POST-EVENT PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT – 2015 FIA European Rally Championship: round 10 of 10

Rallye International du Valais, CERM, Martigny, Saturday 31 October, 17:30hrs

Attendees:
Craig Breen (IRE)/Scott Martin (GBR)  First place
Alexey Lukyanuk (BLR)/Alexey Arnautov (BLR)  Second place
OIivier Burri (CHE)/Nicolas Klinger (FRA)  Third place

Question to Craig Breen
Congratulations on winning the Rallye International du Valais. Scoring your fourth ERC win, and becoming ERC Asphalt Master, must be a very nice way to end the season?

“Yes, it’s a good way to end the season. It’s been a beautiful rally. We had quite a big lead from early on in the event, so we just tried to control that well. This victory is really thanks for all the Peugeot Rally Academy team, to Scott and to everyone involved in the project. It’s fantastic to be here on the top step of the podium.”

Question to Craig Breen
You made it look easy, but how difficult was it to keep your concentration and make no mistakes from start to finish?

“It was incredibly difficult, especially today. We had a big cushion this morning, but the stages here are so so difficult, with so much risk of getting a puncture or making a mistake, especially in the gravel parts. Even though we had a big lead, it was difficult to try and find a pace that we could manage it and it was a tough day at the office. To make it back to the finish, well, I’m very happy.”

Question to Craig Breen
How would you sum up this year’s ERC campaign?

“It’s probably been more bad than good! There are a couple of things that I have to take. Winning the Circuit of Ireland, my home rally, in April – that is something I would never have had the chance to do if the European Championship hadn’t have gone there, so winning that rally was amazing. To win in Valais is something special too. I’m a big fan of the old co-efficient days of the European Championship and all the guys that were participating then – including Olivier Burri, who I watched on the TV as a kid. It’s great to have the opportunity to race against him once again.”

Question to Scott Martin
We hear that you’ll be back in Valais this winter for a skiing holiday? What do you like about the region, and going back to rallying, what makes these stages so challenging?

“We have a skiing holiday booked in Verbier, so this has really whetted the appetite for later in the year and I can’t wait to come back! To get a result like this is extra-special. My first visit to this rally was last year, and I saw then that the stages are fantastic. I like Monte Carlo, I like Corsica, I like really challenging Tarmac stages, and these definitely are. It’s really special to win this rally, because you have to get everything right and everyone on the podium was really quick.”

Question to Alexey Lukyanuk
Your first rally in Switzerland, and you have beaten all-but one of the more experienced Tarmac drivers who have contested this event before. You must be very pleased.

“I am really happy. Before the event we were quite cautious with our expectations and about our result here, because we know this rally is quite tricky, with a lot of slippery places and changes of grip and the stages are quite different, narrow, wide, fast, slow and so on. So we are really happy in the end to finish with this result.”

Question to Alexey Lukyanuk
How difficult was it to get the set-up and tyre selection correct, especially in the morning loop of stages, with dry and wet Tarmac?

“All weekend it was like a gamble. Normally, you can make a safe choice with the softest tyres, but to get some more speed you have to take risks and take the harder tyre, so we did it twice and it paid off in the end. We made a lot of changes to the car and got a lot of information, so it’s just amazing how much we have learnt from this event.”

Question to Alexey Lukyanuk
You were one of highest over the famous jump. What were your thoughts as you flew through the air, and was it a little too risky to jump so far?

“Before this jump I was in doubt if I should brake or not, but when we jumped I said it was a good idea to brake! We jumped quite high and it’s not something we will do in future at this jump because the chance to damage the car or bend something is quite high. For the spectators it is good but for the car – sorry car, I won’t do it again!

“I would like to thank my team, H-Racing, because they did a great job this weekend and provided me with the best car for fighting. Thank you to Pirelli for the best tyres and for their advice on tyre selection. This weekend we did a great job together. And thank you to my co-driver, to all the fans, spectators and to the event organisers. It’s such a great rally.”

Question to Alexey Arnautov
What can you say about the way Alexey has developed as both a Tarmac and gravel driver this year? He has certainly had a great season, and more and more people consider him a very talented driver.

“Alexey has made very great progress this year, especially on Tarmac. On gravel, he was one of the best fighters in the Baltics and he continues to do it, but on Tarmac this is only my second event with him in this car. We made one round in the Czech Republic and now in Switzerland and I believe that this Tarmac rally is one of the hardest ones and we have managed it and we are here on the second position, so I think progress is extreme.”

Question to OIivier Burri
You have never been out of a top three position all event. Are you pleased with your result, or a little disappointed that a few problems prevented you really challenging for victory?

“The car was quite good, and it’s a shame that Regional Rally Cars won’t be allowed to complete in the ERC in the future. It takes a while to get 100 percent from these cars and my opponents gave it 100 percent from the start and it took us a bit more time to get accustomed. A podium is a podium, but one always sets off with the aim of winning, but at the end of the day it is such a nice rally, every year it is so well organised with so many spectators, so it is nice to put on a show.”

Question to OIivier Burri
You said that SS14 was the first stage that went perfectly okay for you?

“I’ll tell you something about SS14, Caserne, it’s the type of stage that you love less and less the older you get! These spectator stages are not so pleasant driving-wise, but I appreciate that it is good for the fans, the sponsors and for the image of the sport, so you have to put on a bit of a show.”

Question to OIivier Burri
You pushed hard, never gave up and came home top Swiss driver. You must be happy with that?

“It’s always nice to come home first of the locals, especially as there were many opponents. A few years ago the local drivers were a bit more adrift from the ERC regulars, so it’s nice to be here on the podium.”

Question to Nicolas Klinger
You have done these stages in many different weather conditions. This time there was no snow, but it was damp, slippery and dry, so how challenging were the conditions when they change like that?

“I have never done Valais with full dry stages. Even when the week before the stages are completely dry on the recce, it can be wet on the event. Every year it is a challenging rally, so we never know what we can expect. It’s one of the most difficult rallies when it comes to changing conditions.”