Canarias post-event press conference

Canarias post-event press conferenceFrom ERC Media [ 14/03/2016 ].
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Present: (AL) Alexey Lukyanuk/(AA) Alexey Arnautov, Ford Fiesta R5, first place; (KK) Kajetan Kajetanowicz/(JB) Jarek Baran, LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5, second place; (LM) Luis Monzón/José Carlos Déniz, Auto-Laca Competition Citroën DS3 R5, third place; (WC) Wojciech Chuchała/ Daniel Dymurski, Subaru Poland Rally Team Impreza STi, ERC2 first place; (LH) Łukasz Habaj/Piotr Woś, Rallytechnology Peugeot 208 R2, ERC3 first place

Q: Alexey, first of all, congratulations. Are you surprised to win after you said that your tyre choice on the first day was a disaster?

AL: Yes, actually, we did not expect to get this far. It was like a big surprise for us when I realised that we are in the lead. Yes, we did a lot of mistakes yesterday with tyres. We didn’t have any experience in this position, it’s all new for us and the tarmac is quite different here. It was hard to find the proper pace but finally we did it and mistakes which we made yesterday helped us to be wise today. Maybe we’re not the fastest but we managed our tyres well and it worked quite good for us.

Q: Kajetan, speaking of the tyre choices, what happened this morning on the loop of stages? Was it the wrong tyre choice or the wrong pressure, what happened?

KK: It was a good tyre choice but we did a few mistakes. We don’t know exactly for sure at this moment what exactly happened, but we’ve got a few things: tyre pressure was too high, cambers, my driving style. But as Alexey said, it was a new round for us also. These road conditions are really difficult for the tyres. Yesterday it was difficult to make a right tyre choice. Today the difficulty was to take care with them. We are really happy to be here because our tyres after the second stage in the morning were completely destroyed so it was really bad to drive and really dangerous, so I’m quite happy to be here.

Q: Luis, for you it was like two different rallies. Friday was very different from Saturday, what happened to you on both days?

LM: We had different problems on Friday because the car was new for me. I had a mistake in the first stage because when I arrived at a corner I lost control of the car. We had a different problem with the gearbox but on Saturday the mechanics changed the gearbox and at the end it was very comfortable but not very quick, but I’m very happy.

Q: Alexey, your first time here. How difficult was the rally and what was the most difficult thing?

AL: I don’t know what to say because now I’m so excited I don’t remember issues with the rally. OK, let’s go back in time. Of course for me the hardest thing is the conditions when it’s wet, damp or a changing surface in one stage, it’s too much for us, we don’t have experience. It’s not easy to find the proper pace to estimate the grip and feel it and in the end believe in this grip and push hard. So for me it’s much easier to go in dry conditions and finally we managed to show some good times in stable stages with good grip. OK, we’re learning and our progress is encouraging.

Q: Kajto, how about you, are you happy that you got your title defence off to a good start?

KK: Yes, I am happy. Of course I would like to win but it wasn’t easy. We had bad luck. For me it was good to experience this rally and you know that it was our first time here and it was not easy to find good rhythm, to fight with these crazy guys and also yesterday with Mads. So that’s why it was a really good rally for us. OK, maybe not in the morning but this is rallying, everything could happen. We are still trying to be better and better and we’ll see what we can do in Ireland. I hope we can be there, it’s 90 per cent that we will.

Q: You mentioned Mads Østberg. What does it say to you about the level of competition here in the ERC that you can have a fantastic driver like Mads, who is second in the world championship, come here and he has to fight very hard to be competitive against you guys?

AL: Mads retired too early and we don’t have the full picture, because of course there are a lot of things that maybe affected his result. He was arriving from Mexico late, he had no tests. But in the end he is a world class rally driver so it was a very good benchmark for us and as we saw, Kajto is capable of fighting with him and even of being faster. I was not that fast at that point but it’s possible to fight. It’s good to know. It’s quite good for the European championship because it shows that drivers here are really fast and I’m really happy he was here and sorry that he failed in this way, but OK, it emphasises that the rally is tough and our level is not that low, so we can compete with him also.

Q: Let’s just have a quick word with your co-drivers. First of all let’s talk to Alexey, the second Alexey. Alexey, how much does a win like this help you to find sponsorship and help you to find the support you need to go to do other rallies?

AA: We can only hope. It’s up to our sponsors and of course I have no real idea how it will work but I do believe it will help us in the future.

Q: Winning is the best thing, I think.

AA: Yes. I have one more thing for Ireland because I have to acquire a visa and I have too short time for that but hopefully I’ll manage.

Q: Let’s have a word with Jarek, sitting alongside Kajto. Looking ahead to Ireland, you were second on this occasion here, what about the first win of the season in Ireland, what do you think?

JB: It’s pretty nice. We try of course to do the best. Last year was a debut for us in Ireland but we finished second, close to Craig Breen. I don’t how different the stages will be this year but if they compare with the previous ones, I suppose we have good notes. That will be easier.

Q: Congratulations to our ERC2 and our ERC3 winners. Let’s start with Wojciech. You’re well known in Poland, now you start to make a name for yourself here. Were you surprised by such a dominant performance?

WC: Yes, we thought we were not prepared enough to win the rally so that’s the reason why we were a little bit shocked about that, about our speed, about everything going really, really well. I think we should thank mainly the team because the team have quite big experience in ERC, so we are glad to be in such a proper team in Subaru Poland Rally Team. We will push more in the next rallies, that is our aim. Our main aim is to be competitive in ERC2 but OK we will see what will happen. We still have a lot of rallies, we have still a lot of work to do. We are glad that drivers and teams from Poland were very competitive on the rally, not only us but also Kajto, also Łukasz who is a Polish champion also. So we are very happy with that, that we are so strong. A Polish rally family.

Q: You are driving for Subaru Poland which is the team where Kajto first became famous really. Do you think you can follow in his footsteps and one day take the European championship title?

WC: Yeah, it would be a dream. I am dreaming about that, but we have to look forward and work a lot. Maybe in the future it will be possible, we will be very glad if we can be competitive in overall classification. Even with a Group N car we were quite close because we finished fifth place in the ERC. It’s hard to say what we are thinking after that rally but we are very, very happy.

Q: You are leading the ERC2 standings, will we see you in Ireland?

WC: Yes, today we made the decision that we will go. OK, it’s not for sure but I think everything will go that way, that we will start in Ireland, so there we try and drive even faster. I think still it’s possible because honestly that rally was quite safe for us. We knew that the most important thing is to finish first, first you have to finish, so we were thinking about that all the time.

Q: Łukasz, congratulations. We were talking earlier on that the Polish rally family is very strong here. Why do you think we have so many fast drivers from Poland in ERC this year?

ŁH: Thank you, thank you very much. I don’t know. I’m also very happy and it shows that the competition level in Poland is quite high. Especially with Wojciech and Kajto, we come from the same region almost so it’s like really a rally family and we’ve known each other for quite a long time. So I don’t know, we just spend a lot of nights driving in the snow in the mountains, maybe that’s why.

Q: How was this rally for you? You were dominant again, you were really in control of this rally. What did you enjoy most about it?

ŁH: I think mostly we enjoyed great roads and great stages, great views and so many spectators. It really makes you more eager to drive when somebody’s watching. I think also we experienced different tarmac than in Poland, lots of grip, lots of experience about tyre choice and how they work with such tarmac. So lots of new stuff for us.

Q: Finally, can you tell us a little bit more about your plans for this season? Do we see you in Ireland and which other rallies will we see you in?

ŁH: Not in Ireland, we’re not going there, maybe only to watch the rally. But I hope to compete in Rally Estonia, for sure we’ll compete in Rally Rzeszow which is in Poland, because we’re going to compete in the Polish Rally Championship again this year, so this is also part of the Polish Rally Championship. I hope for Rally Barum also maybe, so hopefully two or three more rallies in ERC this year.