1st Marcus Gronholm, Peugeot 1st - Timo Rautiainen, Peugeot 2nd - Sebastien Loeb, Citroen 2nd - Daniel Elena, Citroen 3rd - Markko Martin, Peugeot 3rd - Michael Park, Peugeot Jean Pierre Nicholas, Team Principal, Peugeot Q: Marcus,...
1st Marcus Gronholm, Peugeot
1st - Timo Rautiainen, Peugeot
2nd - Sebastien Loeb, Citroen
2nd - Daniel Elena, Citroen
3rd - Markko Martin, Peugeot
3rd - Michael Park, Peugeot
Jean Pierre Nicholas, Team Principal, Peugeot
Q: Marcus, congratulations on a fantastic win. How confident were you once things got going that this was going to be your rally?
MG: Before the rally I was not confident but I knew that I was a good possibility to win here. We won last year and the roads are good for the car, also the tyres were good; we had a good fight finally here and won the rally.
Q: How does it feel to be winning again?
MG: Good. Okay we have won here with Timo five times so we are not jumping in the air like Petter but we are happy anyway.
Q: Was it the same confidence that you always used to have in the past?
MG: Here we have a good grip, the car feels good. We have a little bit lack of confidence in some kind of rallies where it is slow and we have a problem with oversteering. And so I hope it goes in the right direction now. The team has done a lot of work to get the suspension better for me and Markko and so now I hope we can win something more this year.
Q: Timo, one of the most memorable moments for you will have been SS5. Tell us what happened?
TR: During recce we do the stages at 80 kph and there are several places where you can’t imagine how the stage will be in rally speed. One jump we had notes that maybe it will jump and maybe it flies and it flew. The flying was okay no worries, it was about 170 kph but the landing was a bit rough. I hurt my back. I couldn’t speak for many kms and could not breathe for some time. I could only tell Marcus to continue and he kept asking ‘should I continue?’ He did a fantastic job; he drove about 10 kms without notes and we made fastest time on that stage. We almost retired because of he pain and I could not speak and Marcus did not want to do (stage) six and I decide we should do it slow and go to service and see what to do.
Q: Did you think you might have to retire?
TR: Very close to retiring. Even when we came to service I thought there is not such a magician to make me walk again today. I am glad to have the opportunity to dedicate this win to my doctor who made the diagnosis and said he was 99 per cent sure it was not dangerous. Also to my physio who made me walk again and did a wonderful job; then Jean-Pierre (Nicolas) said it was my decision free. I was free to make a decision to continue or not and luckily I said ‘yes’. But without this diagnosis I would have stopped, of course.
Q: Congratulations Seb – does it feel unusual to finish second?
SL: To finish second here in Finland is good. We know Marcus is very fast here - he has won five times. For me last year, it was too far hard to fight for victory and this year we were fighting a bit. For sure you get used to winning but I knew it could not continue every rally so I am still happy.
Q: Was the turning point for you the puncture on yesterday’s last stage?
SL: No he won the rally before that. The first day was okay. We were fighting and I could see when we came to Ouninpohja stage, every stage he was 2 or 3 seconds faster than me. So I tried in the long stage to push and when I saw in the middle of stage I was not faster than him I said it was finished and we tried to finish second.
Q: Daniel, Timo has already talked about the jump on SS5 – how badly did that affect you?
DE: Yes it was the same place as Timo and for lots of other co drivers. It was a very bad landing and it stopped respriration for thirty seocnds and it’s not easy to read the notes in this condition. Sebastien asked me do I want to stop and I say ’no - push push’. And now the ribs and the neck is not okay. But for Germany I am ready.
Q: Why the co drivers and never the driver?
DE: Because they hang on the steering wheel.They see the jump but we just see the book (of the notes) and I don’t know where the landing is.
Q: Markko, you seemed very happy throughout the rally. Do you think that this was your most competitive outing since you joined Peugeot? What made the difference for you?
MM: Definitely yes, there is no question. I think to finish third here is a miracle after the last couple of ralies. Even though I have fnished on every step of the podium in the last three years now doesn’t feel as good as winning. But at the same time it feels like we have made a fantastic rally and thanks to the team who let me use different dampers and that really made me drive like the way I normally want to be driving. That really helped me achieve third place and we are really working to go in the same direction and even better in the future. So far our progress has been steady pace so it will be nice to keep doing what we have done this weekend.
Q: Michael, you’ve been a winner in Finland and finished second before. Third this time: was your experience of the event in any way different?
MP: I think we had a good event. As Markko said, from the year we have had it feels like a victory not third place because we have been in the podium but not by right. It’s a good stepping stone for us and we need to repeat it again and build on it.
Q: Did you had any hopes of catching Sebastien?
MP: No for sure not, we were interested to stay where we were. We could have got a chance if he had his puncture in a long stage not in the short one. Otherwise we had no chance to catch him.
Q: Jean Pierre, you must be very pleased at the best performance of the 307 this year. Why do you think it has been more competitive here than anywhere else?
JPN: Number one, our drivers. Marcus clearly is the king of Finland, it’s his fifth vicoty. Markko has done a fantatsic rally with this car, so he proved it has been much better in his mind and more confident. Don’t forget the battle was very tight and that Seb, for a French driver, was fantastic here in being just behind Marcus in this rally, for a Frenchman to be just behind a Finn in this rally it’s just impossible. And thanks to both of them and Markko to have a fantastic show over three days and lots of intenstiy. And we followed all the times on screen, sector by sector, it was really fantasitc
Q: What is your comment about the performances of the cars and tyres?
JPN: The car in this country is good,we have understood that more or less since the begining of the year. We are quite happy with the reliability of the car. But when the roads are too twisty or too slippery we cannot find the right set up.We have some difficulties. In this rally the average is very high, there is grip, and in this condition, with these tyres which were really perfect in this rally, we were able to make the perfomance we wait since one year.
Q: Marcus, now that you have this win behind you, does it give you more confidence for the remaining events? Is it a sign of a new start?
MG: I was joking with Seb that he had done six in a row and now I can do seven as there are six rallies left!...I think it is not possible. The next rally is asphalt and I am not so strong there. We will see. JP thinks we can win but we will see. I don’’t know.
Q: Timo, do you think this result will motivate him?
TR: I think we have found some good points with the car. And the tyre choice i think we can learn a lot from this rally. I think we can fight more equal wiht Seb than we used to. There has been 17 wins for both of them and there are six rallies to go.I don’t know how it will end.
Q: Seb are you going to push in Germany or think to conserve an advantage in the Champioship?
SL: I always try to do my best, like here. I didn’t want to say it will continue like this all the season. If I see I can fight to win, I will try and do it.
Q: Daniel, what do you think about Germany.
DE: In MC rally it’s my home and German rally is like a home rally to Sebastien....
SL: No no no!
DE: Your are not German?! Oh yes, you are from Alsace. He will try to win, yeah.
Q: Markko, this new confidenece in car do you think it could result in a win for you this season?
MM: It’s possible if we keep improving and changing things then it’s possible. It’s the first step we have had since a long time, and maybe then we would have another even better than here. It all depends on how we go from here.
Q: Which of the events do you think you will be strongest with the car?
MM: I think the gravel events, like here. I drove a rally without any mistakes, really to the level where I think I can finish in the rally and bring points to Peugeot as well, so if we need extra speed we need to find more from the setup so that will make me more confident with the car that we can push more. It’s not my limit but whether we can put it together for the end of the year.
Q: ”Beef” Rally Finland has won countless awards and accolades, is it one of your personal favourites? If so, why?
MP: I think it’s an event that, as a co driver, I am not really so keen on the first morning before the start until you have a few stages under the belt. When you finish you think about how mad it’s been because that is what it is. It’s exhilerating. It’s a roller coaster ride I look forward to every year.
Q: Are there any comments you would make about this year’s event? Obviously the jump on SS5 came in for a bit of criticism: were you OK?
MP: I am completely fine and must be harder than these poofs [girls].
Q: Jean Pierre, Peugeot is back in the lead now. What are your plans to keep it?
JPN: My plan is to continue with this team, with these two drivers who are really good and really fantastic. And what I can say? We will have three asphalt rallies and three gravel rallies. Why I am quite confident? Because the next three gravel rallies they are quite fast rallies and really I think both of them they are really able to come back with a lot of points. We have maybe one of the best team of drivers. On the asphalt maybe it’s another story. But in Germany if there was a condition quite strong, I think we will be able, why not, to win. Sure, in Corsica and Spain, Seb is favourite but in this case we fight for scond and third and in the end of the season it will be a big fight between Peugeot and Citroen (for the Manufacturers’ Champioship).
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR: Q: Markko, how many Estonian Flags have you counted over these four days of the rally?
MM: I lost count after 4763.
Junior World Rally Championship Post-event Press Conference
1st Daniel Sordo, Citroen
1st Marc Marti, Citroen
Q: Congratulations on your second JWRC win of the year – why do you think that Finland is the rally that every driver wants to win?
DS: For me it’s fantastic because it’s my first time in Finland and Finland is very special because it’s very fast and with a lot of jumps. For the Citroen C2 it’s the first time. It’s perfect.
Q: Congratulations Marc – do you think that Finland is the most difficult rally of the year for co-drivers too because of the speeds?
MM: This is a really difficult rally because you drive very fast of course but for me it’s not the most difficult. It’s difficult for me on the rally the jumps etc. On this rally you have a lot of points you can see the roads. For me Sweden and Australia are more difficult for the co-driver.
Q: What does this result do for your JWRC championship situation? Are you feeling confident about it?
MM: For the championship of course it is good. Now we are second. And we have one rally less than the Suzukis. But of course for me the most important is for our win, for Dani of course it’s the first time here in Finland. We were speaking a lot with Carlos and a lot of people and thinking how we can go a little bit about half a second quicker than the top drivers of the other Super 1600 drivers in this rally. And I was really surprised with Dani’s performance in this rally with his pace notes, he really understands the famous line in the roads and I think we did a good job.
Q: The big battle was always going to be between the new Suzuki Swift and the Citroen C2. From what you can see, what do you think about the relative performance of the two cars?
DS: I think the Suzuki is the new evolution. But for me the Citroen is better! On tarmac it’s different because Citroen has a lot of kilometres and I think that in the three rallies after it’s good for Citroen.
Q: Do you think if will be a battle between Citroen and Suzuki for the rest of the year?
DS: Yes of course.
Q: Your team mate Kris Meeke was in the lead to start – did you have a strategy to pass him? Were you impressed by Dani’s performance.
MM: I think that Dani understands very well the rally and he did a good job because in Greece we were 0.8 seconds per kms slower than him. He had more experience than us, he was driving really well. We really don’t expect to pass Kris because he was doing a very good rally. We start to go 0.7, 0.4, 0.3 seconds per kms and, at the end of the first leg we did three best times and it was at this moment that Kris had the problem. And then Dani understands that it was the moment to try to copy on the road and conserve our position, keep on the road, try to get no punctures. Of course, Kris did a very good job and very good rally and we are very disappointed for his retirement because he was doing a very good rally.
Q: How difficult is it for a new driver to come to Finland and win here?
DS: Finland is very difficult. It’s not possible to make a mistake. It’s very fast in the corners. A lot of corners has jumps, big jumps, slow jumps. It’s very fast in general. It’s very narrow. It’s incredible - Finland.
Q: The JWRC moves on to asphalt next and Germany it is not new to you. How strong do you think you and the Citroen C2 can be there?
DS: Germany for me is good but last year I drove in Germany. I drove a Group N. For me the car is a little Group N car, the Citroen.
Q: Will this experience help you?
DS: Yes of course.