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

​SEAJETS Acropolis Rally 2015, Service Park, Loutraki, Saturday 10 October 12:00hrs

Attendees:

Kajetan Kajetanowicz (LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5)

Craig Breen (Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16)

Alexey Lukyanuk (Ford Fiesta R5)

Lambros Athanassoulas (ŠKODA Fabia R5)

Question to Kajetan Kajetanowicz

Is it too much for you to even dream that you could become European rally champion here on the famous Acropolis Rally, on your 100th rally start?

“In my opinion, you can never dream too much. Dreams are something great and they keep pushing you forward. For sure, this is a big chance for me in the ERC.”

Question to Kajetan Kajetanowicz

You have a great chance to become European rally champion tomorrow. How difficult will it be to score the 16 points you need here in Greece to become champion?

“Yes, it will be easy! No – for sure it is a big challenge for us and for the other drivers also. I try before this rally not to think about these 16 points and only focus on my job and to be mentally prepared. I want to drive without mistakes and finish every stage. But this is the Acropolis Rally and you never know.”

Question to Kajetan Kajetanowicz

In a few hours time there is a massively long opening stage, which could play such a significant part in this year’s title race. Do you feel under pressure, or are you in confident mood?

“I have never competed on such a long stage like this one. Craig did a few stages like this one in Corsica last week, but I don’t know what to expect. For sure I want to do my job, and I can wait for this stage. To be honest, this stage, and this rally, is like a lottery in places. We had a puncture during the recce on the first stage, this one, because there is a lot of big rocks, but everybody has the same conditions, so we’ll see.”

Question to Craig Breen

You’re in a great battle with Kajetan Kajetanowicz for the ERC title, but you really need to repeat your Acropolis Rally victory of last year. Are you feeling confident or a little anxious about this weekend, given its importance?

“It’s a very important rally for me. I have fantastic memories from last year, arriving back at this service park with our first victory, so of course we come here in a very good mood. The only thing we can do is to try and win. We can’t control Kajto, and we can only manage our own rally and go from there. It’s a special rally. A long stage to start with, but compared to Corsica last week it’s an average length stage, so I’m not too worried about that. It’s going to be a tough rally though.”

Question to Craig Breen

Your ERC rivals have come straight from a gravel rally in Cyprus and you have come straight from the Tour de Corse on asphalt. Do you think that will put you at a disadvantage in the early gravel stages here in Greece?

“I have to say that the first run on the test was a bit strange, because Corsica has so many corners and you’re carrying crazy speed on even low-speed corners, whereas here you are nearly stopped on the slow corners, so for your mind to adapt to that and understand that you have to be a lot more slower and a lot neater took a little bit of time. But I can’t use that as an excuse!”

Question to Craig Breen

You were third quickest in Qualifying and start eleventh on the road this afternoon. Are you reasonably happy with that?

“It wasn’t so bad. I think we did the best job that we could. The stage went really well and we had no problems. I was reasonably happy with the time. The Qualifying Stage was three kilometres long and the opening stage this afternoon is nearly 45 kilometres long, so to try and get a measure of what will happen in the rally from the Qualifying Stage is a bit silly. When we come to the end of the first stage, and at the end of the second stage tonight, then we’ll have a more clearer picture.”

Question to Alexey Lukyanuk

What do you think of the stages here in Greece, and how extra difficult will they be if it rains during the event?

“No one knows what is going to happen, because in places it is so slippery that it is like ice. On standard rocks it should be okay. I pray for dry conditions.”

Question to Alexey Lukyanuk

You were very unlucky with technical problems in Cyprus, particularly the power steering. How has pre-event testing done in Greece and have you the tools to challenge for victory?

“I’m not thinking about victory. I am just trying to focus on a good and solid result and with a reasonable speed, because I have no experience here. These kind of roads are again new for me. We are still developing the pace notes, we are still developing the car set-up and we did quite a good job on the test. On the previous rally, yes we had a lot of problems, but it made us stronger. We know how to fix many things now and what to do and what not to do, so things are quite nice. We can attack and push through it, but it’s also possible to do something wrong and lose a lot. Even a puncture, it is easy to get here. I want to be smart and avoid big mistakes.”

Question to Alexey Lukyanuk

Are you pleased with the start you have made – fastest in Free Practice 2 and second fastest in Qualifying?

“It was a very nice and exciting stage. It was short but so twisty and technical and a lot of fun to drive through the trees and be always sideways in the sand and the ruts. We were not the fastest, but we are learning and I hope that we will find some speed through this rally and increase our pace and confidence.”

Question to Lambros Athanassoulas

What do you think of this year’s Acropolis Rally route, with over 200kms of stages, plus Free Practice and Qualifying all in just two days?

“It’s very compact and challenging for the teams and drivers – even for the spectators! It’s one day less for all the teams to go back and prepare for the rally, so it’s a nice try and I think it might be good for next year also to follow the same path.”

Question to Lambros Athanassoulas

How difficult will it be to start this year’s event with the 43.41-kilometre SEAJETS Kineta-Loutraki test, and what strategy will you take into the opening test?

“Such a long stage is difficult, even if it is the last stage of the rally. It’s challenging for the cars first of all the drivers and certainly for me and Nicos it’s more challenging for us than the others, because it will be the first stage we have done for let’s say four years, since our last Acropolis in 2011, we did on gravel. It’s really challenging and I hope we can come to the finish, be safe and the car in perfect condition.”

Question to Lambros Athanassoulas

You haven’t done many rallies in the last few years. Do you think that will be a big disadvantage, or are you out to try and beat the ERC regulars?

“Look, I am not crazy! I know these guys are super-fast, they are driving every week almost and you can say they are professional drivers, with two or three years experience in their cars. I was expecting to be the maximum fourth fastest on the Qualifying Stage and we did it. We didn’t push a lot – okay, we didn’t go slowly, but we didn’t take any risks because we are still learning the car. It is very difficult to jump in a car, a new R5, after four years of not driving, and be fast from the beginning. So we will try to adjust our speed to try and be a little bit closer to the ERC guys and we will see.”