From Skoda Press [ 30/09/2003 ].
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With three rallies in four weeks, October is going to be a busy month isn’t it? “Yes, but not only for me! The drivers will be busy and so with the engineers. I really don’t think that it is a good idea putting these events so close together. Maybe the people at the FIA should try competing on two rallies with not even a day between them!“ There must be a problem trying to develop a car over these three events. Will there be any time to put anything you learn on one event onto the car for the next one? “Not really although we will certainly try. Maybe a few small things but there will be no chance for anything really big. Of course this is not a problem for teams that know their car very well but for us with a completely new car it is quite a serious problem.”
You are seen as an asphalt expert. What’s the secret?
“I don’t really like to be called that because I actually enjoy driving on gravel as well but I’m used to it after so many years! I’ve certainly had a lot of success on asphalt. There isn’t really a secret but you have to learn how to set up your car and preserve the tyres on the long stages especially. You have to treat the stages like a race track and be very smooth, braking as late as possible but keeping it very smooth.“
Sanremo, Corsica and Catalunya are all very close to your home so do you get a lot of support on these events?
“Yes of course. Always there are people coming to me and saying that they are supporting me on the event. Of course I have won these events many times as well so I have made them very happy and they keep coming back. It’s not pressure for me and it’s a nice feeling to see so many people supporting you of course.“
You have won Sanremo three times and Catalunya twice but six wins in Corsica is a record isn’t it?
“Yes but it is one that I share with Bernard Darniche. Now Bernard is part of the organisation and I am still driving so I have said to Škoda Motorsport, ‘Please give me a fast car so that I can try and beat the record!‘ We will have to see if we can do something special.“
These are three very different events aren’t they?
“Yes and no. Some years ago they were much more different between each other but now there is a lot of new asphalt that gives similar amounts of grip on all three events so the differences aren’t so great as they were. The roads in Corsica, for instance, used to be very narrow but now they are a lot smoother and faster. It’s still twisty but it’s a lot nicer to drive. Catalunya is probably the fastest event of the three. Sanremo is somewhere between the two and has the biggest variety of roads. I like all three events very much.“