WRC – T.Neuville “It was pretty amazing”

Sport news

Present:
1st – Thierry Neuville, Hyundai Motorsport
1st – Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai Motorsport
2nd – Elfyn Evans, M-Sport World Rally Team
2nd – Daniel Barritt, M-Sport World Rally Team
3rd – Ott Tänak, M-Sport World Rally Team
3rd – Martin Järveoja, M-Sport World Rally Team
Michel Nandan, Team Principal, Hyundai Motorsport

Q:
Thierry, it was a final stage thriller and it was you who took victory. How did you feel when you saw the results?
TN:
First of all I would like to say that it was a really intense weekend for us. Everybody had problems, some mistakes, a puncture, but the key was to never give up, to always come back and push. That was actually the reason why we were able today to fight for the win. We knew it was difficult but we made it. Being at the end of the last stage I got the first split times back and we had lost because Elfyn was 2 seconds faster; without any mistake, he will get his well deserve win actually but we saw the next split on the TV, 1.3 seconds he was down on us so then I already knew it was going to be difficult for him to get the time back because I knew I was fast. To know and to see on the TV that we were actually beating him by only 0.7 seconds, it was pretty amazing.

Q:
Did you feel stressed or were you calm? 
TN:
I was pretty calm to be honest because since the beginning of the year I felt really confident about the car. So far I have made a few mistakes but I have the feeling that I feel safe and I know exactly how to manage my race when I’m pushing too much or when I’m not pushing  enough. The key seems to be to go fast and to manage your weekend, especially on a rally like this one.

Q:
This gives your title chance a real boost, two wins in a row?
TN:
It was a demanding weekend, conditions were rough, it takes a lot of energy from you. If you compare to other rallies, I’m really happy with what I have achieved. We were one minute behind Elfyn, that was the biggest gap and we were able to catch it back. It was an amazing drive from him as well, he knew very well that he had a couple of opportunities during the season to show his potential. And the tyres were giving him the opportunity to fight with us on a regular basis. 

Q:
Nicolas, did you think that you were going to get the win when you saw Elfyn’s split?
NG:
When you arrive at the start point the adrenaline is decreasing and you want to get some information about Elfyn’s time and we got the information, we were slower by three seconds but we knew that the DMack tyres are softer. We knew as well that we would be better at the end of the stage, actually we were able to catch him.

Q:
It has been a fantastic weekend. Are you happy with what you have done?
NG:
We still have to learn because something we find difficult is we are not allowed to test outside Europe and now the stages are quite rough. We didn’t test at the right place so we had to adjust our settings the first day to protect the car, all the crews struggled a little bit, and we had a puncture. But at the end when we adjusted the settings we were fine. 

Q:
Elfyn, you led for the majority of the event and just missed out on your first WRC win on the final stage. You gave it everything, how are you feeling now?
EE:
I have a mix of emotions to be honest, it’s a disappointment to lose for such a small margin. It was a rally of two halves. I think Thierry had his own problems on Friday, I had a great day and I managed to have a great gap and then it was a kind of reverse idea. The next two days we had a really good drive but we had a fair amount of problems, some were inflicted and some others not. We didn’t really have a fully clean stage after Saturday; it’s been stressful after yesterday morning.

Q:
Tell me what happened in the opening two stages.
EE:
We had two separate issues. One was that we knew the guys have done an excellent job changing some parts on the car this morning related to the brakes, but I still felt that the pedal was expunging. I made an attempt to try to make it better but unfortunately that was something that we didn’t think it was there. When we went to push the brakes it made it worse, in fact. We started the stage actually thinking that we would lose a lot of time. We had some brakes but I think it was the rear brake, and the pedal was on the floor the majority of the first half of El Condor so actually I was really surprised to see the time by the end of the stage. I expected to lose a lot more, because basically I was driving checking on hand braking everywhere and flooring it and not showing much mercy for the first half of El Condor and then we had an issue with the last spin reduced on nothing in Mina Clavero. I think Thierry was faster in the bottom, like two seconds. We lost a further six. It’s one of those things that you plan to learn, I’ve done some minor mistakes myself during the weekend so I think there are a lot of positives to take but a lot to learn as well.

Q:
At the final stage we watched the splits and you were quicker than Thierry in the first part of the stage, the first five kilometres, and then the bridge Elfyn…the bridge. Tell us about the bridge.            
EE:
Yeah, well the stage didn’t start so well actually because with the brakes cooling again, we had the pedal back on the floor but luckily they came back pretty quickly, I would say within the first kilometre. It was quite lucky really because had we carried on the same, for sure, we wouldn’t have been able to pull the time back as we did. So the first part of the stage felt really, really good. I had grip on the car. I was driving quite aggressively to be honest, I wasn’t going to leave much behind to try to win but I found towards the end that I was losing grip at the rear of the car. I felt I had to be very, very patient. Before we hit the bridge we were already losing quite a bit of time. I wasn’t quite patient enough coming into the bridge. I just hand-braked and continued to slide, basically. The impact wasn’t massive on the bridge but still a reasonable fault.  We knew the car wasn’t so bad afterwards, so we continued to push. Our last split was quite similar to Thierry’s. But unfortunately the damage was done in the narrow parts, the twisty sections of the stage, we lost the time, so yes, it’s a long story. I could do a list as long as my arm of excuses and problems and all the rest of it but fair play to Thierry, he did a very good job and on our side we have to be pleased with the new DMack tyre… we didn’t really get a fair opportunity to show what it could do in Mexico and here it showed the potential it has. I think on a personal basis it will give a lot of confidence moving forward to the rallies coming up. We have to look at it on the positive side and move forward.
 
Q:
Where can we see this kind of pace recreated again? Where can we see Elfyn Evans battle for the potential win? Where’s next?
EE:
Portugal.

Q:
Do you think you can go there and do the same thing? 
EE:     
I don’t know. Time will tell, I guess. We can’t take anything for granted. We don’t know what the conditions will be, what the temperature will be; if it’s raining, if it’s dry, and how that suits, we have a new tyre so we are still learning about it all the time. We´re still learning. Let’s wait and see. 

Q: 
Dan, tell me about the feelings of the weekend and especially about that last stage.
DB:
I think both were very frustrating, a little bit upset at the end. My own point of view, I think that the start of the stage was very very good. I felt from my side of the car that the speed was good going down the mountain. As though maybe this is fast enough to win. We just need to look at the positive things; we finished second and it´s the best result that we could get after leading the rally for two days. We set fastest times and splits all the weekend. We are going to take a lot of things away from this.

Q:
Did you expect this kind of performance coming here?
DB:
We talked a lot between ourselves. We thought we could be strong here with the DMack guys. We believe we have the right kind of tyre to be strong here. Yes, for sure.

Q:
Ott, third position, how do you feel at the end of the rally?
OT:
Actually very good, obviously the plan as always was to get back to score some points. So far I have not been so lucky in Argentina. I had to change my approach to it.  We were safe, maybe a bit too safe on Friday so we lost quite a lot of time there, and some smaller issues. But after this, from Saturday morning, we have been on the pace and the two guys in front were very fast. We could not close the gap, but we managed to secure our podium position. Also we got some good points from the Power Stage plus the points from the third place, so we are happy with that.

Q:
When you started this morning, did you feel you could try to challenge for second position? It was only 15 seconds between the two of you.
OT:
Yes, for sure I tried, we drove well and clean. We all know that maybe sometimes Thierry is not the smartest guy (laughs). Normally he does not go very safe so it is not easy to close the gap with him. They made no mistakes, they were going very well. I tried my best driving without taking any risks and that is the best we could do today.

Q:
Tell me about your hopes now, because this is a great result with you back on the podium. Can you carry this forward to Portugal?
OT:
Yes, for sure. Portugal is my favourite event. We go back to normal gravel. Maybe it will be the first event of the season that we can see how competitive everybody is, because so far all the events were so specific, but still very excited to go back to Europe and start with some proper gravel rallies. Let´s see. At least we have scored some good points so far, in the drivers and also manufacturer championships and in both cases we are in a strong position and it will be interesting to go back to Europe.

Q:
Martin, tell me about your weekend. How happy you are to be on the podium at such an iconic event in Argentina?
MJ:
For sure, it´s good. It is my first Argentina rally and everybody before the rally told me it was going to be very rough. Now I can say it also myself, that it is rougher especially today’s stages, but somehow they are enjoyable. The roads are rough but still you can go through so that is okay.

Q:
Since this is your first time here, did it meet your expectations? Is it better than you expected?
MJ:
Today there were lots of spectators and the atmosphere was really great. So from that side it was good. We were planning to come here to take not many risks and I think it was good. Maybe we did not take too much risk on Friday, then we increased our speed on Saturday and we finished on the podium so that is not bad.

Q: 
Michel, it must be a massive relief to see Thierry going through and taking the win.
MN:
Of course. Until you reach the finish, you cannot say ok it is done, but I think it was a really intense rally. If we have some more rallies like that I think the Championship will be really great. It was fantastic from start to end and also the amount of spectators you have here is incredible.

Q: 
Let’s talk about Dani (Sordo) and Hayden (Paddon) because they had a difficult weekend. Hayden stated that he feels he is in a career low.  How can you help him to turn it around? 
MN:
Dani and Hayden were not so lucky. I have to say on Friday we started not so good with all three cars and it is true that with the roll of Hayden at the first stage it is always difficult to recover.  On Saturday it was not too bad. Unfortunately, today he had trouble with the power steering just one kilometre after the start of the last stage and I can understand how disappointed he is. But you have to consider that in every sport you have ups and downs. We will help him anyway to recover and get back to success.

Q:  
How do you feel going to Portugal? Do you feel impressed and pleased so far with the performance of Hyundai?
MN:
I think we have seen that our car is not too bad in different surfaces. We know that anyway all the cars are really close together and it is true that Portugal will be the first event a little bit normal, so let’s see. In this event we will really see the difference in proper performance between the cars so I hope it will be as exciting as here.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q:  
Thierry, what is the difference driving this new car which has 100hp more?
TN:
The difference is getting smaller as we are getting used to the power of the car. When you start the season with the car you are impressed, and now we would like to get more power again because we feel that it could go faster. Since we are driving this new car, from my side, the driving pleasure has grown so much because the cars are very nice to drive with this aerodynamic kit, which gives you much more stability specially in the fast corners as we were able to do here in Los Gigantes stage with very, very fast sections where you could really feel the downforce and the car stability which is great. It makes much more fun to drive and of course the sound inside and outside the car is great for spectators and for the driver. It´s fantastic.

FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st – Pontus Tidemand, Škoda Motorsport
1st – Jonas Andersson, Škoda Motorsport

Q:
Pontus, another 25 points in the bag for you, fantastic start, congratulations. How are you feeling?    
PT:
The feeling is very good. For the moment I’m very happy. We have a strong team and a strong car….It’s a perfect start for the season. Our main goal is to win the WRC 2 Championship so I’m very happy with this event. It’s my first time here. It’s tricky but it’s a very nice event. I’m very happy

Q:
Give me a little more detail on your thoughts of the stages in Argentina.     
PT:
You have everything. You have some fast sections, some tricky sections, some are smooth. The grip changes. When you’re at the limit, it’s easy to make mistakes. It’s a good experience. It helps a lot. The atmosphere is fantastic. There are lots of spectators. I really enjoyed it and I really hope I’ll come back here in the future. 

Q:
You didn’t have a huge battle with anyone else, unfortunately. You won with a 10-minute margin. Did that affect your concentration at all?    
PT:
Yes, a little bit. The others had problem and we got the lead quite early. The concentration was there, but maybe we weren’t aggressive enough. It can be trickier than when you are in the push. 

Q:
Because you had such a big gap did you test any elements on the car or make any experiments with the tyre choices?    
PT:
We only did small changes. We can say it has been a test for the next gravel event, but we didn’t try big things. We were more focused on finishing the rally with the car in one piece. 

Q:
You talked about the next rally and that’s Portugal; we’ll see all of the WRC 2 drivers there. With the confidence you’ve got with your win, do you think that you’re going to be one of the front-runners for the win there?    
PT:
Yes, that’s the target. I’m looking forward to Portugal. I think there will be a lot of action, a lot of adrenaline. There will be many cars in our class. All the WRC 2 drivers will be there and there are many good drivers. We’ll have to be ready from the beginning. It will be a very interesting event. 

Q:
Jonas, a great win and with such a margin. You really had a Sunday drive today…
JA:
Yes, today has been a bit of a Sunday drive. The feeling is very good. We came here to take 25 points and we’ve done it. So, that’s good. Pontus’ (Tidemand) drive has been very good and clever. Not too slow like he said, maybe too slow in some stages, but good in average.  Fast enough to keep the concentration up and get the car to work. Very good drive for Pontus here for his first time. It’s a very tricky event, as we have seen during the weekend. I’m very happy. 

Q:
His first time but not yours. How many times have you done this event?    
JA:
I’m not sure, maybe six times? 

Q:
Do you feel that you were able to guide him a little bit with your experience?    
JA:
I think he’s done pretty well himself. Maybe in a few places, tricky places and so on. In some small areas for sure.

Q:
We’ve talked about Portugal. What do you feel heading there? The WRC 2 field is a strong one this year. It’s going to be a great challenge to try to get a win…
JA:
Hopefully we’ll see a great battle there, I’m sure we will. There will be a lot of drivers. I’m not sure how many, but more than enough. Like you said, we’ve done three events with three victories. We are looking forward for this event and we’ll do all we can to win that as well. 

World Rally Championship

Rally ArgentinaWRCWRC, Rally Argentina, motorsport, FIASEASON 2017SportRallies1SportWorld Rally ChampionshipRalliesWRCSEASON 2017Rally Argentina00Sunday, April 30, 2017 – 10:13pmSunday, April 30, 2017 – 10:13pm Source: http://ift.tt/1nrhiOR

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.