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21 SEPTEMBER 2018

ERC RALLY POLAND PRE-EVENT PRESS CONFERENCE

FIA European Rally Championship 2018: Round 7 of 8, PZM Rally Poland, 21-23 September 2018
 
PRE-EVENT PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
 
Media Centre, Hotel Gołębiewski, Mikołajki, 12h45, 21 September

Present:
Norbert Herczig, MOL Racing Team
Krzysztof Hołowczyc
Alexey Lukyanuk, Russian Performance Motorsport
Miko Marczyk, ŠKODA Polska Motorsport
 
Q:
Alexey, an amazing weekend for you in terms of the opportunity you have here. You could be the winner of the FIA European Rally Championship for the first time. What is going through your mind right now?
 
AL:
I am thinking about whether this water [in front of me] is carbonated or not! Actually, I'd like to be Alexey Lukyanuk in 2015; pushing hard straight away from the beginning to the end. According to our calculations, we are already champions anyway so we don't need any more points. I'd like to drive flat out.
 
Q:
But the difference this year is you haven't been driving as flat out as you did in 2015. Would you say that's been key to your success this year?
 
AL:
It was the boring key to our success! It was necessary to do that and it proved to be really important. Unfortunately, we had really bad luck in Cyprus and Greece with stones in the line but otherwise, we've had good pace, stability and reliable performance, so we're happy we've managed to do the job right. I'm sorry that Bruno [Magalhães] is not here and the competition stops now at this point. But it's a good chance for us to have a big push and have some fun.
 
Q:
We've also seen some very dominant performances from you this year, in terms of the Azores Airlines Rallye, Rally Islas Canarias and also your victory at Rally di Roma Capitale. What's the highlight been for you this year?
 
AL:
To be here still, we are in the championship! There's been a lot of good moments. We had three wins and a second place on Barum Czech Rally Zlín, so probably the toughest was in Italy, with the really tight competition until the end with local drivers. It was pretty tense. But it's always good to get a victory in such tight competition but not only by finishing. I will remember Italy for a long time.
 
Q:
It's your first time here in Mikołajki. What do you think of the stages after the recce? Will they suit you?
  
AL:
In places, it looks like Estonia, which I'm used to. You can really take wide lines using some part of the fields around the stages! I'm not too afraid to damage that car so the plan is to push like hell and let it be what it is. Maybe we will not succeed at this game but at least I'd like to be really flying. You see my smile – I'm expecting big emotions!
 
Q:
Krzysztof, 21 years ago you won the European title and you're here this weekend but not driving competitively. How frustrating is that, to be on the stages but not pushing flat out?
 
KH:
It's still unusual to be without pressure. When you're smiling it's just mechanical, you don't feel that you need to be concentrated. But normally you're a sportsman inside, you're an old guy but there's still a possibility to show that I'm still fast. I'm still taking part in cross-country rallies, it's my place when I'm still fighting for wins. Here, I know the guys are so fast and precise, along with all the preparation for the cars and handling, it's far away from me now. It's not my job now!
 
I'm crossing my fingers for the Polish guys but there's a very fast guy here, [Alexey]. I feel it. You see the guy that for sure will be a proper view for spectators. I'm so happy because we need it. The rally is very well prepared for a world championship event, so to have the European championship is good. But we are looking for the world championship event. It's our job.
 
Q:
You know these stages. You've done the event several times. What advice do you have for drivers like Alexey and Norbert Herczig that are new to the event?
 
KH:
I've just done the recce. The rally is very fast, it's very clean, it's not a problem to be in the line. There's not a lot of holes, it's not bumpy like previous years. But in the second pass you must stay in the lines – this is very important – just to keep traction. Even if you feel like you're fast as hell, if you're not in the lines you lose a lot of time. That's my impression from many years of this event. In this rally you must feel the braking point, you must feel the speed, you must like going fast and make big jumps. People love it and it's not so bad for your speed here either.
 
Q:
What were your best memories from the days you were a European champion?
 
KH:
I was always looking for something ahead of me. But for sure, some moments on Dakar, some podiums at Dakar, these were my great moments. When you spend two weeks in the rally car and do [the equivalent of] two rallies per day, it's a proper job. I never believed that my concentration from the world championship would work on cross-country rallies, which you stay for four hours on high concentration. You finish the stage and you don't know how to speak! ‘Ohhh...water!’ That's the first impression. Give me the water! After that, you start to be human again. Normally you're just a machine, working with your car and keep the speed up against the dunes and other crazy things. The next day, you must wake up and do another 1000 kilometres.
 
Q:
Norbi, it's your first season in the ERC and it's been fantastic in terms of two podium finishes for you. What have been the highlights of your season and what's your plan for this weekend?

NH:
Maybe a little bit boring already but we're rookies in the ERC, so we're really happy we can take part in this championship. We were lucky with our two podiums but of course, we made it there. For us, every rally is an absolutely new challenge for us but a good one for us. It's a beautiful area and the stages are perfect for us, I hope. In our country some of the stages and rallies are similar. That's why I like these stages.
 
Q:
Your gravel experience is not so high. Have you learned much in terms of the events you've done this year? Do you feel you're a better driver on gravel now?
 
NH:
I don't know. Earlier, in our country, I rallied more routinely on asphalt. Our country has more rallies on Tarmac but, independently of this, I prefer gravel. This year, we've done more mileage driving on gravel and I hope next year we'll be able to drive faster.
 
Q:
That sounds like a plan! Is there an ERC programme for you next year then?
 
NH:
We would like to continue next year, yes. We enjoyed the whole season; every rally we've found something. We've felt absolutely happy and I hope next year for each rally, we can find a better routine.
 
Q:
Finally, to Miko, three years ago you'd never driven a rally car. Now you've won a round of the Polish championship and you're already competing for FIA ERC Junior Under 28 points here. It's an incredible story. How has it been possible?
 
MM:
This is crazy, because in 2015 I was here on Rally Poland to see what it looks like with the world championship guys. They really drive very fast and, standing to the side of the Świętajno stage, I said that I would do my best to be a rally driver in the future. After this, I started two years ago, buying a Honda Civic Type R. I was driving in the second level of rallying in Poland. After that, in 2017, I had a big chance to start in the Polish championship. It was a good season for us. Now, we're in the ŠKODA Polska Motorsport team, which is the most important thing. The driver is nothing without the vehicle. We have a really great car now and I have a very good team. This is crazy, to be here with these guys! To be here with Krzysztof...he's a legend of Polish motorsport, so it's hard for me to understand how we're here sitting together right now. I'm 22 years old, I haven't got anyone in my family, like a father, who was a driver or something like that. It's my passion alone to drive fast, so it's crazy to be here!
 
AL:
I just wanted to say words of admiration [for Krzysztof] because we know you very well in Russia too. It's also an honour and pleasure for us to be together and we follow cross-country events. You're very good!
 
Q:
You say it's crazy Miko but there must be some ability that's making this happen. What's special about your driving, why are we seeing these performances from you?
 
MM:
It's hard to say. I started with karting; normal rental go-karts, not professional karting, because I haven't got my own kart. I see in Poland this sport is young and is good to go aboard to fight with the faster guys in Germany, Belgium and Italy, etc. I was driving for five years in rental karts that were cheap and easy. I didn't have a driving licence as I was 15-16 years old and I think the line of driving in the go-kart is good to use on the tarmac rallies. Now, the R5 cars are really precise and feel like go-karts. All my gravel experience in rallies is about 200 kilometres total, maybe. So this rally is more than all my experience together but I see the ŠKODA Fabia R5 is also a racing car on the gravel. It's not about balance like Juha Kankkunen or something like that, it's more like driving straight to the corner...
 
AL:
Boring!
 
MM:
Haha! He's right. But now I think I can use a little bit of go-karting technique on gravel too.
 
Q:
You set a good time in qualifying this morning. You're up against some of the ERC Junior Under 28 drivers and you won your last rally on gravel, so what can you do this weekend?
 
MM:
I think the most important thing for me will be to be clever on this rally. You should be patient. My experience is low. I'd like to drive faster and faster but I think the limit is somewhere near. It would be good to be a little bit under it but not over it. I don't know some of the tricky places where it'll be very dangerous. I hope I will be good, that I will be progressing during the rally and that I'll reach the finish line. It's important not only for my experience on Rally Poland but also for our Polish championship classification. I would like to say thank you to Alexey because three days ago, he showed me how to drive fast on gravel. His car is not as fast as mine but he's a very fast driver, so it's very possible for him to finish in first place!

ENDS
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Photos

ERC Miko Marczyk Alexey Lukyanuk Norbert Herczig Krzysztof Hoowczyc-jpg
ERC Miko Marczyk Alexey Lukyanuk Norbert Herczig Krzysztof Hoowczyc-jpg

ERC Miko Marczyk-jpg
ERC Miko Marczyk-jpg

ERC Norbert Herczig-jpg
ERC Norbert Herczig-jpg

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