Media centre

Press release

24 JUNE 2016

ERC YPRES RALLY PRE-EVENT PRESS CONFERENCE

Media Centre, Novotel Ieper Centrum, Ypres, 14h30, Friday 24 June 2016

Present:
Freddy Loix, ŠKODA Fabia R5
Chris Ingram, Opel Rallye Junior Team Adam R2
Kevin Abbring, Hyundai i20 R5
Stéphane Lefebvre, Citroën DS3 R5
Łukasz Pieniążek, Opel Adam R2
Alexey Lukyanuk, Ford Fiesta R5

Q:
We have five competitors and one VIP driver, even though you are all VIPs in our opinion. We’ll start with Freddy Loix. Freddy, last year 10 wins, number 10 on the door, the obvious question is, is number 11 going to happen?

FL:
Is it going to happen? That I don’t know, I want to take the 11th victory in Ypres but it’s not going to be easy and especially with the new young generation who are going very quick. OK, my target is to win the rally.

Q:
Obviously there’s been a lot of rain and the roads are quite messy, qualifying was in the wet, you’re second on the road, but is it a concern of what the conditions could be like?

FL:
Yeah definitely because we have seen in the past few weeks that everyday we had some rain, of course if you are somewhere in front in the rain it’s always better than in 10th or 15th place. It’s also, because I’m confident, I want to be somewhere in front. 

Q:
Obviously every competitor is a potential person who could beat you but who do you feel is the strongest and your biggest competitor this weekend?

FL:
Of course I think there are four or five drivers who will probably be very quick and put everything on the table. I also think Kris Princen is going to be quick, Bryan [Bouffier] and also Vincent Verschueren, in the last few rallies he did some very good times. They know this rally very well and I think it’s going to be tough.

Q:
It is going to be tough. We’ll go to Chris Ingram, our leading ERC Junior driver. If it’s tough for the guys at the front Chris, running that bit further down in the ERC Juniors, is it about survival or can you really enjoy it?

CI:
I really enjoyed the qualifying stage with the mud, I don’t know why because we were on harder tyres. I have a really good feeling and really good confidence and Freddy’s been so kind to give me some advice before the event. I’ve learned a lot and that’s a bit of a key to hopefully try and push for the win here.

Q:
Obviously the leading drivers take cuts, the cuts get bigger, bigger and bigger, by the time you’re coming through in those little R2 cars, we have seen in the past, if you don’t get it right you can be sucked in and swallowed basically by the ditches. I mean the ditches are so big, is that something you’ve got to watch out for, do you make a different line or do you just keep going?

CI:
It’s all about carrying speed, so you’re just trying to fly over the ditches a little bit, yeah I’ve done this rally three times already so I’m a bit more used to that than some of the other guys in juniors.

Q:
You’ve gone well here in the past, obviously you’ve not won yet, you’ve had two good results which gives you the championship lead. Is it all out for victory or is it still looking at championship points?

CI:
Yeah definitely championship points, but I feel more confident now than I ever have so definitely going to be going for victory as well.

Q:
Someone who won’t be aiming for a victory is our VIP driver, Kevin Abbring, obviously the big story is you’re here with the new car, the Hyundai i20 R5. You’ve done some press days, you’ve done lots of testing, what was it like in public for the first time in the car last night?

KA:
I think it’s been great, I’ve been having a lot of positive reactions from people seeing the car, obviously the first impression is the most important one. Also for us to be in some kind of competition on the stage in the same conditions as the other competitors is great. I think from the beginning we’ve been having a good feeling I must say normally I’m really, really confident in the wet, but with those tyres and this type of tarmac with the mud it’s really tricky and obviously we don’t have to take the same amount of risk that the others have to take in the rally to become the first. It’s going to be a great event for us.

Q:
In the qualifying stage last night your time was not given out, nobody seems to know, you will have some idea. Are we going to be as secretive over the next few days or are Hyundai quite keen to show the performance of this car and give out the times?

KA:
Well at the end I think it’s good to at least bring out some results from this weekend. In the end they will know eventually.

Q:
From the qualifying, were you where you wanted to be with the qualifying time that you had, because I expect Seb and you know what that was?

KA:
Yeah I think we can be happy with where we stand already, considering the fact that we only allowed ourselves five months of development and so from here on can only be better.

Q:
Stéphane, 12 months since we saw you in the European Rally Championship on this rally. Problems yesterday, we didn’t see you yesterday afternoon, can you explain what was that situation?

SL:
The car is OK for us but yesterday we had problems with the engine and the team preferred to change the engine before the start and now it’s OK.

Q:
Obviously you’ve done a test which is where I think the engine went wrong, are you short of confidence, short of feeling, short of mileage? Is that a problem?

SL:
I have no idea no, for me it’s OK, for today I’m pushing and I will see after.

Q:
With no Qualifying Stage yesterday the start position is a little bit further back obviously, the road will be dirtier. Is that a problem?

SL:
I think I’m 24th on the start list and OK, in the dry it’s not so important but on the wet it is not the same story.

Q:
Are you pleased to be back though?

SL:
Yes of course, it a very nice rally. I’m happy to be back in Ypres.

Q:
We’ll speak to our winner from the first round of the ERC Junior Championship, Łukasz, the first round went very well, the second round was a bit difficult. What can we hope for here in Ypres from yourself?

LP:
I definitely prefer Tarmac to gravel so we’ll push for sure in this one. I’d love to fight with Chris for the victory. I hope it will be better than last year when I crashed.

Q:
You were quick in the Circuit of Ireland so you have to be one of the favourites here.

LP:
Yes of course, we will try. We will do our best to win. Chris for sure he has done some rallies in the Opel now so he will be faster than in Ireland. We are prepared and we hope it will be a great battle.

Q:
A private driver in an Opel Adam next to the factory team, that’s a big challenge already before we even start.

LP:
Yes, we are a small team but a very good one. I just want to push and fight for the first place. Of course as a privateer as Chris said we have to be really careful, every event is very important for us to score good points. The last rally in the Azores we didn’t even finish so it’s really important to finish in a good place in this one.

Q:
Someone else who needs a good finish is the man sat next to you, Alexey. First of all, you’re not feeling particularly well, your first time in Ypres, a big challenge.

AL:
Yes, of course. I had a flu before this rally and during the tests so now I’m not in the best condition but OK, it’s a new rally for us and anyway our aim is not to fight for the win here, for the first time, we know it’s not possible, because local knowledge and the unique character of these roads will not allow us to do that. So we are aiming to build our speed and our confidence in the car on the stages and maybe in dry conditions we will be able to show good pace and finally if we finish somewhere in the top five I will be really pleased.

Q:
You say that it’s a new rally for you, but Valais last year was a new rally, you won that, the Canaries, the first round of this year, was a new rally, you won that. In the Azores you were leading until very near the end as well. New rallies don’t seem to scare you too much but this is very special.

AL:
Yes, this is a special one and we should admit that the start list here is much more competitive than on many other rallies. So it definitely won’t be that easy. We will see through the event. I always say that I won’t push but if the feeling will come, we will try to do our best anyway.

Q:
You’ve done two days of recce and the Qualifying Stage last night, for a first-time driver here, what is the first thing, the biggest thing that you have noticed?

AL:
Actually we were thinking that it would be a really tough rally but in terms of recce, it’s easy. You make the distance, you make the corner and after you see whether you can cut or not! But it’s really really easy to go fast, but it’s not easy to keep the car on the road at that speed! So I don’t know, for the moment it looks very tricky with the braking because the surface, especially after the rain, is so dirty. I don’t know. We made a lot of notes in the recce about the conditions and the sand and dirt but we will also discover it in the rally car and hope it will work well for us.

Q:
As you said there’s a big local entry but the man you’re looking at isn’t even here, and that’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz and that championship battle. Top five, you’re happy with that and the points you will take away from that, that will put you in front of Kajto?

AL:
Yes, Kajto’s already got three good results this year, for me it’s only two, and we are about 15 points behind. So any points will be important as we made a lot of mistakes before and I missed Ireland, so each next event will be more and more significant and even small points can play a role in the end. So definitely we should be happy with a successful finish on this rally.

ENDS

Press enquiries: Anthony Peacock, media.fiaerc.com
Television enquiries: pascal_petit@discovery.com, elise_lelias@discovery.com    
Drivers and teams: Jean-Baptiste_Ley@discovery.com

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Photos

ERC Ypres Rally pre-event press conference.jpg
ERC Ypres Rally pre-event press conference

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Press contacts

Press enquiries: 
Anthony Peacock
media.fiaerc.com

Television enquiries: 
pascal_petit@discovery.com
elise_lelias@discovery.com

Drivers and teams: 
Jean-Baptiste_Ley@discovery.com