FIA European Rally Championship 2017: Round 4 of 8
Cyprus Rally, 16-18 June
Buǧra Banaz, Castrol Ford Team Turkey
Nikolay Gryazin, Sports Racing Technologies
After the disappointment of retiring from the lead in Greece, how important is a win here and how difficult will this rally be?
It will be a difficult rally but when you prepare well and you retire from the race of course it’s not easy because you spend a lot of money and preparation. But, okay, I win many times this rally, it’s my favourite race. We try to do our best for the next two days. I know it will be not easy but we try to push from the beginning and we will see what we can do because the R5 is not really a strong car like the RRC but, okay, we need to manage all the stages and we see where we will be at the end of day one.
Does the hot weather play a part in how you prepare for the rally?
The hot weather is no problem because we do a lot of race like the Dakar Rally where we stay 12 hours inside the car in hot temperatures. But we know this race is really hard and very hot. But we try to manage and I wish to have the water after the stage for all the drivers you know. We try to do our best.
You’ve won in Cyprus many times but is there a secret to your success?
There is no secret but I work very hard. The rally is not really fast, it’s a mix between slow stage and medium stage and fast stage. We need to manage the speed on the different stages. But it’s my favourite rally and we try to have a good result.
Turning to Buǧra Banaz, winning ERC3 is your target this weekend but what is your approach going to be on this tough rally?
First of all, thank you for inviting me here. If you push hard on all the stages our car can be broken so the time now is to be clever, not always fast and I think I can manage it.
So what happened to you in the Qualifying Stage – we saw your car had some damage at the finish?
Yes, at the first crest I jumped a little bit higher, there was a big hole and I had a little bit of damage but nothing too serious.
Turning next to Nikolay Gryazin, fastest in qualifying this morning and good to see you back after that fire in Greece. With a replacement car we’re assuming you didn’t get the opportunity to test?
Yes, we didn’t test because the car arrived yesterday morning and our test was today in the morning in Free Practice! But the car is completely prepared, it is the car of Ralfs Sirmacis, and it is very good. On the second run in practice and during qualification we were able to push.
You showed a lot of speed on this event last year, can you repeat that form this year?
Last year was my third race in an R5 car so I did not really know the car. We had some good pace until we crashed. This year I hope to not only finish but to win. I am here for the win.
Turning finally to Alexandros Tsouloftas, after a great result on the Acropolis Rally, what’s your target on your home event in Cyprus?
My aim is to try to prove myself against the leading drivers. I have the Cyprus championship to think about and I would like to lock down that championship if I can.
What can you achieve this weekend?
I want to be the top Cypriot crew and of course win the championship. But after a few stages I will know if I can push for an overall podium or not.