Interview with Kresta ahead of San Remo

From Skoda Press [ 28/09/2001 ].
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The forthcoming San Remo Rally will be a defining moment in the sporting career of the talented 25 year old Czech driver Roman Kresta. Although Kresta sampled the atmosphere of a World Rally Championship event during this year’s Safari Rally, where he drove an EVO1 test car, in Italy he will appear for the first time as an official factory driver for the Skoda Motorsport team. In the following interview Kresta talks about some of his first forays into rallying and how he feels about his sporting achievements to date.

How do you feel prior to your first really big event?

I feel good. Having won the Barum Rally a couple of weeks ago, I have already clinched the Czech title and thus fulfilled the priority task of this season not just for myself, but for the Skoda Benzina Team. I prefer tarmac to gravel where I have very little experience. However, a World Rally event is something completely different in comparison with a national event, therefore I am approaching my San Remo start as a great opportunity to build up some invaluable experience. We have done our best to become regular World Rally Championship contenders and there experience counts for much. After having done the pre-event test, I can say San Remo Rally is a very difficult event.

What brought you into motorsport?

Motorsport has been an attraction for me since I was very young, since I was a boy in fact, and there is always a piece of a man that is still a boy. I come from a country where motorsport is very popular and where there are several beautiful rallies - the Barum Rally and the Valasska Rally. My birthplace is situated near some of the famous special stage routes and my father and I never missed a chance to be there. That’s probably why I have such a strong love for rallying. I have always had a big wish to become a rally driver. I devoted all my efforts to making this dream come true - and later on I also devoted all my money. My initial contact with rallying was as a mechanic. The first longed chance came in 1994 when I borrowed a Group A Skoda Favorit to compete in the Trebicska Rally. It was just a case of wanting to put myself and the car to the test.

Your racing career has charted a spectacular rise. How do you look back over the last seven years?

My career has really gone into high revs, but the early years were quite difficult. If somebody had told me a couple years ago where I would be in 2001, I would probably not have believed them. But things have not always been straightforward and problem free. At first there were just some minor isolated achievements, later on group and class wins came. But we have never made a step backwards and finally we got close to the Skoda Motorsport team with whose support we won two Czech Rally Championship titles. I have tried several cars in the last seven years, but they were always Skoda cars. We started with a Favorit, then we moved to a Felicia and a Felicia Kit Car. The biggest leap forward came early 2000 when we first entered with an Octavia WRC.

What do you consider your biggest success to date?

I find success in everything we have done up until now, just in the fact that our big efforts bear fruit. If I was forced to name the biggest achievement I most appreciate, then it would be certainly the first ever victory overall in a national championship event at the Cesky Krumlov Rally in 2000. And then of course the first title in 2000 and its defence in 2001. I also like to remember the A. Bettega Memorial in Italy last year, where I was able to keep pace with some of the biggest world rally stars.

How do you handle the huge expectations of your fans?

I just deal with it. From the moment we started to work closely with the Skoda Motorsport team everybody had very high expectations. In the Czech Rally Championship it means just being in first place. I felt some pressure at the beginning. But step by step I handled the pressure successfully and, of course, the results were very helpful. Nowadays I feel no problems of that kind.