Present: Craig Breen (Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team), Hayden Paddon (Hyundai Motorsport), Mads Ostberg (M-Sport World Rally Team) and Sebastien Ogier (Volkswagen Motorsport).

Press conference

Q:
Craig, welcome back to the spotlight of the WRC. There have been several events since we last saw you in Sweden. But you've been very busy away from the WRC. Tell us what you have been up to?

Craig Breen:
Yes it's been a long time since Sweden, many months and the other guys are driving all the stages all the time. But I have a golden ticket to be here and I have to take it as best I can. I just cannot wait to get started in competition.

Q:
The win on the Circuit of Ireland, how important was that for your confidence coming into this weekend?

Craig Breen:
I don't think tarmac stages prepare me for being here, but at least in my mind it's a huge deal. I grew up and the Circuit of Ireland was my WRC as a child. It was great for me to win and I have taken confidence from there and I am looking forward to the weekend.

Q:
What is the realistic goal for Rally Poland? Will you be pushing hard or using the event as a learning curve?

Craig Breen:
It's going to be difficult. All these guys have been competing all the time and I am fresh behind the wheel. I think the goal is to move the speed up during the weekend. The test and the shakedown shows we are on target and now I have to try and show that we are more than capable and we need to show the car is capable.

Q:
You came here once before for a round of the FIA European Rally Championship. Tell us about that experience?

Craig Breen:
Not very good at all. It rained and rained and never stopped since we arrived. A lot of the stages were cancelled. It was just horrific rally stages. This year not one kilometre is the same. Back then I had good memories that the fans were nice and I was with you (Jon Desborough) in the commentary last year and I had good emotions from that version.

Q:
Hayden, you have made a strong start to the season and hold fifth place in the championship after six rounds. You've had a couple of difficult events though, so what is the target for this weekend?

Hayden Paddon:
The target is to get back on track. Luckily the next two rallies are ones that I enjoy. They suit my style of driving and there is not too much pressure on me. I need to lower the expectations and go back to basics. I enjoy driving on roads like these.

Q:
Obviously winning in Argentina must have been the highlight of the season so far. Once you win one event, does it make it easier to target another? And can you do it here?

Hayden Paddon:
Argentina seems a long time ago. A lot has happened since. You cannot focus on previous results. I need to focus on the future and we want to get back in to a position to fight at the front.

Q:
What additional preparations have you and the Hyundai team made for Rally Poland?

Hayden Paddon:
The technicians have been working hard. We have a strong car on fast stages and we have to use that advantage. The stages are nice and fast and we have done our homework before the event and it will be business as usual.

Q:
Mads, you openly admit that you like the faster gravel rounds of the championship. How are you looking forward to Rally Poland?

Mads Ostberg:
Yes absolutely. Poland is one of the fastest rallies of the year. Almost all the stages are equally as fast and it's a nice event. I look forward to coming here and I am happy to be here again.

Q:
The team has been testing in Poland recently. What have you learned from those tests and what changes have you made?

Mads Ostberg:
It makes sense to do adjustments from Sardinia. We changed the car to suit the high speed and sandy and rough stages that you can often get on the second pass through.

Q:
Your team-mate Eric Camilli has not been here before. Have you been able to offer him any advice or tips to succeed on these super-fast Polish stages?

Mads Ostberg:
He has not asked me. I have not told him anything. It is important for him to focus on his own things and find the difficult places himself. I may try to explain and share experiences on how rough it can be on the second pass, but the team also has the experience. He is working by himself, like myself.

Q:
You are fourth in the championship, but just a point in front of Hayden Paddon and only 10 points off second place. What is the realistic goal for the weekend?

Mads Ostberg:
We will definitely be hoping to be in the fight for positions. We were happy with Sardinia and it came together. It ended up being my mistake. I hope to have the same pace to fight for a good result and that is my target.

Q:
Seb, firstly, many congratulations to you and Andrea on the birth of your son Tim. You have a commanding 64-point lead in the Drivers' Championship and find yourself in a similar position to 2015, but you have not won a rally since Sweden. You have, however, increased your lead event- by-event, so how are you feeling?

Sebastien Ogier:
Thank you, of course, so far this season has been good for us. We managed to improve the gap every single rally. The most important target is to win the big trophy at the end of the year. I am pleased with my position but, since Sweden, I miss the taste of victory. There is not too much chance to go for it, but I would like to be able to fight for the victory this weekend. No rain coming will make it difficult. If it rains, then you never know. I will have the same approach to the race. I will give my best to score points.

Q:
What are your thoughts on the route for Rally Poland after the recce? What is your plan of attack this weekend?

Sebastien Ogier:
I think the route has changed a little bit, but it is still the same profile - more or less fast everywhere and always with a high speed average and a lot of fun in the car. There are some beautiful sections for us and we hope to give the spectators a great show again. Saturday's stages might be ones with loose gravel. It will be difficult, for sure. Let's see after the first stage of the day. We will need to be well awake - it is extremely fast with big jumps.

Q:
You have won 19 of the 59 stages in Rally Poland since it returned to the WRC in 2009. What is the secret to winning fast gravel stages?

Sebastien Ogier:
No real secret. It is important to be committed and have a lot of trust with the pace notes and go for it. If you are not committed on a previous corner, you carry a slow speed into the next one. Most drivers tell you we love high speed and the adrenaline in the car.

Q:
Spectators turn up here in thousands to see the action and rallying is very popular in Poland. How does the atmosphere compare to other rounds of the championship?

Sebastien Ogier:
For sure, it's great, but I will send a small message to the spectators. Please stay in a safe position and respect the safety zones. Already we had a problem in shakedown. People are enthusiastic and want to see us but don't forget the safety places, otherwise it will be problematic for the weekend.

 

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