RACE 1 PRESS CONFERENCE
FIA WTCR RACE OF GERMANY
Nürburgring Nordschleife, 10-12 May 2018
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO, Rounds 7-9 of 30
Yvan Muller, YMR, first position
Thed Björk, YMR, second position
Rob Huff, Sébastien Loeb Racing, third position
René Rast, Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team, sixth position, leading local driver
Coming first to René Rast, the local hero, making your WTCR debut here. Just talk us through your race because it looked very exciting?
It was a very exciting race starting from P16. After the grid penalty I was in the middle of the pack and in the first corner there was quite a bit of chaos, lots of cars sliding in front of me and I just made my way through the debris and through the cars and I was able to pass one, two, three cars. I had a good pace at the end and I could still see [the leaders] so with the race we’re not too far behind and I am looking forward to Saturday because I think we can fight for the podium.
You’ve been quick all day, fastest in both Free Practice sessions and fast in qualifying as well. What do you put this down to – your experience at this track or your ability to get the most out of a car you’re still learning? What’s producing these great results?
Obviously I’ve driven here for many years and I know the track very well. It’s kind of an advantage to know the track good. But I’ve also got some front-wheel experience from the past. I drove in the Polo Cup in 2005 and SEAT Cup in 2006, plus I know the Nürburgring quite well. A good combination but obviously today was my first day on the track in the car so I had to learn a lot but I got more confidence in this race so I’m looking forward to the next qualifying and races.
With René needing to go to prepare for the ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen qualifying we’ll let him go and turn next to Yvan Muller, your first WTCR OSCARO win of the season and what a place to win, what an incredible tack and what an incredible race. Just explain how hard that was?
For sure is there is one race to win it’s probably this one. It was fantastic already after qualifying. I was surprised with my pace. I did more than what I thought I would be able to give. Then in the race it was a good start, I tried to manage and keep Thed behind. But with this long straight it’s never done until the end of the last straight. Then it was the victory.
You’ve said a few times running your team is your focus rather than driving so was there a thought in your mind that maybe Thed should be allowed to win this race, did you think about letting him through?
Yeah of course but when I am in this car on this track I have to be focused. This weekend is a busy weekend for the team because I have the ELMS at Spa and the GT at Pau and we are here so I have three programmes on the same day so I have to do meetings on video conference during the day to think about the processes. But today they left me quiet and did the job on their own.
Turning next to Thed Björk, World Touring Car champion from 2017, a winner here last year and the DHL pole position today but not quite the victory. What happened?
Yvan really deserved the victory. He took me fair and square at the start and he was in the front. Then it was really interesting for me to see how I could try to keep up with him and overtake him but when I wanted to overtake him there was other guys behind trying to do more slip-streaming so I really felt we do this together. Yvan was fighting really hard for this and I didn’t want to do any crazy move. It’s been a really good weekend so far and I’m really looking forward for what’s to come. But winning here is extremely special and I’m really happy it was Yvan who won.
Turning next to Rob Huff now on that second lap you were really close to Thed but on the final lap the gap just opened up. Was there a problem, was it just the pace of the race?
No, no. First of all, congratulations to everyone. That was one of my most enjoyable World Touring Car races I’ve ever done, really. I couldn’t ask for more trustworthy guys around and that’s what you need on a circuit like this. This circuit as we’ve seen in the past demands huge respect because we’ve seen some huge accidents here. When you are three/four abreast on the back straight at the speeds we were doing and you can see the whites of the eyes of the guy next to you it’s quite exciting! But we did it and there were no problems at all but you really need guys around you that you can trust so I want to say thank you to the guys and Norbi as well especially. On the second lap, I made a good start of course and I got ahead of Norbi before going on to the Nordschleife. Then I could gain on these guys and Yvan was quite slow in the left-hand corner when he had the problem two years ago with Tiago. Thed was all over me with the defending but then I had Norbi behind me. On the last lap I held back a little bit from Thed so I could create a bit of a gap and create a draft. It kind of worked a little bit the trust you need in the guy next to you when you’re coming down the Döttinger Höhe and the compression side by side is huge. For me it was one the best races I’ve done.
Finally, back to Yvan, now you’ve cut the gap to Gabriele in the championship and you would have driven past his car at the side of the track a few times. Can you think about the title and what result this might mean?
No, it’s far too early. It’s seven races and there are still 23 to go so it’s far too early.