Rally HQ, Filoxenia Conference Centre, Nicosia, 13h45, Friday 7 October 2016
Lambros Athanassoulas, Team Greece
Welcome Alexey, it’s a big weekend for you with the runner-up spot your target. How confident are you of a successful weekend?
It’s easy, we should be the fastest but at the same time we need to drive safe. But these are not the easiest things to do together. To be honest we have some advantage because we some experience of this rally from previous years so it’s good for us. But the rally is very tough. On this rally last year, we had so many problems that you cannot imagine. We had a powersteering issue for the whole day, roll bars, dampers, engine, tyres, we hit so many problems in one rally so I did not drive not one stage without any problems. I hope this rally last year will be much better. I am looking forward to competing on he Golden Stages at the end, the one close to the sea is really beautiful so it should be fun.
We’ve noticed your t-shirt Alexey. Now I know you’ve changed co-drivers a couple of times this year but has this t-shirt [which says ‘Keep calm and listen to co-driver’] been given to you by Alexey Arnautov because you don’t listen so much?
No! The story behind is a bit different. I posted the moments video from Estonia, it was a moment when I was driving and I told Alexey I was listening to him and not just driving with my eyes. And some guy from Hungary presented this t-shirt to me to emphasise the importance of the pacenotes and the work of the co-driver. It’s like this.
Turning to Lambros Athanassoulas, Lambros it’s the second time we’ve seen you in the ERC this year but it’s a different car, how much adapting is that taking?
We have to adapt starting from tonight. We only drive the car in shakedown and Qualifying. Okay it’s an R5 car and we’ve driven before the ŠKODA but it’s completely different the approach with this car. It has a lot of movement on the braking especially it’s very soft and turns a lot. We have to get used to it but we’ll be doing this a lot on the stages tonight, tomorrow and Sunday and we are used to only driving the cars on the rallies.
Two stages will be run in the dark tonight. How difficult will they be?
Driving in the night is always difficult especially when it’s a gravel event and you may have some dust that blocks your vision. I like driving in the night but I prefer to do it in Greece where I know the stages. I am not expecting times like I had in Greece but I think I can be competitive. The first priority is to stay on the road because it’s an honour to be here at the invitation of the organisers and I thank them and for their support. I need to stay on the road and be on the podium for Greece and for Cyprus.
Now another driver in a new car is Marijan Griebel, competing here as your prize for winning the ERC Junior Championship. You’ve spent three years in a two-wheel-drive Opel Adam but now it’s a four-wheel-drive ŠKODA with a turbo. How much experience do you have in this car and what did it feel like?
First of all, it’s a really, really nice prize to get the chance to drive the ŠKODA Fabia R5 here and thank you to Eurosport for that. I was last week in Austria to prepare with Armin Kremer in the BRR car but I could only drive 10ks with no pacenotes and just getting used to the car. So yesterday was my first real test with 50ks but everything is pretty new, it’s really nice and I’m enjoying every kilometre.
What would be a good result for you this weekend?
It will be good to finish the race to get as much experience as possible in such a car. I cannot hide that Alexey and Ralfs are really fast and uncatchable. Everything else is possible, I think top five will be possible and anything else would be really great.
Turning finally to Christos, what’s your target for the weekend?
The goal has not changed, I want my third straight win in the category but we know there are some good Cypriot crews out there to challenge us. But I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’m prepared to tackle it head on. I really like the second Golden Stage.
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