Michal Kosciuszko talks about the opening round of the new WRC season and his debut with the Lotos Team WRC-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC
It's Michal from Lotos Team WRC here and in true Motorsport Italia style, I'll be your 'host' for Rallye Monte Carlo!
I'm really excited about joining the WRC category. It's my dream come true. I'm especially happy to have the chance to compete on all 13 rounds of the 2013 WRC Calendar. I never thought it would be possible and I think that's the ambition of any rally driver. Having competed in the JWRC, SWRC and PWRC, I can't wait to check my performance against the other WRC drivers and see how I do.
A lot will be new for me at Rallye Monte Carlo. Motorsport Italia has a partnership with DMACK for 2013, so as well as a new car, I have new tyres to test! However, I'm feeling positive about that and one thing that is familiar is the rally stages. It was great to win the PWRC category in Monte last year, but it'll be a whole new challenge this time around. Anyway, at Monte, what everyone has to remember is to go steady – there's no Rally 2, so one mistake and you're out!
Last week I did my first test to prepare for 'the Monte'. It was a really fantastic day! I'd never tested the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman WRC on a twisty, alpine stage before, but I feel happy and comfortable with the team, many of whom I worked with on my PWRC project the last two years. This helps a lot. The only new face is my engineer Tomo, but he's been great, helping me to feel familiar with the rally car and find the right set-up.
We tested on a 4km road. The first 1.5km were clear Tarmac with no ice while the second 2.5km section was classic Monte conditions – a mixture of ice, dry Tarmac and some snowy corners. These are really difficult conditions to tackle, so we made the most of yesterday to test all the tyres – super soft, soft, snow (no studs) and snow-studded tyres, as well as making sure we clocked a few kilometres in the dark to see what's possible. I didn't have too much experience in the dark, so this was really useful and the road looked like something from Star Wars!
The MINI feels nice – I like the chassis a lot. It helps the drive into the corners and then you gain on the exit, because the balance of the car is very good. It handles well and Tomo helped me to find the places where I can use my MINI more. I'm feeling very positive about the car – actually I was surprised that it only took a few kilometres to get into the MINI groove!
We headed down to Valence and the next time we'll be in the car is for Shakedown on Tuesday. I'm very excited also to be part of the FIA Pre-event Press Conference on Tuesday. It'll be great to sit alongside guys like Loeb, Ostberg, Ogier and local driver Michèle 'Biche' Espinos. Séb Ogier and I were actually in the JWRC at the same time and have always been good friends, so it'll be awesome to be competing with him again!
I guess that's enough for now, but don't worry – you won't have too long to miss me, because I'll be back to keep you updated throughout the event!