Drivers / co-drivers: Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene (Volkswagen Motorsport), Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Motorsport), and Dani Sordo and Marc Marti (Hyundai Motorsport)

Team principal: Jost Capito (Volkswagen Motorsport).

Press conference

Q:
Andreas, congratulations! We've talked about where your first win would come many times...

Andreas Mikkelsen:
I would never have said Spain!

Q:
How does it feel?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
It hasn't come to my mind yet. Coming into this weekend, I had one strategy and that was to secure third place [in the Championship]. Maybe Wales could be the one [to win], when I'm completely free. We struggled a lot on Friday, but we knew on Saturday things could change on Tarmac. I have to dedicate this win to my engineer Richard [Browne]. We came here without a Tarmac test, but we found a set-up I was happy with really quickly. After that, we fought back as hard as we could and in the end we were closing on Jari-Matti when he had his problem yesterday. Today I woke up on the right foot but still I think I was thinking about Wales... It felt really good, like I could take the fight to Jari-Matti and I managed to catch him a little bit. Then he had his puncture and I was a little bit ahead. I had a big moment in the first corner of the stage and after that it was so tight. I knew I had to get the perfect stage. During the whole rally, I hadn't been able to get it, but finally I got it and it was enough to take on Jari-Matti. When I got the message from Jules [Porter, WRC TV] and Colin [Clark WRC Live] I couldn't believe it. I know these guys, when there's a small moment it's: "Ah he crashed, he crashed," but when we heard on the team radio that he (Ogier) stopped in the stage... I still can't believe this has happened! It was a great ending for me. Of course I am sad for Seb, but if he wants to win the Power Stage then he has to take some risks. In the end, it's fantastic for me. It's been a long ride - a really long ride.

Q:
But you've got it now...

Andreas Mikkelsen:
It feels like the weight has gone from my shoulders. Now I've done it, it should be easier to do it again.

Q:
Were there tears at the stage end?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
Yeah, it has been a long ride through many good and bad stories - to finally get this first win - we've been working a long time. Of course it's emotional.

Q:
You've won championships before. How does this compare?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
This came so suddenly, I can't compare this to winning the IRC in Cyprus - I was so nervous before that last stage. But here I was not so nervous before the last stage, there were no nerves because I was fighting for second and I have fought for second before. I am so happy not knowing we were fighting for first, I would have been a lot more nervous if that happened! I'm sure it will sink in, but it's going to take some time - it's so surprising.

Q:
Now you do go to Wales free...

Andreas Mikkelsen:
Yeah exactly, now we are free there and of course that's a really nice feeling. I will try to get a great result there. We were competitive last year and I'll try to do the same again, but without crashing on stage number two. It's nice to go there with no real pressure.

Q:
There was a bet with your engineer Richard that he would shave his hair off when you won. Is the hair there?

Andreas Mikkelsen:
He likes his hair. I'm not sure I have the heart to tell him it has to go.

Q:
Ola, first WRC win for you. How do you feel?

Ola Floene:
It's amazing. Maybe you saw on TV, normally I can control myself, but this time I had to give up. I heard on the radio Ogier was off the road. I asked: "Are they OK?" Yes, they are OK. Then now we are winning. When I was standing at the start of the last stage, this was far away in my mind to do this. I wanted to fight for second and do my best from the navigator's seat, reading the notes and now all of this is coming. You really need to be in my shoes to understand it.

Q:
How was it standing on top of the car?

Ola Floene:
I can get used to a seat there!

Q:
You've been through a lot together...

Ola Floene:
The first time I co-drove him, he was 16 and he didn't talk so much like he does now. We split in 2012 after Catalunya and it was hard for one year, but we came back last year and we are like brothers. Nothing changed there. We are both so hungry, we love the sport so much, we want it so much. We are both motorcross guys who should have more fear - he can control his more than before! Honestly, you need to sit in my shoes.

Q:
Jari-Matti, how does it feel to be second?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
When we came here last year and the year before, my performance on gravel was not good enough. I focused on a good rhythm and was thinking more about the Tarmac. But this time we were more competitive on gravel and we went well - we were four seconds behind. But then we came out of Parc Ferm? on Saturday morning and the brakes were not good at all. The problem came when we changed from gravel to Tarmac brakes and the brake lines got some air. We fight with the brakes and then when we got it right I was ready for a Jari-Matti attack. That attack only lasted one kilometre! I was lucky to survive with the puncture. I was fourth, but I wanted to fight back to second and it all looked good yesterday evening. This morning I took the safe choice: two spares and I thought the speed should be enough. Maybe I was a bit careful, but Andreas was really, really strong. I didn't realise and I have to start to fight really hard. With two spares I could not get the best balance, but I did what I could - but I couldn't do better and all respect to Andreas, he did better than me today.

Q:
The battle was back on in the final stage though?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
It was exciting! We got a slow puncture when a stone went through the tread, but then Andreas had a spin and we had just 1.4 seconds between us going into the final stage. Miikka and me speak about this before the stage and we have to concentrate on the consistency. I decide we do go for the attack; Miikka said to me it was a really good run and if Andreas is faster he deserves it and he's absolutely right.

Q:
You seemed so happy for Andreas at the finish...

Jari-Matti Latvala:
I remember Sweden 2008 when we got our first win: [S?bastien] Loeb went off and we attack hard with Mikko [Hirvonen] second, it was a really great moment. The feeling when you win your first event is something you don't ever forget. It's so special. Andreas has worked a very long time, it was the same for me and Miikka so it comes as a big relief. But also it's a big boost to the confidence.

Q:
Miikka, how do you feel the weekend went?

Miikka Anttila:
I am definitely happy for second. I hate to lose, but really Andreas and Ola deserve the victory. We have had two punctures and we don't deserve it. If we won this after two punctures then I would think the level of WRC is too low...

Q:
Why did you take that cut?

Miikka Anttila:
To be honest, when we finally got the brakes right I thought it would be OK and we could carry on at a proper Tarmac speed, not getting over-excited. But, when we start the stage, it felt good. Then we came to the right [corner] and I say: "Don't cut," but still we went in and then bang. We both knew it didn't survive.

Q:
Dani, third position for you, what have you thought of the weekend?

Dani Sordo:
At the end, I'm really happy. I am sorry for S?bastien, but it can be like this. I pushed hard on Tarmac and to be on the podium is really nice. Andreas and Jari-Matti are very difficult - the performance was really, really good. We try to stay in fourth; in the morning it was impossible, so we decide to stay fourth in the end. So we are in third position. My last podium was last year, we've been close a couple of times this year so, for me, this is good.

Q:
You had a sign on the steering wheel this morning saying: "Flat out." Were you?

Dani Sordo:
Normally the mechanics put the sign to remind about the brakes, but also we have this one from the mechanics. Yesterday we were flat out all the time, we pushed hard today, but it was impossible at the end. This was good for the team, for the manufacturers it's not so bad for the points, we wait until the last round.

Q:
What do you hope for in Wales?

Dani Sordo:
I try to do my best and try to be in front of Citro?n - we try to do our job.

Q:
These are exciting times with a new car coming next year...

Dani Sordo:
Yeah, to be honest there's a lot of confidence in the whole team with this car - we have worked to be at the maximum in Monte Carlo and it's looking good. After we need to see how are the other boys and what's the evolution of the other cars. Until that stage, we can say nothing.

Q:
Marc, is there more pressure competing at home in Spain?

Marc Marti:
We are always happy to be at home, you can feel the spectators all around you and pushing like hell. Honestly I am more happy for Dani. We work like hell this year and we have been so unlucky in Argentina and Sardinia - then we had these cars and drivers making a good job, but I am very happy with our job. The first day was perfect for us on the gravel, even if we know it didn't go to the fight on Tarmac, the car is working very well.

Q:
Jost, talk about expect the unexpected... tell us about the last few hours?

Jost Capito:
The first thing to say is that we took Seb to hospital for a check, but he had the scan and it was all fine - that's the most important thing, the only thing that really counts. We had a fantastic battle for places one-two then two-three-four. After the last stage, F-X [Demaison, Volkswagen technical project leader] came to me and said: "We make a car a Finn can win Corsica in, and that a Norwegian can use to win Spain - I think the Polo must be a really good car!" Maybe I made the contract too soon with these guys, I think tonight they would pay us to drive this car!

Q:
What was the reaction at base to this win?

Jost Capito:
We had a very interesting day today in the engineering office. Jari-Matti's engineer and Andreas' engineer face each other across the table and we saw their faces go from smile to sad a couple of times during the day. It was really interesting to see this body language - I always believed in Andreas. I gave him the target to win a rally this year and it took quite close to the end of the season, but I knew he would deliver. There were no team orders, he won straight and fair - it's not that anybody let him win. Nobody made it easy for him, he fought and he got it.

Q:
What's the objective for Wales?

Jost Capito:
That a Polo wins. That's all. That's how we work: we all work for Volkswagen and we have no preference for any of the six guys. They can fight and I hope it will be one of the Polos that wins.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...