WRC

Rally Mexico: Pre-event press conference

RALLY MEXICO Pre-event Press Conference Present: Jari-Matti Latvala, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team Sebastien Ogier, Citroen Junior Team Dani Sordo, Citroen Total World Rally Team Ken Block, Monster World Rally Team Toshi Arai, FIA...

RALLY MEXICO
Pre-event Press Conference

Present:
Jari-Matti Latvala, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Sebastien Ogier, Citroen Junior Team
Dani Sordo, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Ken Block, Monster World Rally Team
Toshi Arai, FIA Production Car World Rally Championship
Xevi Pons, FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship

Welcome to the pre-event FIA press conference.

Q: Jari-Matti, some dramas at shakedown this morning which stalled your runs. What exactly happened and how damaged was the car?

J-ML: Well I think this morning I am not the only one who had a surprise on the shakedown. There is a water splash and it was much deeper than previous years. It was not a problem before. But we are not normally running at such speed, I braked a little bit and I think the bow wave carried the water over the car. All the water was at the front and it damaged the cooling package. We got to the service and changed the cooling package. But it made me realise that we need to be careful for the rally. The car is working well. But I need to be careful.

Q: We have a shift in temperature of sixty degrees and a shift in altitude from our first round of the season in Sweden. Conditions are very different here with the altitude reducing the power of the engine - how much does it reduce it and aside from a lack of power what else can be affected?

J-ML: You definitely feel in the uphill sections that you do not have as much torque and power to climb. You need to be more precise than on other gravel rallies. Time lost is more difficult to get back with less power. Normally on some of the stages you can see the engine temperatures going very high and you need to make sure that they do not go too high and force you to slow down On one stage we have seen high temperatures. At the beginning it seems strange and then you get used to it.

Q: I believe the test for this event in Spain was a bit of a wash-out -- did you manage to get any useful data there?

J-ML: I drove for 400km but it was more of a useful test for Rally GB! We cannot really use that information. That is why the shakedown was more important.

Q: Road position could be crucial this weekend, will there be tactics involved and could your role involve you being first on the road to help Mikko?

J-ML: Okay, we have to see how it starts after three stages. They (Sebastien and Dani) will be pushing very hard. It is a possibility that if we are all close then we could go and open the road for Saturday.

Q: The last time you were in Mexico was the start of your Junior World Rally Championship winning year; does it bring good memories being back?

SO: Yes, for us it is a good memory to come back here. Two years ago, it was my first event and my first victory. It was like a dream.

Q: You drove impressively in Sweden taking fifth overall on only your second snow event in the WRC. Were you pleased with your performance there?

SO: It was a perfect start to finish just behind the four official cars. It was a great start. Here I have a little more experience and I will fight for the podium and fight for a good position on the road.

Q: You know most of the stages that you will be competing on - what can you achieve here?

SO: Jari-Matti said the lack of power makes it difficult. It is easy to make a mistake and difficult to keep on the line with less power. The first loop will be very slippery, but they are beautiful roads.

Q: You were in a S1600 car when you competed here last, how much have you had to change your pace notes now stepping up to WRC car?

SO: Now I know I cannot use the old notes. We have had to start from zero. There are too many corrections and many revolutions (adaptations to make).

Q: Let's look back at Sweden -- your pace was impressive but you took away fourth position after a mistake on the Saturday. Have you and Marc (Marti) put that behind you now?

DS: Now it is a new rally and a different surface. Of course we had a mistake on the second day, but I drove well for the first day. This is not the same and now we have a new gravel rally in Mexico. It is different. The power of the engine is less, so we try and keep the concentration.

Q: You start fourth on the road here, a good starting position. How much of an advantage will you gain from that?

DS: It is a real advantage. Of course, I am happy to have a good place to start.

Q: You have competed here three times previously, what do you think of the Mexican round of the WRC?

DS: Yes, maybe for me it is the best (rally). There is a really nice atmosphere and I know a lot of people. Guanajuato is really nice and there is always lots of colour and so many people. It is nice.

Q: The Citroen test was in Spain and the weather was difficult with heavy rain; was it possible to obtain a good set-up for Mexico or not?

DS: It was not bad weather for the second day of the test in Spain. It was really good. I am quite happy.

Q: Firstly, congratulations on your win at the 100 Acre Wood Rally in Missouri last weekend; a bit of a confidence boost ahead of Mexico?

KB: If only the cars and the competition (in USA) resembled this event! It was totally different. Here I am struggling to get some time in the car. But I am really looking forward to the challenge.

Q: And now here we are in Mexico - your debut in the WRC in a World Rally Car, preparations are complete, how are you feeling ahead of it?

KB: I have only had 170km in the car so far. That is why I wanted to get as many runs in today as possible. But we had problems after the water splash and problems just to get four runs. I was struggling to get the braking points right. I must be realistic where I stand in this world and must learn as much as possible.

Q: You tested the car in Cumbria in the UK two weeks ago, what did you think?

KB: For the first test there were two inches of snow in England, so we had to turn round and fly home. I came back and tested for about 170km two weeks ago in slippery conditions. Then it snowed again, melted and we had muddy conditions. That is not ideal for a dry event like Mexico. But it is great fun and I am looking forward to it.

Q: What does it mean to you to be part of the FIA World Rally Championship?

KB: I have been able to ask Mikko (Hirvonen) or Matthew (Wilson) many questions. I need to learn the car very quickly. It is the same with the engineer to enable us to overlay data and see what I can find. It is a big school and I must absorb information like a sponge. It is a huge honour to be driving on the same roads as these guys. They are the best in the world. I am working hard to get myself to the level where I prove that I am worthy of being here. I need some time and more experience is needed.

Present:
Toshi Arai, FIA Production Car World Rally Championship
Xevi Pons, FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship

Q: Toshi let's start by talking about the test -- you rolled very early on, what happened and are you and Daniel both okay?

TA: It was the first time with my co-driver and his microphone (intercom). I could not hear his pace note. It was a long straight and into the next bend -- it was very bad and tightened and we rolled. There was not so big damage, just some work for the workshop people. We were both okay. I am Japanese and he is English, so it was not so easy for me to understand English.

Q: What do you think of the stages here in Mexico?

TA: It is very, very smooth and very fast. The roads are very good. In some places a little care is needed.

Q: How much development has there been to the car since last year?

TA: I had a lot of testing. We have a 33mm restrictor and I feel much more comfortable with the car. I hope to get the Championship again, but it is not so easy. Armindo (Araujo) is fast and some local drivers are also fast.

Q: What is the secret to success on this event?

TA: There is no secret. You need to finish and have no problem with the car.

Q: Xevi, welcome back to the Championship. This is a brand new challenge for you competing in the SWRC in a Ford Fiesta. What made you pick this Championship to make your return?

XP: I hope to do well. For the rally, for the moment, it is important to finish. We tested for the first time on Monday. It is different to Group N. It is not difficult to drive the car, but it is important to finish the rally for the next rally. For the team it is important. This is a two-year project. It will be very interesting. There are a lot of makes for the Super 2000.

Q: What are your thoughts about the rally this year?

XP: I drove here last year in the Rally of Nations and the stages are very similar. For me, they are nice stages. It is a nice rally and I speak Spanish too.

Q: What is it like to be outside the WRC and then to come back to the Championship?

XP: For me, I am so happy to be here. It is not easy, with all the tyres and the cars. I like the Championship. It is important for me to finish the rally.

-source: fia

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Jari-Matti Latvala , Ken Block , Sébastien Ogier
Teams Citroën World Rally Team