With its mixed gravel and tarmac surfaces, fast roads and stunning backdrop, the RallyRACC Catalunya is both unique challenge for the drivers and exciting show for the fans. For ŠKODA Motorsport, there’s more to it, though. It is likely that Jan Kopecký will finish it as the WRC 2 champion, the first time a Czech drivers will earn the world rally title on a Czech car.
And then there’s the team’s youngster, freshly 18-year-old Kalle Rovanperä, who’s got a great chance to overtake Gus Greensmith in the overall standings and move up to the third place. That would mean a 1-2-3 victory for ŠKODA Motorsport and one more reason to celebrate after the most successful season in the brand’s history.
Before the rally starts this Wednesday, we asked both drivers about their thoughts and feelings not only about the rally itself, but also their standings in the season. Here’s what they had to tell us:
You have a chance to move up to the 3rd position in WRC 2 in Catalunya. How do you feel about that?
Kalle: For sure it would be nice to move up to third place, this would give ŠKODA Motorsport a top three in the WRC 2 Championship. But most of all, I am really looking forward to my very first Rally Catalunya and I will simply try to drive as fast as I can without making mistakes or collecting punctures.
You are more used to gravel rallies. How do you feel about rally with combined surface?
Kalle: It is a unique challenge to drive on both surfaces in one rally . Although my experience on tarmac is limited, I proved with my second place at Rally Germany that I am competitive on asphalt as well. Here, the tarmac roads are winding and fast, so it is important to find the right racing line to be really quick. I am quite confident about it.
The RACC Rally Catalunya is your chance to cement your WRC 2 lead and become a world champion for the first time. What are your thoughts on that?
Jan Kopecký: First of all, my thoughts are clearly focused to win this rally. Last year, I encountered some bad luck when I lost all my chances in the dust behind a slower competitor in front of me. I will try my best to settle that bill. The best way to celebrate the championship would be another WRC 2 win, but this will not be easy. I will have to keep an eye on my extremely quick teammate Kalle and the other 21 competitors in the WRC 2 category here in Spain.
They say that Catalunya’s tarmac is very hard on tyres. Are you preparing for that in any special way?
Jan Kopecký: The setup of the car is “friendly” to the tyres, but it is all about avoiding punctures – not only on gravel, but also on the tarmac roads where you have to be careful when you cut the corners.
In our next article, we will talk to the team members about the technical difficulties of the rally and about Spain itself.