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30 MARCH 2017

PRE-EVENT PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

FIA European Rally Championship 2017: Round 1 of 8
Azores Airlines Rallye, 30 March-1 April

Present:
Marijan Griebel
Jari Huttunen, ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team
Kajetan Kajetanowicz, LOTOS Rally Team
Ricardo Moura
José Suárez, Peugeot Rally Academy

Q:
Back in June last year you won your home rally for the first time. Looking back, what memories do you have of that win and what does it mean to you now?

RM:
I still have great memories of that event. I should be more focused on this event this year but I still have some great energy coming from last June. It was of course a fantastic feeling in my career to win this rally with such great drivers, like Kajto, Lukyanuk, other fast drivers. Of course, we had some luck in the end and we could finish winning it and it was quite nice.

Q:
What do you have to do to repeat that success?

RM:
We still need to be fast for sure. I think this year there are more drivers that can fight for the podium positions. We saw in qualifying the gap is quite close between six or seven drivers. Of course Kajto and Lukyanuk I think they will be fastest drivers into the rally. Okay, we will try to go with them, not let them go too far away and keep the pressure on. That’s what we will try to do.

Q:
What are the chances of some more ERC appearances for you this season?

RM:
Not for me this time.

Q:
Marjian, in Cyprus you drove an R5 car for the first time and you finished second overall and now you’re here competing in the new ERC Junior U28 Championship. What’s the plan for this year?

MG:
Well, to drive as fast possible and to get some good results. This time is the first time since Cyprus I’m driving on gravel with such a car, but the pace was really good this morning in qualifying and also free practice. For the championship, we have not a fixed schedule now, maybe not the complete season, but therefore it’s even more important to get good results here and in the Canaries and then we will see what happens with the rest of the season.

Q:
It sounds like you spent a lot of the time over the winter working to get the budget to do the championship. Just briefly explain who has helped you to get here today.

MG:
The ADAC, the national German federation is helping me a lot, backing me for the fifth year in a row now. Armin Kremer [former European champion] is my mentor and one of my main sponsors. We worked a lot on this project because it’s quite a big budget you need to go with R5 in the European championship, but finally it worked out for some rallies and hopefully with some good results we can do even more.

Q:
José, it’s not the first time in the Azores for you but your first full ERC campaign so what’s the target?

JS:
For us, it’s clear that the objective is to win ERC Junior U28. It is not my first time here so I can use this to be fast. We have to be calm, the championship is really long. I have to bring a good position from the rally to Peugeot. They’ve put a lot of confidence in me and I have to bring back on this support.

Q:
A few weeks ago in Madrid when the Peugeot Rally Academy team was launched, one Carlos Sainz was there in his ambassadorial role. What advice has he given you for this year?

JS:
Carlos for me since two years is a really important person because he makes me be a professional driver. I thought before that I was but it’s not true. After I started to work with him I prepare better for the rallies. My physical, my head. We have to show what we do over this winter.

Q:
Jari, welcome to the ERC. Champion of the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup in Germany last year. Can you give us an overview of your career so far?

JH:
Last year we were driving in the ADAC Opel Cup. That went really well and now we are here as the prize for winning. This is a difficult rally for me because roads the roads are so twisty. I know gravel from the rallies I do in Finland but this is very different.

Q:
I guess the stages here are a lot more narrow than what you are used to in Finland. Is that what you’ve experienced here in the recce?

JH:
Yes. I don’t know, we will see how it’s going but I think this is too slow for me.

Q:
Kajto, obviously the last two years have been nothing but fantastic for you, with two titles in the ERC.  Now you’re back which is fantastic news and I guess the objective is to try and do a bit of history this year because no driver has ever won three ERC titles in a row. Can you do it this year?

KK:
Yes, that was a great time, I have only great memories from the last two years. It was a great fight with Ralfs, with Alexey and with the other drivers. Of course we want to do something better this year. I think this rally it shows how difficult it could be because competition is absolutely strong, 28 drivers in R5 cars. This is amazing. It’s great to be here again. Of course I want to improve my speed. I was working very hard in the winter. We’ll see. I hope we can achieve good results.

Q:
How can you improve your speed Kajto because you won the last two years? What did you do over the winter that makes you better?

KK:
To be honest, sometimes the other drivers are faster than me. It’s true. It’s very important to be fast every time, and you’ve got to keep concentration. I was working with my coach. I did some tests in my training car, my Subaru. It’s possible to do everything with this car. We’ll see. This is a very important year for me. I’m really happy to be here because it wasn’t easy. It seems to be easy after two wins in the championship but it isn’t. So, this is our target, to be quick here and to enjoy these rallies because they are very, very beautiful and amazing like here in the middle of the ocean. It’s a great place. I’m going to be a father this year. That was a hard winter, a busy winter! I think it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about my speed. I hope.

Q:
Just one final word from you about the ERC Junior U28 Championship. We see nine young drivers chasing you. How tough will that be?

KK:
Yes, when my girlfriend saw me in this [baseball] cap, she told me ‘Kajto, are you fighting with the U28?’ because I looked like a young boy with this cap. But it’s not true, I’m very old. But I’m still fast and this is not good information for the young drivers.

ENDS​

Photos

ERC Azores pre-event press conference.jpg
ERC Azores pre-event press conference

ERC Jari Huttunen.jpg
ERC Jari Huttunen

ERC Kajetan Kajetanowicz.jpg
ERC Kajetan Kajetanowicz

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