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

​Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally, Media Centre, 14:30hrs, Friday 26 June

Attendees:

Craig Breen (Peugeot Rally Academy)

Kevin Abbring (Citroën DS3 R5)

Freddy Loix (ŠKODA Fabia R5)

Gino Bux (Peugeot Belgium Luxembourg)

Question to Craig Breen

You have a great chance to extend your ERC lead in Ypres, but there are lots of top drivers who have the potential to take points off you? What are your tactics ahead of the event?

“We have a good chance to make some good progress in the championship, as my Polish friend, Kajetan Kajetanowicz, isn’t here. Without Kajto here it makes it a little easier to score points, but that’s the only thing that will be easier this weekend. Ypres is a difficult rally and the competition is probably he most difficult that it’s going to be all year. We have all the local guys here and also my good friend and team-mate from last year Kevin Abbring, so it will be difficult. I’m looking forward to the rally and want to score the best result possible.”

Question to Craig Breen

You had fourth choice at road selection and decided to start second on the road. Is that the position you would have selected if you’d have had first choice?

“I would have probably have picked where Kevin has picked to be fair, as I think it probably is the best starting place. I’m only one place in front of him and I’ve got a reasonably fast driver ahead of me, so it should be okay. You don’t really leave marks on the road here, like braking points, as the surface doesn’t really allow it, so it’s not as if I’m going to be following someone else’s lines or anything like that. Even if I was fifth, sixth or seventh, I don’t think it would make a massive amount of difference. We saw that in Qualifying last night. I’m quite happy with my starting position.”

Question to Craig Breen

What makes the Ypres Rally so difficult? With flat roads and square corners, it’s a lot more difficult and technical for a driver and co-driver than people might think.

“It’s a special place. If you look at it on the TV, and even when you do the recce, you don’t understand what’s difficult about it. You’re driving through fields, the roads are the same, it’s straight lines and junctions and it all looks very simple. But when you get in the rally car at speed, you very quickly start to understand what’s so special about this place. The grip is changing, not even with each kilometre but at each corner and you’re trying to read the road with your eyes, using the sun to see how it’s reflecting and more shinny in some places than others, and where it looks more abrasive than other places. The length of the event, in comparison to other ERC events, is a fair bit longer. The road sections are very short too, so you don’t have too much time to reboot and calm yourself down, because you are right into the next one. Ypres is such a special rally.”

Question to Kevin Abbring

You led for much of the Ypres Rally last year, only for a technical problem to deny you a possible win. What is your strategy to complete what must be unfinished business this year?

“It feels like that. I would have liked to have won the rally last year. We are rally drivers and we always want to win. When Pieter [Tsjoen] called me two weeks ago, I had to ask Hyundai, but I really wanted to say yes. My last rally was in February on snow, and I just need the rhythm and to get back in a car. I have good memories from last year here and it might seem strange to say coming from the WRC, but it’s nice to be back in the ERC and with cars which are all the same. I need that fighting against the clock in a competitive field.”

Question to Kevin Abbring

You were fastest on the Qualifying Stage. Why did you pick to start third on the road?

“I don’t really think it makes a difference to start first, second, third or fourth – I just like to have some marks on the road, so I know whether to turn left or right at junctions. With a driver next to me, I need to make it a little easier for both of us! It was funny on the recce, because Peter was telling me to be careful because he had crashed here and he had rolled there. So I had to ask him, ‘do you want me to be careful at every corner, or do you want me to go for the win?’ But it worked really well in Qualifying. It might be hard for him when it’s really fast and it all looks the same, but we’ll see.”

Question to Kevin Abbring

You have a new co-driver, Pieter Tsjoen. What’s it like with two drivers in the same car and tell us about your multi-language pace note system?

“What I normally do is an English system and maybe two words in French. We decided here to do the distances and direction in Dutch, because sometimes there were some very strange things coming out of Peter’s mouth in English, so we had to change it a little bit! He is a driver, but he’s capable to do the job and in the end it is nice to have someone next to you who is familiar with the roads. We are ready.”

Question to Freddy Loix

You have won the Ypres Rally nine times. What are your tactics ahead of trying to make it 10 wins?

“I think I have to go flat-out if I want to win and especially stay on the road. We saw yesterday me and the top four drivers are very close so I think it will be a very tight event.”

Question to Freddy Loix

You were second fastest on the Qualifying, but you had a spectacular ending to the stage. Can you tell us what happened?

“No, everything was under control! We went flat out over the finish line, and changing direction we made a spin over the finish line. I knew it could happen. We didn’t plan it, but we were on the limit!”

Question to Freddy Loix

You are giving the ŠKODA Fabia R5 its ERC debut. Please tell us your role in developing the car, how well you know it and do you think it’s a car that car win in Ypres, and also in other ERC events?

“For me and for ŠKODA Motorsport it will be a very special race. We have a lot of Peugeots and Citroëns, also with good drivers – the best drivers are in Ypres at the moment, so soon we will know the speed of the Fabia R5 against the other R5 cars. Of course it’s a new car and even when I have done a lot of testing in the last year and a half, when we put it down on the test road last Sunday there was still some work to do to make it easy and quicker. Yesterday during the shakedown we had a very good feeling. But the rally is the rally and we will see how it will behave during these two days. The car for us, it is learning, and ever rally we will make it better. But the most important thing is to bring the car to the finish here, and see how we can make it quicker for the next events.”

Question to Gino Bux

This is your home rally, but you live 300 kilometres away, so it’s not your local rally. Please tell us how well you know the roads and what new things you learnt on the recce?

“I learned the roads last year for the first time. It’s a lot different to what I know, all the fast cuts make it a very different rally from roads in the part of Belgium where I live. It’s quite a hard rally, very long. We did a bad season start, but I really want to do a good result here. It’s Tarmac, I like Tarmac and I have improved a lot on Tarmac, so I want to keep going well until the end, without too much pressure – and have a lot of fun in the car.”

Question to Gino Bux

This is only your second season in rallying, and you have done fantastically well. However, you’ve had some very bad luck this year. What will you do, mentally and physically, this weekend to turn that luck around?

“Try to forget what happened on the first rallies! We retired in Latvia and Ireland and then had a bad result in the Azores, so I try to forget about this and to bring on Ypres without pressure. Try to be relaxed in the car.”

Question to Gino Bux

ERC Juniors is one of the most hotly contested categories in the series. What position do you hope to achieve in Ypres this year, and what result will you be happy with?

“It’s really hard to say, because all the ERC Junior drivers are very fast, and even the gravel specialists are really fast on Tarmac. It’s hard to know. The rally is very long and a small mistake can have a huge consequence. We’ll see. The ten first drivers in ERC Junior are fast and very close, so if we do a top five or a top three it would be a very good weekend.”