ERC - 2022 Azores Rallye - Post-event Press Conference | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

ERC - 2022 Azores Rallye - Post-event Press Conference

27.03.22

FIA European Rally Championship 2022, Round 2 - Azores Rallye- Post-event press conference 

Present:

Team MRF Tyres – Efrén Llarena (ESP)/Sara Fernández (ESP) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo

Ricardo Moura (PRT)/António Costa (PRT) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo

Eurosol Rally Team Hungary – Simon Wagner (AUT)/Gerald Winter (AUT) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo

Q:

Efrén, it’s been maybe two hours since that Power Stage which was just incredible. You gave it everything but did you really think it was possible?

EL:

Yeah, for sure, we try it. When we were at the start we were speaking that we could do it, that it could be our first victory in the ERC and also the first victory of MRF Tyres. We did our best, we pushed from the first corner until the last. We are really happy with the result. Everybody deserved, all my family, my sponsors, Team MRF Tyres that are doing a really good job and Rallye Team Spain, incredible, unbelievable.

Q:

When you saw the stage time what was that feeling like?

EL:

At the end we knew perfectly we were at the maximum. We saw the times of Wagner and Tempestini that they were fighting also for the Power Stage. When we saw that we were eight or 10 seconds faster we knew that we could it. Then after, what can I say? It was just a mix of feelings but it was really, really good for us to celebrate a victory with Vivek, all the MRF guys, my family, it’s amazing.

Q:

The gap between you finishing the stage and Ricardo finishing the stage was a three-minute gap. Was that the longest three minutes of your life?

EL:

Yes, I need to say yes.

Q:

Sara, you won the championship outright last year but now the first win, what does it feel like?

SF:

I feel so happy. I was thinking about that in the road section because last year I won the title but I didn’t win a rally so this is very important for me, all the team, the mechanics, the engineers, I want to say thank you so much. I am very proud of Efrén.

Q:

Proud of Efrén but proud of you, too, because there are two in the car in rallying, you have to take some credit?

SF:

I have to but he did an amazing job on the Power Stage with a massive attack. He’s very young and he can improve more and more.

 

Q:

It was a crazy stage the Power Stage, what were you thinking?

SF:

It was crazy but I prefer not to say.

 

Q:

Ricardo, it was the perfect weekend until the very last stage, you gave it everything, but if you were going to lose, you lost to two great competitors. What was your rally like?

RM:

The weekend was fantastic feeling all the support from the local crowd on the stages, it was quite impressive I would say. It was a pretty emotional event for me. I am competing on one or two events a year and when I sit in the car it’s something really special, especially on my local rally in the Azores with our people, so it was quite amazing. I must say it’s a bit frustrating because we led the rally from the first stage but we couldn’t lead until the last one. The total metres count and we couldn’t match the pace on the last one. It was completely different during all the rally if you check all the rally stage by stage. We never lost so much for the frontrunner in such a short period of kilometres. But he did an amazing job, I surprised of course that we could not match but that’s how it is. We need to stay happy, you can understand it’s a bit agonising but I am quite happy with what we have done altogether with all the team. For the people I would liked to have given a different result but it was not possible although I tried my best.

 

Q:

António, you’ve been guiding Ricardo all rally in really difficult conditions. How tough was this rally?

AC:

It was difficult for all drivers but, okay, this is rally.

 

Q:

It’s an amazing island, amazing scenery, so how proud are you, with Ricardo, to represent Portuguese rallying?

AC:

Very proud. Ricardo is like a hero here. He did a good rally and I just want to send congratulations to Efrén Llarena and Sara.

 

Q:

Turning to Simon, the first time you sit in a European Rally Championship press conference, big smiles, please summarise your feelings right now just a couple of hours afterwards?

SW:

It’s difficult to say because I still can’t believe we finished on the podium, thanks to the team they did an amazing job, thanks to Gerald, he did an amazing job as well. So much things happened during the past two days. It’s unbelievable and I never expected we could get the pace with the frontrunners on gravel as it’s our first international gravel event with the Rally2 car. I am very, very proud.

 

Q:

Not only your first ERC podium but you scored your first ERC stage win yesterday so you’ve got to take a whole lot of positives away from this haven’t you?

SW:

Yeah, definitely. Yesterday the feeling was perfect. Today I struggled a little bit, especially in the fast sections, I just need to get more gravel mileage and this will be better and hopefully as good as it already is on Tarmac.

 

Q:

Co-drives are a lot of the time out of the limelight but this weekend with the mist and the fog and the rain they had to work very hard so how difficult did you find it and how are you feeling with this podium?

GW:

Also amazing, I couldn’t believe until now, somebody has to hit me. It was a really hard job. Simon knows very well the car, the team did a perfect engineering job, the tyres worked perfect so I was thinking it counted a bit on me to get straight to the mountains but he find the pace, the pacenotes were good I think. It worked very well for us.

 

Q:

When the conditions were changing constantly, like they were on Sete Cidades, how difficult is it for a co-driver to keep the rhythm?

GW:

It’s not so difficult because we have a bottom-meter and if we can’t see it we can feel it and if he touched nowhere the walls then everything is fine and we continue to read and we finished.

 

Q:

Turning back to Efrén, you’ve won many things in your career but is this the best day of your life so far?

EL:

Yeah, for sure, this is one of the best moments in our career. It’s our first ERC win so it’s an amazing feeling.