fourth win of the 2014 season Sebastien! But first I've got to ask, why are you all wet?

Sebastien Ogier:
Like you said it's just representative of the atmosphere in the team. We enjoy it so much but at the same time we're just a big band of children! We just take any situation to have fun and actually it was so nice to just jump in to the sea and the port after the podium. Usually we smell so bad with champagne after that but this time we just have salty water on us and that was the perfect refreshment after a hot weekend.

Q:
It's been a challenging weekend out there as well Sebastien. Talk to me about your role in it all, you were of course running first on the road on Friday, a tough challenge for you that day.

Sebastien Ogier:
It's not been an easy weekend for me. We pushed to the maximum during two days. The first one was really frustrating. Even though we were pushing we were losing time all the time and at the midday on Friday I was quite disappointed and was thinking maybe this weekend I would fight for a podium and maybe not more. Finally in the afternoon the conditions were much better and not so big disadvantage to open the road on this second loop so we climbed to the second place also thanks to many mistakes of a few drivers. Then after that we had more or less the same situation with Jari-Matti. But still it was very hard to take back the 20 seconds we lost on day one because Jari is very strong and he's on a very good speed. We've got exactly the same car, which is a really good one and it's quite hard to make the difference. We had to push really maximum all the time. Finally he did a small mistake and got a puncture. I'm happy and finally we deserve this victory. I don't mean that he don't deserve it but I really did my best this weekend except maybe this last 45 kilometres when I relaxed a little bit more and enjoyed the side view in Sardinia.

Q:
What were you thoughts yesterday morning when Jari-Matti was taking time from you on the opening stage? Did you feel you had to take more risks?

Sebastien Ogier:
I think the grip was higher in the afternoon and I was completely sure with my pace notes. I was driving 100 per cent in the morning but driving 100 per cent in the afternoon is still much faster. In the first loop you always take a little bit less risk especially here when it is so narrow with so many rocks on the side of the road. It's quite easy to touch one so I prefer to keep a little margin always on the first loop. On the second loop I managed to go closer to the lead without being over 100 per cent. Thanks to that we had an even higher rhythm and took a bit more time to Jari. On the long one it was the toughest challenge of the weekend for everyone. Everyone struggled, even us. I did a little bit less than the others and maybe managed a little bit better the tyres than the others and took quite a lot of time on this one, also because Jari had a puncture. From this moment on it was looking really good for us and we just had to finish the job today.

Q:
You did finish the job by taking the win but you didn't take the win in the Power Stage and this is most unusual for you?

Sebastien Ogier:
I expected this question!

Q:
Were you not going to push in there or did you push and just not get it? Andreas Mikkelsen bagged it.

Sebastien Ogier:
A few journalists asked me the same and they were so surprised saying 'why did you not win the Power Stage'. I have to be honest. First Jari-Matti and Andreas were very fast and doing a really good time. The second, and it's what I say all the time before the Power Stage, I always say I will drive fast but not maximum. If it's possible I get the maximum of points but I don't go maximum for it, and nobody believes me. That was the case today. I start with a good rhythm but the stage was quite rough with big ruts all the time. You had to be very aggressive all the time with the driving and with big overspeed on the ruts. I did the best but Andreas was really good and to be honest I'm happy with this single extra point. We got the win and that's the main thing.

Q:
Poland is the next event, how are you feeling about that one?

Sebastien Ogier:
I was there in 2009. My memory is of a nice rally, very fast. From what I heard the stages will be quite different and it's more than five years ago now so we will start with new pace notes and it will be more or less a new rally for everyone. Right now I don't want to think too much about it because I have to lead through a frustrating day again on day one so I will enjoy this victory and concentrate later on Poland. But I think it's nice to be back there. There were a lot of fans and I am sure there will be more this year thanks to Robert. It will be a nice event for sure.

Q:
A great win here in Italy. A tough weekend for drivers and co-drivers with lots of hard work and lots of talking, Julien, especially for 60 kilometres…

Julien Ingrassia:
This is why I am happy. Okay I've got the name of an Italian, Ingrassia, but I am happy not be Italian because I would have to speak with the hands too and with all those corners it's quite difficult and more tricky over 60 kilometres! Do you know what the 60 kilometre stage for me was; not the worst because there are many different parts and you feel you are going through the stage. The stages on the previous day were much more tricky.

Q:
What's been tough this weekend? The long stage yesterday or was it the sweeping of the road on Friday?

Julien Ingrassia:
There is always one thing that you must never forget and this is the recce. For all of us co-drivers and also the drivers we did 18 hours per day of work. It was already a tough recce with many corners and many details and you have to be very accurate. For sure the first day when you know you have to have a very clean drive and you know for sure you will lose some time, but you just have to stay on the road and lose as little time as possible. This is a strange situation. But Seb drove very well in these conditions and couldn't do better than that so this is frustrating. But after we knew we had to push.

Q:
Mads, second position overall for you - great result here in Italy! You had a battle to hold it today with Jari-Matti and kept him behind. How are you feeling about all that?

Mads Ostberg:
Today was another good day really. It was a little bit similar approach as the other days. We just wanted to do what we needed to do. We pushed quite hard on the opening stage of the day. Also we made a good tyre choice for the first stage of the day and saw the benefit of that. We even increased the gap. After that we slowly reduced the speed and the risk. Okay the tyres we chose didn't work so well on the second stage so we lost a bit of time on that. But there was still plenty of time. The two last stages we tried to enjoy and the Power Stage, to be honest, I didn't have a chance. I wanted to get to the end very safely and I was not confident enough to push and be safe so we just tried to get to the end really.

Q:
You seemed very determined to hold second, not many opted for a split of soft and hard compounds - what led you to that choice?

Mads Ostberg:
It was basically an idea from the team. I supported it; I thought it was a good idea for the opening stage. I was not so sure after but we continued and we saw on the second stage that obviously after two kilometres they overheat and after 10 kilometres there was nothing left. But at least we used the full potential of two tyres this weekend so I am happy with that.

Q:
You seemed to get off to cautious start on Friday morning, why was that?

Mads Ostberg:
First of all Friday was a good day for us but as you say the two opening stages were very bumpy and twisty and difficult. We had a few surprises in Argentina and I was totally caught by a surprise when we crashed. My confidence was not so good and obviously it's a different car than I've driven previously. I don't know the car that well so there is always some benefits and downsides with each car and I need to learn the different things in the Citroën as well. I probably did something I probably shouldn't have done in Argentina and I didn't want to repeat that on this rally. We focused on being careful on all the dips and all the jumps on Friday. On the flatter stages we tried to push more and it worked well, so for me it was properly planned to do a good opening day.

Q:
Is your confidence level back up now after this result?

Mads Ostberg:
Yeah for sure. I was not so confident after Argentina. Obviously with no testing after that and just staying at home trying to fix my thumb. It was nice to get back into the car but not really comfortable straight away. It was a good weekend to build the confidence and get back on the pace. We have seen when we pushed the pace is good and I'm happy with that.

Q:
Third in the Championship now, how much can we see you push further now during the season – we go to Poland next, a very high-speed event. What are we going to see from you there Mads?

Mads Ostberg:
I don't know exactly. I did Poland in 2009 but basically it will be a new event again. It will be quite sandy and fast and quite difficult for everyone. We will hopefully have a good test before the rally and find a good set-up. If I am confident after the test for sure we will push to get into the 'Volkswagen hamburger' again.

Q:
The Volkswagen hamburger?

Mads Ostberg:
Yes. A hamburger needs four pieces: meat, cheese and bread. You have only three cars and there needs to be somebody inside the burger and this time I was the cheese! Next time I want to be the top bread or the meat. I used the whole weekend to work that out; I've gone from being meat at one point, and bread, and finally I am the cheese!

Q:
Tough event for co-drivers here Jonas, it's been a really challenging event here in Italy?

Jonas Andersson:
It's been a really challenging weekend and long days like Julien said but I'm very, very happy with the weekend. It's been a great team effort and second place is a really, really good result for us.

Q:
Moving from Olbia to Alghero, we've obviously used some of the same stages, but have you experienced anything different over here?

Jonas Andersson:
Of course it's a bit different but like you said, a lot of the stages are the same. It's a nice atmosphere here and I've really enjoyed it.

Q:
Mads said the confidence dropped after Argentina. Did that affect you in the same way?

Jonas Andersson:
No, not really. We know the car is good and we just have to use it to its best and on the stages where it works the best. I was confident we could do a really good job, the team is working really hard and I was sure we would be fighting up there for a podium again. There was no downside for me after Argentina.

Q:
Jari-Matti, it is third place here in Italy - you had been leading until yesterday afternoon, then you dropped down to third. How are you feeling about the result?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I guess I was in this hamburger situation and I was the top bread! The problem was I became the meat in the middle and that's why I melted when there was so much heat and that's why the problem happened! I had time to think about that when he was talking about the hamburger! I wanted to have a big burger but it was obviously quite small this time. To be honest we had a good start for the rally except the first stage when we had a problem with the nipple for the brake calliper, which came loose and fluid came out and we lost some time on the first stage. Not a lot but it was a bit of a stressful start to the rally. But the driving was perfect on Friday, then Saturday it was also good with the driving but we hit another problem with the sensor. We lost some time with the sensor because I thought it was a warning about the water temperature. It was 132 degrees meaning that you have to really stop because the engine is cooked. But when I was about to stop driving suddenly the temperature dropped and everything was fine again and then we kept going. Yesterday afternoon I didn't get the best feeling for the driving to be honest. Of course I tried, I was still in the lead but did a little mistake. There was a rock on the road, it was fixed on the road and I just couldn't keep the car in the line. I tried to keep the car in the line but it just jumped out, hit the rock and I got a puncture. There I lost my victory hopes. Today we still tried to fight for the second place but Mads did a really good job in the morning. He was stronger in the morning and I had no chance to catch him.

Q:
How much of a risk were you taking to try to get that second place today?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I had to find the rhythm in the morning. I couldn't go there and give everything for the second place because I really need the points for the Championship and if I lose all the points here then Ogier is running away in the Championship and it's lost almost. I knew I couldn't afford any Superman things because I am not Superman. I just tried to stick on my own driving. When I got the rhythm the times were improving but we were running out of kilometres to catch Mads.

Q:
You picked up two extra points in the Power Stage, which is good for the Championship. But the real positive thing to come out of the weekend is your pace. You must be pleased with that?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
In the Power Stage it was a perfect drive, I couldn't improve, not really at all, but I'm still happy to get two points because all the points we can get in the fight with Seb are really important. Overall it's been a good event speed-wise, which we can take for Poland, which is good. There were a little bit disturbing things, we had a couple of problems with the car and I did a mistake myself so we just need to get a clean rally. When it's a clean rally and we can fight then it will be a good fight.

Q:
You've mentioned Poland and it was a tough event for you there in 2009. Have you got some unfinished business going back there?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I can tell it's been the worst rally I have ever done and the worst moment in my life when I was in Poland in 2009. I look forward to correct that.

Q:
How stressful was Monte Lerno with the sensor problem Miikka?

Miikka Anttila:
All in all it's been a stressful weekend and already before the rally. It was a stressful time getting all the papers together. I think when I left for this rally on Monday my family at home was very happy that I was gone because I was so stressed at home. There was so much to prepare with the old stages and the old notes. It was a tough job. Then it was a tough recce with one short day but one very long day and no time after the recce to prepare the notes. Then Thursday evening took so much time in Cagliari so all in all it has been a very stressful event for us. Then all these small things like Jari-Matti mentioned that we had already on Friday and Saturday and the puncture yesterday. All in all I am happy to be on the podium after changing a puncture on the stage.

Q:
It is a good result and you've obviously picked up good points. The Championship is shaping up to be incredibly interesting now?

Miikka Anttila:
Yeah and the thing is there are two gravel rallies coming and it's very likely we're going to be the second car on the road on both first days so it will be a small advantage for us. For sure we try to keep it as it was in Argentina and over here. We can leave the rally at least behind Seb in second, even third place. That will definitely be the target for the next rallies. Then on the Tarmac rallies we try to get as close as possible with the points. But the Championship is not decided yet so it's really exciting for everyone.

Q:
Jost win number 16 for Volkswagen out of the 19 events entered so far, an incredible success rate! First-ever Power Stage win for Andreas - and the first 1-2-3 for Volkswagen through a Power Stage. Fantastic result!

Jost Capito:
You've said everything I was going to say. I could tell the story about the text message Seb if you want?

Sebastien Ogier:
Say what you want you are the boss!

Jost Capito:
When Jari-Matti had the problem with overheating, which was really a sensor problem, FX was sending the messages to the car and said 'Jari-Matti overheat' but the 'heat' didn't get through. He got the message 'Jari-Matti over' and then the second message came 'heat' and then they pushed again. No, it was a fantastic weekend. I think having two cars on the podium after a difficult rally and to see the fight between the two crews is outstanding, not only for us but also for the spectators, for the media, for everybody it's fantastic and even the four guys enjoy it a lot. But the icing on the cake for this weekend is we won yesterday the X Games with Scott Speed in the Polo with the Andretti team. We entered the Global Rallycross in the US. The team won the first race in Barbados and yesterday the second race in the X Games. I told them they did even better than we did because we just won the one race. They were very successful.

Q:
What did you think of the event this weekend?

Jost Capito:
On the spectator side it was really impressive. In the last years in Olbia we were the only guys in Olbia with no spectators or people, but here there were massive numbers of people and the service park was full from Wednesday. Especially the atmosphere at the prize-giving was fantastic with so many people and so many enthusiastic fans it was really outstanding. On the other hand the stages were a bit far away. But this can be solved for the future if the organisers have a bit more time to look for the stages. When we flew over with the helicopter I can tell them there can be great stages around here.


Questions from the floor

Q: Marco Giordo (AutoSprint, Italy).
Do you think you've lost an opportunity to cut the distance between you and Sébastien in the classification?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
You are bit right, this was a good chance to get closer in the Championship points and I had the opportunity in my hands. It was given to me but unfortunately I couldn't hold it, I couldn't keep it. Let's say in a way if I had done things completely wrong and gone off the road and not got any points that would have been a disaster. The main thing is we could have recovered from the mistake I did, which still keeps us in the Championship. The Championship is still open. But there would have been a good chance to get closer here. I couldn't use it this time but I hope we can keep the fight going on in the next event.


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #7, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Mads Ostberg, Jonas Andersson (Citroen DS3 WRC, #4 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)

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