WTCR - Pre-event Virtual Press Conference Transcript | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WTCR - Pre-event Virtual Press Conference Transcript

09.10.20

WTCR - Race of Slovakia - Pre-event Virtual Press Conference Transcript

WTCR Race of Slovakia, Slovakia Ring, October 9-11

WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup, rounds 5, 6 and 7 of 16

pre-event virtual press conference transcript

 

Circuit Lounge, Slovakia Ring, October 9, 2020

 

In attendance:

Yann Ehrlacher, Cyan Racing Lynk & Co

Esteban Guerrieri, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport

Norbert Michelisz, BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse

Jean-Karl Vernay, Team Mulsanne

 

Q:

Back on track and back at Slovakia where you’ve won in the past. How will you get on this weekend?

 

NM:

To be honest I’m always quite confident arriving here. If you go back to last year and the year before you will see we were always on pole here so this circuit is almost like it’s made for the i20 N TCR. Also, I have to say the first moment I arrived here, when I drive here, I realised I just love this circuit. I really like the layout. Somehow it suits my driving style for the weekend so I am confident. Of course, you never know where you will end up against the other cars because it’s very tough competition, very high-level cars and drivers so it’s very difficult to make a proper prediction. But we should be good enough to finish in the top six or top five normally.

 

Q:

Normally we have lots of fans here with a huge entourage coming from Hungary. Unfortunately, we won’t have that this weekend or next but how good is it to have your two home races so close to each other?

 

NM:

It’s nice. I was looking forward to these two weeks with races at the Slovakia Ring and the Hungaroring since January. Then we had the delay. I always said they are the nicest race events, back home on the Hungaroring and here at the Slovakia Ring. Like you said, a couple of thousand fans join us and I have to say it’s a bit strange now. Okay, it’s a Friday, but normally on a Friday you see already people gathering so it’s a bit strange but it’s the right decision to go without fans unfortunately, because, currently, it’s quite tricky to manage the situation. I hope they follow me from back home and support me for the rest of the season. We are not in an easy position but there are still 12 races ahead of us.

 

Q:

Technically you have to score 20 more points than Yann Ehrlacher over each weekend to be in with the chance of defending your title but you are sounding pretty confident?

 

NM:

For me it’s not about doing the maths now. We will have circuits where we can be pretty strong. The important thing is always to maximise the package you have. We will have race weekends where we will have a good package and then my objective will be to fight for the podium places. Then we will have races when we will be again a bit behind. For me the most thing is to be there all the time, inside the top 10, and then just to wait and see. Until China last year I was always 40 or 50 points behind and then suddenly we started to come and we are still very early. It’s 16 races and we only did four. People do the mistake by saying two weekends gone and the championship is already over. But for me we still have 12 races and anything can happen.

 

Q:

You came close to winning virtually at the Slovakia Ring against the simracers earlier this year. What are the chances of transferring that form to real life?

 

EG:

It depends! It’s difficult to say how big the chances are for us. We will have it a bit more clear tomorrow but I will say I am not that positive to be honest. I will say here Norbi must be much happier than what we are at Honda at the moment. But we will try to fight with the weapons that we have but it’s probably going to be a hard weekend for us. Everything can happen, it might rain on Sunday and that might spice up a little bit the weekend. It will be a difficult weekend in terms of the performance of our car for obvious reasons, the compensation weight and BOP and so on. But we will try to do our best. Compared to the virtual, that didn’t end up very good here but we were in quite a strong competitive position and we had fun back then in the simulator. I expect to have fun this weekend taking away all the political stuff, all what I am focused here is to drive and enjoy.

 

Q:

You touched on the weather and it looks like we will have all our races here in the rain. How will that affect what is already a busy day with the three races?

 

EG:

There are other drivers who are also good in the rain, it’s not that I only like the rain. It can make the conditions more unpredictable for the drivers, for the set-ups, for the engineers. The weather is 70 per cent predicted to rain but it can also be mixed conditions and that can also be fun for people watching on TV because probably there is more battle. I don’t know what to expect but I am ready to give it my all.

 

Q:

Turning to Jean-Karl Vernay, it’s fair to say the Alfa Romeo was very strong at the Slovakia Ring last year. How much of a boost is that for you?

 

JKV:

(In Italian accent): You know I am expecting a very good race… can I speak like Tarquini now I’m part of an Italian squad I’ve always wanted to do that once! For sure they had great results last year and obviously the car was very quick. We are very positive but it’s also depending on the forecasts. It might rain like Esteban said on Sunday and we will see. But we finished the two most difficult events for us and I’m looking forward to the rest of the championship. But we have to start thinking about tomorrow, working well during practice and making a good qualifying. For the races we will see but we’ve shown good pace already and I’m super-motivated for this weekend.

 

Q:

You’ve given us a sample of your Italian accent but how are you settling into life at Team Mulsanne?

 

JKV:

(Answers question in fluent Italian)

 

Q:

And in English please Jean-Karl?

 

JKV:

(In Italian accent): I just said I’m very happy living in Italia, and being part of an Italian team. I am smiling every day and I look to do the best this weekend.

 

Q:

Something very big is happening in Copenhagen tonight. Can you tell us about your involvement in PURE ETCR?

 

JKV:

We had great news to give to the fans after the Nürburgring that I will be doing the first season of PURE ETCR and I am very glad that I have the confidence of Romeo Ferraris to be the development driver and the first driver to be a part of this new era of electric car. It’s amazing. We’re going to have nearly 700hp in this car and I just can’t wait to drive it. It reminds me a lot of my DTM and Super GT era, I just can’t wait. It’s going to be mega and I followed also a lot Formula E and I know a bit about how it works and I’m pretty sure Eurosport will do a fantastic job to promote the car well and I hope the cars will be ready as soon as possible so we can fight against each other.

 

Q:

Let’s turn finally to Yann Ehrlacher, the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader. You’re officially the hunted after that great win at the Nürburgring but you’re hit with maximum weight here so how is that going to affect you?

 

YE:

It’s going to effect of course, we gain quite a lot of weight compared to the Nürburgring and Zolder when we were at zero, same as the others. We will have a little bit of a gap compared to the competitors on that point. We were not really strong at this track last year but I’m looking forward. We will know a bit more after qualifying. There are plenty of things that changed since last year and with this compensation weight and all this BOP stuff going on. My job is to drive and I will leave everything else up to my boss.

 

Q:

What is it specifically about the Slovakia Ring that the Lynk & Cos struggle with?

 

YE:

We were not really strong in the high-speed corners and when we arrive here it was the first track where there were high-speed corners and long, long straights. Definitely that was our weakness. But we worked on that before the lockdown and a little bit after with some test days and we improved that point. I hope it will pay this weekend.

 

Q:

It’s the first event of the season where we’ve had three races. How does this change your strategy in qualifying and also the races?

 

YE:

After Nordschleife we could have predicted that we would have been fighting for pole. Here the cards are a little bit mixed and we have no idea where we will be. Definitely it’s maximising the points. I don’t know if it will be a struggle to be in the top 10 or we will be in the top five. I have no idea. The aim is to score as many points as possible and we will just work on that in practice and we will try to do a good qualifying to maximise the points on Sunday.

 

Q:

And with the Hungaroring taking place next weekend how will that affect your approach here?

 

YE:

We don’t have strategy. We are pushing every weekend. We take them as we come and we just want to take the points. Other people say it’s not important to score the most points at the beginning of the season. It’s still a long season but what you’ve done you don’t have to do it again. We will take the maximum points that we can and push from the beginning of the weekend to the end.