FIA European Rally Championship 2017: Round 7 of 8
Rally di Roma Capitale, 14-17 September
Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri, Gemini Clinic Rally Team, first position
Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Jarek Baran, LOTOS Rally Team, second position
Bruno Magalhães/Hugo Magalhães, third position
After losing out by 0.5s in what was previously the closest ERC finish, you’ve now won by 0.3s in what is the new closest finish. What does that mean to you?
The gap is nothing but the most important thing is to win for sure. It was a nice weekend and a great fight for us until the end because we had to push, one stage was for Kajto, one stage was for me. In the end we had to wait a long time because we didn’t know if we were going to win or not. I have to say this guy, Kajto and his co-driver, we have a fight together for many years in Poland and now he comes in the European championship to get a good result and he’s still there. I don’t know how long it will continue but I think it’s enough for now.
Half a second behind starting the final stage what was going through your mind? How confident were you of winning?
I don’t have a big pressure, I tried to do my best to drive clean and not taking that big risk because quite easily you can crash. For me I was focused on my driving, trying to get the good traction and the good lines and that’s it, no more. In these conditions you don’t have to think for many things, you are just doing the same job as usually. It’s not because you are at the last stage fighting for the win that you have to change a lot of things. I say I was just trying to do my job.
That final stage looked dramatic from outside the car but what was it like inside?
It was not dramatic from inside because we are driving together for something like 14 years and we know each other perfectly. Like Bryan said we knew what we had to do and we do our best to the end. At the end of the stage we didn’t know if we made a good run or not. It was just when we got to the end that we saw the time and we knew it was good.
You were leading by half a second starting the final stage. Did anything go wrong or were you at maximum attack?
We were pushing but at the same time I was trying to keep our good place. It’s not easy as I said before. The main objective was to keep our position in the European championship. That wasn’t easy for my health. It’s always heard and as Bryan said we are fighting for many years and we are older and older and older. But we are still fighting and I hope that we can do that to the end.
The results here mean the title is still to be decided in Latvia. How do you rate your chances now?
It depends. The gap is big but Bruno and Hugo are not so far and we have to keep a good speed, peddle to the metal and we will see. I hope we can be first after this season but it’s a long way.
It’s been such an exciting final day here in Italy. What could you have done differently to get the win or was the title playing on your mind?
I think it’s as Xavier said, sitting in the car with Kajto for many years and we know each other well. We didn’t take too many risks but we pushed as we could hard. The championship level is a risk but it was not maximum attack. Maybe Bryan had an advantage on the last one but I cannot say what it was, it’s a mystery. It was okay, but as also Xavier said it was exciting to the end. It was so small gap and everybody was waiting, it was exciting to find out who was the winner and congrats to the guys.
Back on the podium and still in contention for the title. What are the chances of you being in Latvia next month? Can you win the title?
Of course after this result we are going to try to go to the next event. This season is very different for me and for the other guys. Kajto doesn’t expect to fight with me this year I’m sure of that because we are a very small team and in the last years I didn’t make so many rallies. I was only to make one rally at the start of this year and for me what is happening to my team is amazing. We are going to try to make the next step and go to the next round of course. Our chances are not so big but if I can go there and fight and be there to congratulate the champion then of course I am happy. If I win I am much happier for sure.
You’ve rallied in lots of different countries but how does this event compare?
This event was very good, the stages are tricky and challenging and I like a lot these stages. In the beginning we wanted to get as much points as we can but it was difficult as everybody knows. We have no big chances to get the championship but we will fight until the end. But all of us have to be pleased about the job we have done so far and all this season has been fantastic.