Present: Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Ford), Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford), Petter Solberg/Phil Mills (PSWRT), Malcolm Wilson (Ford)

Q:
Jari-Matti, the second win of your career, a great event for you after what has been a very tough start to the season, you must be thrilled...

Jari-Matti Latvala:
Yes. It's an unbelievable feeling what I am having now. It's been so tough and difficult, a lot of things have happened. I have done a lot of mistakes. I have to say a big thanks to team. The team has had no doubts, even if other people did. I got the small things together this weekend. The secret was consistency and a little bit of luck with starting position this morning. Great feeling.

Q:
In Argentina you were told it was caution all the way; here it has been a total contrast. How have you dealt with that?

J-ML:
I had a lot of pressure on me in Argentina after the accident. On the other hand we didn't feel so much pressure, Malcolm told me to finish and get back on the right track. That was a very important lesson one. We started here with a good position, but when I was a bit more confident on the afternoon of Friday, the team felt it is now time to try and work for the victory and they sent the message saying: "Push, push." I asked my co-driver: "Do we really go flat out?" He said: "Yes! Keep going!"

Q:
You were first on the road on Saturday and today - normally it's a disadvantage but today with the dust is was an advantage!

J-ML:
There was only a bit of dust from the zero car at the end of the stage. It didn't distract me. That was my advantage for being first on the road. I know how hard it was for these guys. But yesterday, I was also first on the road. It wasn't the easiest job, but when you start to like it, it's nice. It's nice when you have the clean road with no lines or stones.

Q:
How much has your performance here now boosted your confidence and self belief?

J-ML:
This was a big lesson for me. We need this consistency for the future. We spoke with Mikko, when both of us are there we can put more pressure on Citro?n. When I go off the road, I load more pressure to him and we can't fight Loeb. We need to work together to get the pressure to them.

Q:
When you got out of the car, you kissed the bonnet. Tell us about the relief.

J-ML:
It was a big relief. The pressure I have had is unbelievably high. Petter, he told me on the road section in Argentina: "Jari, take it steady, you will get back there." And I really did. It was a fair point from Petter.

Petter Solberg:
I have heard the same from Malcolm, you needed some help.

J-ML:
I heard it from Malcolm as well. People have told me you have to be steady. One of the reasons for my mistake is from pushing too hard all of the time.

Q:
Miikka, we know that Jari-Matti has been easily 'distracted' of late - how did you keep him fully focused this weekend?

Malcolm Wilson:
Tell him about the big stick, Miikka!

Miikka Anttila:
Actually, we have a big weapon in the car: a golf club, stick or knife under my seat. It's different each morning so he doesn't know what is coming. No, just joking! This rally is good for Jari-Matti, it's easy for him to concentrate here and do a good result. From the start of the rally, there was no pressure. Okay, Malcolm said you have a good starting position, you will probably lead after the first three stages then let's look after the afternoon stages. In the evening, we were leading by 40 seconds. That was a small surprise. But when we were driving back to service that night, we talked and we thought we could win this rally because of the back-up behind us.

Q:
Mikko - its second position again! Hanging dust spoiled the party this morning but it's a great result for the team!

Mikko Hirvonen:
Yeah for sure a little bit. Last night I thought we had the chance to fight for the win. But this morning the dust was so bad, there was no way to fight for the win. It's a fantastic result for the team. We haven't had consistent results for two cars, so I'm delighted.

Q:
We know you wanted to win - how were you feeling after that opening stage this morning knowing that time was slipping away from you?

MH:
It was game over. The gap was almost half a minute and I knew we would have the same problem in the next. I played it safe.

Q:
We expected team orders to give you maximum points for the Drivers Championship, it didn't happen, was it the right decision?

MH:
Definitely. I'm definitely happy how it ended. It doesn't leave a bad taste. Fair play, Jari-Matti drove well, he deserves it.

Q:
What about the Drivers' Championship?

MH:
Yeah, it's almost in our pocket! We lost important points in Argentina. If we can finally start winning rallies, who knows what can happen.

Q:
Are you confident for Greece?

MH:
I'm sure it's going to be a good rally for us. We improved the car for this rally and I think we'll do the same result as here.

Q:
Jarmo; you have been ill today - how did you cope?

Jarmo Lehtinen:
If every rally was this bad, then I would have to ask myself: do I want to do it? Mikko was ill straight after the recce and then I started to get ill yesterday morning. I promise you I go straight to bed now - I feel finished.

Q:
Talk to me about the tactics on Friday night when Mikko emerged from the final stage ahead of Loeb instead of behind; how did that mistake happen?

MH:
We have a good explanation. As Christian [Loriaux, Technical Director] said, the car is so good - you can't even slow down enough!

JL:
This was my answer! It was the plan to be behind S?bastien. Citro?n tactics played well. We were caught by surprise how much they slowed down. First Mikko didn't slow down enough and then I couldn't stop him. It was 50:50.

MH:
Let's be honest, he told me to slow down and I didn't slow enough.

Q:
Petter, you take away third position from Italy after Loeb was handed a penalty - irrespective of how you gained the position it's been a good rally here in Italy for you hasn't it?

Petter Solberg:
It's been a good event. We have done a lot of good stages. In Argentina we missed third place. I'm quite happy now. It's too bad for S?bastien, but it's nice to be here. It was a good fight with S?bastien. When I woke up this morning, I was ready and it was good to be fighting again. We had good first two stages, then we had a problem with the steering after service. I fixed it after the first stage and then we were on the limit on the last two. There was nothing more we could do, it was great for Phil and me.

Q:
Will we see you in Greece now?

PS:
I feel stuck in the corner. I have done a few rallies now and I know where I am. We are going to have this question, me and Phil and see what we can do for the next rally. It will be the same temperature on the next rally, we have to really think - I don't want to waste time. I'm having a lot of fun, but now we have to sit down and analyse. I know it's not possible to push harder in the warm temperatures. I still have a little bit to go. We have good fun and a lot of good results. I have no plan for the next rally.

Q:
You talk about a rally by rally approach, but this exposure must be helping.

PS:
I am realistic. I have a lot of good rallies now, but to go to a rally you can fight for fourth or if you're lucky you can get third, it's not so easy. I am here to fight and push on. Today I enjoyed very much the fight with S?bastien, but it's over the limit, I could have ended in a tree. It's so big differences and to sit in the car and feel this, it's frustrating.

Q:
The opening stages this morning we expected to see a charge from Loeb but you kept him behind, even extending your lead over him going into the mid-point service - but you picked up a steering problem - did that happen within the first stage of the afternoon?

PS:
I have seen this on most rallies, when it's cold. I'm on the pace, but when the heat comes I go backwards. You wonder if it's you, but you can feel such a big difference between the warm and cold. I think we pushed to the limit, we were more off the road than on sometimes. It was a hell of a fight, whether we were third or fourth.

Q:
Phil, let's talk about some of the stages here because we had a few new additions - the opening stage on Saturday morning seemed to cause concern, what did you think?

Phil Mills:
It was rough. The second passes were rough, where everything happened. It has been a tough event. They talk about Greece being the roughest and toughest, but I don't think that's true anymore.

Q:
Was it enjoyable?

PM:
Yes, it's always an enjoyable event here.

Q:
You're a private team and you've had some extraordinary results so far.

PM:
Yeah, it's going quite well. As you say it's a private team and an old car - okay, it's one year younger, but we can't do any more.

Q:
Six rallies in Malcolm and the first win of the season - a one-two for Ford, maximum points a great result!

MW:
What can I say? It's been a fantastic result and a great performance by both of the guys. We've always known if we can have both guys performing at their best at the end of leg two, we can push S?bastien and put him under pressure. It's fantastic for the team to see we have the result we have felt we could get all season. All credit to these guys, they have done fantastic job.

Q:
Just back in Portugal Jari-Matti had the biggest accident of his career, and in Argentina he was under strict orders to finish. Here he has had the pressure of being told to push and has come through to seal the win - did you imagine he could turn his performance around so quickly?

MW:
Yeah, everybody knows the potential of Jari. At least he got the opportunity of getting in the car very quickly after Portugal. In Argentina, it was really important to take a sensible approach and get kilometres under his belt. He must be the only driver in history who rings his team manager after the stage and says: "I'm sorry, I didn't intend to be fastest." Him and Miikka knew what they had to do. I think Miikka and I thought maybe it wasn't the right time and he needed more time from Portugal, but it has happened and I'm pleased that when we told him to push he did. And he drove first on the road. And credit to Mikko, he was unfortunate with the dust this morning. But this result is just what we needed, we're all very happy.

Q:
How do you feel about the Manufacturers' Championship?

MW:
No question if you can keep pulling these results, then it can happen. We realise it's a mountain to climb, but there are rallies coming which will suit the drivers and the car. We go away from here with confidence and I know what that means when things are going with you. There has been a lot of pressure for the team, the way S?bastien has been, but we had a good test and the guys were full of confidence - that's been the turning point.

Q:
What was it like back at Ford HQ in the service park? Were there nerves around at the start of the event?

MW:
It's fair to say that I'm glad Petter told him as well, I'm not sure if he took notice of Petter - he certainly hasn't taken notice of me for the first five events. There was pressure but once we saw what he could do it was okay.

 

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