Present:
Thierry Neuville, Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
Sébastien Ogier, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
Jari-Matti Latvala Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT
Mads Østberg, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

Q:
Thierry, you are our Championship leader as we head into Rally Italia Sardegna. The rain has been falling all day – have you been rain dancing? What was it like on shakedown and will this rain make your job a little easier tomorrow on the road?
TN:
After the conditions we saw during the recce it wasn’t a surprise, so far I was prepared for that but it’s always a different thing when you are first on the road and you say ok, I have to go through that, so we always look for rain and so far it seems to be ok. There is still some cleaning on the roads and we could benefit tomorrow to be more competitive.

Q:
These conditions could make tyre choice a headache tomorrow morning; how difficult is it going to be?
TN:
We have to wait, have a good night and see tomorrow morning what are the actual conditions. The weather can change quickly.

Q:
What are your feelings after Rally Portugal?
TN:
I feel good, it’s important that we feel competitive, we have a good car and I really feel comfortable in it. Portugal was good and we are looking forward to another good performance here, even if it is more difficult maybe to get a podium, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t do a good rally. It’s important not to do mistakes, we have to be consistent through the weekend and we can then have important points for the championship.

Q:
Everyone is saying the opening day tomorrow is one of the toughest, would you agree?
TN:
I think they are talking about the opening stage, the Tula stage that has a different version this year. It is an interesting stage but very easy to get lost somehow, somewhere, because of the many junctions it is easy to miss a breaking point. So it is a challenge. There are 11 cars who are going to push for a good stage time, I am sure we will see some mistakes.

Q:
Seb, all the times you have been first on the road it never rained, then Mr. Neuville gets it tomorrow, will it help you as well?
SO:
Thierry for sure has a better rain dance than me! I have been doing that for years and it never worked! Being second, it can help me as well. It will be tough anyway, let’s wait to see the conditions we are going to have.

Q:
The organisers have changed the stages around this year and all the drivers are saying it is going to be tough tomorrow, do you agree?
SO:
Definitively, there are very abrasive stages tomorrow, not so many kilometres but we know there are killing sections for the tyres. It will be an easy choice if it is damp, of course you will be tempted to use softs but then you know there are some sections that are not working with softs, so it is a different configuration than in the past. It’s not all clear for sure but this is what makes it exciting, trying to do the best choice. We are looking forward to starting this event and trying to restart in a good way after Portugal.

Q:
Has the bad experience in Portugal knocked your confidence, leaving with no points?
SO:
At the moment it was frustrating, we had great speed, we were first on the road doing a really good job. Unfortunately I paid for that small mistake and so we came out of Portugal with no points. This is bad for the championship but we are not even at the half-point of the season, we are going to reach it this weekend. It’s not time to worry yet. It’s part of the game. In motor sport you know that sometimes it can happen, luckily for me I did not have so many in the past, but now everything is behind us and we are seeing for the future.

Q:
Jari-Matti, hopefully for you a change in fortune will start here, how are you feeling about Sardinia?
J-ML:
I like this event, I’ve been here the first time 15 years ago, it is a long time ago. Here it is narrow with rocks, I sort of like it, you have to be very precise with the car and I am hoping for a good result.

Q:
There was a lot of talk after Portugal about the toughness of the suspension on the Yaris, what can you tell us about that and how concerned are you for this rough event?
J-ML:
On the recce I’ve been really careful on the sides of the roads, looking for the cuts. I stopped two times, one time actually I was moving rocks; I moved actually seven rocks! So at least I have done some work so I don’t have to worry about that. The notes are good and we have been going higher with the car to protect from hard impacts.

Q:
Are you concerned the suspension might not hold up?
J-ML:
At the moment, I am not concerned, if you stay in the road it should be ok. If you are more aggressive there are things you can hit and you can have an impact. Of course it is hard on the suspension, in the events I am aggressive and I am pushing the car to the limit, so from that side I have tried to change.

Q:
It’s difficult to change your style when you have spent a long time driving a certain way though?
J-ML:
Yes, it’s not easy to change overnight. I had time in Portugal to drive in a different way and I tried to continue it in Finland. Basically it was an engine test, so we did not worry about the set-up, just focused on the kilometres and we concentrated on the driving and trying to be less aggressive.

Q:
Mads, we’ve seen you on a handful of events so far with Citroën. How much have you adapted to the C3 now and what can we expect from you here?
MØ:
Well, it is certainly helping to have a couple of events, the game is really high, it is not easy to get fast when you are on the sofa at home! You need to do kilometres with the car and trying to learn quickly, trying to adapt to the car, adapt the car to me. I think we had some more time after Portugal to work on the car, which was quite helpful, I feel a little more at home in the car at the moment. I really enjoy this rally, I think I can take the time to enjoy the weekend and continue on what we built in Portugal.

Q:
What areas of the car have you worked on?
MØ:
I worked a lot on the front of the car. Different drivers, different driving styles. The car is not really for me at the moment, so I need to try to get the car to suit me a little better, to change the balance of the car, I think we are able to do that. I was quite happy after the two days of testing, being able to drive the car like I want to drive it and hopefully it will suit this event.

Q:
As far as we were aware this was your last WRC event with Citroën. Things have changed in the team in the past weeks and Kris Meeke does not continue, what options does it give you to have more WRC events?
MØ:
For sure it gives options but like everyone knows it’s not an easy game. You need to prove to the team that you can do the job and this is very important for me. Sardinia was always planned, so nothing has changed, I am here to do the event and I have to do a good weekend to prove to everyone in Citroën that I can do the job for the rest of the year. I can only do my best now, I’ll do that and take the chances.

Q:
Sounds like you don’t feel any pressure at the moment?
MØ:
There is always some pressure but I think it makes you a little sharper, for sure you need some pressure to be sharp. I am here to enjoy the pressure, I can feel it, I am sure the team has put some extra pressure on me and I hope I have the skills to cope with that.

FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
Kajetan Kajetanowicz, Lotos Rally Team
Lukasz Pieniazek, Printsport
Fabio Andolfi, ACI Team Italia WRC

Q:
Welcome to the FIA WRC 2 Championship Kajetan. You are a multiple champion within ERC but this will be your first season within WRC, a new chapter starts. What do you think will be the biggest challenge for you?
KK:
I don’t know, this is the first time! I hope it is going to be a good rally for us, but being the first time it won’t be easy. You don’t know where is the surprise, something bad can happen but I have a great team. This was my dream, to be here, dreams come true, it is an amazing feeling and this is why I am smiling. I hope to have a good season, not only this time, we want to do four rounds this year, maybe more, we will see. I am ready to start, I don’t know how it’s going to be, for sure it’s going to be a big challenge.

Q:
You’ve spent two days on recce, what are your thoughts on the stages here?
KK:
They are amazing, very difficult, they change a lot, there are places where it is very slippery and the grip can change a lot. The weather is changing and it is more difficult, but we have a good set-up, I think. I know this car because I drove it for the last four years, we have clean notes and we will do our best for sure. We will focus on our job and on what we have to do.

Q:
Do you feel a bit nervous?
KK:
Of course. But it is positive.

Q:
Lukasz, we’ve seen you compete across three events in the FIA WRC 2 Championship this year. Your best result was second in Portugal a few weeks ago. How confident do you feel coming to Sardinia?
LP:
For sure we are more confident now, Sardinia is quite similar to Portugal. It’s a good time for us, we have done many kilometres so we are well prepared. We are looking forward to start.

Q:
How many kilometres of testing have you done?
LP:
We managed to do over a hundred kilometres on Sunday, so it was quite good. I feel the car, we found a good set-up so we hope it can be even better here.

Q:
Drivers say that Friday’s stages are the toughest and that it is a decisive day, do you agree?
LP:
Yes, for sure. These stages are very difficult and demanding, so it’s hard to make any tactic, it’s hard to find a good pace because there are lots of traps. You can brake something on the car almost everywhere, you must be smart as always.

Q:
Podium result here?
LP:
We don’t think about that, we always try to do our best, for sure not taking too much risk. Let’s see, hopefully on the podium.

Q:
Fabio, your home event here in Sardinia. Your strongest result has been on tarmac this year in Corsica where you came third. Are you confident of a podium result here?
FA:
For sure we want to do well, we are in Italy! My feeling is good with the car after the test. We have done a test on Monday and my feeling with the team is very good and we are ok.

Q:
How many kilometres did you manage?
FA:
About 80.

Q:
And are you happy with the set-up of the car?
FA:
We are happy, we are ready, we hope to get on the podium.

Q:
Speaking about the Friday’s stages, are these the toughest?
FA:
For me the Tula stage will be very difficult and there are many other strong drivers in WRC 2 too.

Q:
Tough on tyres on Friday?
FA:
For sure very difficult, but we think that our tyres will be good.

FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, Equipe de France FFSA Rallye
Enrico Brazzoli

Q:
Jean-Baptiste, you are currently lying in third position in the FIA WRC 3 Championship standings. A win in Corsica has been your best result this season. How are you feeling about the gravel of Sardinia?
J-BF:
The feeling is very good. We were in Portugal a few weeks ago so I think we are ready for this kind of road. I did also 50 kilometres of test last Friday, it was enough to get a good set-up for this rally. We will see, because the roads are really narrow. It will be tricky for small cars, we have to manage the car and try not to have any punctures.

Q:
In Portugal were you happy with your pace and performance?
J-BF:
Yes, we were happy. In the second stage, the driveshaft broke and so we gave up on the first day. After that we tried to follow the pace of the guys in front of us. It was quite good because it was also my first event on gravel.

Q:
About your season so far, do you feel it’s a success?
J-BF:
We started in Monte Carlo with a good result, after in Corsica and then the Portugal experience, now we have to concentrate here in Sardinia and continue with results.

Q:
Enrico, how do you feel about this event?
EB:
It is the first race after the victory in Monte Carlo. The feeling is good after big testing.

Q:
How many kilometres did you test and are you happy going into the event?
EB:
80.  The sensation in the shakedown was good, the rally is very hard for us but it is important for us. We are concentrated and the goal will be to score maximum points for the WRC 3.

Q:
How tough it is going to be if we do have rain tomorrow?
EB:
Tomorrow there is no rain…

Q:
Oh, wow, we have the weather man!
EB:
Possible rain, it is not a problem, I prefer that.

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