First, second and third, and a clean sweep of all three titles. From a Volkswagen perspective, 2015 could not have been more successful. Three men were instrumental in Volkswagen’s triumphant season: Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. A good enough reason to take a closer look at the successful trio in our special interview.
Jari-Matti, after which rally in your career were you most annoyed with yourself?
J.-M. L.: I think it was at the 2009 Rally Poland. I retired on the last stage in front of 10,000 people and the whole team. But it was not anger, it was more the huge disappointment. When I think about being most annoyed with myself, I would say it was at last year’s Rally Germany when I retired while in the lead.
Sébastien, what was the best birthday present you have ever received?
S. O.: Last year my wife Andrea gave me a great present for my 30th birthday: A “Zero G Flight” in the USA. Unfortunately, I have not yet had the time to do it.C for … Concert Sébastien, which band did you most recently see in concert? S. O.: The last concert was really close to my apartment at Lake Constance and was a Finnish band. What were they called, again? Oh yes: Sunrise Avenue! The atmosphere was great…
Sébastien, which band did you most recently see in concert?
S. O.: The last concert was really close to my apartment at Lake Constance and was a Finnish band. What were they called, again? Oh yes: Sunrise Avenue! The atmosphere was great…
Sébastien, how and where did you meet your wife Andrea – and which of you made the first move?
S. O.:We met for the first time at the Race of Champions in Bangkok in December 2012. Andrea was working for German television at the time, and interviewed Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and me. I found her very attractive back then, but she was still in a relationship at the time. We bumped into each other again half a year later, when we were testing ahead of the Rally Germany. I took her for a spin as a journalist, and it just clicked between us. Who made the move? Well, I put my foot down and courted her after that.
Andreas, if you had to swap with your chief mechanic for a day, who do you think would do a better job: you with a screwdriver or Yari Mitschinelli at the wheel of the Volkswagen Polo R WRC?
A. M.: I’m not a very good mechanic. I can do what I need to do out on the stages, emergency stuff and things like that. But I wouldn’t say I was a good mechanic at all. Yari has competed in some rallies actually. He drove in the Fiat Panda Trophy, took part in the Rally San Remo four times and sometimes competed with Group N cars. So I would say that Yari would do a better job than me.
Andreas, how do you envision your future after you have stopped rallying?
A. M.: I guess I will be rallying until I’m 40, maybe I’ll do the Dakar Rally or some truck racing. But hopefully by that time I will have a family, some children and be a good father. When I’m rallying, I am very busy with my own stuff. When I stop rallying, I will have more time for my children and will be able to help them in whatever they want to do. If I hadn’t become a rally driver, I think the military would have been an option. That’s what I always wanted to do. I like challenges in life and like to do extreme things.
Sébastien, what was your best subject at school? And your worst?
S. O.: Definitely physical education! Although I did always got decent grades in maths and the sciences. I had more problems with languages and literature. They were not really my strengths.
Jari-Matti, who takes the rubbish out in your house?
J.-M. L.: I take it out myself. I am quite good where this is concerned and actually always do the cleaning myself. Even when I go to my parent’s place I put everything in the right place.
Sébastien, what is your favourite way to spend a day off – chilling on the couch or being active outdoors?
S. O.: Ideally a combination of all of the above. For example, a morning ride with our horses – although I have to say, I find one horsepower far more difficult to control than the 318 hp in my Polo. Then a tennis match, followed by the couch.
Sébastien, do you wear jeans or jogging bottoms when you have a free Sunday?
S. O.: Mostly jeans. However, I like it nice and casual at home, so I’m quite happy to put on some jogging bottoms then.
Jari-Matti, if you were only allowed to take three things with you to a rally weekend, which three things would you choose?
J.-M. L.: I would take a shaver, a laptop and my driving glasses – I need them for driving because at high speed my eyes can’t focus quickly enough. I would take a shaver, because I don’t like it at all when I grow a beard. It just annoys me and when you get a little bit of dust in it after rallying it irritates me. The laptop I need for watching the ‘recce’ videos.
Jari-Matti, are you an early bird or do you like sleeping the day away?
J.-M. L.: I am not an early bird, that is my problem. When I wake up I always use the snooze button on my alarm clock. Getting up in the morning is tough for me.
Jari-Matti, when did you move out of your parents’ house – and what was your first apartment like?
J.-M. L.: It was 2007 when I moved out properly. I had already kind of moved out before that, because when I was 16 years old I went to high school and only came home at the weekends. In 2007 I moved to Lahti, into an apartment on the first floor. It was located in a quiet area, close to a lake and there was a sauna. That was really nice because it was easy to do some sport. But the apartment was a bit too small so I was always having to improvise where to put all my equipment. I always put my sport equipment in the sauna – and when I wanted to use the sauna I had to take all the stuff out which took up to ten minutes.
Jari-Matti, what is the most unusual thing you have ever eaten?
J.-M. L.: Before the 2010 Rally Japan we experimented a bit with Japanese food. Some sushi was really special, with things you don’t get in Europe. Also in 2010 I experienced not the most unusual food, but an unusual place to eat. We went to a restaurant in Japan which was completely full and they took us to a separate room. It was like a storeroom where you put all your stuff. We were sat on benches in a circle and nobody was facing each other.
Sébastien, is your apartment always neat and tidy, or do you sometimes leave a few things lying around?
S. O.: I like it neat and tidy. However, as we are on the road so much, it is not unheard of for the suitcases to be lying around unpacked for a couple of days.
Sébastien, what is the top speed of your own car?
S. O.: Generally speaking I don’t drive very quickly in private, as there are very strict speed limits in Switzerland. When it comes to top speed, my Volkswagen Touareg is actually faster than my rally Polo.
Andreas, who or what makes you laugh?
A. M.: The Film “Ride along”. It is an American comedy from Tim Story.
Jari-Matti, what was the first record/CD you owned?
J.-M. L.: It was the band “Aqua” with the song “Barbie Girl”
Andreas, how many pairs of shoes do you have – more or fewer than your girlfriend?
A. M.: I definitely have fewer than my girlfriend, maybe a third or a quarter of her shoe collection. I guess I have got about five pairs of running shoes and 15 pairs in total.
Jari-Matti, apart from pushing a World Rally Car to the limit, what do you think you are particularly good at?
J.-M. L.: I am particularly good at cleaning places and keeping them neat and tidy. In Finland there is a famous cleaning company – they said I could have a future over there. (laughs)
Andreas, what is your favourite holiday destination?
A. M.: It’s the Alps, to go skiing. That’s my favourite holiday destination when it is a bit warmer, like around Easter. Unfortunately I haven’t been there for a long time. I also like going to California to ride motocross.
Sébastien, if you were asked to describe the Volkswagen team in three words, which three would you pick?
S. O.: Fast, strong, united – in other words, the best team in the world.
Andreas, how do you keep fit during the festive period – with all those roasts, biscuits and other naughty treats?
A. M.: I enjoy Christmas but with all the good food you need to do some training at the same time. It’s usually difficult after Christmas because I put on a bit of weight, so I go on quite strict diets in early January before Rally Monte Carlo.
Jari-Matti, can you think of anything for the letter “Y”?
J.-M. L.: What was your favourite “year”? I was born in 1985 – and if I could turn time back, I would like to go back to the year 1985 to see the crazy Group B cars live on the stages.
Jari-Matti, did you have any pets as a child or do you have any now?
J.-M. L.: My sister and I used to have eight cats when we were young. Unfortunately all these cats have passed away, but my parents still have a cat. It is called “Rolle” and is ten years old now.