WRC – Rally Turkey – Press Conference

wrc-–-rally-turkey-–-press-conference

Transcript of the pre-event press conference organised by the FIA for the 2019 Rally Turkey

2019 Rally Turkey - O. Tänak / M. Järveoja

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:

Ott Tänak (EST), Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Esapekka Lappi (FIN), Citroën Total WRT

Dani Sordo (ESP), Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT

Pontus Tidemand (SWE), M-Sport Ford WRT

Q:

Ott, you head into the 11th round of the FIA WRC championship with a healthy lead of 33 points from you nearest rival Thierry Neuville. You don’t ‘need’ to win here this weekend, what is the objective for you?


OT:

I guess we need to be smart and see how it starts to go. Obviously there are many things that may be difficult to control by ourselves. We need to do all the things we can from our side.

Q:

We see some changes to the Toyota – for example the rear spoiler – and there has been some damper work. Do you feel the team have made a stride forward from the performance level last year?


OT:

You know more than I do. Let’s see. Generally, the event will be the same. Last year we were struggling with the pace. I was pushing to my maximum and I am sure I was taking risks. It worked out in our favour. Hopefully we can stay in the fight. The team has been working really hard. We were testing in Greece and we tried to find some rough conditions. It is difficult to find any place like this in Europe. The stages are a lot similar to last year. Some sections, actually, are a bit smoother than they used to be. I guess the second loop will be very demanding.

Q:

Is there a pen shortage in Estonia? You have yet to sign a contract for next season. What is the latest situation?


OT:

I really hope it happens before Monday. I will say that I am talking to more than one team and less than five. Anything is possible. There are some interesting things on the table. It looks interesting for the moment, let’s say.

 

Q:

Esapekka, during Germany, you kept mentioning that you were keen to get back to gravel as you knew how the car would react on this surface. Has that feeling returned here in Turkey?


EL:

You cannot be really confident, like in Finland, on this kind of roads. I cannot take anything out from Shakedown. It was so rough… We will be facing the same conditions tomorrow.

Q:

We have a few changes: stages run in reverse and a brand new stage, which seems different from the rest? What is it like?


EL:

Yes, there are massive jumps at the beginning and then very fast and smooth and crazy wide, like an airfield sometimes. It felt like a completely different set-up for that stage. That’s out from the box. You can do a plan, but so many things will happen, for sure, You need a lot of luck. I was not pushing a lot this morning and we had troubles on the first one already. I was just following the road. You can have a plan and then throw it in the trashcan on a rally like this. We just had a problem with the tyres.

Q:

What can we expect from you here? How do you find the balance between speed and patience this weekend?


EL:

Definitely we have the good start position for tomorrow. It should be a benefit and I hope I can use it. There will be a lot of dust I believe. If it is the same type of dust wall as last year, it will not be so nice. Everything is ready for a good weekend, but anything happen, as you saw last year.

Q:

Dani, it’s your first time at Rally Turkey – what have been your first impressions?


DS:

After the recce, it was rough but honestly, today it was another level. On the first pass in the rally car, it was incredibly rough and then, we considered the car more on the second pass. The others were pushing. They say they were not pushing, but they were pushing. Let’s see. We are at the back of the running order. On some places, it will be better for us.

Q:

What would you say: the toughest challenge is going to be out there this weekend? What will your strategy be?


DS:

The weather forecast says there may be a bit of rain tomorrow. The surface is so hot and dry I cannot see it affecting the surface. For soft tyres on the second pass, it would need to rain a lot. I learned a lot about the rally. It is difficult. It has been a long time since I did a rally like this. I did a lot of work on the videos. I start to watch the video and then get crazy after five kilometres.

Q:

We asked Ott about next year. What about you?


DS:

I don’t know yet. I want to know soon. It depends on some things, some teams. I am happy like this. Everything has a price. I am focused on this rally now. After this rally, I think a little bit more about the future. It is a different rally for me and I want to do well.

 

Q:

Pontus, welcome back to the championship and to a WRC car with M-Sport this weekend. Firstly, how did the pre-event test in Greece go and are you feeling happy with the car?


PT:

It was okay, good. I would have liked more time in the car. Definitely I need more time to find the difference. I will focus on myself and not look too much at the others. We will try not to look too much.

Q:

You were here in a R5 last year and this is now a different prospect. Have you started with brand new pace-notes?


PT:

We want to get through all the kilometres. Everything can happen in this rally. We will try and do a stable and good job. I will try and focus and concentrate and do my job

Q:

With team bosses still deciding on driver section for next year, do you feel pressure to perform?


PT:

I cannot say that. I will do Turkey and then go to Wales and then see what the strategy will be.


FIA WRC 2 PRO CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:

Jan Kopecký (CZE), Škoda Motorsport

Gus Greensmith (GBR), M-Sport Ford

Q:

Jan, you’re fresh off the back of a win in Germany but this rally is a very different prospect! Give me your impressions of the challenge that lies ahead?


JK:

We are in better shape than last year. Some places last year were very bad. We will aim to try not to get a puncture.

Q:

Can you have a strategy here?


JK:

As I said, if you want to come to the finish without getting any punctures, that is the big challenge.

Q:

Can you tell us anything about your programme for next year?


JK:

I don’t know really if I have a programme with Škoda next year. So far no answer, so we wait.

 

Q:

Gus, you return to R5 action here in Turkey. This is the first time in competition mode for you and the brand new Fiesta – what are your initial thoughts?


GG:

It was very good this morning. I felt pretty confident and had a good speed in the car after the problems we had before the rally. We had a test before the rally on Monday. But we didn’t really have a chance to test. We were ready to go out at 6pm and the test finished at 7pm.

Q:

A difficult step to head back to the R5 after the power of the WRC car?


GG:

Not really. Everything felt pretty good. M-Sport have a great car and it did not take long at all to get back in the car.

Q:

What is your plan for this weekend and do you have anything you can reveal about next year?


GG:

Here it is not always in your hands. You need to be quite clever and, yes, you have to push hard, but not too hard.


FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:

Burak Çukurova (TUR)

Henning Solberg (NOR)

Q:

Burak, home event for you – how special is to be competing at home?


BC:

It’s an amazing feeling because there are lots of great drivers here. All the pilots are competitive and this is a dream for us. To compete together with them is unbelievable. We have prepared very well for this rally. I think this rally is very rough. For this reason, it is better not to go fast. To arrive at the finish with no punctures, then we will win. Our best target is to finish. If we finish, I hope we can be in a good position. Thanks to all the teams for coming here and good luck to everyone.

Q:

It sounds as though you are confident. You have put the hard work in. How difficult is it though to balance speed?


BC:

Confidence in these stages does not give you everything. It is also about luck because the stages are very difficult, especially for us. We don’t do any WRC rallies, except for this one on the calendar. We will see. It is very difficult not to get any punctures. Last year we picked two punctures. We’ll start carefully.

Q:

Henning, always good to see you compete as part of FIA WRC 2. You’ve competed at the old incarnation of Rally Turkey, what do you think about this version?


HS:

It’s a rough rally and a very difficult one. Last year, there were not many cars at the finish. Hopefully we can make it to the finish. You never know.

 

Q:

You said you didn’t like competing on Friday the 13th. Tomorrow is the 13th. What are your thoughts?


HS:

We hope it brings better luck!

Q:

Brother Petter says farewell at Rally GB and Oliver will compete also. Will you be there competing also?


HS:

Yes we have to see. I will not put my helmet away. I will stay somewhere and try to compete, as I do today. My son is competing now as well and I will follow him more next year and he may drive a couple of rounds at home. I have been on the phone with Malcolm (Wilson) – about a drive… I gave it to Pontus…. Jocking!

Q:

With all your experience, what would you say was the key thing on this rally?


HS:

If you can go through this rally without punctures, that is the thinking. You have to be very calm and very slow.

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