Q&A with François Delecour
More points or flat out for victory?
Rallying legend François Delecour will be one of the contenders for FIA European Rally Championship glory in Latvia this week. He spoke to fiaerc.com while on route to the Baltic from his native France on Tuesday.
Hello François, where are you right now and what have you been up to since you arrived in Latvia?
"At the moment I’m in the airport in Vienna, changing planes to get to Latvia! I’m going straight into the rally with no test: our shakedown will be our test. We’ve only got just enough tyres to do the rally so I didn’t want to compromise the rally by using some of our tyres for testing and ruining them; I think tyres will be important here. It’s going to be a big adventure as I’ve never been to Latvia before, so I’m looking forward to it.”
We gather your participation on Rally Liepāja-Ventspils was only confirmed last week. Why was this?
"Yes that’s right. We weren’t originally going to do this event - then we were - but Kronos did not have a car available as it wasn’t on the original schedule. Luckily Jean-Pierre Nicolas [the ERC General Co-ordinator] helped us to find a solution with the Munaretto team, which is a very good team, and I am very happy to have this opportunity. But there were some things that were only sorted out at the last minute."
What’s your plan for the event - more points or flat out for victory?
"We always start with the idea of challenging for victory, and that is in my head as the basic idea. But as I said I do not know this rally at all and we are not testing first, so it will be a big challenge. Also there are many fast drivers: I expect Jari Ketomaa to be very fast in particular and I saw Craig Breen on the Rallye du Var, and I was really impressed: he was so fast there so I am sure he can be fast in Latvia too. But of course we will be pushing hard as always and my goal is to try and win."
If a young rally driver asked you for three bits of advice for going quickly on snow, what would you tell them?
"Maybe I would not be the best person for a young driver to ask this, because the cars and the driving has changed so much in recent years. The one thing that I would say is that you really have to be smooth and neat on every surface, the driving is not so much sideways anymore. It really all started with Sébastien Loeb: his style is so efficient that this is the best inspiration for a young driver to watch. Sébastien is very quick on a circuit as well and I think the two things are connected: this is the sort of style that you need to do well so that you are really working together with the car."
What were your impressions of the new-look ERC after seeing it from the inside on the International Jännerrallye?
"The best thing was the television coverage on Eurosport; this was fantastic. So I thought that this was brilliant and a fantastic step forward for the championship. The organisation was very good as well – the future is very promising.”