Jännerrallye pre-event press conference
With Baumschlager, Blomqvist, Delecour and Kopecký
Raimund Baumschlager, Stig Blomqvist, François Delecour and Jan Kopecký attended the pre-event press conference of the International Jännerrallye, round one of the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship. A transcript follows.
Question to Raimund Baumschlager: You were close to winning here last year. What is your target for this year’s rally?
RB: “It must be the same but I’m really realistic. I know Jan knows the stages very well and I know François did always Monte-Carlo very well. There are lot of drivers, we have 14-15 Super 2000 cars. When I remember back to last year I didn’t expect anything. I was really surprised when I set the fastest time in the first stage leading by 40 seconds in front of [Juho] Hänninen and Jan was approximately 20 behind us when he took the wrong tyres. I was leading again on Saturday at 10 or 11am and Hänninen made a big spin and I was 30s in front and more or less sure it was possible to win. Then on the next stage I made a big mistake, I was too optimistic at one corner and I lost the lead to Jan. Then I start pushing a little bit more, made the next mistake and finished fourth overall. It means Jännerrallye is really finished at the end. Everything can happen.”
It’s looking like there’s not going to be much snow this year. How does that affect your approach to the event?
RB: “From my last information the stage number three for example in the St Oswald village they have minus one degree and the whole stage is covered in snow. Then it will be the same in Liebenau I guess and maybe we have more snow overnight and we will see. I hope [the other drivers] are taking slicks!”
Presumably you’ll be chasing another Austrian title in 2013. What’s the secret to your continued success and do you ever contemplate one day stopping?
RB: “It’s long time ago I said as long as Stig is driving I feel safe. I’m 53 now and in Austria I’m still competitive. As long as I have my sponsors around me and as long as I’m willing to risk a little bit I continue and maybe it’s in three events, five years, I don’t know, maybe 10 years, I keep it open.”
Being the local boy and of course being involved in the Austrian championship, how important is it for the sport to have these famous drivers at the Jännerrallye?
RB: “For us it’s very important. The Jännerrallye is the most famous rally. You have 100-150,000 spectators, which is quite a lot for a national championship. This year we will top it. We have famous names and this is always good to show the guys there are not just Austrian drivers but there are some foreign drivers like Delcour, Bouffier, Stig of course and Jan and so on. They are really famous in Austria, the fans know their names and they like to see them driving. They will have a lot of fun, for us and for the sport it’s very important. I hope the Austrian television knows this also. It’s always a big point in Austria. The newspapers are really good but the TV is not so strong. I hope it changes in the future.”
Question to Stig Blomqvist: You’re becoming a Jännerrallye regular these days. What’s the appeal of the event to you?
SB: “It’s a very interesting event actually. Sitting here now I don’t have any idea what is happening tomorrow morning. The weather now is raining here but a bit higher up is it snowing? It’s very exciting and it’s one of those rallies that you can never be sure when you sit here the night before the start what you have to expect the next day. I would prefer snow, it’s more fun for everybody.”
It’s recently been announced you’ll be doing the East African Safari Classic Rally again. What else will you be doing in 2013 – any more European Rally Championship events?
SB: “I don’t know really, nothing decided. At my age now I take whatever I am offered. For sure I will do the Midnight Sun Rally in Sweden. But this is just a one-off in the European championship.”
You have done many rallies in your career. Do you remember exactly how many?
SB: “No, no idea. The only one who knows is Martin Holmes the journalist but he is not here.”
Question to François Delecour: We understand the Jännerrallye could be the first of several appearances in the European Rally Championship for you in 2013. What can you tell us about your programme – we gather it will involve some coaching of young drivers too?
FD: “I hope to do the European championship with Kronos and the Peugeot 207. It’s not done yet but nearly. We hope to do 10 or 11 events this year in the European championship. We also hope to do again the Romanian championship with our sponsor. Normally it should be coaching a young driver who won the Logan Trophy in Romania, maybe he will do the European championship with me, with Kronos.”
You did a test earlier this week. What were you able to achieve?
FD: “It was important for me to understand and learn a bit more the tyre on the Super 2000. I have no idea since Monte-Carlo two years ago. But it’s not easy to understand the new tyre and the new regulation. I did about 80-90-kilometre test in Czech Republic just to understand the tyre.”
It’s not just the driver who is famous in your case but it’s also your team, Kronos Racing. What is Kronos like to work with and how important will they be to you in 2013?
FD: “I have the feeling it was like when I was a professional driver, there is no difference. It’s a very good organisation. It’s a good team, which wins many, many championships even with Sébastien Loeb in 2006. In any case it’s great.”
When you look at the ERC calendar and the spread of events what is your opinion of the calendar?
FD: “Firstly I’m not going too far from my house! It’s Europe and I know many, many rally like Sibiu in Romania and Valais, Corsica and Belgium. I like and I have a good feeling to do this championship.”
Question to Jan Kopecký: As last year’s winner how much pressure are you under to repeat that success?
JK: “There is no pressure because we have a great team and a great car and we know it can be the quickest on these stages. Hopefully it will be the same as last year but this year it will be more difficult. As Raimund said we don’t know what is coming tomorrow. I try not to make mistakes like I did on the first day and make no mistakes like I did on the second day and win this rally.”
While there might not be much snow this year, there is always the threat of ice on the stages. As a driver, how do you cope with this extra challenge?
JK: “I have to say if there is snow it would be more fun to drive. It’s more safe because if you come at the limit in 170 and you find some ice patches you don’t have down you need to have very big luck to stay on the road.”
The Jännerrallye is the first of 13 rounds of the European Rally Championship in 2013. ŠKODA has told us you’ll be doing other events. What can you tell us about your season ahead?
JK: “It has not been decided yet, the team will decide after this rally what is going on.”
You’ve been with ŠKODA for some time, what is it like driving for this team being a Czech driver in a Czech team?
JK: “I’m really happy to be back with ŠKODA. But it’s not easy because many drivers could be on the same place as I am so thanks to ŠKODA for big support and cooperation for many years and hopefully the same in the future.”
Who will win?
JK: “It’s difficult because you never know what can happen. This year is more tricky than last year. The weather will be changing a lot for the whole rally. On the last stage you can win 40 seconds if you are a bit crazy.”