From Skoda Press [ 22/09/2002 ].
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The Skoda Motorsport Team finished the 44th Rallye Sanremo in 11th and 12th positions, just outside the manufacturers’ points. The highlight of this event for the Skoda Motorsport Team was the reliability of both Octavia WRC cars, which ran almost faultlessly until the finish. Top finisher for Skoda was Kenneth Eriksson, who finally finished 11th in a rally that saw few of the top runners drop out. The nature of the event and the type of roads in the area near Sanremo places less of a mechanical burden on the rally cars, so few cars retired for technical reasons. The experienced Eriksson, 46 years young, managed to keep his car on the road and had no dramas on his way to 11th place overall.
Kenneth was satisfied with his performance, but not with his classification. “I am happy about my personal improvement on tarmac; I think we were faster than ever before,” he said. “But while I am happy about this, I am sad that Toni dropped out because Skoda Motorsport had a good chance to score a point here. Today I drove carefully to make sure we would get to the finish, Fracois (Delecour) was going very well so it was impossible to catch him.” Looking to the next rally on the calendar, a smile came to the face of the Swede as he said: “I am looking forward to New Zealand, because it is a great rally. I won it in 1997 so I this is one of the places that I like best.”
Roman Kresta was glad to finish. “I feel a big improvement in my driving over last year,” he said. “But I did not expect the other drivers to go so fast and the speeds are higher than I would have thought. It shows that I still have something to learn.” Roman was tired, because he had competed in the Barum Rally the weekend before. “It was hard to contest two rallies in two weeks,” he commented. “Last year some of the stages were shorter, so this year the stages were more demanding and the challenge was even bigger.”
Team principal Pavel Janeba summed up the rally: “We had hoped that Toni would get some points, but that was not to be. We trust that we will score some points in the remaining rallies and that will give us a chance to catch up with Mitsubishi again.” After complimenting Kenneth Eriksson, he also had a special word for Roman Kresta: “I am glad that Roman finished another WRC rally – it is not easy to do two events within two weeks.”
Looking ahead to the next rally, Janeba was optimistic: “We look forward to New Zealand, although it will be the first time for us with these cars. But after the Deutschland Rally we have done some testing especially for the type of roads in New Zealand and the results give us extra confidence for the next two rallies, which are both on gravel.”