From Skoda Press [ 30/09/2003 ].
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October sees three asphalt rallies in quick succession without much of a break between them. How have you prepared the car for these events? “I don’t have so much experience of asphalt events although I enjoy them very much. What I did, therefore, was to start with Didier’s asphalt set up and work from that. It isn’t always easy to do that if you have different driving styles but actually I found Didier’s set up quite driveable. We tested in Corsica just before the start of the Sanremo recce and I have to say that we didn’t make so many changes to the car, just a few things to suit my personal style.” The three rallies are very different in character. Do you have a favourite among them? “My least favourite is Sanremo then Corsica and my favourite rally of the three is Catalunya so I am hoping that October gets better as it goes along!”
Why do you put Sanremo at the bottom of the list?
“The problem with Sanremo is that the roads are often very dirty. They are quite narrow and often under trees so they don’t get cleaned in the same way as roads on other events. You sometimes find yourself driving on mud and leaves that make it almost like a gravel rally. The weather can also make a big difference to the rally as at this time of year it can be foggy and wet or dry and sunny.”
Corsica is famous for being twisty
“Yes, that’s quite true. However what people forget is that the roads in Corsica actually flow quite well and so you can drive very quickly so long as you are very precise. It’s a nice event if everything is going well but it can also be very difficult.”
And finally why is Catalunya your favourite of the three events?
“The stages in Spain are really very nice and very fast but this year they have taken away the ones around Tarragona. They were actually my favourite stages of them all. Because of that change there will be some new stages this year and that could make the event interesting for everyone. This is another event that can be affected by the weather as we often find it is foggy in the mornings on the higher roads close to Lloret de Mar. It wasn’t a problem around Tarragona as, by the time we got there, the sun had usually burned the fog away.”
Finns haven’t really had a great record on asphalt but you seem to be able to drive quite well on the surface. What’s the secret?
“The one thing that you must always do on asphalt rallies is to drive smoothly. That is quite difficult for me because I tend to have quite an aggressive style of driving on gravel that I have to try and forget on asphalt. You have to try and keep the car as straight as possible because if you go sideways then all you are doing is wasting speed.”
Would you like to offer any predictions for the results over these three events?
“No! It will be quite difficult to predict what will happen and so I am only going to concentrate on getting to the finish of each event and trying to beat Didier. You always have to try and beat your team mate as he’s in the same car and that’s the best way to judge your performance. But Didier’s the asphalt expert so it won’t be easy.”