WRC - 2018 Rallye Monte-Carlo - Press Conference

WRC - 2018 Rallye Monte-Carlo - Press Conference

Press Room FIA

WRC - 2018 Rallye Monte-Carlo - Press Conference

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Present:
Sébastien Ogier, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 
Kris Meeke, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Ott Tänak, Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team

Q:
Seb, a brand new season awaits and you return after sealing your fifth title. I’m sure the feeling and excitement must change over the years, but how are you feeling ahead of this season? Do you feel it could be as competitive, if not more so than 2017?
SO:
When you are a youngster you are always a bit more excited, but Monte-Carlo is always a special event and I always look forward to do it. Today was a small warm-up, tomorrow it kicks off. It’s time to replay everything, we are all at zero again and when you start with Monte you know you have a big challenge. We start with Sisteron by night, it might be a bit less snow and ice, but it will still be a difficult one to start with.

Q:
We saw an incredible season last year; can this year be as competitive?
SO:
There is a good chance. There are four teams with strong cars able to win rallies, everybody has fast drivers – all the ingredients are there for a fast rally. I would say it should be like last year and I would be happy to end it the same way!

Q:
You are the local here, you can ‘read’ the weather, will we see any further snowfall tomorrow over the night stages?
SO:
I think you remember a couple of years ago when my dad called me to say it was snowing and I had five slicks on the car. I’m local, but it’s always difficult to know with the forecast. There is some bad weather coming on Friday, but we don’t know where; it could be rain in the low part, but what’s coming on the col? It’s for our meteo guys to give us the right information to make the right call on the tyres.

Q:
Kris, a brand new and a clean slate for everyone, it all starts again here in Monte-Carlo. The team switched to 2018 development mid-way through last year, how does the Citroën C3 shape up in comparison to last year?
KM:
It couldn’t be much worse than last year at Monte-Carlo. We arrive now at the start of a new season quite humble. I think we’ve done good work. We were able to turn the car [around] for Corsica and that’s quite bumpy in places. We had some good conditions in the test, some bumpy roads and I feel quite happy in the car. Everybody continues to work and make improvements. I’m calm and relaxed. For Monte you can’t anticipate too much, you look through the windscreen and hope you’re on the right tyres.

Q:
Almost 50% of the route has changed this year. What are your thoughts on the stages themselves and the condition you saw them in from the recce? Which are the really challenging ones?
KM:
All of them… like Seb mentioned, we have the weather coming, but we don’t know where or what altitude. We recced a stage today and it’s completely dry and we come out with a nice rhythm in the notes, then we arrive on Saturday and it could be full snow – it’s the weather not the stage that’s the important thing here. They’re all pretty similar in profile apart from the ones in the south like Turini.

Q:
What’s your plan this year? Is it rally-by-rally?
KM: 
I think it’s rally-by-rally for sure. You have to adapt to where you are. Everybody wants good points and a strong start, but Monte’s a specific rally and you need to be there on Sunday afternoon and then look where you are on the timesheets. But it’s rally-by-rally.

Q:
How important are the safety crews for you?
KM: 
They do an important job on all Tarmac rallies, but especially here. The conditions change so quickly. These guys are the unsung heroes, nobody sees them, but without them it would be a very difficult rally. There’s a lot of pressure on them and I don’t know that I would ever like to do that job. They’ll have a lot of early starts, going out at five or six in the morning in the pitch black and trying to put all the information on the ice and the conditions into our notes – it’s not an easy job.

Q:
Ott, big changes for you in 2018 with a new team to adapt to. Firstly, how much testing have you done with the Toyota Yaris WRC and what did you think? What would you say are its strengths and maybe areas to work on? Do you feel you’ve fitted into the team already?
OT: 
So far, so good. The welcome in the new team has been really warm and I can see they have been working really hard to make it as easy as possible for me. So far it’s been smooth. We have tested in Sweden and mostly for Monte, we’ve done six days in total, I don’t know the kilometres. I have a good feeling in the car, but we need to see during the rally how it is. But we have done the maximum we could before the race. Once the rally starts we’ll know more, but shakedown was good and there’s a lot of potential in this car.

Q: 
What are the strengths of the Yaris WRC?
OT: 
It’s hard to say without the main competition. It’s tough to say where we need to improve, for the moment it looks like a good package. But the engineers are trying to improve a lot of areas and this is positive for me, it’s up to the engineers and what they can do – I know they’re very good at this. My job is just to drive.

Q:
Are you acquainted enough with the car to feel confident enough to challenge for a win here? 
OT: 
In Monte, whatever team or car it’s never just about pushing. It’s about being clever. The conditions are unpredictable. We need to keep our eyes open and for the moment it looks like it will be a very tricky event. We need to be clever with our choices.
 

World Rally Championship

Rally Monte CarloWRCWRCSEASON 2018SportRallies1SportWorld Rally ChampionshipRalliesWRCSEASON 2018Rally Monte CarloWRC01Wednesday, January 24, 2018 – 8:05pmWednesday, January 24, 2018 – 8:05pm

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