Q. Markko, how was life back behind the wheel of a World Rally Car?
MM: It was tiring! I was knackered after the first day. Seriously, you forget what hard work it is driving these things. I can drive around no problem, but it was more difficult to get the motivation to be pushing harder and closer to the limit. I haven’t done a rally for a few years and a proper rally in a proper car for about 10 years, so it was interesting to be back. I’m glad I did it. I had no knowledge of these cars and that was really the reason I did it, to have a better understanding of how the new cars work.
Q. Armed with that knowledge, will we see you back again?
MM: No. Like I said, I wanted to understand the cars, now I understand the cars. I got a nice confirmation, mission accomplished.
Q. What was the hardest thing to get used to?
MM: The aerodynamics and how they worked. It was a little bit unnerving early in the event when I didn’t know exactly how much grip I was getting from the aero. When I was driving, we had some downforce but basically it was just a very big spoiler. There’s a lot of science in this now.
Q. How much did the aero help?
MM: It was quite cool actually when I started to feel the aero. I was like: “Ah, there it is…” and then you can start to play with it a little bit. It’s pretty amazing when you go to a sixth-gear corner, if the engine is still pulling then you just keep it completely flat and the aero will get you through the corner; you just sit there and turn the wheel. That’s quite different to the cars I used to drive. My memory might be a bit fuzzy, but I definitely remember having to lift, brake and set the car up…
Q. Does that mean the drivers have it easier now than when you were driving?
MM: In every era, the drivers took what they had and drove it to the maximum, that’s what we did when I was competing and that’s what they do now. You take the equipment and make the best of it. The aero and the extra power, they’re just different dimensions.
Q. And a quick word about Rally Estonia, how good was it?
MM: It was the best rally we’ve ever had in Estonia, so by extension the best rally in the Baltic States. Urmo (Aava, rally director) did a very good job. There were so many spectators out there, the crowds were crazy again. With all the manufacturers there, the competition was really good. It was a mega event.