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Maciek Szczepaniak column: Top ten target
8 April 2013 Co-driver Maciek Szczepaniak looks ahead to the next round of the WRC in Portugal, where he will hope for a top ten finish alongside Michal Kosciuszko in the pair's Lotos Team WRC-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC...
Maciek Szczepaniak here, Michal Kosciuszko's co-driver. I'll be your host for Rally de Portugal and keep you updated on what's happening with us throughout the event.
This is my sixth time at Rally de Portugal and my fifth competing on the event with Michal. It's a really awesome rally – the Portuguese spectators are always fantastic, the organisation is great and so is the weather (normally!)
Of course, the weather last year wasn't so good and the changeable conditions dominated the rally for many crews. We didn't compete here in 2012, but even so we're more aware than ever that we need to be ready for anything. All we can hope is that the conditions on our test tomorrow will be representative of the event itself.
We'll be using a 4km stage and run around 100km in total. It'll be our first test on gravel this season, so we hope it'll provide vital experience for the event itself.
The H3 compound of the DMG+2 gravel tyre that we tried in Mexico is DMACK's weapon of choice for this event. The Portuguese gravel presents a challenge for our DMACK tyres. However, as always we'll do our best. It's always a learning curve and we get useful feedback by measuring ourselves against the other competitors on DMACKs as well as fighting for a good position overall.
I've been rallying now for nearly 20 years and you quickly learn that there'll always be new tests. Half of the skill of rallying is learning to adapt to the conditions. After all, I had to adapt at the very start of my career. In 1995 I took to the Polish stages as a driver and quickly learned that was a big mistake!
I switched to the co-driver's chair only one year later and found that was where I was made to be. After three Polish Championship victories and getting as much experience as possible in the WRC, I've been Michal's navigator now for the last seven seasons.
Rally de Portugal 2013 marks my 63rd WRC event – let's hope it's a good one!
We're hoping for a top ten finish. I'll keep you posted on our progress.
Bye for now, Maciek