ERC - Rally di Roma Capitale pre-event press conference | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

ERC - Rally di Roma Capitale pre-event press conference

24.07.20

ERC - 2020 Rally di Roma Capitale - Pre-event press conference transcript 

In attendance:
Giandomenico Basso, Loran
Craig Breen, Team MRF Tyres
Andrea Crugnola, F.P.F. Sport
Adrien Fourmaux, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
Oliver Solberg
Rachele Somaschini

Q:
Fastest in qualifying, the winner here last year, Giando, what are your hopes and thoughts for this year’s event?

GB:
I am very happy for the time this morning. I am a little surprised for my first time in the Polo but it’s great to have a long list of drivers behind me. But we have to repeat this for the next two days.


Q:
As an Italian, what are your thoughts on how this rally has been organised given the situation around the world?

GB:
The organiser and the FIA are doing a really good job. It was not easy to start given what is going on around the world. From what I can see everything is working well. It was not simple because we could not have spectators to watch the race but everything is going properly.

Q:
It’s a big entry this year, who do you see as your biggest threat to winning again?

GB:
The key is always to push more than the others. The race is very technical and we saw last year many drivers had some mistake so we had to be very committed and concentrated from the first to the last kilometre and we will do the same this year.

Q:
Turning to Craig Breen, a five-time winner in the ERC and now heading up the development programme for MRF Tyres. It’s your first time in Rome very experienced as a driver. What do you make of it?

CB:
It’s a nice rally. It’s my first time competing here but I was spectating two years ago. But it’s my first time on the stages and I’m looking forward to it. We’re here developing a new tyre with MRF and it’s our first rally on Tarmac we’ve done. The Tarmac tyre is still young in its development so we have to be realistic and try to develop as much as we can, not only this week but the next weeks as well. Still it’s a rally and there’s a stopwatch on the go so we’ll give it the best we can.

Q:
You were third quickest on your first run in Free Practice and then Emil Lindholm was up there on his run so there’s got to be a lot of reason for encouragement so early in the programme?

CB:
Definitely, there has to be. This tyre didn’t physically exist a couple of weeks back but it’s all thanks to the guys back in the factory that this project can happen. You only have to look back to February when we did a Finnish championship rally on snow. We made a winter tyre in the space of a couple of weeks and months and we went there and were on the pace or thereabouts. It speaks volumes about the work that’s going on in the background and we try to keep it like that.

Q:
It’s been really hot all week here, will tyre, brake and general car management be an issue if these temperatures continue?

CB:
Personal management could be the big issue! It’s 40 degrees outside but luckily I’ve been here for a couple of months. I’ve been able to acclimatise but it’s definitely something to consider. It’s quite abrasive. Okay we’re lucky the stages aren’t crazy-long but it’s definitely something we have to keep in mind. Honestly the tyre we have should be quite okay in the heat and the longer stages but famous last words. We will see how it goes on the rally.

Q:
Turning to Andrea Crugnola, you’ve already won two events this year and set those massive stage times last year so what are your hopes for this rally?

AC:
Of course to try to win but I already know from the Qualifying Stage it won’t be so easy. We will do our best and we will work on the car to try to do the best set-up to try to do the fastest runs. This year, especially in Pico, will be a bit more tricky compared to last year. I have already seen some big cuts so it’s going to be a gamble like every year.

Q:
You are driving a Citroën for F.P.F. Sport. Luca Rossetti, a three-time ERC champion, drove that car last year so how proud are you to have that seat?

AC:
I try a lot in the past but maybe I was too young but now my time has come. Now I have this chance I have to be more focused to try to win the championship, which is our target for this year.

Q:
Your season has started well with two wins in the last three weeks. Footballers love hat-tricks, do rally drivers love hat-tricks well?

AC:
Of course, but it won’t be so easy. In Rome there are a lot of fast drivers so we will try to push from the first metre and try to avoid the trouble in the Pico stage. Every year since 2017 I had some problem there so maybe I will have to drive less faster.

Q:
Turning to Adrien Fourmaux, making your first start in the European championship. You’ve been sampling the ERC all week so what do you think of it?

AF:
I really enjoy the experience. It’s my first time here. I discover the Qualifying Stage [format] this morning, it was completely new for me and I have to push more in the stage I think. Normally I am pushing more in the rally but it’s like that and we have to improve.

Q:
Tonight there’s a parade through Roma, which is something different for rallying. Is that something you are looking forward to?

AF:
It will be my first time going to Roma so it will be completely new and it’s a really good chance. You can see Roma in front of the Colosseum and all the other famous monuments so it will be a really good place to be.

Q:
Andrea has just mentioned the Pico stage, the first stage of the rally and a really tough stage. What have you seen on the rally that you need to be careful with?

AF:
We have two different days on this rally. The first one is really narrow and bumpy with some jumps, really tricky stages. The second one is more like circuit and you need to have some really good lines, a really precise car and you need to be confident with your pacenotes. I saw it will be a big challenge for everybody and for the tyres and mechanics.

Q:
Turning to Oliver Solberg, your first proper Tarmac rally in the Polo and your first time here of course. What are your hopes?

OS:
That’s hard to say, it’s about gaining experience and trying to learn as much as possible on these beautiful roads. It’s my first time on dry Tarmac so we will do our best and see how it goes.

Q:
You’ve done many recces in your short career but what were you trying to achieve during the recce?

OS:
It was about trying to make the notes as consistent as possible. But it’s hard because you don’t know what’s coming next so sometimes you have to be a bit slower. With only two passes it’s not easy but they are beautiful roads and I’m looking forward to it.

Q:
You’ve got your Dad Petter Solberg here, a man who seems to be doing everything. How cool is it to have him here and what help can he give you?

OS:
He’s everything. He’s a Dad, an engineer, media guy, he’s doing everything. It’s great to have my Dad with me and I feel more safe to always have a guy to ask. It’s good fun.

Q:
Qualifying this morning, a bit of an overshoot. You reckoned that cost you second which would have put you second quickest. Looking back on it what do you think you did wrong?

OS:
It was two or three places where I lost maybe I lost two or three tenths per place so maybe I lost half a second. It’s not easy to do a perfect run when it’s so difficult but I was happy with my run. It was fourth quickest behind those quick guys so I’m very happy.

Q:
What would you see as a success here and then moving on?

OS:
I am not here to win. I will do my best but we will see how it goes on the first stage and just take it easy. A top 10 would be nice for sure. But it’s very hard competition so it’s going to be tough.

Q:
Turning finally to Rachele Somaschini. A brand new car and co-driver, just give us a bit of an insight into how difficult it is changing car and co-driver?

RS:
It’s very difficult but we have to try to do our best together with the new car that is very, very good and quite better than the R3 for the steering but we have to push hard.

Q:
The European championship begins in your home country. How proud are you with all the work that has gone into putting this event on?

RS:
Very proud and very impressed this rally is happening. I’m very proud for Italy also because the situation was very tough so we have to stay strong.

Q:
How many kilometres have you driven in it?

RS:
The car arrived on Sunday so we have very few kilometres in it. Today we are more confident but the shakedown was very difficult because it was very dirty so we will have to grow up with the car during the race and we hope to do that.

Q:
As well as driving you are promoting a campaign to raise awareness of cystic fibrosis. Can you explain what it’s all about?

RS:
The project is Racing for Breath or in Italian it’s #CorrerePerUnRespiro. I am affected by cystic fibrosis and it’s a disease that involves many people in the world and we are working for new research to find a cure. Fingers crossed but we have to raise funds to do research. But if you want to know more go to our social media where it’s very clear.

Q:
You’re very busy on social media, how important is it for young drivers like you?

RS:
It’s very important for sponsors and I have to say thanks to my sponsors this year because the situation in Italy is tough for the sponsors with the economy so thank you to them and I have to involve them on my social media and do my best.