PRE-EVENT PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

2015 FIA European Rally Championship: round two of 10

Rally Liepāja, Media Centre, 19:00hrs, Friday 6 February

Attendees:

Uldis Sesks (Chairman of Liepāja City Council)

Kajetan Kajetanowicz (LOTOS Rally Team)

Alexey Lukyanuk (Chervonenko Racing)

Marijan Griebel (ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team)

Reinis Nitišs (Sports Racing Technologies)

Question to Uldis Sesks

How important is a round of the FIA European Rally Championship to the city of Liepāja?

US: “There’s a big interest in this race with lots of drivers coming from many different places. This is a special year for the city because it will be 390 years old this year. Fifty years ago the first national race of Liepāja was held in this city. This is very special for me because it was started by my father and my son is racing tomorrow so we are all in rally. This rally will have some special intrigue, first of all Alexey [Lukyanuk] is insanely quick and there will be great fun because [Kajetan] Kajetanowicz is not much slower, he will be quick. But why we actually decided to make the European championship race here in Liepaja is because we wanted to let our best drivers from Latvia compare with the best drivers from Europe, which will hopefully be the case with Ralfs Sirmacis. The ERC Junior Championship and drivers in front-wheel-drive cars should be aware of Ralfs because he is very fast. But I wish every driver a good race and that the spectators enjoy the nice stages.”

Question to Kajetan Kajetanowicz

The European championship leader after winning round one, you must be the favourite for victory in Liepāja, right?

KK: “Big words! Maybe you can tell me! Of course I always try to win but this year in Liepāja it will be very difficult. Of course we want to try and we will see. I haven’t so much experience on snow and on these tyres with big studs and this is the point. But you can count on me – I will do my best with a smile on my face like always.”

Question to Kajetan Kajetanowicz

We saw you excel on ice and snow Tarmac stages but how difficult is driving in the snow and ice on gravel and what are the major challenges?

KK: “For me it’s very difficult. It’s my second time on these tyres. Last year was my first time and my driving was too aggressive and we had a problem with the tyres – I lost all studs. I was sliding a lot of time, hard braking. Now my driving on snow is much better than last year but I still have a lot to learn. My target is to learn to be faster.”

Question to Kajetan Kajetanowicz

Looking back to your win in Austria, what was the reaction like in Poland? What was the best message of congratulations you received? Was it a good party?

KK: “It was a fantastic rally and we received many congratulations! It was a good party but somebody said Kajto ‘you won 17 stages, fantastic but why didn’t you win the last stage?’ It’s because Alexey won this stage! We had a small party in my hotel room in Austria but it was a small room and my team is very big and it was a little problem. But we did it by drinking beer, eating chips and watching the Jännerrallye on Eurosport.”

Question to Alexey Lukyanuk

Congratulations on being fastest on the Qualifying Stage. How important will the running position you selected be tomorrow?

AL: “Actually it’s not going to be a huge difference between 13, 14 and 15 in the starting position. It’s slightly better but we will have more rough gravel on the road and this will wear the tyres. In the beginning you can have some advantage but later you will struggle. Anyway the grip comes with more cars running on the road so it’s better to be further back.”

Question to Alexey Lukyanuk

You came from 23rd place in Austria to finish third in the opening round of the ERC. Had you not had that problem on SS1, do you think you’d have won – and do you think you can win here?

AL: “Of course it was a really hard and demanding rally for us and our failure on the first stage ruined our chances to fight for the higher position. Kajto was extremely fast and it was not possible to make a fight for the first place. Everybody was losing time during this rally but we managed to stay one the road. We were still learning the car because it was only our second rally with this new car so there was a lot of things to learn. Learning how to drive on the snow with the spikes is another example of this.”

Question to Alexey Lukyanuk

You’ve done the recce for Rally Liepāja. What do you think of the stages and do they suit your spectacular driving style?

AL: “I would like to drive less spectacular because it usually produces better times when you are not sliding too much. I always promise to do this but then it goes after the start. But they are nice stages, flowing and the surface is perfect. I don’t know how it will change after these days of warm weather but we now have some stages similar from the past. I am quite confident to be fast here.”

Question to Marijan Griebel

It’s your second time in the ERC Junior Championship. How confident do you feel heading into the first round and what is your experience on snow and ice?

MG: “Firstly I am happy to be back with the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team, driving the Opel Adam R2 and competing in the ERC Junior Championship. I don’t have much experience on gravel and even less on snow. The position is not so important, my goal is to finish the rally and I hope to improve my driving style during the race.”

Question to Marijan Griebel

There is a great ERC Junior field this year and you have 16 strong rivals to beat? Do you think you have a strong chance of winning the ERC Junior title this year?

MG: “That’s a diffcult question before the beginning of season! The ERC Junior Championship is really strong and competitive and in my opinion it’s even better than WRC Junior because here there are many more and strong drivers on any surface so the competition is better than there. The ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team is well prepared and we hope to fight for a good result at the end of season.”

Question to Marijan Griebel

What have you done during the past couple of months to developed and improved both the Adam R2 and the whole team?

MG: “We had a good car since the start of our project. We have made some small adjustments and we are quite confident to have a good season and do some good results.”

Question to Reinis Nitišs

Welcome to rallying! You are making your rally debut here in the ERC, so tell us how important it is for you to be with an experienced rally team like Sports Racing Technologies – and what have they done to help prepare you?

RN: “First I want to say thanks for Sports Racing Technologies. It’s a really professional team and they help me a lot to come better. I did a lot of kilometres in practice and testing but because I am a new driver in rally it makes it much easier to be with an experienced team that knows everything about the car settings. They help me a lot and Māris Neikšāns, two-times Latvian champion, helps me a lot and knows everything. I didn’t know anything at all before the start but now I know a lot.”

Question to Reinis Nitišs

Your co-driver doesn’t just read the pace notes! Tell us more about Māris Neikšāns and how he’s helped you.

RN: “He’s like a coach and trainer and then co-driver. He actually wrote my pacenotes in my place and I learned. His driving skills also help me come better for rallycross. I can see where I can drive differently and that helps me a lot.”

Question to Reinis Nitišs

What are the main differences between rallying and rallycross that you have found during your rally training?

RN: “The biggest difference is you are driving with the pacenotes and the distances are much longer. You need to drive a lot of kilometres to learn. In rallycross it’s much shorter.”

ENDS