Meet the Crews: Saturday

3.8.2019 22:06

Meet the Crews
Friday 2 August 

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP MANUFACTURERS

Present:
Kaj Lindström, Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team
Pierre Boudoir, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Andrea Adamo, Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
Rich Millener, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Q: 
Ott Tänak continues to lead here in Finland. It is a good advantage now, it’s better than tenths of seconds which is what we’ve seen throughout the whole rally. How are you feeling about his performance out there today?

KL:
Once again a strong performance started from the first stage this morning and he first caught all the guys and then he was slowly pulling away. He has 16.4 seconds so he can breathe a little bit tomorrow morning.

Q:
It’s still a tough challenge out there tomorrow and if you look back to last year, he won with an advantage of over a minute. It’s a different challenge this time around, maybe more of a challenge this year.

KL:
Esapekka has been giving him a hard time and he’s doing a good job. It’s harder work than last year that’s for sure. We will try to keep that position and Jari-Matti in third place.

Q:
We’ve seen some caution in Latvala’s drive this afternoon. Has there been a team instruction to reign it in after what happened with Kris and Jari-Matti this morning?

KL:
Yes, it’s understandable when you lose the third car and they were all going mental. You have to tell somebody to slow down and secure the manufacturer points. I had a word with Jari-Matti and he understood that he should back off a little bit.

Q:
Jari just said he might give it a bit of a push tomorrow, are you concerned by that?

KL:
I haven’t spoken with him yet!

Q:
Esapekka Lappi has been on form today. He broke the Toyota 1-2-3 yesterday and he got back up there today. Is he too far off the lead to push for it now with Ott? Is it too much of a challenge?

PB:
It’s quite a challenge to win more than 12 or 14 seconds back. Against Tänak with a Toyota, here and only four stages. It’s quite difficult for sure.

Q:
It would be fantastic for him to walk away with a second position. He’s had a tough season but here he’s shown you great pace and consistency. It would be great for him and the team to get second tomorrow.

PB:
It could be a good result if we can save this second place. I think he can manage with Jari-Matti, even fight for it. It’s possible.

Q:
What about the battle between Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen? That has been raging throughout the day. It’s advantage Mikkelsen going into tomorrow but it’s only just over two seconds. It is Sebastien Ogier, he is the world champion. He should be back to full health tomorrow hopefully.

PB:
Yes hopefully, he was quite bad today. He was sick and without any energy it was a very difficult day for him. He managed to stay in the fight. Hopefully tomorrow he will feel better. Maybe he will win at least one place.

Q:
A great performance from Andreas Mikkelsen today, he was really fired up. He was right into that battle with Ogier and walked away with the advantage. Can he hold it tomorrow?

AA:
I don’t know but that would be nice. Honestly I have to say both Andreas / Anders and Craig / Paul have had an amazing day. I would have loved to be in a position to give them a faster car. We knew that we would not be in a position to fight against Ott but I’m not happy with where we are. To fight for the first position I would be happy. I assumed worse, I hoped for better.

Q:
Thierry Neuville is fighting for the championship title. He is behind Craig Breen right now. There are four stages tomorrow. If it remains in the same position will things change? Will he move around? Will you move him ahead of Craig? Is that the plan if he remains behind?

AA:
I knew you would ask me. I did, I will do and I am doing all that is needed and will be needed to win the titles.

Q:
So that’s a yes then?

AA:
I think there are enough clever people here.

Q:
Tell me the day got better after yesterday as Teemu Suninen was struggling a bit yesterday but we did hear some positivity in some stage end interviews with him and we did see some pace.

RM:
It’s been difficult. Andrea is not happy where he is so you can imagine that we are not happy with where we are. It’s a big shame for all the Finnish fans to see Teemu struggling, it’s not what we want, it’s not what he wants but I think we’ve seen from this rally how close the cars are together when you have to be absolutely on the limit. If you can’t get into that zone then you lose 10-15 seconds and that’s it, you won’t get it back again. You’ve seen how close it’s been the last couple of days. We are where we are and we’re going to have to live with that this year and use the opportunity to fine tune the car a little bit more tomorrow. Teemu will have a go at the Power Stage. The road position won’t be fantastic but that’s what we’ll aim for.

Q:
We’ve seen pace from the car on previous events, is it just because it is a high speed, top of the range engine pace here that we’re not seeing it with yours? 

RM:
I don’t think so. I think we looked at some of the splits of the high speed sections and some of the low speed sections and there are splits where we were competitive and able to challenge. OK maybe the car setup isn’t 100% perfect for here but I think on this occasion we’d probably get more speed from having your head in the right place than we can do on the car.

Q:
Gus Greensmith has been first on the road today. When I asked him if he was learning anything out there he said that was the understatement of the year. It’s been a massive learning curve for him today.

RM:
I think he’s used to driving in WRC2 where opening the road isn’t a problem. I think he’s learnt today that when the top guys tell you that it’s hard to open the road, it’s really hard to open the road. I told him “unfortunately I can’t do anything for you and it’s probably going to get worse this afternoon”. I think it did. All the national cars run in between and they are having fun in between the WRC cars so the lines they have are even worse and there was a lot of ruts this afternoon. It’s better that he starts to learn the lesson now, if he wants to continue there will be a few occasions when he will open the road because the pace of the top guys is huge. When you are not having the chance to get as much experience in those cars, then you have to get used to those conditions before you can get better.

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVERS

Present:
Ott Tänak, Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team
Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Jari-Matti Latvala, Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team

Q: 
Guys, another incredible day, it has been fantastic to watch you compete. Ott, you have the lead. I’m really delighted to say the lead of over a second, over a couple of seconds, tenths of seconds. Is it a healthy lead going into the final day for you?

OT:
Compare to how everything was going yesterday and this morning when we were only making differences by point something of a second and now, we have more than ten, then of course it’s like breathing space already so I must say it’s been very intense so far. There has been a lot of battles and quite a bit of pressure but no, it’s still nice, the rhythm is quite high but at least we can breathe a bit.

Q:
To be involved in those battles, to be fighting away and to come to the end of the rally, there is still tomorrow to go of course, and to take a win must be more satisfying than if it comes in a little bit easier maybe?

OT:
Yes definitely. I’d like to say yesterday was maybe the hardest day for me. I was quite tired by the end of the day. I was pushing hard and always at the limit so it took a lot of energy. This morning it was more or less the same or even a bit more. Stage by stage I started to push more and more. At one point the pace was really high and I started to have moments as well. Maybe thanks to this we managed to build some gap to Esapekka this afternoon. Esapekka has been doing a very good job and he was really strong so I had to still keep a good pace to match his speed.

Q:
He is still behind keeping along the pressure which is keeping you on your toes. But how much on your limit have you been out there this afternoon? Has there not been any need for the full risk that we’ve seen?

OT:
This morning for sure we were going a bit faster than in the afternoon but still, the rougher sections, I was careful but the smooth road I had a good rhythm. Going in a good flow still, let’s say not the full risk but no real places where I was a bit slow or out of rhythm. I really enjoyed this afternoon. The car was really working well and we were in a good mood.

Q:
I’ll tell you one thing that we have really noticed from the coverage so far this weekend where we were watching on All Live, it’s the amount of Estonian flags that are absolutely everywhere on the stages. If I could time travel I would make sure I make the Estonian flags so I could sell them. Whoever is doing it must make an absolute fortune! It feels like all Estonia is here to watch you again. The fans are travelling for you and I know you appreciate the support.

OT:
Yes of course. There are plenty of them. In a way it’s extra pressure but on the other side it’s an extra push to do well. I enjoy it. Estonia is very close to Finland and it’s close to home so for sure you feel the home support.

Q: 
You mentioned the word booster, final question. If you could take away the victory tomorrow it would be a real boost for your title hopes. You are the leader coming in to this round but to take a win here again in Finland would really add to that tally. How much more confident would that make you?

OT:
It’s very important. You know the championship is very tight at the moment so every time we can take some points out from our opponents it’s a positive push. Lets see, still tomorrow to go, two fast stages so we still need a lot of focus. Definitely those points are our target. 

Q:
A really strong day from you again out there, some brilliant pace. You got and kept ahead of Latvala and put a bit of pressure on Tänak in front. Are you a happy Lappi at the end of the day?

EL:
Yes, yesterday was a good day but today has been even better. I’m really satisfied especially for the afternoon. I lost a lot of time in the morning on the side road stages but then for some reason in the afternoon I could match the speed. He said he was a bit slow so that’s why probably.

Q:
I can never imagine Ott Tänak being slow, I’m sure you can’t either.

EL:
Sorry, I mean he was just driving a little bit more carefully!

Q:
To walk away with second position tomorrow would be fantastic. Is there a plan to give a little bit of a push to put more pressure on him, or is it not worth risking it?

EL:
There is still a long way to go for the finish. It would be perfect to be on the podium first of all. I think if I tried to put a bit of pressure on him then it would be a high risk for me. I just need to do the same as I did today, keep the performance and concentrate on my own driving. Try to drive as well as I can and try to keep the fellow Finn behind.

Q: 
Talk to me about your day because it’s been dramatic out there Jari-Matti you’ve had a dramatic morning talk us through that.

JML: 
We started the morning and the pace was really, really high. The feeling was fantastic to drive, I really enjoyed it. In the morning I was thinking about catching up with Esapekka and feeling more comfortable when you are in a podium position. Me and Kris went wide on the same corner and hit the same rock. Unfortunately Kris stopped and I broke the wheel and had to run with a flat tyre for quite a long time. The tyre exploded then. We lost 14 seconds which wasn’t so bad. The car was still fine, we fixed it in service. In the afternoon I backed off too much as Esapekka was lifting up his pace and I thought that I’d take it safely but I took it too safely. I couldn’t find the right rhythm. As I mentioned at the end of one of the stage interviews, when you have two punctures and break the wheel, you know that the third time you lose the corner. That I didn’t want to do. We really need the manufacturer points.

Q:
Of course and caution is coming to that driver a little bit. So tomorrow the plan is not to put pressure on him, or is it?

JML:
This afternoon was tough because I tried to be cautious. But tomorrow’s stages are nice stages. I love these stages, there are the best stages, Laukaa is my favourite. I can’t catch him by normal driving but you never know if Esapakka stops to take a coffee somewhere, then I can catch him!