"This was the race we were most looking forward to"

15/10/2021 12:42

The hard work Norbert Herczig and Ramón Ferencz put into the European Rally Championship has paid off, as they have a good chance for being the first Hungarian pair after 35 years, to finish on the podium in the overall classification.

When I say Rally Hungary…

I say that we've been looking forward to this event since the beginning of the year, and not without reason – home is where heart is. And as the season started, we got closer and closer to competing at home, and the whole team is really looking forward to meeting the Hungarian fans and friends.

You cannot complain about the results so far - this is the best season you've ever had since you started to compete at the European Championship.

Yes, it's the first year when we can really be competitive with our own pace, and in addition, in such a tight and strong field. We could step on the podium, and more importantly, we've improved a lot on gravel. The last few years have proved that we are much closer to the top on tarmac than on gravel, but thanks to our test programme we have got closer on the latter type of surface as well. On tarmac we were third and fourth, too, which points out that now we have arrived to the top group.

What has changed?

Obviously, it makes a difference that we're back in Škoda, as I've spent most of my career with the brand and have driven it in most of the R5 period. It is also important that this is our fourth year together with Ramón, but what matters most is that we return to venues where we've raced before, and it gives us confidence. When we went to Rome, and ninety per cent of the stages were the same as in the previous two years, and virtually we had only to dust off the itinerary, it was definitely a big boost. In vain would you go there by a road car to drive along the stages, it is not worth as much as if you've ever raced on those stages.

The field was very tight this year, perhaps even tighter than in previous years. Do you agree?

Absolutely. Andreas Mikkelsen has stood out from the field, but he has more experience than any of us, he has spent several years with factory teams, he's got thousands of kilometres under his belt as being a test driver for Pirelli, so he is almost always in the car. But we were able to compete with all the other teams, and I think we have a very good chance that after thirty-five years a Hungarian pair would be on the podium at the end of the year in the overall classification. It will be decided in the last two races.

Is there more pressure now that the stakes are so high?

Normally, I do not have any problem with the pressure, in fact, it might have positive impact on me. But the thing is the Polish and Spanish pairs are ahead of us in the overall standings, so there's no room for the maths, we have to finish ahead of them at home and in the Canary Islands, too, it is as simple as that. And it wouldn't even be bad if anyone could finish between us.

Does it help that the next race will be held at home?

Basically, the Hungarian fans will help a lot. We were the only Hungarian pair that has completed the whole series this year. Although some drivers joined us for a few races, but we were here all the way and I felt that the fans were following us and maybe they are a bit proud of what we have achieved. We will definitely feel their love during the race.

What can you promise these fans?

That we will push as we can. We are preparing for Rally Hungary with a long test, and we will definitely do our best because we want to perform well at home, and we have everything we need to do so.