FIA European Rally Championship 2018: Round 6 of 8, Barum Czech Rally Zlín, 24-26 August
Building 21, Zlín, 14h30, Friday 24 August
Jan Černý, ACCR Czech Rally Team
Jan Kopecký, ŠKODA Motorsport
Dani Sordo, Hyundai Motorsport
Simon Wagner, Saintéloc Junior Team
Jan, you're a six-time winner of Barum Czech Rally Zlín, a six-time Czech rally champion and the defending champion here. Nobody has beaten you on a Czech rally in more than four years, 22 wins in a row. That's spectacular. This year you're also competing in the WRC2 championship where you've won four events. What can we expect from you this time?
For this rally, we don’t have any special preparation because we are doing well all the time by doing the same thing. Our main target is to win this rally and we will try to do everything to achieve this.
Which wins here were your most difficult?
I would say there were two. Firstly, with Freddy Loix in 2011, I think we won by 1.2 seconds and two years ago with Alexey Lukyanuk.
There is a lot of talk about the weather. Would you prefer a dry or wet rally?
We didn’t win the Qualifying Stage, so it would be better if it’s dry. But I don’t think that will be possible this weekend. We are ready and hopefully we can choose the correct compound [of tyre] all the time. We’ll try to do our best.
Dani, you'll be driving an R5 category car for the first time this weekend. Is it difficult to switch to an R5 from a WRC car?
The driving style is a little bit different. The engines are quite different and the chassis is working a little bit differently too. You need to change your mindset and your driving style. It's nice to try this car and see what the feeling is like with them but of course, it's very different to a WRC car.
What do you know about Barum Czech Rally Zlín? Did you get any information from your Hyundai team-mates, given that Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen have both started here in the past?
The only information I had was 'don’t go there'! Everybody talks about it being a difficult rally. I can see it has difficult stages. They're really nice but for fighting for victories and driving really fast, it's quite difficult. It looks like with this [rainy] weather it will even more difficult and also with the local specialists. Jan [Kopecký] is really, really fast here. It will be a big challenge.
What would you say about the stages after the recce?
They are really nice stages because it's like old times with bumpy roads and broken tarmac in some places, but the stages are very nice. There's many short corners in the forest where you need to have a lot of confidence in your pace notes. Sometimes with only two passes of pace notes it's a little bit difficult but I will try to do my best to enjoy the roads. They are quite nice. I'm disappointed it will be raining because I don't enjoy it as much. I have less feeling with the car, with many black parts on the surface. It's more difficult in some places, so you enjoy it a little less. But overall it's really nice
How would you evaluate your season so far?
In the Czech championship, because we changed the car from a ŠKODA Fabia to a Ford Fiesta, it’s quite difficult because the car is quite different. We found the set-up and so on and we expected a little bit more at the beginning but we’re now third place in the Czech championship, which is not that bad.
In the European Rally Championship we’ve done only one rally, Rally di Roma Capitale. We had two punctures, which isn’t what we wanted from that rally. We finished in the top 10 but still, it was not what we wanted.
What’s your target for this rally?
We are here for both the Czech and European championships, so for sure we need to finish the rally because of the points. But when I see such good drivers like Dani [Sordo] and Jan [Kopecký], top drivers at the World Championship level, the competition will be very high. If we finish in the top 10 it will be great but for sure we want to do our best and have a really good result.
How did you become a racing driver and what’s your target this weekend?
Then I had to stop for about one year because we didn't have enough money to continue the season. Later, I had some good results and step by step we found more sponsors. Now we're in a big fight in the European Rally Championship and I'm very happy to have a team like Saintéloc Junior, where I can learn a lot. I'm very happy to start the Barum Rally because we already finished third last year in the Junior category. I hope I can increase the speed again and fight for victory.
After the Qualifying Stage, what do you think of the atmosphere and organisation here in Zlín?
I think this is the best round of the European Rally Championship for spectators. Aside from the Qualifying Stage, I know the stages from last year. Just some parts are new. We knew we could be fast in the Qualifying Stage and we won [in ERC Junior Under 27] but it's going to be a difficult two days. The weather will change and everyone who's already driven the Barum Rally before will know it's difficult in the dry, so it gets even more difficult when it rains.
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