Meet the crews – Day 2
Meet the crews © Agence S Presse

Meet the crews – Day 2

08/04/2017

Saturday 8 April
Present:
Marek Nawarecki, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Michel Nandan, Hyundai Motorsport
Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport World Rally Team
Tommi Mäkinen, Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team
Thierry Neuville, Hyundai Motorsport
Sébastien Ogier,M-Sport World Rally Team
Dani Sordo, Hyundai Motorsport

Q:
It’s been a fairly dramatic day out there. Thierry Neuville is in the lead for you and he has a strong lead going into the final day. How are you feeling about the fact that your man is leading and he’s still here at the end of Saturday?
MiN:
Well I feel a bit more confident than in Monte Carlo and Sweden of course! I think he has been helped by the problem with Seb. I think he did quite well yesterday evening. All the drivers work with the engineers and they modify the setup of the car, it looked like it was going in the right direction at least. We saw the result this morning and after a really terrible day as there was a lot of things happening, in the end we were here first and third. It is still a long rally because tomorrow there is a huge stage to do but we will try to keep this even if it’s not so easy for Dani as there are a lot of people behind who are pushing.

Q:
There are a lot of people behind Dani Sordo, Jari-Matti Latvala is pushing hard, Craig Breen would like a piece of it as well. I’m sure you’d like to see two cars on the podium what can you do to make sure Sordo stays there?
MiN:
I would just ask him to push as much as he can, as he did today. Let’s see but I think it will be a really, really nice battle and it will be a great rally.

Q:
We were all set for a thrilling battle between Kris Meeke and Sébastien Ogier and then Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier and then Seb running into problems this afternoon. It was really disappointing, can you talk us through what happened?
MW:
First of all we had a disappointing morning because we left 15 seconds ahead of Thierry and we came into service and we were 8 seconds behind. There was a lot of head scratching which went on but I’m relieved to say that they guys did a great job and that gives Seb the confidence to really push on the long stage which he did and reduced the deficit down to 2 seconds. It was looking really good and then we got the call that he had an alarm at the end of the long stage. Unfortunately then we lost hydraulic pressure and he had to go with manual gear shift on the last stage. The time loss wasn’t as bad as we were expecting so in one sense we were very relieved to still be in second place.

Q:
Second is what he’s aiming for now. I’ve just had a chat with Seb and he said that is the focus tomorrow. It’s a bit too much time the loss that he’s had. Even though we’ve had a really long stage to kick us off in the morning. It’s too much to ask for even from a World Champion.
MW:
There is no question, the gap is too big. Plus Michel needs a win now as well because we have to look after him!

Q:
Jari-Matti Latvala, let’s talk about him first because this morning he seemed completely lost and then this afternoon he was right up there in terms of times. What changed around Tommi?

TM:
Jari-Matti was warming up! We changed the setup for his driving style and he found confidence finally and I think it is looking good for tomorrow.

Q:
He’s battling now for a podium position here in Corsica. What’s the advice from Tommi Makinen to Jari-Matti Latvala tomorrow?
TM:
I think he doesn’t need anything. I think he has a target.

Q:
Flat out yes?
TM:
I think so.

Q:
In reverse, Juho was great this morning but not so good this afternoon.
TM:
It was good for him in the morning, he found good speed immediately from the start. I think that there was some little dramas with the car in the afternoon. We don’t know exactly what’s going on but they will investigate it now. I think that was the reason why they lost a little bit.

Q:
I think everyone was broken hearted to see problems with the car today. Losing the lead of the rally due to an engine issue, it must have been devastating for the team on home soil. What exactly went on?
MaN:
It’s very disappointing for the team. Especially in the situation where Kris was leading. Unfortunately at the end of the sixth stage he lost the oil pressure which was the origin of the failure of the engine and after SS6 Kris needed to retire. There was no option for him to continue. Very bad luck.

Q:
For him to retire completely from the rally as well, such a shame. I suppose the positives which can be taken is the fact that the car was so competitive on tarmac.
MaN:
The car seems quite competitive on the tarmac especially on this rally today and yesterday. Kris has found that it is competitive. Also for Craig, he did quite a good day. He’s continued to improve his time, he’s in fifth position but still in the position to fight for the podium so we’ll see what can happen tomorrow.

Q:
Is he allowed to go out there and push for podium Marek?
MaN:
t’s always complicated when we have only one car remaining in a good position. I think that Craig will do the best and I think that he is able to drive where he’s comfortable and as he can so I think that he will try to fight for the podium tomorrow. We’ll see.

Q:
So that’s a yes?
MaN:
Yes.

Q:
Well, Thierry Neuville, last night you were here and were in third position and now you lead the rally. It has been quite an incredible day, an incredible morning for you. Brilliant times from the start of the day, what was the change?
TN:
There was no change to be honest! Yesterday we were pushing hard and I felt comfortable and happy in the car but the times were not great. They were not bad but not like we wanted. Today was the opposite. We drove the same, the car felt great and the times were much better. It was strange, it was a kind of a surprise as well for us, like for Dani and like probably for Seb as well in the morning to see but at the end it was very positive. We must be pleased, we have seen that the car in these conditions is working very well, the stages were a little bit different today, had another profile, our car was just faster, that’s why we were able to push and come back to the lead.

Q:
Talking about pushing you have quite a big lead now over Seb. There is no need to push anymore.. We have seen you in this situation before this year where you’ve been leading comfortably and little mistakes have crept in… It’s not going to happen this time, is it?
TN:
For sure no! We have a good lead tonight, we should be able to pass through the long stage tomorrow. It’s a tricky one so we have to be awake from the early morning but I think that this year the conditions should be much drier compared to last year when it was very tricky. If the road stays dry I think it will be very difficult to make a huge gap for Sebastien even if he pushes hard. I am going to drive and try to control and let’s see at the end of the stage.

Q:
Sébastien, we were hoping to see a really fantastic battle between you two this afternoon and again tomorrow but some problems for you, that you noticed on the long stage this afternoon… It must have been so disappointing?
SO:
Of course it was especially when you are in the middle of a fight like this. With Thierry it was very enjoyable. This morning obviously he had an extra pace compared to mine and he managed to come back very very close and he even took us so this afternoon we had no other option but try to react. We reacted quite OK on the first long stage, came back only two seconds behind him but then, unfortunately it was the end of the game for us because we had just to finish the day with some troubles. I am happy that at least we saved our second position. It will mean anyway good points for the championship and now that’s the only target remain for us.

Q:
Second position here would be great points for you. Power Stage points tomorrow? You can never discount them, can you?
SO:
Exactly, especially this year, we all know that there are five points to catch so of course you have to catch some, not necessarily the five but some are important at the end of the year, they are always counting. For sure if we manage to finish second, with some points in the Power Stage, it would mean a very good weekend for us because that would mean increase the lead in the Championship and every weekend where you are able to increase the lead, it’s a good weekend. I would be happy with that even if tonight I am a bit disappointed with the end of the fight this way. I would have preferred fighting until the end with Thierry, I am sure it would have been very exciting for us and for the fans as well.

Q:
It’s not only a battle on the stages Seb, it’s a psychological battle as well. Are you going to be teasing him, winding him up tomorrow, putting a little bit of pressure on him that way?
SO:
I think i don’t need to. I think he is going to have a bad night anyway. I think he is going to think a lot about this last stage anyway because he knows what happened this year already. So I don’t need to do anything! I think he will do it by himself!

Q:
Let’s turn to you Dani Sordo. It’s kind of been an up and down for you. We have seen some frustration at the stage end and then we’ve seen a great time and then you have been frustrated again and then it’s been a good time again! Not consistent today but you are still in third position which is great!
DS:
It’s a nice position but the feeling with the car in the stages was not so nice… It’s difficult to feel the rhythm you need to have in the stage and to feel the tyres and everything! Anyway we are third now and I think it’s not so bad but Jari-Matti is really close so tomorrow will be a long day.

Q:
It will be a long day, they are not too far behind you so what’s the plan for you tomorrow Dani? What’s the strategy? Just flat out?
DS:
Yes it’s the only plan you know! We need to do the best in the stage and try to drive well to manage this gap if it’s possible.

Parcours édition 2017


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