Day two, Saturday 9 June 2017
Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport Ford WRT
Michel Nandan, Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT
Kaj Lindstroem, Toyota GAZOO Racing Wrt
Pierre Budar, Citroen Total Abu Dhabi Wrt
Q: Malcolm, pretty thrilling day Sebastian leads at the end of the day 3.9 sec. over Neuville, did he have you worried out there when he was losing time?
MW: Maybe a thrilling day for you but certainly not for me and Michel (Nandan) for sure, quite stressful in the office, particularly when he lost time this morning which was a bit concerning, we thought there was something wrong with the car but it turned out he was not confident with this stage where he had a puncture and he did not know why, he was cautious again certainly awaking everybody at the service park.
Q: Neuville is not going to ease in terms of pressure, he still went for it, still keeping chasing Seb, can Seb hold it?
MW: I know he is not going to hold back, we know in 2013 he did an incredible job. He will not hold back, I think it is incredible for the sport to think about the battles that have going on today for the lead, battle for third and battle for firth. It’s great for the sport, I just hope we can manage to hang on the place we are in at the moment.
Q: Michel, a very determined Thierry, with no spare we thought he might ease back but it’s not his nature, he kept pushing, were you concerned?
MN: Everybody was concerned, to have a fight like that I think it’s very good for the sport and, as Malcolm said, we are fighting for all the position and at the end this is the sport. You know when you drive in this conditions anything can happen, but it’s good a fight like this. I hope everybody is enjoying it.
Q: We are, for sure. Tomorrow is he going to continue to push and to take risks? How much risks are you prepared for?
MN: As far as he is in first position he can calm down!
Q: Are you concerned about manufacture points, championship and drivers, Is he going to fight?
MN: I think so, yes.
Q: Lappi and Latvala have delighted us today, unfortunately for Jari-Matti a problem on the final stage tonight, can you tell us what you know?
KL: First of all it was nice to see some parts of today, a nice stage for Toyota. I know very little of what happened at the moment? I had a message that the battery was low, related to alternator. The boys tried to fix the car on the road section and just ran out of time, so Rally2 tomorrow. Let’s see if it was the stone on the stage and hope he will continue tomorrow.
Q: We all feel for Latvala, a series of bad events for him, how is he feeling, have you spoken to him?
KL: No, I haven’t, I spoke with Anttila just for a words, “we are coming, one hour”, that’s all. They should be here soon. For sure it was disappointing because there was a big fight with Lappi.
Q: Lappi desperately tried to catch Jari-Matti, great performances, stages, are you pleased with the progress he’s making with the team?
KL: Yes, I am. We just need to find the situation from the first day on Friday because he was on the fight like an angry dog and won’t give up and it was nice to see that. He’s doing a good job.
Q: Ostberg and Paddon battling it, trading times back and forth, what have you thought about Mads performance?
PB: We are not exactly in the same race as the others, at least we have a fight, it was quite nice, it was for the fifth place, now maybe for the fourth place and still on tomorrow morning.
Q: Very good to hear Breen talking positively today, tough event but the difference in the development of the C3 WRC from this point last year to now how much did he enjoy driving?
PB: Very difficult for Craig because of sweeping the roads race after race, but at least he enjoyed the car. He noticed all the improvements on the car since last year on the same event, now he feels much more comfortable. He could be faster if he was not first or second on the road.
Sebastien Ogier, M-Sport Ford WRT
Thierry Neuville, Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT
Esapekka Lappi, Toyota GAZOO Racing Wrt
Q: What a fantastic battle between you and Neuville: 3.9 seconds is the advantage at the end of the day. A little off the pace today, were you trying to make it more exciting for us?
SO: He looks like it, if that was the plan perfectly done. But, honestly, it wasn’t that the plan. He was a good day, I am very happy, except for single stage 12, where I don’t know what I was doing, definitively with the wrong rhythm. I struggled, the grip was lower, at the end, when I saw 14 seconds down, I said “ok, that’s bad”. It is how it is, deal with it, the afternoon we started not so good, stalled in the first stage, so I lost another three seconds in there, after that I tried my best. It’s a close gap, but I am happy with my position.
Q: Can you describe what you feel in such a close battle?
SO: It’s much nicer than when you have to cruise on the sand, honestly it’s horrible to finish rally where you have just to control, now it’s fun, you just go flat out. Forty-two kilometres to go, I am sure Thierry is going to push, he is driving very well today, good speed, consistent, I am sure tomorrow it will be the same. We have what it takes to remain in the lead, but we have to be to our best.
Q: Talk to me about tire compound, how many soft have you left?
SO: I have more than enough for tomorrow for only 42 kms. Actually, I don’t know, I think I have four new or almost new, for sure we need only five.
Q: Thierry, for the man that only needed four this afternoon some people thought that you would ease back, maybe not push too hard, instead you really pushed hard out there. Great afternoon, right?
TN: Great day, I would say. We started very early this morning, really surprised at one stage I was able to catch much time back, good point for the fight, for the victory, we decided this afternoon to go hard to get closer which at the end was the case but by only one second. This shows how close is the gap and how tough it is to gain time. We can be satisfied, obviously there was this puncture which cost a little time but we did not back off, we continue pushing to catch again the time we lost.
Q: You are in a strong position in second, that’s good points, you could go on Power Stage points tomorrow, how much are you prepared to risk to catch Ogier in front?
TN: I will risk as much as Seb. We will go on the same rhythm for sure tomorrow as we did today. If nobody does a mistake it’s really difficult to make big difference. At one point one will be faster, it will be challenging, we are well prepared, my team has done an incredible job, lots of job around the car, they had to change the fuel tank very quickly to give me back the car, I am looking forward for tomorrow, I feel comfortable, tricky stages tomorrow and so it’s going to be good fun!
Q: Really enjoyed watching the fight between you Esapekka and Jari-Matti, just as good as the fight in front today. Sadly for Latvala the problem on the final stage, did you stop trying to help him any way?
EL: To be honest we stopped but we are not allowed to help. We just said “hi and goodbye”. It’s a big shame, I had also a big fight in Portugal, it’s a nice learning for me as well to be able to push all the time.
Q: We’ve seen very big smiles from you at the end of stages: are you happy with your pace and performance?
EL: Yes, I am satisfied. There is some small margin where I can push harder, but then I can’t avoid the rocks anymore and I need to try to improve in the future.
Q: What is the objective in your final day?
EL: I have the reverse case, as Seb said, one minute in front and one minute in the back, so I guess I save the tires and try something in the Power Stage. This year I almost had good results but then I do small mistakes, like in Corsica on the last stage, so I don’t want to repeat that this time.