ERC Cyprus post event press conference

ERC Cyprus post event press conferenceFrom ERC Media [ 09/10/2016 ].
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ERC CYPRUS RALLY POST-EVENT PRESS CONFERENCE. Limassol Promenade, 15h30, Sunday 9 October 2016. Present: Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov, first place. Marijan Griebel/Pirmin Winklhofer, second place. Ralfs Sirmacis/Arturs Šimins, third place.

Q: Alexey Lukyanuk, a perfect weekend really for you in Cyprus: sea, sunshine, lots of money and lots of points. It’s been great?

AL: Yes, for sure. You said it all. What I can add to this is that I’m really, really happy for our performance this weekend. The team prepared quite a good car for us, very reliable, no breakdowns and I tried to avoid the big mistakes.

Q: I think if we go back to Friday night in the dark, you said at the end of the second stage you were near enough able to carry the same speed in the dark as the daylight. Really, that’s where you won the rally wasn’t it? How special was it in the night?

AL: I really love the night stages. The road you see is very sharp and clear normally in good rally lights so if you hear your notes, listen to your co-driver and keep calm you can go really fast out there so it worked well for us. I was always fast in the night so my pacenotes and my style works together quite good in the dark.

Q: Now to the other Alexey, the man that has guided you through the weekend. There was a little bit of fun on Friday night about the t-shirt he was given about listening to you but how special is it to sit in a situation like that in the dark as a co-driver?

AA: As a co-driver I think it is much harder because you need more time to understand what’s going on, and to compare the picture to see and the pacenotes you have. As for the hard moments, you don’t even mention them because 50 per cent you are reading and not looking anywhere. I’ve seen that we’re off somewhere and then we’re driving back to the road, that’s already OK, so we are safe, nothing is broken, we can continue and go on.

Q: You’ve been in and out of the car: you were injured in the test before the Circuit of Ireland and you had to miss the last rally due to work commitments. What’s it like sitting next to the big man?

AA: Well, it’s great. It’s really great. I know that he is one of the world’s best drivers and I really feel safe because I know that he’s the guy who knows what he’s doing. And that makes it much more interesting and safe at the same time.

Q: We move across to our second-place finishers. Marijan, every rally driver dreams of standing on a podium, but you came here as ERC Junior champion, your prize was to drive the ŠKODA Fabia R5 this weekend. Realistically, when you flew here did you think second place was on the cards and a chance?

MG: No, definitely not. I was knowing hardly anything when I came here because everything was so new and really really exciting for me. Before the rally I said a top five result would be really good for us. At first I wanted to finish the rally and top-three would be a dream but I was not thinking I could match Alexey or Ralfs and that we finished in second position is absolutely great.

Q: As well as a new car and the mixture of surfaces with both Tarmac and gravel, you were learning a strategy with the Pirelli tyres of a mix front and rear. How difficult was that for you?

MG: It was OK. Everything was new, so I was a bit scared to drive with Tarmac tyres on the back to be honest because I was scared of too much oversteer and I had a spin on Saturday morning so I didn’t want to risk too much and went on the safe side with the gravel tyres all the time on the back. But I did no setup adjustments, just driving, improving and enjoying that great car.

Q: Equally as big a smile on the man that has guided you through it, because it’s a team effort. The battle you had in Latvia was amazing, but then to come here, a youngster in a new car, the co-driver’s role is quite important. How easy was he to look after?

PW: Honestly speaking it was OK because I know Marijan now for the whole year and the car I know for one-and-a-half years already from WRC2. So right after the test I knew that we can go to the podium because I saw the speed from the beginning that Marijan did in the car. And then the times also in the darkness came quite early on and it’s stunning how he improved during the rally.

Q: You’ve been co-driving in the Opel Adam, two-wheel-drive, normally-aspirated 1.6. He’s had to jump up in spec, you’ve had to jump up in speed as well in co-driving. How much that adjustment needed for you?

PW: For me it’s obviously been jumping up and down the whole year let’s say and changing cars from the Adam R2 to the Fabia R5 and it’s always a bit different. You have to read fast in both cars but in the R5 of course the speed is much higher. From the low speed and medium speed corners you have more traction, more power and for sure you have less time to read the notes properly.

Q: Moving to our third-place finishers. A win in Greece, a win in Estonia, a win in Latvia. This is the first time you’ve been on a podium and not in the middle step. You struggled in the dark and I don’t think I ever saw that super-happy Ralfs that we normally see. Do you feel that affected you?

RS: I can’t drive fast in the dark so I need some training and to learn to drive in the dark. Alexey says he loves driving at night, I love driving in daylight and on fast roads but here in Cyprus the roads are slower so I need to learn so that I can catch Alexey!

Q: I know there’s plans to bring you back next year. You’ve won three rallies, you’ve had a great season. What can we expect if you come back next year into the whole championship?

RS: If we can drive a full season then we need to learn to drive on Tarmac too because there are many Tarmac rallies and we don’t have big experience. But I think our aim is the championship title.

Q: Pirelli finished first and second, you were third with Michelin. Pirelli seemed to go well with their XR tyre here for the mixed surfaces. Did you feel that on stages where there was a lot of Tarmac that you were struggling a little bit, and had to learn how to drive on Tarmac with gravel tyres?

RS: When I drove with a two-wheel-drive car in Latvia we had some stages on Tarmac with gravel tyres so it’s OK for me. Yes, it’s slippery but for gravel tyres I think it’s OK.

Q: We’ll pass over to Arturs, who keeps you on the straight and narrow. What was it like inside the car with the heat all day?

AŠ: You know, Latvians are used to the heat because we have saunas and I go with my father every time we’re in Riga, every week when I can I go to the sauna with him. So that’s not a problem for us. The heat is quite good. We actually enjoy it sometimes because I can lose a few kilos from my weight so that’s not a problem.

Q: What did you make of the organisation of the event?

AŠ: It was really good. This is one of the most likeable rallies I’ve driven this season. There were some things like the farmers in stage 13 but these things happen and you never know what’s going to happen.