PZM 76th Rally Poland pre-event press conference transcript

(28.06.2019) In attendance:

Łukasz Habaj, Sports Racing Technologies
Chris Ingram, Toksport WRT
Miko Marczyk, ŠKODA Polska Motorsport
Dariusz Poloński, Rallytechnology

Q:
As the leader of the FIA European Rally Championship starting your home event, what’s the strategy: go flat out to join the long list of Polish winners or play it safe and score good points?

ŁH:
I was trying to go flat out from the beginning but it didn't work out very well this morning. I did a little mistake which cost us at least 10 places on the leaderboard.

Q:
Looking at the results of the Qualifying Stage, 12thquickest will mean you will be one of the last drivers to select their starting position for Leg One. How much of a concern will that be?

ŁH:
It will be difficult tomorrow. If everyone picks their positions according to expectations, we'll probably be fourth on the road tomorrow, which is not perfect. There are some parts which are softer and I think road order on this rally is not so crucial as on Rally Liepāja, for example, so I hope it won't ruin the whole rally. Plus, the second day of the rally is slightly different and I think it's much more difficult. The final results, we will have to wait until the end of the last stage because especially the second loop of the second day will be very rough for everybody. Despite not having the best morning, I'm still hoping for a good rally.

Q:
Is there any special emotion with starting your home rally, Rally Poland, with number one on the side of your door?

ŁH:
Yeah, for sure, it's our home event, I'm Polish, and carrying number one is something absolutely special. So I'm hoping for lots of pictures and I'll keep these stickers in my private collection as a great memory from this rally, whatever the result. But of course, we are more focused on the result, and this is exactly the mid-season point, so we're just more focused on bringing this position until the end of the season. We'll see how it goes. But for sure this is a very special moment and who knows, if I will have a chance to carry this number again in the future, so I'm really trying to keep these memories for a long time and I'm enjoying this moment very much.

Q:
After the recce, what do you think about the stages, considering the organisers wanted to prepare a very compact rally, which is not so easy?

ŁH:
Like I said, the second day is totally different. Fortunately, last year I made a decision at the last moment to participate in the rally, which was apparently a good decision as some of the stages were run last year as well. So not all of the stages are new for us. I think around 50-60 per cent of these stages, I already know. But the first day and the second day, the difference is so big that it's like two different rallies almost. The second day is much softer. I cannot say I like it but I think it makes this rally more interesting and more difficult. You have varied conditions: in the first day, the surface is hard, very fast stages and flat corners; the second day is more twisty, more soft, so you have to adjust the set-up and driving style, so it definitely makes the rally more difficult and interesting.

Q:
Turning to Chris Ingram, what are your thoughts on these stages, which I believe you know quite well now?

CI:
Yeah, I did this rally last year and got my first international podium. I love the rally, amazing organisation, amazing stages and just can't wait to start now.

Q:
Chris, you trail Łukasz by one point. But with the ERC1 Junior title your main goal, what’s your plan of attack this weekend?

CI:
Yeah, I need to win the ERC3 Junior title this weekend because the prize money, €100,000, I need that money to carry on and to pay off the last few rallies as well. So I've absolutely got to finish and win that title. But I'd like to chase Łukasz as well because it'd be nice to go to Rally di Roma Capitale as car one, and we're only one point behind. So it's going to be interesting.

Q:
In 2017 you beat Jari Huttunen to the ERC3 Junior title. Last year he almost won this rally outright. He’s back this year so how good will it be to fight with him again?

CI:
I think so. We'll see. He's got nothing to lose, I've got everything to lose, so I need to be clever and get through the rally. I can't afford to not finish.

Q:
Turning to Miko Marczyk, the leader of the Polish championship. Miko, it’s been nine months since you were last on gravel but your performance on the Qualifying Stage was very impressive. Talk us through your run in qualifying and your objective for this rally?

MM:
That was a long break but my last gravel event was Rally Poland. I remember some stages, I think 50 per cent of them are quite similar, some of them are reversed. Of course, it was a long break, all my experience on gravel is just three rallies, so it's really small. We made a good test, maybe 150 or 200 kilometres. The main goal for us is the Polish championship but this is a great chance to compare with the ERC competition. I'm very happy that Łukasz is number one in ERC. Last year we had a nice competition on Rally Poland. Chris is very fast, there are a lot of fast guys like Alexey Lukyanuk, Jari Huttunen. I think this is the top speed possible in the world of drivers in R5 cars. I hope we can compare our pace with ERC top drivers but our main goal is to be on the finish line because we have double points in the Polish championship. But I would like from the start of the rally not to think about points, I would like to have fun driving on gravel because it's a really big challenge for me.

Q:
Of course, winning the Polish title must be your main aim this year but what are the chances of more ERC events either this year or next?

MM:
After last year's Rally Poland, I knew that it was my dream to drive in ERC because there are a lot of faster crews than us but still we can be competitive here. In August, we will drive in Barum Czech Rally Zlín. It will probably be a much harder rally for us because I haven't got experience on those roads. Also on the Barum Rally, the speed is very high but it will be our second round in ERC and maybe, on the finish of this season, if everything is good, we can drive in the final round of ERC in Hungary, but it's not confirmed now. Right now we have Rally Poland and then in August, the Barum Rally, which is two rounds of ERC. Last year it was just one round, and this is progress, which is good.

Q:
Turning to Dariusz Poloński, two events in to the Abarth Rally Cup, how has the season gone for you so far? How tough will the fight with Andrea Nucita be this weekend?

DP:
Actually, when we decided to go to the Abarth Rally Cup, we didn't have much time to make a decision, so this is actually the third rally. The second rally was on gravel in Liepāja, so we were running with some spectacular slides on the gravel, so we're looking forward to more and more fun. We are happy to have such a great driver like Andrea Nucita competing, who is really fast, especially on tarmac, and on gravel we are quite close, so we expect to have a good fight.

Q:
It’s fair to say you have a long relationship with Fiat and Abarth. Can you just remind us of how your started your career?

DP:
We started competing with Fiat back in the 20th century, which is scary! It was the Fiat Seicento Sporting Cup at the end of the last century and then, after a long break with  different cars, now we come back with Fiat and Abarth, and we are really glad about that. The car is six times more powerful than the Seicento was! On our last event we learned a lot, let's say, so it's a really good car. It's not a perfect on times on gravel but still it's very fast and is very competitive on the Tarmac rallies.





 



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PZM 76th Rally Poland - Newsfeed LEG 2

PZM 76th Rally Poland - Leg 2

2019 Calendar

21-23 March

Azores Airlines Rallye (Portugal)

02-04 May

Rally Islas Canarias (Spain)

24-26 May

Rally Liepāja (Latvia)

28-30 June

76th Rally Poland

19-21 July

Rally di Roma Capitale (Italy)

16-18 August

Barum Czech Rally Zlín

27-29 September

Cyprus Rally

08-10 November

Rally Hungary