/WRC – O. Tänak: “This Power Stage was a bit Sweden-spec “

WRC – O. Tänak: “This Power Stage was a bit Sweden-spec “

WRC – O. Tänak: “This Power Stage was a bit ‘Sweden-spec’ “

2019 Wales Rally GB - Ott Tänak & Martin Järveoja

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st Ott Tänak (EST), Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team
1st Martin Järveoja (EST), Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team
2nd Thierry Neuville (BEL), Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
2nd Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL), Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
3rd Sébastien Ogier (FRA), Citroën Total World Rally Team
3rd Julien Ingrassia (FRA), Citroën Total World Rally Team
Tommi Mäkinen, Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team

Q:
Ott, this great weekend means you can win the championship in Spain. Happy?
OT:
Of course I’m happy. It’s been an intense weekend, competition-wise. I made a small mistake in the very first stage and lost nine seconds. It didn’t look too bad, but looking back now, every stage had gaps really small and to make any time back was difficult. It’s always a challenge. In a way, I’m happy. I made no more mistakes and came back slowly, slowly. Yesterday I didn’t win any [forest] stage and not on Friday, only a few we were just consistent.

Q:
That Power Stage looked like a wild ride…
OT:
Maybe it was not perfect. It was raining quite heavily at the beginning, the grip was low and I had to get some support from the road side. Maybe it was a bit Sweden-spec, but in the end, it paid the bill and we’re happy.

Q:
How do you feel going to Spain?
OT:
Overall, I’m feeling good. We go to Spain and we know it’s maybe a bit tricky on the first day as we’ll be opening the road. It always depends on the weather. Last year, we saw it was easy to get some rain there and this could change the game. On the performance side, I believe we are good and we can take the fight. Of course, we are looking forward.

Q:
Martin, it was pretty intense and long days out there?
MJ:
Yeah, short nights, let’s say. It was a very good weekend for us but on the other hand, it was quite difficult and hard to enjoy it. You never know the grip level and let’s say, there was lots of sideway driving. In the end, it went really well. Thirty points is a good weekend.

Q:
How did the Power Stage feel from your seat?
MJ:
Like Ott said, it was like in Sweden, maybe.

Q:
Any changes to the preparations for Spain?
MJ:
Still we have to do our job. If we do our job as we can do, I think everything will be OK.

Q:
Thierry: second position and great pace here. How do you feel?
TN:
I wanted the win. I needed it as well to keep the hopes and my title chances high. As you could see, we’ve had a little bit of difficulties in the opening day. We lost six seconds in the morning loop, which was not a drama but in the afternoon, we probably didn’t choose the right tyres – we did not get the tyres we asked for and this cost us some extra time and another eight seconds. We were able to continue fighting with Ott until the end, even if catching 10 seconds back would have been difficult. He did a perfect job, no mistakes – this was what we were hoping for. In the end, P2 for us and not many Power Stage points – we got the request from the team to keep our position and be safe.

Q:
What do you mean, you didn’t get the tyres you asked for?
TN:
We ended up more soft than we asked for, obviously there was an internal mistake, which can happen. It shouldn’t but it can. We took three soft and two medium and we wanted to take four soft and one medium. We lost 11 more points to Ott. But we can see that now that Toyota has changed the rear wing, we are much closer again – they are not flying again like they were before and we are happy with that.

Q:
The points gap has grown, that’s not good…
TN:
Of course, we are disappointed but that’s the situation now. We have to deal with that on the next rally. The speed has been there on the last couple of events. We are well prepared for Spain, that’s definitely a challenging event starting third on the first day. It should be OK if it stays dry. Hopefully we take more than 12 points from Ott to keep our hopes alive.

Q:
Nicolas, you’ve set some great times – how frustrated were you not to see that gap move?
NG:
It’s a difficult situation. On the one hand side, I’m very pleased with the pace we have shown, we were on the limit all weekend, but on the other hand it was not enough. What more could we do? I’m very happy.

Q:
How’s your preparation for Spain?
NG:
It’s important, I have my way to prepare for the rally in advance and I’m quite happy how I’m doing that. I will not change anything, but for sure, I stay focused to help Thierry to achieve our goal.

Q:
Sébastien, you have given it everything to come home third. How do you feel?
SO:
Being on the podium is never a bad thing. It’s not a bad weekend. I had the feeling I gave it all in the car. I was always losing a bit of time. In the end, we are not far off, but too far to stay ahead of my rivals. I cannot be really happy about the result, but hats off to Ott and Toyota. It’s not a good move for the championship, to be 28 points back with two rounds before the end. But mathematically, it’s still possible. We will keep fighting and see if we can get it back on track.

Q:
Next up is Spain and Tarmac… We saw in Germany that there is still some work to be done.
SO:
It was pretty obvious that we were far off the pace in Germany, so we have quite a big test this week. It’s very important, it’s our only chance to be in this fight – we need every bit of improvement in terms of pace. We have some good ideas, already I made a small drive in Paris and we found some small directions but we need to confirm them in the test. And this could brought us back on track. We need everything to keep this fight alive – let’s see what we find out.

Q:
Sounds positive?
SO:
I’m always positive.

Q:
Were you on the limit in the Power Stage?
SO:
A little bit over it. I cannot carry that drive for the whole weekend and any way Ott beat us – I took every risk I could and he’s still in front. We have to be even better and find some more pace if we really want to challenge him.

Q:
Julien, how do you feel, you’ve pushed so hard and you’re all so close…
JI:
I think we are all on the same level. Once again, these were intense days. Seb said everything about the sport, we still have a chance and we will try to catch it. We all know GB is not the easiest, you get chased by the police for the whole day, you have to managed tight road sections and deal with quite exciting stages. This is a good mix of emotions.

Q:
Chased by the police?
JI:
We received a message [from the organisers] saying: “Don’t do anything or you will go to jail…” We all agree we must respect the other users of the road, but sometimes I have the feeling to be a rabbit and not a co-driver.

Q:
Seb what have you done to be chased by the police?
SO:
Actually nothing!

JI:
Every competitor got reminded.

OT:
There was a story, they wanted to make example of a top driver, to put them in the cuffs. Maybe that’s a bit negative, but obviously we respected the other road users.

Q:
Tommi, you’ve closed the gap to Hyundai, how do you feel?
TM: It was a really great result. Great work during the whole weekend under big pressure. With this event is coming bigger pressure, two more rallies to go [in the] fight for the title and it’s great performance. I would say no mistakes at all… plus also that we have this new rear wing which doesn’t allow us to fly away anymore and still he was very performing very well – an even better performance from Ott.

Q:
How do you manage that manufacturer fight?
TM:
Finally, it doesn’t change anything – we are doing according to the plan set a long time ago. We do some pre-event test for Spain and preparation we have done and now we continue and we’re confident it all works well. We do our best to supply the cars without any unreliability.

Q:
Any news on Ott’s signature on a contract?
TM:
I hope we can tell soon where we are and what the future holds in the next years. I’m pretty confident.

Q:
Soon, before Spain?
TM:
I hope so. I hope, but of course there are a few open questions. We are not in such a hurry yet. If you look at the calendar, we still have some time until Monte Carlo.

OT:
I have a speech. This is nothing personal about the guys, I have big respect for them. For the fair sport in the future and, I guess, we know what was the small topic this weekend about the chicane. Of course, it didn’t change anything, but I don’t know, just to avoid any kind of strange things in the future, I believe it would be nice to keep the sport fair and avoid all kind of politics. We had a very similar kind of occasion a few months ago and we got a penalty and punished. It was exactly the same – following the roadbook and no punishment. Just for the fair play, nothing against the other guys. Either we do it all the time or we don’t do it at all.

SO:
I need to say something as well. First of all, we followed the road book because there was only one bale. We were not wrong in the road book. For me, the most important is: don’t try to make things not clear. This chicane made no sense at all anyway. It was over a flying finish where we came with low speed and then onto a long straight, so why put bale behind the finish line? That makes no sense at all. And make it more clear to be exactly sure these bales are like road book. This is the problem with the bales, they are always going to move. Use the baled when they are needed for the safety – that’s really important. But when it’s not needed for safety, there’s no need to use them when you don’t know what’s going to happen and create, like Ott says, a situation which shouldn’t be there. For me, I have always been fighting for fair sport for everyone and these kind of things, I don’t know, you need to be more strict about how you put your bales here and make sure they stay the same for everybody. In this case, if you want to slow us down, don’t even open the door that you can cut and that’s it.

OT:
It was exactly the same story in Argentina. Don’t open a place where you can cut. It was also not clear in the road book and we got the penalty. It was marked in the road book. Nine drivers in the right direction and three drivers not. That’s the way it is. In that way, Sébastien is right, these things are very confusing and, I don’t know, to avoid these things in the future I think somebody needs to be more strict with these things. It’s just unnecessary stress. And I think we don’t need this in the sport.

TN:
I don’t really have lot of opinion. For me, it was pretty simple, I brake as I wanted to take my corner and suddenly the corner wasn’t there. Finally, I find out that there was still a small bale, but it means we checked in the road book and it shows one small bale so we have done nothing wrong. I agree with Seb that there are better solutions for fixing things like this, there was no volunteer (will?) of anybody to miss that little corner and there was no time gain involved, so I don’t really see the point. But, for sure, this is a discussion. There are better solutions and let’s find one. We find a better solution – they are almost the same in most rallies. It’s not a big matter and at the end, it doesn’t change the result of the rally.

FIA WRC 2 PRO CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st Kalle Rovanperä (FIN), Škoda Motorsport
1st Jonne Halttunen (FIN), Škoda Motorsport

Q:
Another win here, but tell me about that championship?
KR:
Yeah, it’s been a nice season. In the beginning, it was quite difficult, but it got better. The title was what I tried to get and I’m happy to get it here.

Q:
What a difference a year makes from when you were here last season?
KR:
There’s been a lot of improvement from our side, that’s for sure, but this year, the rally was a bit different. We had more rain and also, the competition on Friday, the others had some bad luck – it would have been nice fight.

Q:
What was the best moment of the year?
KR:
I don’t know. It’s quite difficult to think of one. Driving with Petter!

Q:
Do you have good memories of Petter?

PS:
Think about what you say now!
 
KR:
I was quite young, I don’t remember so much – but Petter has driven sometimes nowadays – nice guy!

Q:
Where do we see you next year – any truth in these rumours you’ll step up to a FIA World Rally Car?
KR:
Not yet, not any truth in them, we will see now after this rally or Spain – we will see.

Q:
Feel ready for the step up?
KR:
You are never fully ready, we have to learn this also, again. It’s a different car, but I think I can be ready after this season. We will see.

Q:
Jonne, are you satisfied?
JH:
Yeah, we are never not satisfied if we win. You ask about next year for Kalle – but first he goes to the Finnish army next week!

KR:
It’s the [National] Service I have to go. It’s mandatory, I have to do it.

Q:
Have you done it, Jonne?
JH:
Yes, 10 years ago.

Q:
Was it tough?
JH:
It was. Nowadays, it’s quite easy!

Q:
Jonne, how’s the weekend been?
JH:
It was quite nice. It was one of the best, the goal was to win, but many people had issues. We pushed on Friday and then tried not to make any mistakes. Kalle did pretty well.

FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st Petter Solberg (NOR)
1st Phil Mills (GBR)

Q:
Petter, how was that? A win to end your Farewell Tour…
PS:
It was really good fun! Thursday night was quite exciting, but it looked really good. But the enjoyment for me and Phil and the whole team was amazing. We were having different thoughts on how we would drive and enjoy it – that was different compared to the early days. It was a fantastic rally with a lot of people on the road. Phil was telling me the pace-notes perfect, he has the sexy voice – at your level Becs. But to get it into my head and actually do it, it takes a little bit of time, I must say. You have to drive more often to be able to attack straight away.

Q:
We heard you talking about struggling for confidence a little bit. Really?
PS:
That was not any bull***. It was true. I had to raise my level to just keep it enough and stay safe. It worked out well, it was very close at times with [Pierre-Louis] Loubet and [Tom] Cave. I was really good fun. I thought we had good control over them, just… that’s enough.

Q:
Any hot moments?
PS:
Not a single one!

PM:
Only one.

PS:
You thought it was. It wasn’t for me, not at all! We were just a bit sideways on his side. It was pretty good, the car, no mistakes, the car was good.

Q:
The perfect farewell event?
PS:
The whole year have been perfect. Goodwood, the Norwegian hill climb, all the things I won. My first rally was here in 2002 and winning this weekend in FIA WRC 2 is also a great ending of a good story – one that finished much better than I expected. I can do whatever I want now, I can play and have fun and do some different things. I have some dreams.

Q:
Any you would like to share?
PS:
With you? That would be like telling Hello. I want the best for the WRC, it’s growing and getting very big, want to help the sport in the future.

Q:
Mr Mills congratulations – fantastic to close the door on rallying with win back in GB?
PM:
Absolutely. We’ve had so many good times in the past. It’s great to be back. We had a small strategy change on Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t really aware of it, but we soon got to grips with it. We’ve had a ball. I can’t believe we’re here to be honest, great time.

Q:
Things just clicked?
PM:
Yeah, I don’t know how many years since our last proper event together…
 
PS:
I think we did Condroz…

PM:
Yeah, something in Belgium. It’s not like jumping on a bike again, more like jumping in a recce car. We didn’t practice the notes, we just got on with it. It was just business as normal.

PS:
Phil hasn’t changed at all, no, no, no.

Q:
Same for you, Phil?
PM:
Yeah, the same, business as normal.

FIA JUNIOR WRC CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st Jan Solans (ESP)
1st Mauro Barreiro (ESP)

Q:
Jan, 2019 has been your year. How does it feel?
JS:
I feel so proud how the season has been. We started in Sweden with not a lot of experience and everything new for me. I have learned a lot and things have improved going faster and faster this season and another win here in Wales.

Q:
Was it stressful managing the time?
JS:
We had a huge fight with Denis and Tom. Unfortunately, that fight ended early for Denis, then it was me and Tom pushing so hard. Tom made a mistake on Saturday, I was in a comfortable lead. My main goal was take this to the end.

Q:
How were the nerves?
JS:
It’s not easy to drive a rally car in this situation. It’s easier when you are pushing. You are thinking about a lot of things in the middle of the stage. But now, I have to thank the family, the federation, all the people who have supported me and helped me with the chance to fight for these titles. I want to say thank you to the Spanish Federation – I won this prize last year in Spain. I want to keep following this line now.

Q:
And next year?
JS:
Well, we have the car and the tyres. Let’s see how we manage the team if we’re with M-Sport. In the next weeks, we will talk about this.

Q:
Mauro how do you feel?
MB:
I feel proud for myself and Jan, we are so lucky.

Q:
Did you think this would happen at start of season?
MB:
To be honest, we never thought to be here at the beginning of the season.