FIA World Rally Championship 2004 Neste Rally Finland FIA Pre-event Press Conference 05.08.2004 Sven Qvandt, Mitsubishi Guy Frequelin, Citroen Janne Tuohino, Ford Jani Paasonen, Skoda Marcus Gronholm, Peugeot Mikko Hirvonen, Subaru Q: ...
FIA World Rally Championship
2004 Neste Rally Finland
FIA Pre-event Press Conference
Sven Qvandt, Mitsubishi
Guy Frequelin, Citroen
Janne Tuohino, Ford
Jani Paasonen, Skoda
Marcus Gronholm, Peugeot
Mikko Hirvonen, Subaru
Q: Mitsubishi has announced it is stopping it's programme. How sure are you that you will be back in the World Rally Championship next year?
Sven Qvandt "Of course we cannot guarantee anything, but I think that it's normal that after the developments we will be back next year. We are discussing budgets and everything, and I think it looks more than good, but it's hard for me to give a certain guarantee."
Q: What about your personal situation. Will you be back?
SQ: "I started nearly two years ago with Mitsubishi, and during that time there have been some management changes. At the moment there is no discussion about that. But I can't really answer that question, because I don't know."
Q: Are the drivers still contracted to Mitsubishi for the rest of the year, or are they free to drive for other teams?
SQ: "We actually have a contract with Gilles (Panizzi) for more than just this year. I think he will do a lot of the test driving, and we also have three young drivers, and all of them will have a chance to drive in the tests as well, because we will be using two cars. If they have the chance to go somewhere else, then we will discuss it."
Q: What are your thoughts on your drivers on this rally?
Guy Frequelin "Well, Carlos has shown with his win in Argentina that he still has the speed to win the rally. Sebastian is also capable of winning here in Finland, but it's the same position for him and Citroen -- it's important for him to finish and score points. We don't want to take too much risk, just to win at all costs."
Q: Do you think this will be the last rally in Finland for the current car?
GF: "It's difficult to say for sure. We start tests soon with the C4WRC, I hope maybe at the end of September, or beginning of October. We are still waiting for parts. The very latest will be in October."
Q: You are here in a factory car on your home event, what is your aim or target? You finished fourth in Sweden.
Janne Tuohino "Everybody is asking the same question! We were fourth in Sweden, so hopefully we can go one place better here and finish on the podium. We'll see."
Q: You won the Pirelli Rally last weekend, how much will that help you?
JT: "It's good. Every kilometer in the car is important, but this is a very different rally, very fast. But we have been testing also. It all helps, for sure."
Q: How big a difference is there between your private Ford Focus and the Factory one you have here?
JT: "Big! The speeds are very high, and the car is very fast and nice to drive. My car is completely new, and there are many things that I have to get used to."
Q: You have had the chance to drive The Skoda Octavia in testing, what are your thoughts?
Jani Paasonen "I did two days testing six weeks ago, and it went very well. We worked hard trying many things, and I found a good set-up that I like. On the Shakedown I did six or seven runs, and again it felt very good. I talked a lot with Toni Gardemeister, which helped. It seems to be going very well."
Q: What are the biggest strengths of the Skoda do you think?
JP: "I think it's the reliability. We had no problems during the test for two days. Toni did four days, and Armin (Schwarz) did two days with no problems. That is an important strength, especially here. The stages are very fast, and if you have some technical problems you can lose many seconds."
Q: Will we see you in a factory Skoda again this year, or will this be it for you this weekend?
JP: "I hope it's part of a longer term plan. So far I only have this rally."
Q: Is this event your best chance to win with the Peugeot 307?
Marcus Gronholm "I hope so. I think we have a good chance. We have been leading and fighting in a lot of rallies for the win, but always at the wrong time, never at the end. I hope we can do that here. But there are so many good drivers and good cars. It won't be easy."
Q: What is the key to success here?
MG: "Good speed, good times on the stages, no mistakes and no technical problems. That's all!"
Q: So you are feeling confident?
MG: "Yes, I'm very confident!"
Q: Your team mate Harri Rovanpera has finished second to you here a number of times. Do you think he will be your biggest rival here?
MG: "I am sure, yes, that he will be one of the closest rivals. He's been quick here in the past, and he has also been quite unlucky this season. I hope he has a good rally."
Q: If you are on the last stage and you have a lead of just one second, who would you least like to be behind you in second place?
MG: "Petter (Solberg)"
Q: You are here at the press conference instead of your team mate Petter Solberg. Can you update us on how he is?
Mikko Hirvonen "He has some flu, nothing serious. Maybe he is giving the other drivers a chance! No, in seriousness, he will be fine for the rally tomorrow."
Q: You won your first stage for Subaru in Argentina. Does that give you a little bit more confidence?
MH: "Sure, it will always give you confidence. A fastest time is a fastest time. It'll be a little different here, for sure. Everybody here will be going flat out, every second. And every second counts here. But yes, the stage win does help."
Q: This is your home event, you have quite a lot of experience of these stages. Can you be quicker than Petter here?
MH: "We'll see. For sure it's going to be Marcus, Harri, Sebastan, Carlos and Petter fighting for the victory at a really high level. For me I just hope that as it is my home event, the conditions will see me closer to the fight. I just have to go as fast as possible, and see where that puts me."