WRC - 2017 Rally Australia - Press Conference

WRC - 2017 Rally Australia - Press Conference

Press Room FIA

WRC - 2017 Rally Australia - Press Conference

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Present:
Sébastien Ogier, M-Sport World Rally Team 
Craig Breen, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 
Hayden Paddon, Hyundai Motorsport
Jari-Matti Latvala, Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT

Q:
Final event of the season Sébastien and with the drivers’ title wrapped up in Wales do you come here with a sense of relief? 
SO:
I feel very well. The tension is down and I’m more relaxed. I have to say I enjoyed the days following the event, it’s been an intense season and when the pressure goes down it’s a nice feeling. I like the pressure, it’s part of my life, but it’s nice to relax as well.

Q:
There was a lot of emotion from you at the finish in Wales, should people read anything into that regarding your future?
SO:
The emotion was very strong and I’m happy that I cannot explain that. You can’t control the emotion, but it was pure joy and happiness to reach the target for the season. We knew it was a challenging situation this year and it’s because of that I had the emotion. There was no announcement that I was thinking of. Honestly, I am not playing a game, I don’t like to be in this situation and not able to tell you what is happening.

Q:
Have you reached a decision on your future? 
SO: 
I have made the decision, I would say 99 per cent. 

Q:
When will you tell us?
SO:
I don’t remember the rally when I said it’s coming soon, but it was a long time ago – I don’t dare to say anything about the date. In one month the Monte entry list is closed so you will know if I’m on the list.

Q:
Do you still feel ready to fight for the final win of the year?
SO:
Of course. It will be an intense fight. We know it will be a tough job first on the road – we saw already from the shakedown. It won’t be easy, but I come here with no pressure. I’m relaxed I want to give it a try.

Q:
Craig you’ve been here a while, are you feeling ready for the rally?
CB:
I’ve been visiting my sister, she lives in Perth, so I’ve been with her taking the sunshine in. The batteries are fully recharged. 

Q:
Your first time here in Coffs for the event. What are your thoughts so far?
CB:
I hear Jari-Matti talking about everybody knowing the Nambucca stage and that gets me a bit worried…
SO:
Yeah, but I’m sure you know it from watching on WRC+!
CB:
That’s true. I was on the internet watching it quite a lot at my sister’s last week. From what I saw on the recce, I have to say this is one of the most beautiful rallies. When you are going through some of the stages, stages like Nambucca, you really do feel like you’re on an adventure. The profile of the road is so nice, but that feeling of an adventure is something that’s missing from some of the other events.

Q:
How’s your confidence ahead of the event?
CB:
Good. Definitely Rally GB filled us with a lot of confidence, we were able to show some really nice speed. We were in the mix on the first day before a really silly mistake on the Friday afternoon. But we weren’t so far away from the lead guys. Wales is quite a contrast to the conditions we have here, but the car is coming on leaps and bounds. I had a good feeling at shakedown, but you really can’t fight experience. We’ll do what we can.

Q:
What can you tell us about next year?
CB:
I don’t want to use the word “full” because I don’t know how many events [I will contest]. How can I say? Put it this way, I’ll sleep well over Christmas – I know I have a good programme ahead of me, it’s just a case of dotting the is and crossing the ts.

Q:
Hayden, Jari-Matti says Friday’s a big day, do you agree?
HP: 
The new stages are very fast, with lots of them in the trees. It will be a key day. But Saturday will be tough as well with road cleaning. You need to not be near the front (first on the road) in Nambucca, if you are, your rally will be finished.

Q:
Tough season for you, how’s the confidence? Is it back for this rally?
HP:
I’m a long way off at the moment. It’s not like you can just flick a switch. I want to focus on this rally and just enjoy it. It’s a case of pretty much ignoring the times, unfortunately it’s that way and we’ll try to have a good weekend.

Q:
We see a move away from the ‘country’ roads this year, what do you think about the route and does Nambucca still stand out as the best stage here?
HP:
For me it reminds me of home. Apart from a small section in the middle, the start and end are a lot like New Zealand with some very rolling roads. You can attack that sort of road, but as Jari-Matti said you can push like hell for 50 kilometres and there will be five or six guys separated by just a couple of seconds, it’ll be close.

Q:
What can you tell us about the plan for next year?
HP:
All I know is that we’re probably not going to be doing the full season. Ongoing discussions, let’s see what happens.

Q:
Jari-Matti, how was shakedown?
J-ML:
It was good. I was in the top three and it felt good. It’s been a long time since I was in a press conference (for the top three), Finland was the last time – I had some tough events, but I feel confident again. We have found out why I have been struggling.

Q:
What’s the reason?
J-ML:
I was complaining about the traction in Wales and we have now realised there was something in the suspension and we have improved it. It’s difficult to explain. I should draw it; I could draw the damper inserts, but I don’t think people would understand!

Q:
Jari-Matti, the debut season for Toyota is almost at an end, can you finish the season on a high?
J-ML:
Generally speaking it’s been a good year. We had an amazing start, leading the championship after Sweden, but I knew the spring time would be tough. We had ECU problems in Mexico and Argentina, but still we were competitive until Poland, but then we started to face technical issues. I expected this to happen over the year, but they came in the mid-point in the season. But we have learned and they won’t happen again. This is making us ready for 2018. It would be nice to finish with a good result here in Australia.

Q:
What makes this a tough event?
J-ML:
It’s a challenging event. It’s a tough position for Sébastien [Ogier] to be first on the road on the first day and we have some new stages on Friday – it’s most important there, you have to get it right on Friday. On Saturday there is also Nambucca and some long stages. Everybody knows [Nambucca] so well, it’s the same since 2013, so it’s difficult to make differences there. Normally the new stages are where you can make the difference.

Q:
Finally, can you all tell me your highlight of the season?
SO:
It’s always so hard to answer, it’s not easy to pick a highlight, but obviously GB was a high point for me. But I always rate Monte Carlo very high: it’s my home event and to win with virtually no preparation was special for me.

J-ML: 
I would say Sweden because we won it. But also Finland on Saturday I wanted to finish that day. It was one of the best performances I ever did in that morning… but it was only the morning.

HP:
The podium in Poland, but not much for the rest of the year.

CB:
Getting the deal to drive one of these new cars and then driving it on a full dry road in Corsica – that was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. 

FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
Kalle Rovanperä

Q:
Your first experience of the WRC and a WRC 2 car was in Wales Rally GB. How do you feel it went? Was it tougher than you expected?
KR:
Rally GB was starting my WRC career and it was quite tricky, but the speed was quite OK in some stages. We had some problems and some difficulties, but it got better and better so it was quite a nice weekend.

Q:
Were you happy with how the stage times compared in Wales?
KR:
On Friday and Saturday it was quite bad, I can say that. But on Sunday the times were not too bad, more like they should be. There is some more to improve.

Q:
What do you think of the stages here? As the only WRC 2 competitor is the plan to just learn and get through?
KR:
The stages are really beautiful here. I have done a few rallies, but nothing like this – it’s looking really nice. I want to drive all the stages and get the experience, but I hope I can compare to some local guys who are driving in the AP4 cars.
 

World Rally Championship

Rally AustraliaWRCWRCSEASON 2017Sport1SportWorld Rally ChampionshipWRCSEASON 2017Rally AustraliaWRC01Thursday, November 16, 2017 – 6:17amThursday, November 16, 2017 – 6:17am

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