Q&A with Juho Hanninen, 2011 SWRC champion
"Now I am in a very good situation and I am grateful for that"
Juho Hanninen started the Super 2000 World Rally Championship finale in Spain last week with a slender title lead over Ott Tanak. But even when Tanak hit trouble it was by no means a cruise to the finish for Hanninen as he told Wrc.com.
You started the season as IRC champion. How does winning the SWRC title compare?
“Good question! It’s quite difficult to compare but somehow this feels better and only because it was clear this year what I had to do. In the IRC it was more open because I had more rallies I could do but in the SWRC you had seven rallies and they all counted. Let’s say I made it more difficult this year than last year because I made mistakes in Germany and France and I came here having to get it back, to get a good result so this feels better.”
With only a slender lead over Ott Tanak prior to the start in Germany how much pressure were you under staring this rally?
“There could have been pressure but I didn’t take it so much, I just tried to see what was happening. When Tanak made a mistake it was quite an empty feeling and we were so far from the finish. Sometimes it was difficult to know what to do.”
You have quite a busy schedule contesting other events in addition to your SWRC programme with Red Bull Skoda. How much of a help has that been to your success?
“It helps providing you have some weeks between the rallies and you are not getting tired completely. I have done many different rallies in many different conditions so I don’t need so much testing. What was different in the past was I was starting rallies without the experience and that was not helping me. Now I am in a very good situation and I am grateful for that.”
Now you’ve obviously been linked to Volkswagen Motorsport’s planned WRC entry in 2013 and what an asset you’d be to them. Is this where you see your future?
“Of course it would be ideal to go over there but I have to take it step by step and see what the future brings. What I can do is to keep making good results and hope that it helps me.”
How much of a guiding light was your co-driver Mikko Markkula during this rally?
“He was good controlling this weekend the atmosphere in the car and balancing my emotions, a big help like he always is. But I’m quite relaxed, not so emotional, so it’s quite easy work for him.”
And what about Skoda and Raimund Baumschlager’s BRR team?
“It’s very big thanks to Skoda for the opportunity and all they have done for me. Big thanks also to Baumschlager and his mechanics. They made me feel very relaxed and the atmosphere was always fantastic. They do a great job. Everything has been so easy with them the whole year.”
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