WTCR – WTCR Race of Belgium – Race 2 virtual press conference

In attendance:
Yann Ehrlacher, Cyan Racing, first position
Yvan Muller, Cyan Racing, second position
Santiago Urrutia, Cyan Performance, third position
Gilles Magnus, Comtoyou Racing, fourth position and FIA Rookie Award and WTCR Trophy winner

Q:
Yann, you were strong in qualifying yesterday, you made the most of Nathanaël Berthon’s jumped start and then it was a very clean race for you.

YE:
Yeah, exactly, everything happened at the start. I saw he jumped the start, but he still did two or three laps and he had really good pace. It would have been good for me to follow that pace. But then he went to the box and I had my free way to work on my pace and saving my tyres to the end, because it is quite a long race. So then I started to build a gap to the guy behind me. The race went really well and I’m really pleased that all three were on the podium, and a famiy podium with Yvan so let’s say our weekend is well accomplished.

Q:
This must make you confident for the Nürburgring and it looks like your car has good pace on the straights, which will be needed there.

YE:
I don’t know if we are quicker or slower on the straights than the others, it looks quite similar to the others. But I like this track, it’s a proper ballsy track so I’m looking forward to being there and to start pushing.

Q:
Your uncle Yvan was in P2. What might have been the strategy between you if he had caught you?

YE:
There is no strategy, we are free to race each other and that is the wy it should be.

Q:
Yvan, if you were under pressure and you had the chance to take the P1 spot from Yann, would you do so?

YM:
Probably. But at the moment I can’t be under pressure because I can’t follow his rhythm. He was faster than me. That’s why I am pleased with this second place. For me it’s like a victory, you know. We did the same in China last year where we were first and second and now we do the opposite, so I’m very pleased of that. It’s quite fantastic to share that in the same family, I am more than double his age. I’ve taught him everything I know since he was 17, so it’s perfect. Perfect timing.

Q:
What did you learn about the Goodyear tyres today?

YM:
A lot. These new tyres are very different to the tyres we have used for the last 10 years and we still have a lot to work and learn about them. But it is the same for everyone. We struggled a bit, I think everybody struggled. Maybe we struggled a bit less on qualifying because we found a way, but we have still not found a way in the race… our pace in the race was not quick enough. But we have to work on that and hope that the BoP doesn’t go worse than that.

Q:
How much difference do you think it will make when it’s cooler, say at the Nürburgring?

YM:
It will be a bit difficult, especially on the rear axle. As you can see, everyone was trying to warm up the tyres on the warm up lap and if at the Nürburgring it is cold with all the long straights it can be complicated. So we’ll see. We have to adapt and manage it ourselves.

Q:
Santiago, it’s fantastic to have you up on the podium in your first WTCR weekend. That must be a pretty good feeling.

SU:
Yeah, of course it is. It was already after qualifying when I made it to Q3. You know, I would not be here if the people who believe in me had not put me in the car. It was a big opportunity, but at the same time it was like a big pressure to be with team-mates who have won world titles and Yann, who is super-quick and has been in the series for a few years. So I had to right with them. We didn’t have proper pre-season testing, we only did a few tests. But from the first day I joined the team I have felt I am at home. It was easy to work with them, with the mechanics, the engineers. For me, I cannot be more happy than what I am. I just joined the team two months ago and we did a 1-2-3 and are leading the championship, so it’s great for me.

Q:
They knew you were going to be strong. When we spoke to Yvan on Thursday he said you were the one to watch and that you would be very quick, and you have proved him right which is very good news.

SU:
It makes it easy when you have a four-time world champion next to you and you have a question, and you watch the data and video, and he can help you. That’s what we did in the pre-season. It’s just the first race. People say it’s a short season, but at the end of the day it’s still 18 races. We’ve got to be right there in all the races, the competition is super-tough. All the cars are pretty much on the same pace. We are probably a little bit better in qualifying but by the time we get to the race we don’t have the better pace. So we need to work on this and we have a long championship ahead. For the moment I’m super-happy.

Q:
How well do you know the Nürburgring?

SU:
I’ve only been there once. There was a little bit of rain the day I went there. Actually the first time I drove the Lynk & Co it was there. It’s not an easy track, it’s very difficult and obviously it’s going to be a difficult weekend for us, especially for me. But it’s on the schedule so I have to do it, I have to adapt to the track and keep up the pace. I’m sure it will be OK.

YM:
Sorry, I would like to take the opportunity to say well done to Gilles Magnus because he deserved to be on the podium, but he had a technical issue. He was fast here, his car was fast. And I have to say hello to Andy Priaulx, we miss you and well done to Santi, on his first meeting with the team and first podium in the championship. Well done.

Q:
Do you also have a word for all the people who have struggled through the pandemic?

YM:
It’s a particular year and we all know somebody who was sick. It’s a very special year and we have to stay cautious, to keep away from each other and to keep the masks. OK, there is a lot of discussion on the masks, but I’m sure it reduces the risk if we clean our hands. And if we all do the effort we will come to the end of this thing. But we have to keep the pressure on that.

Q:
And the same question to you, Santiago.

SU:
My sister, she became a doctor a year ago, so I know what it is. She’s working hard and I have much respect for all the doctors who are working very hard in this moment. Congrats again to Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, they have done an amazing job. I’m super-happy to be in WTCR, it’s something that I dreamed of for many years and now I’ve made it now.

YE:
One more thing about the coronavirus, we are really thankful to the organisers of the championship because it is not easy to organise all this at this time, so I’m really thankful to be a part of this race weekend and I hope it will continue as long as possible. I also want to give a word to the #RaceToCare project which offers 1 euro for 1km for all the medical stuff, so that’s a really nice project.

Q:
Gilles, we thought you were going to be on the podium. What happened there?

GM:
Yeah, exactly, I thought the same thing. I thought everything was secure and that P2 was in the pocket. But the race is never finished and it wasn’t the case. We had a fuel pump issue, we had this issue already in Race 1, I lost some positions in Race 1 due to this. With the preparation time, there is not enough time to replace the fuel pump, so I was a little scared for Race 2. We put in much more fuel but it didn’t work out, so the last five laps I just didn’t have the pace and I lost power in the first sector. I was lucky with the safety car because I wouldn’t have even finished the race or would have finished out of the top 10. So lucky and unlucky at the same time.

Q:
Was that an issue for all in Comtoyou cars or just on yours?

GM:
It’s something we don’t see often, it’s something new on our car, no other car has had it. So it’s just bad luck, it can happen to anyone. No blame to Comtoyou because they did an amazing job this weekend in TCR Europe and WTCR.

Q:
This is your home circuit. You didn’t end up on the podium, but how has your weekend been in the WTCR?

GM:
I think I should be happy. Qualifying P3 and 0.04s of a second. We finished P4 but should have finished in P2. So a little frustrated, but we showed our pace, we showed what we are worth, so I’m happy.

Q:
And do you have a message to our followers and fans about just how difficult this pandemic has been?

GM:
I think it’s a difficult period for everyone. I lost my grandmother to COVID-19, everybody has lost someone. But we have to stay strong together. I’m glad we can organise this kind of thing and I hope it puts a smile on people’s faces. It does on mine, so let’s stay positive and let’s get through it together.

Source : Fia