Present:
Tommi Makinen, Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT
Michel Nandan, Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
Pierre Boudar, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

Q:
What a contrast to yesterday. Sebastien Ogier is leading the rally. It’s a battle with Jari-Matti Latvala but your boy is in the lead again. Did you expect to see that today?
MW:
Probably no. I must admit we did have a target to try to get to second but then of course Ott has his problem which put us nicely in the lead. I wouldn’t say comfortably in the lead with Jari breathing down his neck then we know how good Jari is as well. Then it’s going to be a fantastic final battle tomorrow.

Q:
There are just 4.4 seconds between them. Ogier has won this event before, so has Jari-Matti. They both know how to win this rally. For Sebastien Ogier it’s the title thoughts as well which are in mind. How is he going to balance that tomorrow Malcolm?
MW:
I just hope that Tommi is going to tell Jari that he needs to think about the manufacturers championship and not bother about the drivers.

Q:
Ogier started on the first stage with a real intent. You knew that he was going to propel himself up the leaderboard. He was fastest this morning. He had a real fire in his belly after yesterday.
MW:
Yes, we really felt he could get back up to second if he had a good clean run today and that’s what he’s had. He had a perfect day, a little bit confused as to why on the last stage we were not so quick but hopefully tomorrows stages will suit Sébastien and his car and hopefully we can hang onto that lead. Last night I was thinking how things change in 12 months. It was a disaster for us yesterday and then today has been the exact opposite.

Q:
It has been the exact opposite and the twists and turns of the championship title battle as well. Ott is so, so strong and unfortunately having issues today. Thierry made a mistake. It’s not over yet Malcolm but it’s an incredible story to tell this year Malcolm.
MW:
It’s unbelievable. We really felt that after Turkey we were on the back foot coming here. If the result ends up like it is now then the two final events will be nothing like I’ve experienced in twenty years of doing the job. Who can win the title? I’m sure it will go down the wire to Australia.

Q:
Tommi, Ott Tanak has put on a brilliant display all rally but unfortunately it can to an end today on Sweet Lamb Hafren. What do we know Tommi as the car looked immaculate as if nothing had happened. Some damage to the radiator?
TM:
There was some strange failure with the sump guard first which we don’t know exactly. The sump guard broke then afterwards it damaged the radiator and it lost the water pressure and of course he had to stop.

Q:
We saw some images of him from the helicopter. He was just lying on the ground, I’m sure he was devastated. Have you spoken to him this evening?
TM:
Yes, we just keep investigating what happened. We don’t know what was the reason, what was the reason for the failure of the sump guard. That was very strange and of course we have to put quite a lot of effort to find out and try to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. It was so big a disappointment for all of us.

Q:
There maybe some team manager problems for you tomorrow, you have two drivers. Jari-Matti Latvala who is fighting for the win. Esapekka Lappi who is only 7.4 seconds behind Latvala. Lappi has told me that he’s going to push out there to try to catch Jari-Matti. Jari-Matti is going to try to catch Ogier. They are going to be really pushing and fighting. You are thinking of the manufacturers championship. Malcolm doesn’t want you to push. What’s going to happen out there Tommi?
TM:
Do you think they are listening to me? I think it doesn’t matter what I’m telling them, they are going to do their best. I think it is just important for them to concentrate tomorrow and do their best. I think it’s a very, very difficult situation. So close, whatever can happen.

Q:
Pierre, your man is in the fight. Craig Breen is 13.5 seconds adrift of the lead of the rally. He’s going to be pushing everybody tomorrow hopefully. What’s the plan?
PB:
We will try at least.

Q:
He’s put on a great performance today Craig. He’s found great performance and a good bit of pace out there. Is it the confidence after yesterday, actually coming through a Friday without any dramas at all?
PB:
Probably it was the first step to get the confidence to finish a Friday. Now he has finished a Saturday which is also a great result for us without any problems and he had a very good run this morning. Both of them were at the top this morning. We are quite happy with the morning at least.

Q:
Can he go out there tomorrow Pierre and fight for a podium position? You are not in the battle for the manufacturers championship but obviously you want him to finish but to get a podium would be the best option.
PB:
For sure we will try. I don’t know what would be the result.

Q:
Let’s talk about Thierry Neuville. The championship leader coming into Dayinsure Wales Rally GB  has done a brilliant job all season and then today we saw a mistake from him when he was lying in second position overall. It was a bit of a heart in the mouth moment I can imagine as you were all watching to wonder if he would actually get out of the ditch, which he did but he dropped right down the standings. What are your thoughts on Thierry today?
MN:
I think everybody who was driving the stage this morning found it slippery like this and when you are fighting anything can happen. It’s true a small mistake and he went into the ditch. Hopefully some spectators were there. It took him 50 seconds but OK, that’s the game. When you are trying and you are pushing then things can happen and you have to accept them. Of course he drops a lot and now he’s still in the race which is good. For sure tomorrow he will try to get a lot of points, as much as he can. I’m talking about the Power Stage and then let’s see. We know it’s not a good event for us but there are still two events to go on and a lot of things can happen. I think since the beginning of the season we have seen a lot of things happening.

Q:
The drivers title is not the only championship you are battling for. You are also battling with Toyota for the manufacturers championship. There’s lots of things to consider and Thierry is behind his team-mates in the classification. We have Andreas Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon ahead of him. You talked about him getting as many points as possible, are we going to see team orders coming in to play? Will those drivers step aside to let Thierry past tomorrow?
MN:
Quite possible.

Q:
It’s possible to do it as a team sport yes?
MN:
I’m quite a long time in this business and I think everyone here will agree that one point is one point. I think that tomorrow will be really tough as you have a lot of cars fighting for a win and so I think a lot of things can happen so I think for us, it’s a bit more relaxed as we can have a look from behind and then decide.

Present:
Sebastien Ogier, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
Jari-Matti Latvala, Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT
Esapekka Lappi, Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT

Q:
Sebastien, what a turnaround. Yesterday there was a lot of disappointment. You had gearbox issues in the morning, it was a tough afternoon. You found yourself in fifth position overnight. Then this morning a real push to get up to second, before moving into the lead when Ott (Tanak) retired. What a change around in fortune. How are you feeling?
SO:
Yeah like you say, a lot of things happened today. It feels quite strange to be in the lead to be honest. When I heard about Ott (Tanak), I did not know how to take it. I was not happy about it. I felt he deserved better than that, he was doing an excellent job this weekend and was super fast. No one had any chance to fight with him. But that’s rallying and we’ve also had hard luck recently. But I have to see it now as an opportunity to score more points, even though it won’t be easy, because there are other guys I am sure who will put on the pressure. The approach we had today was all or nothing, after the disappointing start yesterday we wanted to push very hard today and try to climb up the classification as much as we could. It’s very close with 50km still to go, so we cannot relax and push until the end.

Q:
You are [Sebastien], out of the title contenders, in prime position. Even if you took second you’d be ahead of Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak in the standings, so effectively you do not need to take so many risks?
SO:
I think I do, because Thierry [Neuville] is far away at the moment but we know he’s going to climb up the leaderboard tomorrow thanks to his team-mates, so it will already be four more points and he will also then probably have the best starting position for the power stage, so that’s a very big chance to score maximum points in the power stage. I expect him to still score a lot of points this weekend so we also need to be on the maximum points. Honestly, I will keep the same approach tomorrow.

Q:
Lets turn to Jari-Matti Latvala now then; great day for you out there, we have seen some fantastic pace from you, especially in the afternoon – it was like you had the sniff of a potential win and all of a sudden the Latvala foot just went a bit further down. Was that the case?
JML:
Yes, you are right. It’s very unfortunate for Ott (Tanak) that he retired, but after that I realised that there was a door open for the victory, so I need to go for it. I haven’t won for one-and-a-half years, the motivation is very very high, I’m feeling the spark of the victory, it’s what I really want to go for. I did a mistake on the last stage of the day because I was maybe attacking too much, so we lost some time but OK, tomorrow there is 50km and it will be a fair fight. At the end, what happened in the last stage today doesn’t really matter, because tomorrow the best man will win.

Q:
This is the perfect position for you, with Ott (Tanak) sat badly out of the picture in terms of getting the win, the team would love you to get the win, Ott (Tanak) would love you to get the win, four points in the power stage so Ott (Tanak) could get five maybe, so you could really help the team out and Ott here tomorrow.
JML:
Yeah, I have a plan!

Q:
Let me factor in Esapekka Lappi who could spoil that party completely, because as Sebastien said, you are not too far behind either. What is your plan tomorrow?
EL:
Well to be honest, 12 seconds feels like quite a long day. Like today I tried to keep up with the speed but I was losing almost in every stage. Let’s say the plan is to keep Craig Breen behind who is under a second behind I think. This means I need to attack and for sure, there won’t be any playing it safe driving tomorrow. It’s all or nothing. Let’s focus on the third position and lets see what happens ahead.