Feb 12, 2020
How pleased are you to be joining Team MRF Tyres for the ERC in 2020?
“I am excited. Everything was a bit up in the air last year, I was kind of going from rally to rally and not really sure what was happening next. It’s nice to have something concrete in place to get my teeth into. It’s good for my career and to keep the relationship with Hyundai. The ERC is a good championship and I have great memories from back in the day. There are nice rallies, some I have had success on in the past and ones I’ve wanted to go back to and try to win again. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.”
The ERC prides itself on providing a platform of progression to the world championship, which must remain your goal?
“Absolutely. Where I want to be is in a World Rally Car in the World Rally Championship. Unfortunately, there simply aren’t enough seats for the talent that’s there. Luckily, I’ve been handed this lifeline to continue driving. I’m still involved with Hyundai and still involved with the World Rally Championship team. Even though I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing in the World Rally Car for the rest of the year, I am sure there will be some opportunities. I have to remain positive about that.”
You get an opportunity to drive a World Rally Car in Sweden this week…
“It’s going to be a small rally but it’s great to be back and I just hope that both myself and Paul [Nagle] can do the seat justice again. I want to leave the Hyundai people with no alternative going forward than to use us again. That’s what the goal is going to be.”
There hasn’t been much preparation time but do you feel ready for your chance in Sweden?
“It’s the way the last year has been, discovering a car one day then doing the rally at the weekend. That’s why I was driving so many different cars and so many different rallies last year because I knew, at some point, I would be in a World Rally Car again, perhaps not with the seat time required, so I need to act fast. I do think I’m used to getting in different cars and trying to perform straight away.”
Your ERC campaign begins in the Azores and you’re going back as a former winner…
“I won it the last time I was there so I have great memories. It’s a nice rally, nice people, very enthusiastic and obviously a very well supported rally. It’s a good place to start the championship. Sometimes the weather can be a bit [changeable] but that’s part and parcel of the rally.”
What would winning the ERC title mean to you?
“We definitely missed out on it with Peugeot [in 2015]. I do think it was for reasons beyond my control that we lost the championship in those years. I was always sorry that I didn’t manage to get the title because I did really believe we deserved it. I would like to tick that one off the bucket list because it’s the only one missing from the grassroots up to the world championship. That would definitely complete all the grassroots stuff and there’s only one left after that, the world title.”
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