ORLEN PLATINUM RALLY POLAND Present: 1st - Mikko Hirvonen, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 1st - Jarmo Lehtinen, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 2nd - Dani Sordo, Citroen Total World Rally Team 2nd - Marc Marti, Citroen Total World Rally...
ORLEN PLATINUM RALLY POLAND
1st - Mikko Hirvonen, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
1st - Jarmo Lehtinen, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
2nd - Dani Sordo, Citroen Total World Rally Team
2nd - Marc Marti, Citroen Total World Rally Team
3rd - Henning Solberg, Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team
3rd - Cato Menkerud, Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team
Malcolm Wilson OBE, Team Principal, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Welcome to the post event FIA press conference.
Q: Mikko, congratulations on your second win in a row, which puts you into the lead of the Drivers' Championship by one point -- a good weekend all round?
MH: This is the first time ever that I win two rallies in a row. Maybe I can make it three in Finland. It was a fantastic rally from start to finish. When Seb (Loeb) made a mistake it could easily have turned into one steady rally. Then Sordo was setting some amazing times on Saturday and we were flat-out all Saturday. It is fantastic to get it right and take the win.
Q: Drama on the final stage with Jari-Matti (Latvala) though - what did you think when you saw his accident?
MH: I still cannot believe it. It was definitely not something that you could expect. I do not know what to say. It came at a really bad time. We had a great position. There was no need to take risks and it happened at a bad time.
Q: What did you think of Poland as an event and would you like to see it back on the Championship calendar?
MH: I think it was a very good rally. It was the best one. There were lots of spectators and standing in good places. There were no problems with traffic and we had really enjoyable stages. Maybe some sections today were a little too fast and not so interesting. They had long straights and flat corners. Maybe they can make a difference in the future but, otherwise, it was a good rally.
Q: After your retirement in Argentina you said the Drivers' Championship was over for you, now you lead going into your home event in Finland. It's game on, but can you take advantage of the situation and keep Loeb behind?
MH: All is possible and it is all in my hands. If I have perfect rallies, then I get good results and I can fight for the title. It will be very difficult, but I will try as hard as I can.
Q: Jarmo, congratulations. This has been a high-paced event -- at one point Mikko said he wasn't listening to the pace notes as he was driving so fast. Did you have any concerns at all this weekend?
JL: I was concerned after he told me he wasn't listening! I have to admit this is one of the most difficult rallies I have done. Timing the pace notes is very difficult here. You are going so fast that you need to concentrate hard. You need to deliver the notes in correct time. It was very challenging and I was getting better all the time. This event has gone straight into the top three in my mind for all rallies.
Q: Drama on the final stage with Jari-Matti - what was your feeling?
JL: That is kind of a blank moment. I was surprised. We had no warning about this and we just carried on slowly to the finish. There was really no need to risk anything. It is just unbelievable.
Q: Dani, you have been putting pressure on the Fords ever since Sebastien (Loeb) dropped down the standings, but on the first stage of the morning that push came to an end -- what happened?
DS: Of course yesterday I was fast on the first stages. After the second lap, Mikko and Jari-Matti were pushing too hard and it was really difficult. For the points I thought third was not bad and now I am second! It is better for me for the points, but I feel sorry for Jari-Matti.
Q: You took quite a bit of time out of Jari-Matti yesterday morning, but not in the afternoon, which must have been frustrating. Why do you think you weren't on the pace in the afternoon?
DS: The road was better for me, cleaner after two cars in the morning. Maybe after that it was not so easy and I think I did not have good pace notes. I could not understand as much the second lap. We will see and we will work on this for Finland.
Q: How much pressure did you feel on your shoulders when Sebastien retired from day one?
MM: Of course we are normally in a position where we have no problem. Sebastien is consistent and has been during the season. This has been a strange situation for us. Dani understands the job and is getting good confidence with the pace notes. This was the secret for us. Then we know that we must take points for the Manufacturers' Championship. It was a really a difficult rally. There were plenty of spectators and the organisers did a really good job.
Q: Henning, it's third for you after what happened on the super special stage. What did you think when you saw that?
HS: I think it has been a good rally for me. I am always thinking for the next rallies. I still have to say this man (Mikko Hirvonen) did a great job. I think he will be the Champion this year, for sure. If I had a proper car for Finland, I could beat this man over there (Sordo) and maybe help the team win the Manufacturers' Championship. I believe that!
Q: Let's talk about your weekend -- on Friday you seemed really dejected with your pace and you were even looking ahead to Finland, but the pace came through on Sunday. Why does it take so long?
HS: We find some better speed on Friday and, on Saturday, it was even faster. I liked the stages today.
Q: Could you believe the speed of your driver on this rally? What about Finland?
CM: We have to start faster on Friday. But it is not so easy to be in a customer car. We don't get chance to do all these tests. We are driving a lot but not enough. In Finland, we will start fast on Friday morning.
Q: Malcolm, a third Ford win in a row -- but let's talk about that super special with Jari-Matti making the mistake.
MW: I must admit it is now many years since I was a spectator at any stages, because we always seemed to have a problem. Needless to say, I did not expect to see what I saw at the super special stage right in front of me. Imagine the shock for Mikko. The whole team were there. Imagine the emotion of the whole team, who were there to witness a fantastic result. It went there and then, three days of a great job just evaporated in front of everyone. Just unbelievable...
Q: Jari-Matti has made mistakes in the past? What do you say to him or do now?
MW: To be perfectly honest I am running out of ideas. I think it is difficult at this moment in time. We were really in a position to challenge for the Championship. I am not saying it is dead and buried, but we sure have a mountain to climb. We have invested in Jari-Matti for a long time. He made good progress in Sardinia and now we are back to square one again. But he will start Rally Finland in a BP Ford car.
FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
1st -Kevin Abbring
1st - Erwin Mombaerts
Q: Kevin, you are the youngest driver to have scored a win in the JWRC -- it's your first win after a fantastic battle this weekend -- how do you feel?
KA: First I did not expect to do this well. We tried to push from the beginning and we had a 27-second lead after the first day. It was good. It is part of the learning for me. I was enjoying the stages.
Q: On Friday we saw incredible pace from you -- how much were on your limit?
KA: I was on Saturday afternoon. I was trying to push and get the lead back. It worked out well. It is a shame that Michal (Kosciuszko) went off on the last stages. I could not believe it. This is his home rally and an event with this speed on the stages. We did not make many mistakes. I am really proud of myself.
Q: You did have some dramas during the morning yesterday -- what happened and how much do you think that contributed to you losing the lead?
KA: A problem. Maybe a little too much downforce! I don't know what the difference was but I don't want to make the mistake again!
Q: Where do you go from this win -- what else can we expect from you this season?
KA: First we started (the season) in Ireland. Except for the electrics on day one, we were not leading but were setting fastest time after fastest time. It was not easy for me to win in Portugal, but we could drive constantly and finish in second place. For Finland, you could compare it to Poland and it may work out well for us. The last one is on tarmac (Spain) so I hope I can win again.
Q: What have you thought of this as a brand new event on the Championship calendar?
EM: You must be aware that I was here in 2002 as a Champion of Poland. I did know the stages in Poland, but not the ones in this area. I am surprised about this rally. It was well organised. Congratulations to them (the event officials).
KA: For me, during the recce I mentioned that they were the most beautiful stages I ever drove. Like Finland, they are flowing and fast and, for me, even better.
Q: What has the atmosphere been like inside car this weekend; Kevin always seems so relaxed -- has there been any tension at all?
EM: We are always relaxed. It has been going well. Maybe I am his second father in the car.
Q: It was a learning year in the JWRC last year -- have you seen a big improvement in Kevin's driving over the course of the last 18 months?
EM: You are right. Last year, the job was to get experience. Now we are going forwards. Each rally is going better, each car drives better. We have trust in the car and sometimes he has trust in me! It depends also about the stages. These (stages) for the R3 are the best.