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Transcript of the post event press conference organised by the FIA for the 2015 Rallye Monte-Carlo
Sun 25.01.15, 7:07PM
1st - Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Motorsport
1st - Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Motorsport
2nd - Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Motorsport
2nd - Miikka Anttila, Volkswagen Motorsport
3rd - Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Motorsport
3rd - Ola Floene, Volkswagen Motorsport
Jost Capito, Team Principal, Volkswagen Motorsport
Congratulations on win number 25 of your career Sébastien; you now equal Colin McRae in number of wins. Monte is always a challenge, but how tough was it this time?
It’s special for many, many reasons. To be equal to Colin McRae in terms of victories means a lot to me – he is the idol for many rally drivers and for so many kids still playing on the PlayStation. Also, it means a lot to start the year with a victory; it’s what I love the most. Last year we ended with victories and to start the new season with more victories is just perfect. This was a very tricky rally, a huge challenge, but that’s why you get the most satisfaction.
Was it the most difficult Monte you have done?
In the last years we have a few Montes which were quite difficult. I remember some times in 2006 I think, and 2007 or 2008, when it was more like a tarmac rally – I was spectating. Since 2009, when I do it, it’s often a tricky one in the image of this rally. Everybody likes it being difficult, sometimes in the car we cannot say this until we are past it. Before, when we face difficult conditions with slick tyres on snow, it’s tough. It’s definitely one of the hardest, not so easy.
A great battle at the start of the event with Loeb, you had managed to get the lead of the rally before he retired from the day. Were you surprised at his pace on his return to rally?
Remember my quote before the rally? I said that I was sure Loeb will be there and he proved it – but that doesn't mean it’s normal. It’s not normal. He’s Loeb! When he was back, he was there immediately with an impressive start of his race – we had to react. We started in a cool rhythm, but we lost a lot immediately. Okay, the conditions were not so good. But then we were clever we waited for the conditions. My only regret is that this was not the direct fight because we have the different start position. I announced this last year and I fight everything I am against these rules. It’s the first example that this is going to kill the close battles with the drivers. I am sure this is going to happen with my team-mates that are sitting here with me. That's a shame because we have so many nice exciting battles. There were some solutions to make it better, but that’s a small apart (aside). I don't want to talk too much about this.
Still it was nice to have him (Loeb) there. When he’s there, you remember you have to give a lot. It was pretty exciting. Before the rally I said don’t forget the other drivers, but here we were a bit faster with Seb and taking some time from everybody else. In the end he did a small mistake. My race changed then. I had to manage the race, it was more difficult – but I have nothing against that! It’s more difficult when you have no splits. I was in the wrong rhythm on Saturday, but this is learning. For sure we will have more times in the season when it’s difficult to control.
That’s an incredible trophy from the ACM…
I think it’s a good idea for the other organisers to take notice! This is the best trophy of the season – and it’s real, not plastic! It’s the third one and I’m proud to have this one.
Julien, this is a great way to start the season, feeling good after a tough weekend?
It’s been a great weekend. Monte Carlo is a very demanding rally for all the team and all three co-drivers here. We are all happy to come through with no mistakes. It starts the season in a proper way. It was also a good chance to meet my old friend Daniel [Elena]. He said to me on Saturday morning that he made no other way to play our stupid games and secrets! Really I am satisfied that we have the new car and the job done in the winter is already working. The competition will be tough; Kris Meeke has done some very good times, sometimes with some different strategy about the tyres. The season will be nice.
How did the ice crew work?
In the first days, it was such a rush! We had to finish the recce then prepare the copies of the notes by end of day Wednesday – we were out of Gap on Thursday and then the rhythm between the stages – especially on Friday was very quick. I had to run properly from my car to gravel crew car, write it down on the bonnet, then run back to answer Seb’s question for the tyres. It was some sport this weekend…
Jari-Matti, you had stated pre-event that you would be happy with a top four result this weekend - you walk away with second overall. Better than expected?
It is definitely better than expected. I was fifth last year and that was my best result at that point. So I was aiming for the top four in my mind, I was never fighting for the victory. The idea was to be better than last year. My driving got better through the event. We speak and we work a lot with Christoph [Treier, mental trainer] and my ice note crew all the time, thinking to what is the plan. We took no risks with the tyres. I don’t think we won any stages, but we were constantly second, third, fourth or fifth, and that gave me a 50 per cent better result than expected. This is a really great way to start the season – one point also helps from the Power Stage.
How did you find the rally early on? What was your pace like?
This rally is difficult to give 100 per cent – you can’t do it. Normally I was around 90 to 95 per cent, there are so many tricky sections. I think the idea was that there would always be the margin. If there is a slippery place and you have the margin, you don’t go off the road straight away.
But the target is to win in Sweden?
Sweden is a snow rally and I love it. Sébastien was very strong there last year and they will be again. It’s a different way to go to Sweden, we wanted to play the tactical role, but it’s more about the speed in Sweden. I want to go there and fight.
Miikka, this result’s better than expected?
First, I want to congratulate my son who is five years old today. I couldn’t be there, but we will celebrate tomorrow. Our target was fourth, which would mean fourth on the road in Sweden, maybe third if Loeb was ahead of us. This would have made it easier in Sweden, this is a bit too good of a result, but still these are very important points. It’s good that the Rally 2 cars start at the front [on day two], that makes things a bit easier. You need to be a bit fortunate with the misfortune for the other crews…
Andreas, your second time at the Monte Carlo and you are on the podium! Congratulations, how does it feel to be part of this result at such an iconic event?
I think, looking at the performance, we drove a pretty clever rally. I knew it would be difficult for me and Ola to challenge from the experience we have – and the conditions. We were clever, and tried to let the result do something for us. With some good tyre choices, we hoped it would come to us. We were looking for fifth or sixth and would have been happy with that. This has been a great rally and we’ve learned a huge amount. This was the first time I drove these tyres, they were completely new for me. I have tried to do a clever rally and got paid by third place.
So we can call you ‘Brains Mikkelsen’ now?
I’m not sure I’ll use them so much in Sweden… let’s leave it there!
What's the target for Sweden?
Like Jari said, third maybe is too good a result to be competitive in Sweden, depending on the conditions; if it snows, a top-five is the best possible result. But, if the conditions are good, we will fight for whatever is possible to receive.
This was the first event without split times – you were used to no splits from the IRC days. Did you miss them?
We tried to stay clever and not focus on the stage times. I felt comfortable with the big margin. It wouldn’t make such a big difference here, but in Sweden it could be different – it might be nice to have them there! Here we had a big amount of time to save the third place from [Mads] Ostberg, but to do this with a 20-second margin would not be so easy. For this rally, it was not a problem.
Ola what’s the atmosphere like when you complete a 1-2-3 finish?
I had one target and that was to make Andreas happy and to work with the ice and gravel crew. We used our head on this event and we had our plan B. I was sitting eating breakfast with Jost this morning and he said: “I would like to see you guys on the podium today…” It was so amazing to see us all here: the top team in Monte Carlo. This is something special.
Jost, the season couldn’t have started better?
It’s a great feeling and I feel very comfortable sitting here surrounded by my six boys! It’s a fantastic feeling for the team, this was the first rally for the new generation Polo and we also see Andreas and Ola in third with last year’s car – which shows it is still very competitive. The key here was no mistakes, none of the six or any of the mechanics or the engineers talking about the tyre choice made the mistake. The driver counts more than the car on this rally and there is not a scratch [on the car] and no mistakes. This is fantastic.
The last 1-2-3 on this event was in 2003 – it’s a special result?
Winning Monte Carlo is very special in itself. A 1-2-3, you can’t imagine and all of us, I’m sure it’s not settled in our minds what has happened here. We were so focused. It was a good event, but a big effort moving from Gap to here on Friday night. Bang, bang, bang, I think we will realise what happened later tonight or even tomorrow. It’s so special.
Last year you said no team orders, will it be the same philosophy this year?
Yes, the same. We had very good results with that philosophy last year and there’s no reason why it should change this time.
FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP
1st - Stéphane Lefebvre
1st - Stephane Prévot
Congratulations on the first win of the 2015 season in WRC 2! How does it feel to take a win in Monte?
Yes, it was a very great result this week. It was my first tarmac rally in the DS 3 R5 and I am very happy to win this week. The rally was very, very difficult, but I made no mistakes and won this week.
You had a great battle with Martin Koci throughout the weekend until he suffered problems last night. Were you feeling pressure from Koci?
Yes! Yesterday there was big pressure from Martin. After his problem, I don’t push, but before it was not easy.
Was this the toughest event of your career?
This was the most difficult rally of my career so far, but Stephane explained these conditions very well and I have to say thank you to him. It’s really easy to make mistakes on this event.
Did you have any problems at all during the weekend? How did the car perform?
I am very happy with this car. Before [the event] I want to make one podium and for that I am very happy.
Stephane, congratulations on the win in Monte, it has been a very successful weekend for you both! How do you feel?
I am very happy with this result. Everything can happen in these conditions. I was a bit worried before the event and I said we needed to get some mileage in the car. Most important was to finish, but after stage one we were leading. Okay, we were in a good position to do a good result. It was difficult to find the right balance in the battle with Martin and to make no mistakes.
You’ve sat next to some very impressive drivers, how does Stephane compare?
I am very impressed with the maturity we see this weekend. It’s not easy to tell a young guy to go slow and use the mind when all they want it to use their own pace and not think about the others. It’s not easy when he wants to show his potential, but he’s been really good with no panic. It’s been quite an easy job for me, not having to tell him to slow down or think about this or that.
It must give you confidence for the rest of the season?
Yes, of course. But it’s Monte Carlo, which is really a different event. Next time is the first time on snow and these tyres, then gravel and more rallies. The first four or five will be new and different. The plan will be to find a good set-up on gravel for the next events and keep the championship in mind – then we can look a little further.
Have you won here before Stephane?
I won here 21 years ago in the class, but now I am really pleased. This is a mega event and from this afternoon, I receive 50 or 60 texts from Belgium. This is the first time that happened since five or six years ago, when I was with Subaru in the World Championship.
FIA JUNIOR WRC CHAMPIONSHIP
1st - Quentin Gilbert
1st - Renaud Jamoul
Quentin, the first win of the season in the Junior WRC. You told us at the pre-event press conference that you were feeling confident and that showed this weekend. Perfect weekend for you?
Yes perfect weekend. We didn’t have any problems with the car, from the start it was a very good weekend for sure. We have a driver concentrating and careful, it was a difficult choice of tyres sometimes with a difficult condition on the road. I am very happy to win this rally in these conditions.
How does this compare with last year?
It’s better that we start this year like this. Last year was a difficult start for us, but it’s good to start like that.
Did you have any moments at all?
No. No problems or moments. It was always OK.
And a great start to the year…
It’s a very nice to start the championship like this with maximum points. Twenty-five points is good.
Renaud, this is a tough event for co-drivers…
This has been a very long weekend. A lot of work in the road sections and stages. This was one of the most difficult of the season. The conditions were changing all the time, we have to change the notes from the first to second pass, but it was a great weekend.
Winning the Monte is a special result?
It’s a special emotion, a lot of good drivers did this [result]. And it’s especially good in these conditions. It’s very good for the feeling and the championship.
How do you feel about the championship?
This year, the only target is the Junior title. Last year we were sometimes driving in R2 or R5, sometimes in France in the World Rally Car. We learn a lot, but in the end there was nothing.
Volkswagen claims a clean sweep of the Monte podium
Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen kick off the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship season in fine style
Sun 25.01.15, 6:06PM
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia led a clean sweep of the Rallye Monte-Carlo podium for Volkswagen Motorsport this afternoon, the French double World Champions winning the event by nearly one minute. Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila exceeded their own expectations with second overall and Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene claimed third in only their second outing in this legendary FIA World Rally Championship event.
Today’s route, based around Monte-Carlo, took in just three stages, the second running of the Col St Jean to St Laurent test counting as the Power Stage. Here, Citroën’s Kris Meeke and Sébastien Loeb claimed first and second respectively while Latvala collected one additional point for being third fastest through this single stage. In the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers, Volkswagen heads Hyundai, M-Sport and Citroën.
Ogier was able to control his pace at the front of the field today, such was his advantage, and the Polo R WRC driver romped to his second consecutive WRC Rallye Monte-Carlo victory. Before the event, Latvala had hoped for a result in the top four, such has been his previous record in the world’s oldest rally, so the Finn was delighted to claim second. Mikkelsen has similarly had a strong event and the Norwegian has barely put a foot wrong over the four days of competition. Mads Østberg came home as the lead DS 3 WRC driver in fourth, following problems experienced by Loeb and Meeke earlier in the event. The two did however set the stages alight today, Meeke winning two stages and Loeb one to finish eighth and 10th respectively in this season-opening event. Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville had a titanic battle to the finish and while Sordo held the initial advantage, the young Belgian overhauled his team-mate in the final stage to take fifth by just eight-tenths of a second. Elfyn Evans recovered from yesterday’s suspension damage to take seventh, and Martin Prokop finished ninth after being overhauled by Loeb. Robert Kubica was the only leading retirement of the day. After a fine event, with a number of fastest stage times, the Pole’s Fiesta RS WRC lost its brakes over the flying finish of the penultimate stage and crashed into a wall.
The FIA WRC 2 Championship was won by Stephane Lefebvre and Stephane Prévot, while the Junior WRC Championship win was secured by Quentin Gilbert and Renaud Jamoul, both driving Citroens.
The second round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the contenders to the snowy forests of Sweden for the only true winter event in the calendar (12-15 February).
Rallye Monte-Carlo – Final Unofficial Results (subject to scrutineering)
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia
Volkswagen Polo R WRC
3hr 36min 40.2sec
2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila
Volkswagen Polo R WRC
3hr 37min 38.2sec
3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene
Volkswagen Polo R WRC
3hr 38min 52.5sec
4. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson
DS 3 WRC
3hr 39min 23.8sec
5. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul
Hyundai i20 WRC
3hr 39min 52.3sec
6. Dani Sordo/Marc Marti
Hyundai i20 WRC
3hr 39min 53.1sec
7. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
3hr 42min 03.9sec
8. Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena
DS 3 WRC
3hr 45min 14.9sec
9. Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
3hr 46min 35.0sec
10. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle
DS 3 WRC
3hr 47min 35.8sec
FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (after 1 of 13 rounds)
Sébastien Ogier (FRA)
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)
Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)
Mads Østberg (NOR)
Thierry Neuville (BEL)
Dani Sordo (ESP)
Elfyn Evans (GBR)
Sébastien Loeb (FRA)
Kris Meeke (GBR)
Martin Prokop (CZE)
FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers (after 1 of 13 rounds)
With just three stages remaining, Volkswagen Motorsport looks set to claim a clean sweep of the Rallye Monte-Carlo podium
Sat 24.01.15, 8:08PM
Sébastien Ogier heads an impressive one-two-three for Volkswagen Motorsport after the third day of Rallye Monte-Carlo competition. The French reigning World Champion has 42.8 seconds in hand to team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, and Andreas Mikkelsen is a further minute adrift in the third Polo R WRC.
Today’s route was scheduled to take in four stages, however the first running of the 19.93 kilometre Prunieres - Embrun stage was cancelled for safety reasons due to the high number of spectators. As a consequence, the first stage the crews tackled was the daunting 51.70 kilometre run from Lardier-et Valenca to Faye, where conditions were mainly dry but with patches of snow and ice. As always, tyre choice was critical and Ogier played it safe, such was his overnight advantage. The Frenchman lost 40 seconds to Latvala and a staggering two minutes to stage winner Robert Kubica, but maintained his overall advantage going into the lunchtime service. This afternoon he continued to control the pace at the front of the field and arrived in Monaco this evening with a comfortable advantage with three stages remaining on Sunday. Latvala has had a trouble-free day and is keen to maintain position, being that his best Monte-Carlo result is fifth. Similarly, Andreas Mikkelsen has escaped unscathed and following Ott Tanak’s off earlier in the day, the Norwegian is under less pressure.
Mads Østberg has moved into fourth in the lead DS 3 WRC but suffered engine problems late his afternoon. Dani Sordo, eighth last night, has climbed to fifth, despite going off this morning and then struggling with a steering problem this afternoon. He and team-mate Thierry Neuville are split by just 4.7 seconds, the Belgian having a clean run through today’s stage. Elfyn Evans has dropped from sixth to seventh with suspension problems in the last stage, and Martin Prokop is eighth, the Czech driver losing time in the first stage with a lack of confidence. Citroën team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Kris Meeke have moved back into the top 10 after their problems yesterday and both won a stage apiece.
Rallye Monte-Carlo – Unofficial Results after Section 5