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POST-EVENT PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: 2015 FIA European Rally Championship: round five of 10

​Attendees:

Freddy Loix (BEL)/Johan Gitsels (BEL) First place

Bryan Bouffier (FRA)/Thibault de la Haye (FRA) Second place

Vincent Verschueren (BEL)/Veronique Hostens (BEL) Third place

Aleks Zawada (POL) ERC Junior winner



Question to Freddy Loix

How special is this, your incredible 10th Ypres Rally win?

“My start yesterday, I was trying, but it was not going as everyone was expecting and it was quite difficult with the new ŠKODA to find some grip when changing direction. We were talking a lot over the ‘phone to the engineers, because we had to react because everyone was pushing a lot. I was 25-26 seconds behind, but the moment we found the right set-up, we just went flat-out! So yes, this win is very special.”


Question to Freddy Loix

When you were 25.8 seconds behind the leader at the end of leg one, and your ŠKODA Fabia R5 wasn’t changing direction the way you wanted. Did you still think you’d win Ypres Rally win this weekend?

“Last night, definitely not, because I knew that if we could not find more speed in changing direction that we could never follow the leading cars. But on leg two, after the first stage, already I had a better feeling and straight away I was on the ‘phone to my engineers again, saying we still need a little bit more grip in some kind of corners. After a few clicks for the second stage this morning, then I knew it was my time.”


Question to Freddy Loix

You have given the ŠKODA Fabia R5 its ERC debut, first ERC stage win and first ERC victory. How proud does that make you feel?

“I’m very proud. On the other side, I was surprised yesterday. We had a good feeling on the test, but when we started the rally on Friday, I thought ‘shit, this is going to be a difficult one’ and we had to react. Of course the experience from me and my team, ŠKODA Motorsport sent some people over and with some clever people we found the right set-up. Then it was party time!”


Question to Johan Gitsels

You launched a huge fight back on leg two. What was it like guiding Freddy to his historic victory?

“I was very happy, because of the work the mechanics had done the car was a lot better. The speed was going up, the corners were coming up faster and faster and it was going better and better. We also made a bad tyre choice on Friday, because we went out on soft tyres but the rain never came, but on Saturday everything just got better and better.”


Question to Bryan Bouffier

Could you have kept Freddy behind you, had you not been forced to stop and change that puncture?

“Who knows, because it is so complicated? For sure, Freddy had a fantastic feeling today and he was able to pressure a lot, but myself I have to be happy with this result. The rally didn’t start very well for me, I spun once on the Free Practice, then again on the first stage and on the second stage I was too aggressive and was a bit lucky. So, in this way, I was happy to be not so far from the leaders. I think I have to come back to check it, because Freddy is the man to beat.”


Question to Bryan Bouffier

Even with the puncture, you still finished second. How pleased, and surprised, are you about that result?

“Yes. It’s good anyway, because we have done a good performance. We lost two minutes changing a puncture and our gun was not working so we had to use manual tools, so in this way changing the wheel was a good time. And to keep the second place as well was very nice.”


Question to Thibault de la Haye

It’s been an incredibly dramatic Ypres Rally. How does this performance with Bryan rate in your career highlights?

“It’s a good performance for me, because it’s my first time in Ypres and it’s just my third time with Bryan, because we started to work together just one month ago. When we arrived here, I thought it would be very difficult to fight with Freddy, because Freddy is the man to beat here, but the last day was a good day for us. Until we had the puncture, all we thought about was the victory.”


Question to Vincent Verschueren

After so much bad luck before in Ypres, how pleased are you to finish on the podium?

“It feels very good, especially as my team is from Ypres, so it means a lot to them also. We were also lucky today to reach the finish, so it was a very nice feeling.”


Question to Vincent Verschueren

You kept a little mechanical problem a secret from everyone until the end of the final stage. What was it, and how serious was it?

“Third gear was not working any more, so it was very difficult to drive. I had to use second gear on the slow corners and I didn’t want to tell anyone because the guys behind would push to try and catch me.”


Question to Veronique Hostens

It’s been flat-out from start to finish, but how do you control a driver on the verge of a podium result, but who is driving with what could turn into, at any moment, a major problem?

“We weren’t even thinking about a podium. We were relaxed and enjoying the driving. It was very quiet and relaxed in the car. Every corner you can make a mistake and then it’s over, so we didn’t talk about it.”


Question to Aleks Zawada

You led ERC Juniors for the first four stages and set eight fastest stage times – but how much is this victory a surprise to you, after a dramatic final stage?

“It was unbelievable. I could not imagine winning ERC Juniors today. Marijan Griebel had a huge amount of bad luck and really reserved to win, and as he is a team-mate from Opel I was very sad to see him lose time with a puncture on the final stage. On the other hand, we’re all here to win and that’s where we finished. I’m really happy, but it was a big surprise. We were having a big battle for second with Diogo Gago and we were half a second away from him going into the last stage, and we get to the finish line and it turns out we’ve won. It couldn’t be better from our perspective.”


Question to Aleks Zawada

What were your thoughts when you were stuck in a ditch earlier today? Did you ever imagine you’d score your first ERC Junior win later the same day?

“That’s true. I made quite a big mistake; we span twice on the first stage of leg two, but luckily where we got stuck with the front wheels off in the air there was a couple of spectators who helped us out. We lost a minute, but luckily we still had 150 kilometres still to do.”

Photos

Ypres Rally post-event press conference.jpg
Ypres Rally post-event press conference

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