2 JUNE 2016

ERC AZORES RALLYE PRE-EVENT PRESS CONFERENCE

Media Centre, Portas do Mar, Ponta Delgada, 13h30, Thursday 2 June 2016

Present:
Kajetan Kajetanowicz, LOTOS Rally Team, Ford Fiesta R5
Ralfs Sirmacis, Sports Racing Technologies, ŠKODA Fabia R5
Ricardo Moura, Ford Fiesta R5
Diogo Gago, Peugeot 208 R2

Q:
What were your feelings after the Acropolis? The roll stopped you from winning, but you were very quick after that.

KK:
It showed how difficult that rally was because you have to be focused and strong at the same time. For sure we can say this rally for us was a very demanding route – we can say from hell to heaven but we did it, it was a big exam. I love these rallies because we can build and test my character. It wasn’t a good situation but in general it was a good experience and we can say I am happy with that.

Q:
You have a good lead in the standings, yet you haven’t won a rally so far in 2016. So how would you rate your season after three events?

KK:
First of all we don’t need to win. We want to win but it’s not the same. I am very happy with our leading in ERC and with my speed in these rallies. We have a family in these rallies and we win many stages and I believe winning is not so far.

Q:
We know that you really enjoy the Azores. Tell us what makes it so great in your opinion?

KK:
It’s amazing place, everybody knows that. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s a great place to play with the rally car and in Azores we take this pleasure to the next level and we can say like that. We have big, challenging roads that are beautiful at the same time. Great spectators along the stages and the competition is very strong. All the guys in R5 cars can fight for the victory in great scenery and I really like Azores, I love rallying.

Q:
When you were sat here on the Acropolis you said you wanted to win, and you did. So how confident are you this time?

RS:
We are here to win! We try to win the rally. There is very much fast drivers but we try to do the best and get the victory. We do what we can to get this opportunity. I am a little bit stressed but it’s for the first stage. After this starts it will all be okay.

Q:
Unlike the Acropolis, you did the Azores in ERC Junior last year. Will that be helpful?

RS:
It’s very good because I know the roads when we do the recce. I know the stages and it’s better driving on roads you don’t know.

Q:
How comfortable are you finding the limit in the R5 car after one event?

RS:
It feels very nice and good but I don’t know. It’s my second rally in this car and after more rallies I hope to do better speed. Now I don’t get the maximum.

Q:
You had a problem with your windscreen wipers during the Qualifying Stage. What happened?

RS:
In start of the stage it started raining. We turn on the wipers, they work but in the middle of the stage they stopped working but we got to the end of the stage.

Q:
There is a huge entry here in the Azores this year, with a lot of Portuguese and local drivers. How strong is the level in both the Portuguese championship and among the drivers from the Azores itself?

RM:
Of course, like in previous years, there are a lot of good drivers in the Portuguese championship. They are always trying to look for the best result in this rally and of course there are a lot of non-Portuguese drivers in R5 cars. It increases the difficult but this is the rally and I try to do my best to get a good result.

Q:
The other three drivers here have been here before, but if there was somebody here like Alexey Lukyanuk who’s not been here before, what would you say is the key to doing well on your local stage?

RM:
It’s for sure for every driver who has the opportunity to have done one rally at least one time it’s definitely easier to come and have already the pacenotes and everything. But we cannot also forget most of those drivers are in a championship that are only allowed two passes in the recce. It’s something they have worked for and they are very well trained to do that. You can see that because sometimes they don’t make a huge difference between first and second passes. It means they have a very good way of describing the road with their pacenotes and being fast immediately from the first metres. Of course for Alexey he is someone who is very well known in the sport. Everybody knows he’s quite fast. He’s done some incredible rallies in Group N cars and R4 and R5 so I think he will be fast for sure. This is a really, really tricky rally with a lot of narrow parts and changing the grip a lot of times and also changing the rhythm from really slow parts to really fast. There is a not a magic solution but I think he will find the speed from the very beginning.

Q:
You finished third in 2013 and 2015. What will your strategy be to match or even better that this time?

RM:
This is something you need to know how to deal with. Of course I would like to fight for a win but I haven’t been able to do it. This is like everything. There are some good guys, some medium guys and some very good guys. I just have to try to go as fast as I can and hope I can be at least more close to the fastest drivers. Last year I think I could, in some places, be as fast as they were but on other stages they were much more faster than me. Let’s see if I have improved enough to keep a good rhythm and keep on the fight for the victory.

Q:
Welcome back to ERC Junior, is this a one-off for your home event or are you planning more appearances in 2016?

DG:
I am very happy to be here once again and also in ERC Junior after last year’s result I try to get another good result this year. I will also try to be at the start for the Ypres Rally.

Q:
You were fastest in class on the Qualifying Stage, but a lot of your rivals said they didn’t want to be quickest. Does being the first of the R2 cars on this afternoon’s stages concern you at all?

DG:
There is no big concern because when we are departing for the special stages the road surface is always quite clear from the other cars. We try to do the same as last year.

Q:
Did you follow the Circuit of Ireland, the opening round of ERC Junior, from home? Who do you think your main rivals will be here?

DG:
I have to count all the other drivers present here in the Azores as rivals. In Ireland everybody was quick and you have to drive fast from the very beginning.

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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