ERC – 55th Azores Rallye post-event press conference

In attendance:
Andreas Mikkelsen/Elliott Edmondson (Toksport WRT), first position
Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Team MRF Tyres), second position
Efrén Llarena/Sara Fernández (Rallye Team Spain), third position

Q:
It was a little ago when you lost stood up here after tasting victory, how does it feel several years later?

AM:
It’s nine years since I was here the last time, 2012, and we managed to win the rally. I never forgot that victory because I really do like this place. This island is magical, one of my favourite rallies in the world and I am so happy to be back, the people are so positive and so happy. I hope it’s not another nine years.

Q:
You will took hold of the event in the last three stages but how demanding was it this weekend?

AM:
The rally was very demanding this weekend because yesterday was full of rain, very foggy, very muddy and today was much better conditions so you have all types of different conditions out there. It was a great challenge. The last stage, Sete Cidades, was amazing and so many people other there watching. I am so happy we got really nice weather on that stage because the TV footage will be absolutely amazing, to show the world how amazing the Azores is.

Q:
Championship-wise that’s another big, massive haul of points as well?

AM:
For the championship it looks really, really good now. We have a big lead so I am really looking forward to getting to Fafe, back to Portugal again already in two weeks.

Q:
It’s been a whirlwind last three weeks, the test with Andreas in Italy, then the Acropolis Rally and now here. There’s a bit of dirty washing to be done now but a lot of it has been soaked in champagne…

EE:
We smell of champagne again, which is never a bad thing. It’s been a fairly hectic three weeks really, we’ve gone from one thing straight to the next. Fortunately they’ve gone really well and this has just been the icing on the cake to get a win here as well. It’s been a brilliant three weeks and not time to wash everything and chill out a bit.

Q:
How demanding were the conditions yesterday for a co-driver?

EE:
It’s classic Azores really. Sunny all week and then you get to the start line of the first stage and it’s all foggy and you can’t see anything. It’s very demanding when it’s like that, it’s tricky but we made good notes and it’s better to be foggy on the rally and clear on the recce at least so you know your notes are good. I just have to trust the notes and he just has to trust me saying the notes and it’s obviously worked out well.

Q:
First time on the rally, first time with the MRF tyres, second place overall and you led at times as well, how satisfied are you?

DS:
Honestly we are really happy to be here in Azores, it’s, for sure an amazing place for rallying with a lot of spectators. For the result I was really happy. I was leading at one point but Andreas was really, really close and was pushing a lot. It was not clear he would push that much but after he made a step and was really fast. Honestly with the tyres I am really happy. We are working to make them even better but at the moment they are working quite good and the team were working perfect with no mistakes so in the end we took the second place and now we will push a bit more for the next event.

Q:
You posted something on social media after you’d done the reconnaissance that you wanted to set a fastest time in Sete Cidades and you did that. How special is that piece of road?

DS:
This stage is amazing. When you take the pacenotes you need to be really concentrated because the view up there is amazing and we stopped two or three times to take pictures to see the sides of the road. It’s amazing and when you drive the stage with the perfect pacenotes you want to push more, more, more but after you need to understand it’s really narrow at one point, but it’s really nice with the first few kilometres narrow with little jumps then it goes wide. It’s just amazing and the last downhill is so difficult and slippery. But it’s an amazing stage.

Q:
Your second rally with Dani but you’ve been here before so you have a little bit of experience. How satisfied are you how this partnership is working now?

CC:
To work with Dani in this rally is amazing. I raced three times before and I learned step by step with the feeling and we could push more and more. The result is good, it’s a very good feeling.

Q:
It’s been a very busy few weeks – can you now take a rest?

CC:
It’s 15 days every day I have worked with day and every day I work with him. It’s a long time but it will help me for the future in the rallies. He did a very good job in this moment.

Q:
Third place overall, you waited at the end of the stage after giving everything in that final stage. You were looking up the road for Ricardo Moura, checking the phone. How pleased are you to get a podium after losing a podium in Roma and snatching one here?

EL:
We are happy to be here in the podium with two World Rally Championship drivers. At the end of the stage we did a really good stage because we were without tyres. We tried to do our best and we saw that Ricardo Moura was a bit slower, he had a roll and a small puncture. We lost the podium in Rome by 0.3s so me and all my team deserve this podium.

Q:
You’ve never been here before in a four-wheel-drive car so how tough was it out there learning with the pace against Mikkelsen and Sordo?

EL:
It’s difficult for us, for sure. We know the stages but it’s our first time here with the four-wheel drive. It is also our fourth rally in an R5 on gravel. We did our best, for sure we need to improve especially in the second pass when the stages are destroyed and I cannot be very fast and competitive with these guys. But we need time and we will try our best during the championship.

Q:
You scored big championship points today, that must feel good?

EL:
For sure. Mikkelsen won the rally and get a lot of points but Lukyanuk is out, Herczig is out and Marczyk finished fifth so we are now P2 in the championship so we will go to Fafe and try to do our best. We know it will be difficult because they have a lot of experience in these types of conditions and on these stages but we try to do our best.

Q:
You were doing your paperwork when Efrén discovered Ricardo Moura hadn’t appeared. But how tough was this rally, particularly yesterday with the fog?

SF:
To be honest when we was in the finish line I saw Efrén to check the phone and I thought ‘Oh my God, maybe it’s possible’. I am very happy, all the team and Efrén did a fantastic job this weekend. This rally is very important for the championship.

Q:
But how tough is this rally for a co-driver?

SF:
This rally was very, very difficult for me, for all co-drivers. The stages were very, very fast and the road was destroyed. It’s difficult to read the pacenotes but I am happy because we improve and improve.

ENDS

Source : Fia