26 June 2014
Rally Poland: Pre-event press conference
Rally Poland WRC pre-event press conference with Jari-Matti Latvala, Robert Kubica, Kris Meeke, Juho Hanninen and Krzysztof Holowczyc
Drivers: Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen Motorsport), Robert Kubica (RK M-Sport WRT), Kris Meeke (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT), Juho Hanninen (Hyundai Motorsport) and Krzysztof Holowczyc (Lotto Team)
Jari-Matti, you are currently second in the Championship, 33 points behind team-mate Sébastien Ogier. You have had a strong first half of the season, can you continue to improve on your performance?
It's been a very good season apart from Portugal. That was disappointing for me. I started to attack when I should not have. It is fine. I cannot change that and we lost the points. We came back in Argentina and the last rally was good, but we hit a rock after I lost some focus and we lost some Championship points. Saying that, the Championship is still open.
You competed here in 2009, but it did not end well. How do you feel about coming back here and is now the opportunity to right the wrongs of that event?
2009 was the worst moment in my rally career. I hope to wipe away that memory in this rally. The only nice moment was when I was crying on the side of the road. It did not look so good, but a group of photographers started clapping their hands. That was a nice moment to see them showing their support. I have the feeling that my motivation is high and I want to look forward not backwards. I think this rally will be different to the last few events. Sardinia and Argentina were more technical and here we are with fast flowing roads. Normally fast roads suit me but lately I have been better on technical roads. I hope that I get a feeling for it. Shakedown was a good feeling and I hope to carry that on. I need to be confident and the result will come. I try to keep the good feeling.
What is your impression of the stages?
For me the roads are close to Estonia. I have taken part in some historic rallies there. The surface can be soft and sandy like Argentina, but the character is also like Finland, fast and flowing. There are more open areas in fields and not forests like Finland. You have a combination of wide roads and narrow roads. In Finland it is more flowing and the rhythm changes there. Also, you get longer straights here than in Finland.
Robert, Rally Poland marks the home event for you - are you feeling any extra pressure because of that fact?
To be honest, it is the same as all other rallies this year. For me the rally is different to last year. These are brand new stages for me. It is different to previous events and I need to get used to these fast stages. There are a lot of Polish fans and that is nice to see. We do not have so much time to spend with them, as they appreciate our free time, but it is always nice to see people cheering for you. Krzysztof and other Polish crews are also here for the local spectators.
Does the same approach continue here; focusing on consistency?
My approach is the same as any rally. The final result is better without mistakes. It is impossible to prepare. I am fighting guys like Seb (Ogier) or Jari-Matti who have so much experience. If you bring these guys to an F1 race it would be different for them. For 20 years I have been on a race circuit. Jari-Matti said that he did historic rallies in Estonia but, 14 years ago I was karting and making a career driving in a different sport. He was rallying. Now I change to rallies and I hope to get better and better. Sardinia was a good point of the season for me on gravel. Coming from Argentina and Mexico was difficult, but I am getting better and better on gravel stages and enjoying the stages. Last year, and at the beginning of this year, I had so many doubts on braking marks and lines and now I enjoy. Pushing the car to a limit is enjoyable with experience and knowledge. Until now, I was not enjoying it. If the pace notes are working well in some places, then we will see.
Kris, you were not here in 2009 but you have competed in Poland previously in a C2 R2, winning the two-wheel drive category back in 2006. This weekend it's a different prospect - what are your thoughts on the weekend ahead?
I was very young then (joking) and still young now. I came in 2006. It was the first event for the C2 R2 front-wheel drive car. It was great to drive these cars on fast roads and good dependence. It went well and we won the class and have good memories from that. On this rally my feeling is the roads are so fast and you need to feel confident and have a sixth sense for the high-speed sections. Shakedown felt good and we tested last weekend and it was very useful. It was a working test where we had rain on the second day and the surface cut up quite badly. Some narrow sections can cut up on this rally so we need to be comfortable for the second pass. We will see when we arrive for the second pass. The second stage in Lithuania could be soft and some forest sections here (Poland) may be the same. All the front-wheel drive cars are behind. With 80 or 90 cars on the rally, it could be quite soft.
What is the objective here for you?
Argentina was good after day one and then we consolidated for two days. Sardinia was good day one and then we had the alternator problems and ran first on the road for two days. It was impossible to try and move up. It is important here to get a good feeling for a high speed rally.
Juho, we saw you in Rally Italia and you led the rally briefly before an off forced your retirement - how are you feeling ahead of this event?
For sure, this morning the first driving after the accident in Sardinia I was a bit nervous. The road was quite fast and I try to get a better feeling. We will see tonight on the stages. They are very fast.
What is the strategy for this event?
There is bit of everything, fast and wide sections and, at the same time, forest tracks that are narrow and still fast. Finding the good line is important. Okay, the test went quite well. It was good for the set-up and to get more experience. It is a bit different to the other rallies and maybe we will try something different on the second runs.
Krzysztof, great to see you back here at Rally Poland, how are you feeling about the weekend ahead?
It is Important to be here for the spectators and the people who love motor sport in Poland. For the last five or seven years, I have been a cross-country driver. One time a year I get to drive another faster car. My WRC experience was five years ago. My focus now is the Fiesta, it is so exciting to be here. There are good drivers - flying. In my opinion I need to be on my limit and stay on the road. That is not so easy here. The rally will be fantastic. I am here and will try to do my best.
You have won this event multiple times and were sixth overall in 2009 with the Ford Focus. What are your thoughts on the car?
There is fantastic traction and a different engine. Last time I had a 2.0-litre and it was easier to drive. Now I need to keep the revs in a good place to keep the speed. In this car you need proper experience. I only did one small rally of 60 kilometres and 30 kilometres as a test. It will not be easy. This year's event has a combination of stages from other years and new ones. The older ones are easier for me to drive, but the ones in the north of Poland and in Lithuania will be completely new. They are a combination of fast roads, narrow and jumps and sixth gear and high revs!
What are your motorsport plans for the foreseeable future?
My cross-country programme is the plan. I have a rally in Spain and some other rallies and then we carry on the preparations for Dakar. The team is testing our cars in Morocco and we are testing new things on the Mini.
Questions from the floor:
Q: Marco Giordo (Autosprint (Italy))
Robert Kubica, what will you do next year?
I will hopefully be competing somewhere. That is all I can say. You never know in your life, we will see. I have not made my mind up. It is very early.
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