Drivers: Aaron Burkart (Suzuki Swift S1600) and Kevin Abbring (Renault Clio R3).

Press conference.

Q:
Aaron, a totally different car and team for you this year; you will be with Suzuki Team Europe in a Suzuki Swift S1600. Your thoughts?

Related Articles

Aaron Burkart:
Yeah, it is indeed. Everything is new and it a bit difficult for us to get a good feeling again for the car and it is a very challenging rally. The stages are very tough; the roads are very narrow and there is a lot of mud so we will have to find a rhythm so that we will survive until the end. It is a good feeling, the team is very professional so we are very happy.

Q:
You competed in Galway just a couple of weeks ago with the car, what did you think?

AB:
It was quite similar at least for the first three stages but still we had a big storm with 140km winds and heavy rain and sometimes you came over a crest in sixth gear and the street was covered in water. I hope it will not be as bad even if the weather forecast isn't too good. Still, it was a good experience. The mechanics worked well. We had a problem on the first day and the mechanics had to work all night but everyone was friendly and did their jobs.

Q:
You finished second in the Championship last year, is the aim to go one better this year? Looking at the entries so far for the JWRC, who do you consider to be your main challenger?

AB:
We have a lot to lose and only a little to gain but we are here to compete. Of course, it will be difficult; maybe there aren't as many as last year but the quality is still very high.

Q:
What would you be happy walking away from Ireland with? Do you feel pressure considering that after finishing second last year you are favourite?

AB:
You always feel pressure but I don't think it is better or worse than last year. We still have to get results and we still have to get to the finish line. You still have to be as fast as possible without destroying the car.

Q:
Last year coming second you won the C2 Junior Experience which means we will see you in a WRC car. Do you know in which event that is likely to happen?

AB:
It looks like we will start in Greece.

Q:
And how difficult will that be do you think?

AB:
I have no idea because I have not sat in a WRC car yet. It is a dream come true through. I hope we will have a test before and I will have some experience in a WRC car. I have heard so much about it and it is just amazing that I have the opportunity to try such a car. What else can I say!

Q:
Kevin, you are back representing KNAF this year in a Renault Clio R3. Are you looking forward to the season ahead?

Kevin Abbring:
I'm very happy we could find the budget again this year and the reason we stayed with Renault is that it is a reliable car and I have good support from Renault this year. I have had an engine update and I think the gap between the Super 16 and our R3 will be much closer.

Q:
Did you think you would be at a major disadvantage in Ireland before that change came about?

KA:
If it's muddy, not really because we have a 2L engine. We have much torque so if it's very slippery we can adjust the throttle and I think this will help in the R3 if you compare it with the Super 1600 because the engine of the Super 1600 is all or nothing and that makes it very difficult for them.

Q:
KNAF won the ASN classification last year, do you think that helped in bringing the team back this year?

KA:
I think so. It showed we have good drivers and a good programme.

Q:
Let's talk about the rally itself, you have been out on recce, what do you think?

KA:
It is very different from Holland! Besides the fact that it's not a flat landscape, there are so many high speed jumps and bumps on this type of surface. I think that will be the hardest part because I'm not used to it. I don't know yet how the car will react on the high speed jumps but I think like everyone else we will just have to see what happens.

Q:
13th in the Championship last year in your rookie year, so you have picked up a lot of experience from last year. What did you learn that you can bring into this year?

KA:
Nearly everything. I hadn't driven on gravel before. We gained a lot of experience in every aspect of rallying and the good thing is that I am back in the same car and I'm used to the car now and I think it is a good car for me.