ERC - 2020 ERC Rally Fafe Montelongo pre-event press conference | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

ERC - 2020 ERC Rally Fafe Montelongo pre-event press conference

03.10.20

2020 Rally Fafe Montelongo - Pre-event press conference transcript

 

In attendance:
Pedro Almeida, The Racing Factory
Craig Breen, Team MRF Tyres
Dominik Dinkel, Brose Motorsport
Efrén Llarena, Rallye Team Spain
Zelindo Melegari, CHAZEL Technologie Course
Ekaterina Stratieva, Saintéloc Junior Team

Q:
Starting with Pedro Almeida, living close to the stages so what you knowledge do you have of the rally?

PA:
Actually none. I don’t know the stages until now so it’s new for me also. I live 30 or 40 kilometres from here and they are not the roads I normally use so they are also new for me.

Q:
You had some difficult moments with your car in Rome but what have you learned since then?

PA:
I made more rallies, I gained more experience. In Rome I had some bad luck with problems in the car on the first day and I could not be at full power on the second day and it was not that good. For this rally I hope I have better luck and I can show what I can do and the pace I can put on the rally.

Q:
What keeps you busy when you are not driving rally cars?

PA:
I am an airplane pilot and a fight instructor in a school in Porto. Every day I fly airplanes and teach future pilots how to fly planes, that’s my day to day.

Q:
Turning to Craig Breen, It’s been a busy week of announcements but now the full focus is on the ERC. How happy with where you are in the world right now?

CB:
I have to check sometimes where I am in the world because it’s a very busy couple of weeks ahead of me but it’s nice to be in the car a lot in these next couple of weeks. It’s difficult to get back into the R5 car and on Tarmac again, a lot of things to dial back into but it’s been good. I had a nice test this week, tricky conditions in the shakedown today and I’m looking forward to the rally now.

Q:
We’re experiencing a lot of unpredictable weather but what are your targets for the rally?

CB:
Like every other rally we’ve done this year with the programme is to try to develop the MRF tyre more and more. It’s in a junior stage at the moment and we haven’t done so much running in the wet and changeable conditions so far and I guess we’ll learn a lot of new things this weekend. To be honest with you, like I’ve always said, the competition is a thing on the side. It’s nice to see where we are but we have to remain focused on the development.

Q:
You used two different cars during the test earlier on in the week. What was the purpose for that?

CB:
Basically, the test was more a development tyre test so we did 80 per cent of the running in the test car jut to save the entry car for the rally. When we finished the tyre development part of the test day on Wednesday we switched over to the entry car and just refined the set-up. To be honest with you, since I done the first before Rome I haven’t changed the Tarmac set-up so much and we did Alba also. I like the balance of the car so we didn’t have to do so much with the entry car.”

Q:
Turning to Dominik Dinkel, you’ve got a new pacenote system for this rally. Is it working well?

DD:
It’s working well because our times on the shakedown was good and I’m happy with the changes. We tried to so some more improvements and we’ll see how it works on the weekend.

Q:
What are the changes or are they top secret?!

DD:
It’s a little bit easier, it’s more typical for the corners with the lines and also the types of the corner. A lot of change but I think it’s working well.

Q:
Something else that’s changed is the co-driver. What’s the story behind that?

DD:
Normally I’m with Ursula Mayrhofer in the car but the problem is with Austria is Portugal is on the red list of countries so she can’t travel because of her work. I have to switch to a German guy and in Michael Wenzel I find a good one.

Q:
Your management company is based not too far from here, just explain a bit about them and are they coming here to see you this weekend?

DD:
Tiago Monteiro of the Skywalker programme is on our side and I have a good partnership with him. I am happy we can race in Portugal and I’m hoping he can come to visit on Saturday or on Sunday.

Q:
Is that putting added pressure on you having the boss come to visit?

DD:
I think not! It’s a nice feeling and extra motivation.

Q:
Turning next to Efrén Llarena, a strong performance in Rome on asphalt, a little more experience now so what are the targets here?

EL:
For sure we don’t know exactly what our targets are during all the weekend but we will try and we know the weather conditions will be changing all the weekend. We don’t know exactly but we need to be really fast in the first stages and after that try to be try to be fast and be in the best position for us.

Q:
You have some knowledge of the roads around here. How?

EL:
During the winter we did some tests with Peugeot Sport in the new Rally4 but for sure they were not the same stages than the rally. We know this type of area because our team is from here. But we don’t know exactly the weather conditions so we will see.

Q:
How difficult it is to make the right tyre choice when the weather is changing all of the time?

CB:
It’s so difficult because when it starts to rain you need to put full wet weather tyres, but after that suddenly it starts to dry very, very quickly. In five or six minutes everything can change. That’s very difficult for sure. For example, here in shakedown we did three runs but in every run we did the wrong tyre choice. We will see tomorrow but today we were not happy with this.

Q:
Turning to Zelindo Melegari, you’re in a new car, the Alpine A110 RGT. Can you explain how and why?

ZM:
There is a lot of attention for the car. It’s the first time for the new Alpine in the ERC. The car is very strong on Tarmac. The test on wet Tarmac is a little bit difficult because the tyre strategy was not good, rain tyre when it was not wet and dry tyre when it was wet. The car is very easy to drive with a lot of changes to the set-up. I hope to make a good rally and defend my position in ERC2.

Q:
Do you target big points for the championship or try to win your class on the rally?

ZM:
It’s depending on the weather! If the weather is like to today it will be a tough rally and we will try to defend our position. If there is no rain and it’s dry we will try to fight and take the maximum points possible.

Q:
What’s the plan, more rallies in this car or do you go back to the Subaru?

ZM:
I move to the Alpine because we change from the Azores to here and we have Tarmac rallies now. Last year Hungary was Tarmac and mud and it could be the same for the Spa Rally. For sure Alpine will be perfect for Canarias. My plan is here and Canarias and I hope the pandemic leaves us to run everywhere.

Q:
Turning to Ekaterina Stratieva, welcome back to the European Rally Championship. Finding budget is always tough but how difficult was it for you to get here this weekend?

ES:
First of all, I am very, very happy to be here again in this championship. Really it was not easy to organise the budget for this year. In March it was more easy to try to organise. I was thinking to do four or five rounds but after everything changed completely and now it’s really hard and a lot of our sponsors have a smaller budget to give to us. But the good thing is we are here and I hope in the future I hope we can organise more races.

Q:
You’re back with the Saintéloc Junior Team. After enjoying a great first season with them how good is it to be back?

ES:
I’m very happy to be back in the team. All the years behind me I was dreaming to be back in a big team with somebody to care about me, with professional people that know very well the car and things and how to prepare. I know very well when I go and I say, ‘I feel this’ and can’t explain very well what I am feeling, the engineer knows very well what I am feeling and can help me. On the test we did a lot of changes on the set-up and also today and step-by-step I start to gain more confidence. Hopefully tomorrow I won’t be so far away.

Q:
The engineers give you advice but your team-mates, Marijan Griebel and Alexey Lukyanuk, are two very experienced drivers. What are they helping you with?

ES:
At this moment I didn’t ask for something special because the cars are completely different and everybody has his own feeling in the car. But sometimes I ask them. For example on the Barum Rally a few years ago I was asking how to make the notes for the crests because in Bulgaria we didn’t have the crests so for things like this I ask.

Q:
What is your strategy going to be for this rally and how difficult will it be?

ES:
I think it will be difficult, it would be more easy if it was like in Hungary last year because there was a lot of rain and mud. Here it changes very fast. You have sun then after it is raining and the road is very dry very quickly. It’s very important the choice of tyres. In the shakedown we had the wrong tyres for staying on the road but tonight we have some time to think about it and tomorrow we will see.

ENDS