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2 JUNE 2017

ERC PRE-EVENT PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT


FIA European Rally Championship 2017: Round 3 of 8
SEAJETS Acropolis Rally, 2-4 June

Present:
Nasser Al-Attiyah
Murat Bostanci, Castrol Ford Team Turkey
Bruno Magalhães
George Philippedes, Team Greece
Sergey Remennik, Russian Performance Motorsport

Q:
Turning first to Bruno, the European championship leader. Did you ever imagine at the start of the year you'd be here in Lamia leading the ERC?

BM:
No, to be honest with you I only expected to make one rally this year in Azores but the rally went pretty well for us and we won the rally. After this I talked with my sponsors and they gave me the opportunity to go to Canarias. We did a very good job there and I am here. I don’t know exactly how I am here but I am and I will try to do a good job and score the maximum points of the championship because I feel this rally will be more difficult for me. It’s my first time on these roads and for sure the guys will have more experience and will be faster but I will try to be clever to make a good rally.

Q:
How have your preparations gone - I gather the recce was quite difficult for you?

BM:
Yes, because we have a very low budget we don’t have a proper recce car and on this kind of roads with a normal car without gravel tyres, when you are trying to make the pacenotes you are more focused on the rocks and on the stones than on the stage and this is not good. I had a puncture and I need to make 40 kilometres making pacenotes with a puncture on the car so the recce was not so easy for me. But when I come back here with a good budget I will remember to rent a real rally car for the recce!

Q:
What's your aim for this event?

BM:
I will try to go as fast as I can without any mistakes and we will see what the guys in front of me are doing. Of course if the difference is not so big I will try but if I see they are too much faster than me I need to be clever and think about the championship because I know this rally all the time happens a lot of things so I will try to be clever and think about the championship.

Q:
It's great to have you back in the ERC. How many events are you planning to do and what's the appeal of the ERC?

NAA:
I am so happy to be here again on the Acropolis Rally. I did this race eight times and I have a lot of experience of these roads. We are so happy to be here because I know this rally will not be easy including for me, it’s always very, very hard road and everything is changing on every stage. But, okay, we see the roads are very well prepared thanks to the organisation, they do a good job and we are so happy. We try to enjoy this race.

Q:
It's been a busy few weeks for you – what were you up to last week?

NAA:
We was in cross country in Kazakhstan Rally. We compete in cross country and we win three races out of four and we also lead this championship. Now we are here in the European championship, this is really a nice series and to see all the top drivers and compete with them is feeling really good. I know it will not be easy for everybody this race but I wish all the drivers the best.

Q:
With all your commitments in cross-country rallying is there time to fit in more European championship events in your programme?

NAA:
Our plan is to do Acropolis, Cyprus, Poland and the other Tarmac rally, Barum. We will see. Our plan is to do the first four race for us in ERC and we try to have a new experience on Tarmac.

Q:
Turning to our Greek champion, how much experience do you have of your ŠKODA Fabia R5 and what's it like to drive?

GP:
Easy question because the answer is zero! I have no experience of the R5. We first saw the car two days ago when we were scheduled to test, I was with Nasser and Kajto and as soon as we got to the test stage there was torrential rain so we decided to abort the whole attempt. It was a bit of a last-minute arrangement to try to find a suitable replacement. But generally speaking I’m very impressed with the car. It’s very different to what we use in the Greek championship, which is a Group N car. I was hoping it would be easier to adapt but I realise how the big boys are doing it it’s going to take some time so we will try to be more modest about our expectations.

Q:
As a Greek driver, what's the significance of this rally - is it the event every Greek driver wants to win?

GP:
Absolutely! Unfortunately you think you have local knowledge of the road but then Nasser comes along and tells you he’s done it twice as many times as you have so go back home! It’s a very nice rally, identical to last year actually. The organisers have done an exceptional job trying to repair the roads because I was told they were completely ruined and you couldn’t drive through them. If we are lucky with the weather and it doesn’t pour on Sunday like the forecast says then it’s going to be a classic Acropolis Rally, very rough. Being a Greek, of course with the Acropolis having been around for 60 or more years it’s the dream of every driver even though we are not lucky enough to still have it in the world championship I think the ERC has reached a level of competition with great drivers and people will really enjoy it.

Q:
It's baking hot today but we've had some rain in recent days – what effect did that have on the stages during the recce?

SR:
So the conditions were really tough and it will be hard for a production car to get to the finish line. It doesn’t matter about the weather conditions because everybody will be in the same situation. After we qualified 11th I decided anything I can do to be in the first position, it’s not a big difference with the next place, but first could be better because I won’t maybe reach the dust of other cars and there will be a lot less rocks on the first run.

Q:
Obviously you've been working with Alexey Lukyanuk this season. Sadly, Alexey isn't here while he recovers from his injuries but I gather you've been in contact with him. How is he and what advice did he give you?

SR:
We are in touch everyday and everyday I say to him some words. Guys like Kajto wrote a video with words for him to back him to get well soon. I have last year’s onboards from Alexey. I know what to expect but anyway after I did my first run here when you see how the R5 cars go here and after that you try to do the same in a production car it’s hard work because it’s very hard for the car and it’s slippery conditions. But I think we have good settings so we will try to do our best. It’s never easy to finish but if I will then it will be a good result.

Q:
Finally turning to Murat. This is as close as it gets to a home rally for you so how confident are you of a good result?

MB:
Much more confident than on the last two rounds because Azores was nothing similar to what I have one in any rallies I have done before. It was a very difficult challenge and I have done a lot of mistakes in the first race. Canarias was something we had done last year but still I made a lot of mistakes so it was a good lesson for us and at least we improved our pace and in the end we were within one second per kilometre to the top drivers. Here I am much more confident. I like the stages, okay they are much more rough, but this is the Acropolis. They are really pleasant stages and fun to drive. I was driving a two-wheel-drive car last year and it wasn’t easy on these stages because it’s too rough for a two-wheel-drive car and very slow and twist stages so it was difficult. I think I will enjoy with my R5 car more than last year but still there are tough stages. We will be faster than when I was with a two-wheel-drive car so it will be rougher on the car.

Q:
The ambient temperature will exceed 30 degrees centigrade tomorrow. How tough does that make driving a rally car and what do you do to cope?

MB:
I done a big mistake on the start selection because I kept my overalls on and I was very hot after the autograph session so I went to change! It’s crazy hot this week. I think last week was okay but we are not lucky with the weather. Okay we are lucky that its not raining because when it rains here it’s very slippery. But it’s very hot although I think the next rally in Cyprus will be even hotter than this one.

Questions from the floor:

Q:
Yalcin Arsan (Turkey) to Murat Bostanci: Murat you come from Turkey which is a neighbouring country to Greece. Apart from the technicalities how do you feel about being here as almost a local?

MB:
Greece is our neighbouring country and it’s a friendly country. I really enjoy being here because we have very similar cultures and I feel like at home. I feel very good when I drive here and it’s my third time in Greece. My first time in Acropolis was in Loutraki on different stages but I was here last year and I think it’s a great country, a great rally with a lot of motivated people in the organisation and also the spectators. I really enjoy being here and I hope I can be in the top five at the end of the rally. It’s a very tough challenge, a very tough rally and you have to be very clever and concentrated to come to the finish.

ENDS​

Photos

ERC SEAJETS Acropolis Rally pre-event press conference.jpg
ERC SEAJETS Acropolis Rally pre-event press conference

ERC George Philippedes.jpg
ERC George Philippedes

ERC Murat Bostanci.jpg
ERC Murat Bostanci

ERC Nasser Al-Attiyah.jpg
ERC Nasser Al-Attiyah

ERC Sergey Remennik.jpg
ERC Sergey Remennik

ERC Bruno Magalhaes.jpg
ERC Bruno Magalhaes

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