Giraudet backs Novikov for WRC progress
Experienced co-driver impressed by Russian’s new approach
Co-driver Denis Giraudet has backed Evgeny Novikov to shine in next year’s World Rally Championship following his strong finish to the 2011 season.
Although the rising star has yet to firm up a deal for 2012, Giraudet says the young Russian can be a regular point-scorer when the season gets underway on Rallye Monte-Carlo from 17-22 January.
Giraudet, who linked up with Novikov for the first time on June’s Acropolis Rally, said: “My career is mostly behind me but the reason why I am still sitting with Evgeny is that I’m convinced he can raise his pace without risk. I really believe in him and I am really confident he can be a regular in the points. Don’t forget he’s only 21 and we were setting top three times in Greece and Australia.”
Novikov had failed to score WRC points prior to his run to seventh place in Spain last month. He followed that up with seventh on the season finale in Wales. Both performances were the result of a change of tactic by Novikov, according to Giraudet.
“On the two last events he just built a reasonable pace, then at the end in Spain when we had to fight against Henning [Solberg] he just raised the pace and we passed Henning,” said Giraudet. “In Wales he started quite slow then step by step he got quicker and in the end we had to fight against [Dennis] Kuipers and against [Ott] Tanak. Had he not had the small [car] problem on Sunday morning he could have passed them both.
“Before I was not so kind to him and when he was doing wrong I was upset with him. He understands I want to help him and I like that he can manage his pace now.”
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