Förarkommentarer efter Arctic Rally Finland

Här kan du läsa VM-förarnas kommentarer, på engelska, efter den finska VM-deltävlingen Arctic Rally Finland.

Vad tyckte om förarna, och teamcheferna, om den finska vintertävlingen Arctic Rally Finland som ersatte Rally Sweden i årets Rally-VM.

Ett nytt rally och en ny miljö var vad VM-förarna upplevde när WRC-cirkusen gästade Rovaniemi i norra Finland för en tio-specialsträckors VM-deltävling. Kanske lite få till antalet, sträckorna alltså, men ändå en sammanlagd längd på lite över 250 kilometer specialsträckor. Och en strong insats att rodda ihop en helt ny VM-deltävling på kort tid, och i dessa pandemi-tider.

Den mesta action kom på fredagsmorgonen då det floffades och skottades på shakedown. Under tävlingen var det mer koncentration och de WRC-förare som fick skotta var Lorenzo (inte otippat) och Ogier (mer otippat).

Här kan du läsa, på engelska, vad förare och teamchefer tyckte om tävlingen och deras egna insatser.

1) Ott Tänak, Hyundai
– This victory is very important and allows us to take away good points for the championship. We came to Finland – the home country of one of our closest rivals – so the pressure was on for sure. We knew it would be complicated to take on the fight but, in the end, we did a very good weekend. The pre-event test was held in very different conditions, so we didn’t really know what to expect.

– I was pushing the engineers quite a lot, but their hard work really paid off. We tried some new things in shakedown, and it all worked out nicely. This has been an amazing place to come for a rally, definitely one of the best for a winter event; there’s no place where you can have more snow and the characteristics of the road have been very special. Big praise to the organisers – it’s more than a worthy addition to the world championship.

2) Kalle Rovanperä, Toyota
– I’m really pleased with the second place. It was quite a difficult weekend, I was pushing really hard and we couldn’t always be on the optimal pace, but we were fighting back all the time. In the Power Stage I gave everything that I had and it was enough, so we got really good points from here.

– It’s really nice to be in this position now, leading the championship for the first time. It’s going to be a new situation for me going to the next event, and we just have to keep up the pace and be consistent like we have been here.

3) Thierry Neuville, Hyundai
– I am very satisfied with our weekend and third position, even if second was so close. We kept believing right up to the end, but everyone was pushing hard on the Power Stage, so it wasn’t possible to grab P2. Still, we have taken some good points for both championships, which were really needed after Monte-Carlo. The partnership with Martijn, too, was better.

– We still have some communication issues to resolve, to get the wording clearer and for me to understand better, but I’m sure we’ll be more competitive with that. I felt that the car was really great in these conditions, I didn’t really have any complaints; I felt comfortable, we could find a good rhythm and I was able to push immediately. A great all-round team result.

4) Craig Breen, Hyundai
– I am happy to finish this rally with fourth place. In all honesty, it’s been a tough weekend. I’ve felt mentally – after delivering so much in Estonia last season – that the goalposts had moved, so I wanted to win but I also have to remember my experience is still a bit on the low side. It definitely gives me motivation to have made progress today.

– We spent some time in the regroup to analyse where I was losing time compared to the others. Thanks to the engineers, we were able to identify a few things that, maybe due to my driving style, were upsetting the car – erasing some traits that I’ve carried for a few years. I knew the speed was there, so it was nice to score some points for the team in the Power Stage and to end the weekend on a positive note.

5) Elfyn Evans, Toyota
– I had a good start to the final day. The grip was higher than I expected but after the first few corners we seemed to find a better rhythm and it was a good time. But then it was not the best run for us in the Power Stage. It felt OK but the time was quite a bit off where we would have liked to be.

– It has not been the best event for us to be honest, I’m quite disappointed with the overall result. There were some flashes of good speed but nowhere near consistent enough to challenge for the top positions.

6 Takamoto Katsuta, Toyota
– I’m happy with this weekend, but I wanted to show something more and I was hoping for a better position before the rally. I enjoyed the stages a lot and in some splits I was fastest, while in some splits I was a bit too careful and losing too much time.

– When the conditions were consistent I felt very confident, but when there was loose snow or big ruts I needed to improve my driving. I really need to focus on this and improve if I want to get on the podium or win rallies. I still have a lot to learn and I’m even more motivated than before.

7) Oliver Solberg, Hyundai
– I knew it would be complicated to understand the aero, but I was quite confident I would be happy at this speed. I didn’t expect to make these sort of times quite so early in the rally. It was just so much fun. Before the rally Andrea was telling me there was no pressure and I had to make sure I was smiling. I am smiling more than I ever did before now.

– The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC was fantastic to drive, so much grip, so much power and just so incredible to drive. When I was in the car and really in the middle of the event, I was just driving and not thinking so much to what everything really meant. But when I was between the stages and we were stopping behind [Sébastien] Ogier to change wheels and work on the car before the stage, I did stop a little bit and think: “Wow! This is just incredible – I’m here and I’m fighting with the world champion!”

– Of course I understand Séb had a difficult place on the road and that cost him some time on Friday, but it was very cool to be racing with him. He’s a cool guy.

– There were a couple of times when I was a little bit frustrated, like in the last stage. I made a spin near the finish and that cost me sixth place. Sixth would have been nice, but I will take this result – in the top five on six stages out of 10. This is so much more than I could have dreamed of. It’s amazing. It’s unbelievable.

8) Teemu Suninen, Ford
– Our rally was pretty good with no issues or mistakes, and I was enjoying the stages a lot. The car felt really nice to drive, and I would say that this is one of the rallies I have enjoyed the most in my career with really nice winter conditions.

– Of course it was a bit disappointing to see that the stage times weren’t where we wanted them to be, but we have struggled in the fast rallies before. In the slower sections the pace was good and we were amongst some of the fastest drivers – so this is where we can aim to make a difference in the next events.

9) Gus Greensmith, Ford
– Overall I would say that it has been a pretty good weekend for us. The stages have been incredible, and I was happy with my driving – especially on Saturday morning. But of course there’s still work to do and there will always be more to learn.

– It was also a bit disappointing to have given so much time away in the first stage because that hampered us for the rest of the event. I think that’s one of the main things I will take away from this weekend – knowing that I can’t be giving road position away as it doesn’t help me show my potential.

20) Sébastien Ogier, Toyota
– Overall it’s been a tough weekend. We tried everything we can but we knew coming here as leaders of the championship it would be a tough rally. Still we fought hard but this small mistake yesterday in the final stage of the day was obviously very costly too and took us out of the fight.

– With our starting position we had not so much hope for the Power Stage. I couldn’t do more, I was on the limit and there was still too much snow, but it was good to score one point at least.

 

Vad teamcheferna tyckte om helgen i jultomtens hemstad Rovaniemi kommer här.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Toyota
– Kalle has produced a very very good performance on this rally, managing to maintain second position on the final day and also winning the Power Stage, scoring good points for the team and for himself. Elfyn tried hard to gain fourth but it wasn’t to be. We are still leading both championships so we can be satisfied, but of course we wanted more.

– This was a home rally for the team and we were hoping to be able to win here. We seemed to be struggling a little bit with the setup so the drivers were not completely happy with the car all of the time. We were fast on some of the stages but then there were some stages where we were not so competitive and we need to analyse why.

Andrea Adamo, Hyundai
– After Monte-Carlo, I said only a win would have been enough to allow us to come back to the level we need to be. We needed to be more focused and better prepared. The team did an amazing job, and this result reflects that. We understood our faults, me first of all, and we responded in the way we needed. Winning and finishing first are very different concepts. Today, we won.

– Ott and Martin did an incredible job from start to finish, and the victory was truly well deserved. Thierry and Martijn, starting third on the road we mustn’t forget, fought like hell until the very end to support our manufacturers’ championship efforts. I would have loved to have seen Craig and Paul fast all weekend, like they were in the Power Stage, but they finished fourth, which was what we asked of them today.

– Thank you to the Arctic Rally Finland organisers for allowing us to come here and enjoy an exciting rally; we have shown again that motorsport can react quickly in very difficult circumstances to put on a show – safely – and to ensure that everybody can share some entertainment in difficult times.

Richard Millener, Ford
– I think we can all agree how fantastic the stages have been and what a top job the organisers have done here in Rovaniemi.

– It’s not quite been our weekend, but we know where we are losing and where we need to improve. We’re still competitive in the right conditions, and we saw some good times from Teemu and Gus in the more technical split sections where we know we can be quick.

– Both drivers drove really well this weekend and, while we haven’t come away with the results we wanted, we can take a lot of positives from the data and look to build on that as the season progresses.

Vill du läsa mer, här är vad Oliver Solberg tyckte om sin fina insats. Och här om Mattias Ekström och här om Johan Kristoffersson.