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

Rallye International du Valais, Caserne, Sion, Wednesday 29 October, 11:45hrs

Attendees:

Craig Breen (Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16)

Emil Bergkvist (Saintéloc Racing Peugeot 208 T16)

Nikolay Gryazin (Sports Racing Technologies ŠKODA Fabia R5)

Jonathan Hirschi (Peugeot 208 T16).

Question to Craig Breen

How nice would it be to finish a seesaw year with a fourth ERC victory – and more rally wins than anyone else?

“It would be fantastic to end the year on a high note. The second half of the season has been a bit of a disaster, with lots of non-finishes in the World Championship and difficult rallies in the ERC, with mistakes from me and reliability problems. It would be the best way possible to end the year with victory, especially at Valais because I’ve always liked this rally. It’s my third time here, I really like the atmosphere and I’d like to get my name on the roll of honour.”

Question to Craig Breen

You scored nine stage wins in Valais last year and only a puncture stopped you winning. How confident are you of making amends and winning this time?

“I’m confident, but last year we had the speed, but once again no luck. I picked up a puncture fairly early in the rally and we had to fight back and I think that if we can keep our noses clean this year we’ll be in the fight. But there is a lot of competition, like we saw on the Qualifying Stage, there was only 0.3 seconds between myself and Bryan [Bouffier] so the competition will be very tough. It’s a long rally, not so much in terms of kilometres, but spread over three days, and the weather is changing insofar as it’s getting better, so it will be a big challenge for everybody.”

Question to Craig Breen

The scenery doesn’t look much like Ireland, but are the stages similar to your home country, or is it all as different as it looks?

“It’s completely different. Okay, perhaps some sections are bumpy and broken, which are like Ireland, the landscape-wise it’s completely different. We don’t have any ski slopes in Ireland! We’ve no snow for most of the year and a lot of rain, so it’s far from familiar. But like I said, it’s my third time here, so I know the roads quite well. The stages have stayed the same pretty much, give or take a few kilometres, so I do feel confident, even though I’m far away from home. In fact, I haven’t been home for such a long time that I’m not even sure I can call it my home any more! Airports and aeroplanes are my new home, but I feel comfortable here.”

Question to Emil Bergkvist

This is your prize-drive for your win in the ERC Junior championship – how was the season for you?

“It was actually the first year in the ERC Junior for myself and my co-driver Joakim [Sjöberg], but we were in a great team and we did something that was far away from expected. In every rally we were going really good, so it was not expected to be in Valais, doing the prize-drive.”

Question to Emil Bergkvist

How did your first test in a four-wheel drive R5 go on Monday?

“It was quite new for me to have power on all four wheels. I think it went quite well. The feeling in the car was okay and I also managed to get a ride with Craig [Breen] and learnt something also, so that was important for me.”

Question to Emil Bergkvist

From a driver’s point of view, what are the main differences between the Opel Adam R2 and the Peugeot 208 T16?

“For sure there is a lot more power and you can go into hairpin corners sliding, so that’s quite difficult when you are new to it. I want to try and enjoy this rally. It looks good, but difficult, and we’ll take it from there.”

Question to Nikolay Gryazin

You have only just turned 18 – congratulations by the way – so how much testing have you done in the ŠKODA Fabia R5 and how well do you know the car?

“We had two days testing the ŠKODA in Poland, and the car feels really good. It’s faster than a Peugeot 208 R2, so I love the car!”

Question to Nikolay Gryazin

Obviously you want to do well and score a good result, but what are your main reasons for doing Rallye du Valais this year in the Fabia R5?

“It’s good experience for me I think. I want to gain experience and finish the race.”

Question to Nikolay Gryazin

You come from a very successful motorsport family. How do you rate yourself? Are you quicker than your older brother and father?!

“I don’t know! My brother for sure has a different style of driving. I don’t know right now!”

Question to Jonathan Hirschi

This is your home round of the ERC. What are you hopes and aims in terms of performance over the next three days?

“For sure last year was really good, because we did really well here. This is the first year I have done a full season of rally, so for sure it’s a rally at home and normally we have to improve, but yes, it’s still difficult because the level is really high and there are a lot of good competitors and good cars and also the rally is a bit tricky because of the weather conditions. So yes, let’s see, especially on Saturday we will have to wait a little bit, because it’s a really long day with long stages, so let’s see.”

Question to Jonathan Hirschi

You finished 8th here in 2011, 6th in 2012 and 4th last year. Can you continue that run of results and finish on the podium this year?

“I hope so, but honestly I don’t want to push and not finish the rally. I am pretty young with not so much experience yet, so I have to continue to build my experience. The main target for me is to finish this rally. For sure we will drive quickly, not pushing a lot, but we will see.”

Question to Jonathan Hirschi

As the top-seeded Swiss driver, what advice would you give the likes of Emil and Nikolay, who are contesting the Rallye du Valais for the first time?

“It’s not an easy rally because you have a lot of small things like Les Cols, the long stage, with the wood, and many things like that, especially in the morning on the first loop it can be more dirty than you expect.”

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