Before Rally d'Italia Sardegna
Young French driver Julien Pressac is getting ready for the next round of the Junior World Rally Championship, Rally d'Italia Sardegna.
What is your experience of gravel?
"In 2003, I took part in the 'Terre de l'Auxerrois' in France
with a Super 1600 car. It was only my second ever rally. The same year, I also competed in the Rallye de Paris. But I can't remember much about either event. Nothing, in any case, that could be of any use to me today. On the other hand, my season with the Saxo T4 in 2004 was extremely useful. Amongst other things, it taught me how to take pacenotes in just a single pass through the stages. The JWRC allows two passes, so I now get to check my notes, something I was never able to do in the French Championship. My year with the T4 also enabled me to accustom myself to the way grip changes from hard-packed dirt, to sand, to gravel and all the different types of surface you can come across on loose events. Last year, I contested two French Championship rallies in a WRC car, but that was more a case of learning the car than learning the surface!"
More than half of this year's Rally Italia Sardegna is new. Is that good for 'rookies' like you?
"Of course it is. In fact none of the stages are identical to last year's. Even in the case of those that are fairly similar, there are portions that have changed, either at the beginning, in the middle or towards the end. So I suppose everyone will be starting their notes again from scratch.
That said, the guys who have already been to Sardinia will have an advantage early on while we newcomers endeavour to find the right pace that will enable us to steer clear of punctures. We picked up quite a few during testing because I wanted to get a feel for just how hard you can push over the rocks. But everything went very well and I feel very comfortable with the car. It's quite strange when you think that I come from a racing background, but I've always felt at ease on the loose."
You have said in the past that you like to set yourself a target. This far into the championship, however, you must have had a chance to sit back and analyse the situation, no?
"It's true that aiming for such or such a finish on an event where the result could well be decided by punctures has a bit of a random side to it. That said, it's also true that my blank scorecard in Catalonia and my puncture in Corsica, which possibly cost me a podium finish, mean we have absolutely got to finish in the points. We will therefore have to do our best to stay out of trouble and avoid falling into the traps that are part and parcel of this event. If we succeed in doing that, maybe we can make it into the top five. And I would definitely be happy with that!"
Press release Citroen