Post-Event Press Conference 2017

30.7.2017 20:19Post event Press Conference, 30 July 2017

Present:
1st - Esapekka Lappi, Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT
1st - Janne Ferm, Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT
2nd - Elfyn Evans, M-Sport World Rally Team
2nd - Daniel Barritt, M-Sport World Rally Team
3rd - Juho Hänninen, Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT
3rd - Kaj Lindström, Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT
Tommi Makinen, Team Principal, Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT
 
Q:
Esapekka, wow! Four events into your WRC career and you scoop victory at your home event, the rally every driver wants to win. Can you describe the feeling?
EL:
It’s going to be difficult to describe the feeling at the moment. Yes a pretty amazing weekend. At the moment the feelings are that I’m really relieved and energy is going down like always after a weekend. Especially after a victory as all the pressure is going away, but it’s really something special. I really couldn’t imagine that it happened so early, I really imagined that the podium was the best that we were going to get and it’s amazing!
 
Q:
You were in such an incredible fight with Jari-Matti Latvala until of course yesterday afternoon when he had his dramas. What were you feeling when you couldn’t quite match his times yesterday, we got a little bit of frustration through when you are normally really cool, calm and confident.
EL:
When I realised after Friday that we were leading, I realised that it was possible to really fight for the victory. That’s why I was frustrated as my target changed, I wanted to win. It was on the plate I would say. Jari-Matti was driving too well for me and I didn’t want to do anything stupid. It was a bit frustrating then it all changed unfortunately.
 
Q:
For you, what was the feeling like as you had to make sure you got the car through. There was a little bit of last minute drama for you on the penultimate stage, tell us about that.
EL:
It was not that easy to drive this car as safely as the R5 as somehow it feels that when you are not really pushing the aero is not really efficient and the active central diff is not so efficient. So I just took a bit of an early entry on one corner, then it was tightening after that and I dropped the rear tyre off the road and it hit the rock immediately which broke the rim. I wanted to kill myself at that moment, because I didn’t really know what was broken, I just felt that something is broken on the car. I was following Kris Meeke - he had some drama as well last year before the victory.
 
Q:
So what was it like when you came through the Power Stage? Were there any nerves before the Power Stage?
EL:
I was so nervous before the last one. I’ve never felt anything like that before. I’ve never been that nervous I would say. I don’t even know why but it felt really bad before the stage. Immediately when you start off the line then it was under control.
 
Q:
You had Tommi Mäkinen at the finish and huge crowds. It must have been special.
EL:
It was a big, big relief to go over the finish line and the amount of spectators this weekend has been crazy! The area out there by the podium was full. Thanks for that to everyone who came to spectate and cheer for us and all of the drivers.
 
Q:
We switch to tarmac now, how do you feel your pace will be on that surface?
EL:
No idea! I’ve done two days of testing on tarmac so I don’t know yet. I would be very happy if I can finish, it’s a really tricky rally. Especially if it’s raining then it’s going to be really bad. It’s the first time for a long, long time for me with a gravel crew too so it’s going to be something new for me.
 
Q:
Janne, your journey so far with Esapekka has been an incredible one, but to win your home
event so soon. Can you put it into words?
JF:
It’s absolutely amazing. I have no words.
 
Q:
Esapekka said that he had nerves going into that final stage, which is unusual for him to say. What about you from the co-driving seat. Were you a little bit nervous?
JF:
Yes of course, but we are slightly different. The race, like Esapekka mentioned, when we saw Jari-Matti it changed a bit our approach. Before that we were in a fight and have everything to gain, after that you have everything to lose. It’s a different ball game and a different situation for us as well to be leading a WRC rally. What can I say? Amazing weekend!
 
Q:
Elfyn, you were as far down as eighth position at one point on Friday and then you walk away with second position; quite some comeback! How did that happen?
EE:
Friday was a really difficult day for us. It [the rally] started as everybody knows without a test. The balance of the car in shakedown was not what I’m used to having. For some reason we had a lot of understeer and we didn’t find a way to really cure it. That carried on into the first day and with so many stages in one loop without service there was very little that we could do. We were trying what we could out on the road but it really made very little difference. So we made some changes in service and to be fair that did help quite a lot, but unfortunately the rain came and as you can all see from Poland it doesn’t favour us that well. Come the end of Friday, let’s say it was quite a frustrating situation for us to be in with things not going that well. Then on Saturday, on the longer stages which suit us a bit better, and drier conditions, we were able to get some good temperature into the tyres and they started working really well and we started climbing up the order. It went really well from there really.
 
Q:
Big battle today, did you start the day knowing you would essentially risk it all to get a podium?
EE:
I think there was an element that I was going to go for it, but there was a bit of a difficult situation. It’s very important that M-Sport wins the manufacturers’ title this year and I think they wanted to make sure they collected as many points as possible. So for sure I wanted to go for it but it wasn’t going to be as crazy as the attack I had in Argentina where I left literally nothing at the top of El Condor when I had the chance of that win, when today I tried to be a bit more smart and drive well and straight and it turned out OK in the end. Unfortunately Teemu (Suninen) made a mistake and then it was a big fight with Juho all the way to the wire.
 
Q:
So talk me through that final Power Stage because when you ran it in the morning there were a couple of little mistakes but then for a lot of drivers it was a really slippy first pass.
EE:
It was, I think the grip was changing quite a lot overall but I think what caught most people out was the braking into the chicanes, myself included. I thought that we braked quite early but actually it was fractionally late and we lost probably a couple of seconds on those bits. So yes, coming into the Power Stage I knew that if I did any mistakes like that again then the position wouldn’t be able to be gained so I tried to be fast and clean and luckily it worked out in the end.
 
Q:
Dan, a first Finland podium for you; what does it feel for you to be here for the first time on the podium in Finland?
DB:
It’s very special, this is the rally I think that for every driver and co-driver stands out above all the rest. So to not really think we can do it on the Friday to being in a battle today for third or second and to come out in second, it’s an amazing feeling to be honest. A week ago we didn’t think it would happen. We’re very happy.
 
Q:
You needed a really great run through the Power Stage to take second. Did you feel it was a
good stage for you?
DB:
Yes, I think that this morning on the same stage we were being perhaps a little untidy like everyone else. The Power Stage we were really smooth and trying to concentrate on being smooth and not giving any time away and it just about worked.
 
Q:
Juho, congratulations on your first-ever WRC podium and you’ve done it at home! Special for
you and the team?
JH:
For sure I was a bit disappointed at the end of the last stage, losing second position by not a lot, but enough. I knew it after yesterday that this won’t be an easy day with that tight battle with the guys and they have made the same mistakes as last year so I know it will be a bit challenging. Then I made a small mistake in the morning in the first one. But altogether I’m really, really happy for the team, this is a good result after all the work the guys have done.
 
Q:
You have been there for the majority of that work Juho. What is the atmosphere in the team like right now with this dream result?
JH:
It has been really, really good since we started driving last spring and last year it needed a large amount of work but all the guys made it. Still it’s difficult to understand how good the atmosphere has been all the time and it has continued this year. It’s something unique.
 
Q:
The huge positives from this event, as well as for you, is the pace that you have shown, the really strong competitive pace. What will we see next when we move to the next event in Germany?
JH:
We will see. We drove a big test last week in Germany and the car felt good. We still need to continue the work a little bit before the rally but the car has been good on tarmac and from that side I am quite confident even for Germany. It’s not the easiest rally. Of course I am really confident.
 
Q:
Kaj, it’s a while since you’ve been on the WRC podium, welcome back! How are you feeling with this result?
KL:
It’s good to be back here. I think the last time I was here was with this guy (Tommi Mäkinen), probably in 2003, after the wars!
 
Q:
So tell me about your weekend out there. As Juho said it has been a great battle, maybe a little bit of disappointment that you didn’t get second position but it’s a great result to be on the podium. The pace was superb this weekend.
KL:
Yes first of all Juho did a great weekend. He drove really really well. OK we had some problems and some mechanical skills from me which are not very good, but we still made it to the service which was good. Unfortunately Elfyn didn’t have enough understeering so we lost by 0.3s, but anyway it’s good to be here.
 
Q:
Tommi, what a totally amazing rally for Toyota! At one point a 1-2-3, Esapekka winning and Juho also on the podium. This must be beyond your wildest expectations and dreams?
TM:
Yes, I think it’s been a similar feeling over twenty years ago for me. So I think this was the weekend I can say for sure that Esapekka and Janne will never forget. I know that because of my experience, I still remember 1994 when I won this rally. I still remember every moment and I’m sure they will not forget this weekend. This weekend for our whole team will be remembered for a very long and it’s also the weekend where we saw our strong teamwork and where it was improving during the season and now we show the whole world what it is. It’s also strengthened our teamwork for the future even more.
 
Q:
It’s been a great weekend but did you have a bit of a heart in the mouth moment when you heard that Esapekka might have a problem on the penultimate stage. Were you worried Tommi?
TM:
Yesterday was not such a nice day, we went to follow the stages. The first stage where we went to watch Esapekka he really made a massive jump and afterwards was very close to going off with a sixth gear. Then when we went to the next stage, Juho jumped with the sixth gear flat-out and with two wheels. It was really crazy and I noticed afterwards that it’s not so nice to follow this rally! Today I knew that Esapekka could easily concentrate for this kind of moment and I was absolutely confident that he could do it.
 
Q:
I asked you this back in Sweden when the team took its first win, could we see more wins before the end of the year? Is it possible?
TM:
Sweden was another special event after the Monte Carlo. I knew already that these rallies can happen whatever. Jari-Matti was very strong in Sweden. I think we were not ready to win, we were not ready to be strong as a team but since Mexico, we noticed in rougher conditions that we had some difficulties, we noticed that we have to keep working and developing. We started constant development with our car in every different area. We went step by step and we continued testing. We noticed already in Poland that we were on a good level. We had a pretty massive test programme here in Finland after the Polis rally and all of us know we made a step forward. I would say we now feel far more confident to be there from now onwards. We have done massive work during this year. That was our target; to be strong and keep improving and we have done good work. It’s good thanks to all of our team members who have done that. All our team is far more confident to be in Germany.
 
FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP
 
Present:
1st - Jari Huttunen, Printsport
1st - Antti Linnaketo, Printsport
 
Q:
Congratulations Jari, you were hoping for a good result here and it’s turned into the best one in WRC 2 and in the R5 category. How are you feeling?
JH:
Yes it’s an amazing feeling and it’s a little bit surprising how well it’s going.
 
Q:
Talk to me about the rally itself and your pace because you were a little frustrated on Friday, you were not quite as quick as the drivers that we saw outside of WRC 2 - Eric Camilli, Ole Christian Veiby…How did you feel your pace was on Friday?
JH:
We started easy and Ole Christian and Camilli were fast, then I think we can push a little bit and it’s sad that Ole retired. I think if Ole does not retire, we can push a bit harder if we need.
 
Q:
So on Saturday we had the classic stages, Ouninpohja in particular; do you feel you got the best of that stage? I think it’s not your favourite, I remember you saying that it was not your favourite when you came to the end?
JH:
Ouninpohja is horrible if you don’t drive it flat-out but I like Päijälä, it’s the best!
 
Q:
So throughout the weekend you’ve got to be happy with your performance because you have taken the win in WRC 2?
JH:
Of course I’m happy and it’s amazing, our first full Championship rally with an R5 car, it’s amazing.
 
Q:
I know you are very busy in terms of competition in the ERC but will we see you again in WRC 2 this year?
JH:
I don’t think so but I hope next year I can do more.
 
Q:
Congratulations on your win here at home, it must be a special feeling.
AL:
Absolutely, it’s a special feeling, this is my fifth Rally Finland and now is the first time on a big rally and everything going well. Before the rally I think if everything is going well I think a third place or something, but this is much better!
 
Q:
Any big moments this weekend or was everything pretty calm in the car?
AL:
What is a big moment? One big moment in Laukaa on Friday, it’s so close, almost the end of the rally but we needed a little luck and everything was going well. If there is one moment on every stage, then the speed is OK.
 
FIA JUNIOR WRC / WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP
 
Present:
1st - Nicolas Ciamin
1st - Thibault de la Haye

Q:
Nicolas, congratulations for a win here at Rally Finland. For any driver it’s special and it’s been some battle this weekend in the Junior category. You must be happy?
NC:
Of course I am very very happy. It’s a bit unexpected to win here, it’s fantastic to win Rally Finland. This rally is just incredible, maybe the best rally in the world and I am very happy with the result.
 
Q:
Did you believe when you were competing on Friday that you would be able to walk away with a win when you saw how the pace was in comparison to the other drivers?
NC:
When I saw the stages on Friday morning and I took the lead early I said that I thought I could it. When Terry Folb had technical issues, the gap for second place was quite big so it was a bit more relaxed for me.
 
Q:
Saturday of course as I mentioned to Jari (Huttunen) was Ouninpohja, which is a stage everyone talks about and I know he is not such a fan, what about you, what do you think of the stage?
NC:
I don’t think it is my favourite stage, but I like it. I think it’s really really fast, but it’s difficult to go fast during the first time you do the stage, you cannot be really fast I think.
 
Q:
What was the feeling like today, there was quite a lead but we saw other dramas for Junior drivers. At the first running of the Power Stage, a lot of rolls… Were there any problems for you at all?
NC:
Yes I did a mistake. I was not pushing but it was so tricky. We had moments in the stage but I was not pushing too much so it was OK for the other stages.
 
Q:
How are you feeling about the Championship?
NC:
We got some points back to Nil (Solans) but he still has a good bag of points so we just need to keep pushing and we will see at the end.
 
Q:
Thibault, congratulations on your win here at Rally Finland. How do you feel after this weekend?
TdlH:
The stages went very well, it was good to lead and the performance from Nicolas was very good for this rally this time. We had some moments in Ouninpohja but we did two best times in there which is really good. We had a disappointment today in stage 23 because this morning we were leading the Prize Drive, but Nil was eventually second so we lost it. It’s a pity after Poland. The performance was very good.
 
Q:
In the Junior category this year we have seen a very strong performance from Nil Solans. What more can you guys do now on the rest of the events?
TdlH:
For sure it will be two events on tarmac. At the beginning we expected to win on tarmac but now we can win on gravel that’s very good because we are improving a lot on gravel. So now, as Nicolas said, we have to push, no question we will push until the end of the season and if we can catch for the lead we will.