March 16th to 19th 2023

‘Meet the Crews’ – Day 1

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‘Meet the Crews’ –  Shakedown

 

Present:

Pierre Budar – Citroën Total World Rally Team

Rich Millener – M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Tommi Mäkinen – Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team

Andrea Adamo – Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team

 

1st Sébastien Ogier – Citroën Total World Rally Team

2nd Elfyn Evans – M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

3rd Kris Meeke – Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team

Q:

Pierre, it has been an interesting day out there. Sébastien Ogier started third on the road. He cannot remember the last time he started that far back. You must be delighted with his performance today

PB:

Yes, of course, we are very happy. He had a perfect day except for a puncture. He did a good job with his third place on the road.

Q:

In contrast, Esapekka Lappi seems to have struggled out there today. What can be changed for Esapekka overnight?

PB:

We will discuss a bit more with him to see what is wrong. But I don’t think anything is wrong on the set-up. Maybe he needs to get some more experience here. He has made a good job considering his lack of experience. I think it was a decent day for him also.

Q:

Rich, let’s talk about Elfyn Evans. Is he capable of battling his old team-mate Sébastien Ogier for the win?

RM:

It’s in his mind. We saw today that a lot can happen and Seb had that puncture at the end of the last gravel stage. Elfyn, unfortunately, lost a bit of time on the super specials this evening. It is still very close. We didn’t get a stage win, which would have been nice. But, to be second overnight, is a positive thing. Every rally is different and Elfyn knows over the last couple of rallies that he is under pressure to perform. He’s a confident person. He hasn’t got that position through the misfortune of others. He’s been setting the times. We are confident he can continue that tomorrow.

Q:

Teemu Suninen had an accident today. Will he continue on tomorrow?

RM:

Unfortunately, from the pictures it does not look too badly damaged, the car is really badly damaged. Even with the three hours we have available it would be impossible to fix. He will be here for the rest of the weekend. We will make him clean the dishes to pay for the accident…

Q:

Tommi, let’s talk about your championship leader Ott Tänak. First on the road today. What have you thought of his performance?

TM:

At the end of the day it was a pretty good position for tomorrow and a good chance to pick up good points. It was a hard time for him.

Q:

Kris Meeke has won this event in the past and he’s in a podium position for you. What more acan he achieve tomorrow?

TM:

Kris did a good day. I am sure tomorrow will be an easier day for him. It was the first time for him in the car on gravel. I would say we are confident for tomorrow.

Q:

Jari-Matti Latvala did not complete the final two stages. What has happened?

TM:

I don’t know exactly but there is something in the alternator area. I do not know what was the failure but it was a lack of electricity.

Q:

Andrea, we saw the highs and lows of rallying in one day for Hyundai. Mikkelsen in the lead and then not and Sordo on form and then retired. What happened with Dani today?

AA:

He stopped! Honestly, all we know is that the engine stopped. Whatever I can tell you now is a bullshit. It is better than I say to you when I know it…!

Q:

Andreas Mikkelsen stopped once and then again. What actually happened?

AA:

He found the road on his way and the road won. He had a puncture and, at the same moment, he bent the suspension components that did not last to the end of the stage and he had to stop.

Q:

Thierry Neuville said he felt like giving up, How can you remotivate him for tomorrow?

AA:

Sometimes Thierry is much more Italian than me! Maybe he is more Latin than myself. Sometimes I cannot recognise who of us is the Italian one. He is sweeping the road. The tension was there and he was also ill in the last days and there was some weakness there. It is good that he starts to cry at the end of the stage and he comes back and I start to manage him. I let Colin Clark manage his face at the end of the stage!

Q:

Sébastien, we spoke about being third on the road being a bit like Christmas for you. How has it felt out on the stages for you?

SO:

I think it was years since I had this kind of start position. I did the same job as always and it was nice to see the times were good. It has been a difficult day. Everyone had to struggle in the Chocolate stage. It is hard to find the good rhythm. I was not comfortable on the first loop. It has been a good day except for the puncture on stage seven. To be in front is very good.

Q:

Tomorrow is a tough day. Is there a stage that you pick out tomorrow?

SO:

Probably Otates. It’s the longest day of the rally tomorrow. Some sections are going to be tricky. The ground is a bit different, a bit softer. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble and avoid all those rocks. Starting at the back should help us have a good speed.

Q:

You have Elfyn and Kris behind you and Ott is starting to move closer to the front. How worried are you?

SO:

For sure, its going to be a walk in the park. If you want to win this rally you have to go for it. Ott is some time behind. I know he can be fast but we proved we have a good speed as well. Let’s see what happens. I am sure Elfyn and Kris will keep pushing. They are not far behind.

Q:

Elfyn, strong times from you today?

EE:

It has not been a bad day, for sure. We have been clean out there. Maybe a bit more of the same tomorrow to put the pressure on this man.

Q:

A big fight with Seb then?

EE:

I don’t want to guarantee anything but we have to go for it. We are in a great position. We have to keep looking forward, remain clean and keep fighting.

Q:

Kris, your first rally on gravel with the Yaris. How have you found it today?

KM:

To be honest I had quite a clean day and enjoyed it. No dramas and no technical issues. Just missing a little something to get to the speed of Seb. I’ve been quite happy and we are still in the fight for some very good points. We have seen today that anything can happen on this rally. It’s a long, tough day tomorrow.

Q:

Méxco has been good to you in the past. You seem to adapt to this rally. Why is that?

KM:

I have done the rally four times. I enjoy it. It does take a couple of years to learn this rally, It is tricky. Once you understand it and find the rhythm, it is quite nice. Let’s see what we can do. Like I said, anything can happen.

 

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