Q: How did you feel on Sunday after your first win for Volkswagen?
J-ML: “Really good. It's a big relief. I started my season with a big crash, so for sure it was a big question for Volkswagen, what kind of driver this new driver is. Finally, I delivered the result for the team, even through difficult times.”
Q: Do you feel you have proven yourself worthy of the drive?
J-ML: “I hope so. There are many more rallies and for the Manufacturers' [championship] it will be a very big battle. We need more good results, but we are in a good way. I am very pleased with this rally that we had a good tactic. It was a bit more tactical rally than before.”
Q: Tell us about your strategy for the rally
J-ML: “The idea is that in this rally you have to drive around 90 per cent which means overall you have areas where you can go 100 per cent, but not all the time - the tyres and car won't take it. You need areas to slow down and we marked these on the notes to make it easier on the car and we calculated those splits should work out and it did work out. Even though it didn't look so special… we were 40 seconds behind after the first stage.”
Q: Did you feel the pressure in the lead?
J-ML: “I did not think so much about that until Sunday morning. Saturday was stage-by-stage and then only on Sunday did I realise we were getting closer and that made more excitement.”
Q: Any 'Jari-Matti moments'?
J-ML: “Yes, two. In the first stage, three kilometres from the start, I went straight to avoid hitting anything. We lost 14 seconds with that and then on stage number four there was a downhill section where I was too fast; downhill breaking into a right-left sequence. I went wide on the right and that pushed me back to the left and the right direction. I was very, very lucky. I said to Miikka: "Okay, we were lucky, we have used our luck – we get no more chances."
Q: Ten years ago you went to Greece as a factory driver for the first time and now you've won…
J-ML: “I was an 18-year-old boy and it was my first time driving a Focus RS WRC. The excitement was huge. I did shakedown with Colin McRae, Tommi Makinen and Petter Solberg and then the rally started and it was quite difficult conditions on the first stage. After the first day I was so tired going into the second day, I wanted to sleep in the car! I was not ready for such a hot physical rally. I had the big passion to drive, but no idea about set-up, I could not do anything for the car – I had no experience, I was just driving stage-by-stage.
“I remember in the last service, three stages to go we were 10th and Malcolm Wilson said to me to take it easy. It was so difficult to make the finish. I think it was the third last stage, I was ninth fastest beating Didier Auriol by one second. This was so big for me, I was a young boy taking the experience. Great moments. It's great to bring these moments back. I am getting older, I am not the young generation anymore! It meant a lot to me. I got the spectators' trophy here, back then my style was wild; I could not drive the car straight, all the time there were big Scandinavian flicks…”