Continued from part 1 Q: How realistic is that? PS: We had a very good test on Saturday and Sunday and the team was flat out and we were working harder than ever before and everyone was trying to improve things and everyone was going in the...
Continued from part 1
Q: How realistic is that?
PS: We had a very good test on Saturday and Sunday and the team was flat out and we were working harder than ever before and everyone was trying to improve things and everyone was going in the same direction knowing we are missing something. Hopefully what we are doing now can help us to achieve and get on top. I like the rally very much and my confidence is very high.
Q: We've been hearing about slightly damp conditions, do you think that will help you at all? What would be your ideal conditions for this event to run in?
PS: Definitely it will help Marcus and us. Definitely. I think it looks good now the weather and so far everything looks very well organised. The stages are nice. The new stage is tricky and difficult. Maybe Marcus has a good memory after 20 years!
Q: You said in Argentina that the favourite for this rally was Sebastien Loeb: do you honestly think he will beat you on home territory? He's never won it, but you have won it many times. Do you think he can beat you?
MG: No! I have to believe we can win. It's not only Sebastian. There are some other Finns, Petter. There will be many drivers quite close.
Q: How important is experience of the event? It's normally Scandinavian drivers who win here; why?
MG: It's quite important I think. They are difficult roads. They are fast roads and you can't really enjoy them. I don't enjoy driving here, but after the stage, yes if it's going well. It's a little bit special rally.
PS: Looking at stage times from last year the top seven was just Finnish guys. But they drop after first stages!
MG: Also a Norwegian driver (Solberg) drop off!
Q: You did a lot of testing before this event; what did you find out on the test and how do you think it will help you?
PS: We are closer to having a better feeling anyway. There is much more to come but I can't go through everything here - we tried so much. It was many small things. It's not one thing after the other. The fight is so close and you have to remember the engineers are so good and clever and have to find the right confidence for the drivers. The last 5 per cent the driver has to have in the finger tips.
Q: Are you worried about anything?
PS: There are bigger worries in the world. Mine are very small.
Q: Peugeot run a third car on this event, for your cousin Sebastian Lindholm. He was able to push you quite hard on pace last year until he crashed; do you expect him to be challenging you again? Is this an event where Peugeot could end up with more than one car on the podium?
MG: I think he will be fast. He has done a lot of test kilometres but he has done only one rally, a short rally, so maybe it will take him a lot of time to come up to speed. We will see.
Q: You tested the 2006 car recently, which we hear is scheduled for its debut in Monte Carlo next year. What did you think of it?
PS: Many things fit into my driving style much more than now so I am really looking forward to that because of the new differential system. We have that straight away ready so the team is flat out. They also hate to be second.
Q: Why do you think they are waiting for the new season to bring out the new car?
PS: Because of the differential system and the new rules, so they put it straight away on to the car and develop it. Q: Which areas will benefit from improvement?
PS: It's a few different places and I don't want to tell you because he (points to Marcus) is sitting here!
MG: Don't worry, I will not have a car next year!
Q: Will you go flat out from start?
MG: What do you think?!
Q: You're still Sebastien Loeb's closest challenger in the championship, although nearly 30 points behind him. How crucial is it for you to win here in order to keep your hopes alive?
PS: Him and team have a lot of confidence, but it's always a possibility. First of all if I am going to be there I want a fair and square fight, not because he is retiring, not because he is coming down. I want to get points. Full points.
Q: Do you have to hope for some luck?
PS: Hell of a lot. And I need him to have more bad luck than I have good luck. It's not nice to say but that's how it is.
FIA Junior World Rally Championship Pre-event Press Conference
Kris Meeke, Citroen
Per-Gunnar Andersson, Suzuki
Kosti Katajamaki, Suzuki
Q: PG, let's start with you. You're leading the championship and you come here with a new car: the Swift. Which are the biggest improvements over the older Ignis?
PGA: The suspension is much better in the new Swift and the independent rear axle makes the car align much better and you can keep the speed in the corner instead of going sideways.
Q: How confident are you feeling: Suzuki has said that the objective is to win their debut event with the car?
PGA: I am here to score ten points and I think the car is able to do that and I hope I am as well. I am going for it.
Q: How much does having a new car help your motivation?
PGA: It's like Christmas - you get a new Christmas gift. It's lot of good fun, you have done a lot of testing and have no major problems and the speed seems to be there in the car.
Q: Kris, you've probably got a different view about the Swift winning on this event. Does the C2 have what it takes to beat the new Swift?
KM: Yeah we must not forget it's the first time also for the C2 in Finland also we started here last week doing a test and trying to get a good setup for this road and over the weekend we did the Tampere rally last weekend and everything went well; we have a few problems with the car but the set up is quite good and I am quite confident with that. I am driving a Citroen and I can't worry about what Suzuki do and if their car is very swift like they say it is, they can concentrate on their job and I will concentrate on mine.
Q: We saw particularly in Greece that the Citroen C2 has made a big step forward on gravel: which testing have you done since then and how does it translate into extra performance?
KM: We came here last week as I said before and the roads here are quite unique, so they are very fast and you need to have a lot of confidence in the car. It was really good for me to do two days last week and also the Tampere rally. Also when you approach a stage for the first time you really need the confidence with the car. As I have said, we have a very good feeling with the car coming into this rally.
Q: The other element is of course the driver. Speaking as a Finn, do you think local drivers have an advantage here?
KK: Of course it's going to be my home event and for me it's the best rally I have to say but Kris (to Kris Meeke) how many times have you done this rally?
KM: 2 times before.
KK: This is going to be my fourth. If you have experience it helps a lot but there is every driver that can win the rally. They have every experience that I have.
Q: How much experience helps you and your co-driver?
KK: Of course you will make pace notes but you will have to choose correct lines going out of the jumps. Of course if helps. You know exactly where to brake and things like that.
Q: You're backed by Marcus Gronholm -- how much help can he give you on an event like this? What advice has he given you?
KK: Go flat out!
Q: You've also got a famous backer; Colin McRae. Colin is coming out to this event: what sort of help and advice can he give you?
KM: Ninety per cent is your own preparation, you know. You have to have it right in your own head how you approach the event. As Kosti says it's vital to have some experience making the pace notes, to know what the car will do on certain crests and there are places where it looks like you can go flat out, but you have to back off because you could jump too far and land in a ditch. My approach to the rally, I have to learn so much for myself but yeah advice from Colin is good. He has been here before and he is very fast. But at the end of the day I am the one driving the car and he is not holding my hand. So it's down to me at the end of the day.
Q: You've always gone well on these types of road and you've won Finland in the past. What is the key to winning here?
PGA: You need a bit of luck as well especially on the Friday stages. It's quite rutty and there are a lot of rocks and it's easy to pick up a puncture here as well. I think last year this was a rally where the juniors got the most punctures out of all the events in the whole Junior World Championship so you have to have a bit of luck as well. And if you don't have enough confidence you can stop. You need to trust yourself and the pace notes when you go over the crests that is for sure.
Q: Is there a different technique to going quickly here in a Super 1600 car compared to a World Rally Car? Would you say that it is even more important to be precise in a Super 1600 machine than it is in a World Rally Car?
PGA: I think it's the same in every car but of course the WRC cars have the mousse in the tyres and they can make cuts without taking too big a risk and we are coming behind and in the ruts we can easily hit those rocks. Otherwise you need to have a good line, it's the same if you are in a WRCar or a super 1600 car - you lose speed if you are going sideways too much. It is as simple as that. It doesn't matter which kind of car you have.
Q: What sort of support and coverage does the Junior World Championship receive in Finland?
KK: Of course for me it's the best event because there are a lot of my friends and there is a lot of people I know and they know me, so it's a big help.
Q: Does it help the profile of young drivers and manufacturers, in your case Suzuki?
KK: Yes of course we are driving the same rallies as world rally cars and there are the big bosses there and I hope they are watching us. But first of all you always have to be the fastest and then you have the chance to go further.
Q: Last year, a fantastic battle between yourself and PG for the class win which went right to the end: do you think it will be that close again?
KK: For sure there is PG and there are so many drivers who can win the rally. It's going to be a big fight who can get ten points. You never know: it's a rally. You have to go flat out.
Q: You have to be quite confident of your own chances?
KK: I am ready.