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WRC – Acropolis Rally – K. Rovanperä: “I was able to drive with my own pace”

WRC – Acropolis Rally – K. Rovanperä: “I was able to drive with my own pace”

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FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – Kalle Rovanperä (FIN)
Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT – Martin Järveoja (EST)
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – Sébastien Ogier (FRA)
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)

Q:
Kalle how does it feel to win?
KR:
I feel really good. It was really tough rally, long week. A lot of stages in the recce and a long night with the video. I feel really happy to be over the finish line with this result.

Q:
You looked in a different league at times…
KR:
I felt really good on Friday. Then we did some set-up changes, the stages were different on Saturday and then I felt even better. I was able to drive with my own pace and I could just enjoy the driving.

Q:
Tell us about the changes yesterday.
KR:
It was something for the second pass – some protection for the second loop – we lost some traction, but we didn’t lose too much and we were quite safe.

Q:
You won the rally and the Power Stage – was the plan to push that hard?
KR:
The plan was to see how it feels. The first time through, it felt really good and I was enjoying it quite a lot. We had four softs on the car and I was thinking it should be good – a few corners in and it felt good and I could push. It was nice to push and have a good stage.

Q:
We head to Finland, your home rally – is there more pressure and expectation there?
KR:
I think not really yet, the pressure is not there yet. The home rally is always different, there are so many Finnish people and this is the city where I normally live in Finland – it’s something special, somewhere you can really feel the atmosphere. I think it will be a tight battle and hopefully we can enjoy the weekend.

Q:
Martin is standing in for Ott for personal reasons. Martin has the Acropolis been the tough challenge you expected?
MJ:
Like Kalle said, it was long days and short nights – normally I like to sleep more. The recce was difficult conditions to make new notes, but in the end the notes were OK. Luckily during the rally we made some good tyre choices and I think that’s the reason why we are in second position.

Q:
How tough was the recce?
MJ:
The second day morning, there was a bit of darkness and some big clouds. We start to recce then one car was stopping and another car and then we all stop. We realised it wasn’t getting better so we knew we had to get on with it. The second pass was with daylight and no fog, it was much better.

Q:
Tell us about starting the car before the Power Stage…
MJ:
He tried to! It looked like it was game over but then it started and that was the last time. We switched it off and then it would not start anymore, so really it was the last time. There was three seconds to the start and he was still touch some buttons, this was not so good for the rhythm and maybe that cost some time.

Q:
Was this the iconic Acropolis you expected?
MJ:
Coming to the rally, I expected it to be tough from the co-drivers’ side and it was, but I expected maybe it would be even tougher. The roads were really nice and the rally was also really nice.

Q:
Séb, this result is a good boost for the championship?
SO:
It’s been the strategy for the whole weekend – we had a very strong start on Friday opening the road and being close to lead, this was better than I expect. On Saturday morning, we started with the correct rhythm but then all the sections where we struggle on the recce, the sections where the grip was changing and visibility was bad I stayed too much on my comfort zone. At the same time, Kalle was flying and Ott was also really fast. With what happen to Thierry and Elfyn on day one, I had to stay clever. l put the ego outside and let them go – OK I don’t need it! Even if it’s not so enjoyable, I made a clever race and positive for the championship. It’s been super-exhausting. I’m not so used to the long nights with the videos like the younger guys and I feel a bit dead now. The recce was so difficult, we had to confirm so much on the video and the nights were short. Tonight, I’m going to sleep well.

Q:
What did you think when you saw Kalle’s time in the first stage this morning? 
SO:
On the finish line, it was a high-speed recce. Honestly you feel you will lose time, but when it’s one second per kilometre faster, that’s a proper time. When you’re not pushing, it’s hard to estimate what you could do in this stage. In this moment, I said I’m glad we’re not in this fight and we don’t need to take all of this risks. Let’s go to the finish!

Q:
Finland in the autumn next, that can be quite a different rally?
SO:
It can be a different challenge, nobody knows what expect. I’m sure Jari can tell us if it has ever been at that time, but for our generation it’s new. We’ll have to test a bit and we can expect some colder conditions. I hope it’s a bit damp. We had nine rallies and seven of those nine I have had a disadvantage to open the road. I’m already looking forward for the last Tarmac events. For Finland, it’s the ground where the Yaris was born, so it should be performant, but I expect tough competition. Kalle, with his recent performance and confidence, he will push hard and Ott and the Hyundai guys push hard. Let’s see what approach we take on this rally, but I’m looking forward one of the most beautiful rallies and it’s always a pleasure in this beautiful car.

Q:
Jari, tell us about Finland in the autumn…
J-ML:
It has been driven at the end of August, but never in October. This time of the year the roads will be different. It’s been in the summer for the last 20 years – it’s been July and early August when we’ve had very warm conditions with loose gravel on top. When it gets colder it will be a bit wet and humid, but you never know the weather. The drivers will have to tackle a different grip level. Like Séb mentioned the cleaning effect will be a topic, but you don’t really benefit [running further back in damp conditions] and the other topic is driving in the darkness, we didn’t do this since the 1990s.

Q:
A stellar performance from Kalle?
J-ML:
Coming to this event and watching our drivers on the first stage I was already really, really happy – they all started on the top level. Unfortunately, Elfyn got the problem and his rally went wrong immediately. Séb was driving like a champion he knows how to win the championship and Kalle was amazing. I said in Estonia we had a new flying Finn born, but here he was flying even higher.

Q:
What did you think of that time in the first stage this morning?
J-ML:
You need to be confident. It’s those conditions I remember myself if you are confident, you can make the difference. Of course, we were scared could he keep car on the road? But he is much cooler than me – he can keep his emotions in check!

Q:
Is it difficult to watch?
J-ML:
Belgium wasn’t the best race, Hyundai catch a lot of points and we knew we needed a lot of points – if we didn’t get them it would create pressure going to Finland. It is very nervous to watch, you hope for no problems and to stay on the road – it’s more difficult than when I was a driver.

Questions from the floor

Tom Howard, Autosport (UK)

Q:
Is Kalle the complete rally driver?
J-ML:
When you are able drive snow, gravel and Tarmac, you are a complete driver. Kalle has the performance on all the surfaces.

Q:
Is Rovanperä world champion material?
J-ML:
If you win your second event this season, the first full season in WRC – last year I don’t count that one – you must have elements to become a champion. But as Séb knows, winning the championship is difficult – you need a little bit of luck,. You need everything to come together, but for sure Kalle has achieved one step on his career. We will see great victories from him, but let’s go step-by-step not put too much pressure.

Q:
Seb, what have you made of his performance, has he moved up a level?
SO:
Already from last year, very early on Kalle showed some good pace and potential. At the end, he keeps progressing, but he started really high. He’s been competitive on most rallies – hat’s off, it’s impressive to watch his times and this is a more-than deserved victory. There’s no point asking all the other questions, we all know it takes a lot to win championships and winning rallies. He can [win rallies] more or less anywhere – but it will be interesting to see in the future. He has a lot of years ahead of him.

Q:
Kalle, was this better than Estonia?
KR:
It’s difficult to say if it was. I would say Estonia I was expecting it a bit more and everybody knew we would come fast and our car was good. But here there was a question mark over our pace – we didn’t know so much. This year, when we have the new race, not everybody knew the stages and this always helps when everybody has to make new notes and drive from them in the first loop. We showed in the first loop we can be quick when the others don’t have experience from the previous years.

FIA WRC2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
Toksport WRT – Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)

Q:
What an incredible event – so close between you and Marco Bulacia…
AM:
It was a very good weekend – Marco did a very good rally. He was very close and in front of us for most of the rally. We had a tactic to stay out of trouble, like he did. We tried to avoid as many stones as possible and I didn’t feel like we drove very fast, but we did the job we had to. This morning I was only 0.8s behind Marco, so I decided to push, but all the time I knew I had to finish. I tried to drive as fast and safe as possible. We made a good gap and then didn’t risk too much on the Power Stage

Q:
Did you slow down a bit when you saw Mads Østberg having trouble?
AM:
Absolutely. Seeing him having trouble, I knew that our biggest opponent was gone. We stayed away from trouble and stayed smart. Marco gave us a good fight, without that I think it was not so interesting. I enjoyed, it even though I worried about retiring. This rally was not so rough as I remember. The first stages were rough, but in this area it was nice.

Q:
How was your new English-speaking co-driver Elliott Edmondson?
AM:
It worked quite well. He has done an amazing job. It was a bit difficult today, when I tried to push more and was using more energy on the car in the conditions where it was tricky, it wasn’t so easy to remember the pace notes. It will become more natural. But we’re sitting here and we won the rally, so can’t say it didn’t work!

Q:
Looking good for the championship now?
AM :
It’s a really great feeling. We can now sit and relax in Finland and see how it goes with the others there. We have a good gap. Let’s see how Mads does it in the next rally. Then one last rally where we maybe need get some points on the table.

FIA WRC3 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
Yohan Rossel (FRA)

Q:
What happened after the Power Stage?
YR:
Two kilometres to the end the propshaft blocked and we had a big, big noise and I don’t know… I finished the stage and OK it’s that. We continue and OK, but it was crazy 300km and then just three from the end, you have this problem. But we won and that’s the most important.

Q:
Yesterday was about a big attack?
YR:
I work on the car after Friday. It was so difficult to drive. I had blisters on my hands. The stage when you have the line, my car is good, but when we have the big rock I lose some speed. I don’t know why. Yesterday and today I have a big attack and I come here for the win – but it’s difficult. The win is the most important for me.

Q:
You have won on gravel and Tarmac, things are looking good…
YR:
It’s good, but I compare my times on class and I lose on some stages. We need to work. A lot of stages are good, but not all of them and I need to understand why. It’s some driving and maybe the car, I lose 0.2s and for the next years I have to go [and keep pace] with him [Mikkelsen].

 
Q:
When do we see you next?
YR:
I don’t know. I go for Spain, it’s good for my driving, but we need to speak to the Federation and to Citroën. I did six events in the WRC and this is perfect for learning. I want to win the championship, but the gap to WRC2 is the most important thing – to learn and progress is the most important for me.

 

World Rally Championship

Acropolis RallyWRC2021 WRC - Acropolis Rally Greece - Jonne Halttunen and Kalle Rovanperä (DPPI / Nikos Katsikis)SEASON 2021SportRallies1SportWorld Rally ChampionshipRalliesWRCSEASON 2021Acropolis Rally01Sunday, September 12, 2021 – 5:19pmSunday, September 12, 2021 – 5:19pm

A. F1

via Press release feed https://ift.tt/2ynDsjd

September 12, 2021 at 05:30PM

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