July 6, 2016 michaeljenkins

Mid-Season Q&A

Q & A 

Last season you were the toughest rival to the Opel works squad. Now you’re part of the team. Did this match your expectations?

It’s even better. This time last year I never expected to join the Opel team, so to be chosen was a surprise but a very exciting prospect. Opel came to me as they saw me fight hard for results and I think my young age also helps. And now I know why it was so tough to compete against them …

Did this change your approach to rallying?

Being a driver of the Opel works team added many different aspects to think about. One of the main differences for me working with such a professional team means that I benefit from expert people such as my engineers and mechanics helping me develop as a driver. Everything is so well organised I can concentrate on my driving more and deliver the best results possible. The chance to become a professional rally driver also pushes my commitment that extra bit further! 

What is it like to be the only britain in a german team?

The cultures are quite different but the team speak perfect English and everyone has been very welcoming. It feels more and more like a family as everyone shares the same big passion for rallying. I never expected to find people with as much passion for the sport as me but I can truly say everyone is totally dedicated to rally which is so awesome! 

Your team mate always is your toughest opponent. Think you would sign that now, right?

Oh yes, I would! We have already had some great battles and I expect this to continue to the very end of the championship. I am surprised to be on Marijans pace as he has driven the ADAM R2 for three years and knows the car inside out! He very rarely makes mistakes and is an older and wiser guy. Julius is also new to the Opel works squad and is especially very quick on tarmac.

Finishing second three times in a row gave you the mid-season JERC championship lead. You must be quite satisfied with the first half of the season.

I am delighted with the first half of the season. I have proved to have the pace on different events and surfaces but have also shown I can be mature and collect the most points possible without damaging the car. I will aim for victories towards the end of the season now I have the experience of the ADAM R2.

Is consistency in JERC even more important than the raw speed?

I think both are equally as important. I have been consistent but also set many fast stage times. Marijan has been fastest on 18 and me on 14 so far this season. I need to work on keeping the same pace throughout the events as I’ve had a couple of stages where I lost time due to different reasons.

Where would you see your own performance level both on tarmac and gravel?

I love each surface equally which I think is important as a rally driver. Maybe I am slightly faster on gravel as that Is what I am more used to from UK rallying. I have a very natural feel for the car on gravel and always have confidence, but tarmac is a lot more intense and I enjoy the raw speed. But I have no doubt I still can still improve on both surfaces so I won’t quit working very hard.

Being leader midway through the season leaves no doubts about your season goal. Will tactic thoughts play their role during the upcoming rallies?

Not really. I am in a quite nice position having three very good P2 scores so this allows me to push to the limit on the three remaining rounds, as only the four best out of six scores count for the JERC championship. That means a bad result wouldn’t directly spoil my title chances, and on the other hand two victories would secure the championship so that is my ultimate aim. But I won’t rely on that and take stupid risks either, that’s for sure.

Winning a rally would be nice, right?

Exactly! I have been really close on each round so far so I hope it is coming soon with that little bit of pressure to finish the events off! 

Do you think about what might happen the next season or even beyond?

It is important to focus rally by rally but I do think about the future a lot. I hope there will be a future with Opel as this season with them so far has been the best yet, with my best results in the ADAM R2 and I am also learning endlessly from the experienced team.