The Jolly Club's president, Roman Vaskuj, talks about the upcoming Acropolis Rally, round seven of the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship, where the Jolly Club prepared Ford Focus WRC will commence its world rally campaign with Roman Kresta behind the wheel.

Formerly the winning car of the 1999 Rally de Portugal in the hands of Colin McRae, the Focus WRC is being rebuilt to 2000 gravel specification by Jolly Club's engineers and mechanics. For Kresta, his appearance in Greece will not only be his first ever start on a WRC round but also his first international full-scale rally event.

Q: Jolly Club's announcement about its imminent World Rally Championship campaign with Roman Kresta in the seat of its Focus WRC is amongst the hottest motoring news in the country. Did you expect so much interest from the general public and media community?

Roman Vaskuj: "I knew that people would be interested in this project, nonetheless, the number of questions and comments we have been receiving is truly amazing. I am pleased to know that the media and fans are so supportive."

Q: It is generally understood that your program's main objective is to help bring up a fine rally driver and prepare him for a career in the FIA World Rally Championship where he could compete against the very best in the sport. What are your plans for this year and what do you plan for the 2002 season?

Vaskuj: "As for Jolly Club's plans for this year, Roman Kresta should contest a minimum of three World Championship events. There is a chance that he could do two more, however, which depends on the situation and further agreement between Jolly Club and Skoda Motorsport's management. When it comes to plans for 2002, it would be nice to see Kresta start on at least eight WRC rallies. Of course, such plans also depend on how our team will function and perform this year and how well the Kresta - Tomanek crew will do in the upcoming international events."

Q: Why have you decided to support Roman Kresta?

Vaskuj: "There are many reasons why we have opted to help Kresta's career development. Firstly, Kresta comes from the same region as our team and he is a very modest and fair young gentlemen. Most importantly, I consider him to be an exceptionally talented driver with all the necessary technical skills he needs. I am clearly convinced that he has got the potential to become a top driver who could regularly contest all WRC events in the future."

Q: Jolly Club can be proud of its rich 40-year old history, filled with numerous successes on the international motor sport scene. How did this prestigious club come to the Czech Republic?

Vaskuj: "It all happened as a result of an agreement I signed with Mr. Roberto Angiolini. Some time ago, he expressed his wish that someone continues to support the club's tradition at a level where the club has long been. It is my pleasure and honor to do this. I am quite aware of how difficult it will be to live up to the club's former success and prestige."

Q: Enrico Bertone, two-time FIA European Rally Champion, is another key member of Jolly Club's personnel. Is it a coincidence that this highly experienced rally driver and entrepreneur is involved?

Vaskuj: "It certainly is not a coincidence. We have been working together for many years now. Enrico has driven for Jolly Club in the past and our current cooperation is only logical. I am glad to have him on board."

Q:Agreed, Bertone is a highly skilled professional. What will his role in the team be?

Vaskuj: "Enrico is a sporting director of the entire project. He is regarded as a very well-known personality with many international connections, who can be a great help to the whole team. He is personally convinced of Kresta's qualities and is prepared to provide the team and Kresta with all his expertise as much as he possibly can."

Q: The Acropolis Rally will be Kresta's premier start in a world series rally and apart from last December's successful appearance in Bologna, it will also be his first ever entry into an international full-scale rally event. Isn't it going to be too much for him too soon?

Vaskuj: "It sure will be a big move for him. However, he would have to have made this step one day or another, and so would we. In my opinion, there is no other way that a driver can gradually improve and drive amongst the world's best. Kresta, his co-driver and the team must be able to withstand the pressure in the heat of competition when competing against the world's elite. Only then can he be certain that he will grow and improve."

Q:Kresta's first start on a WRC event will be behind the wheel of a Ford Focus World Rally Car that Colin McRae used to win the 1999 Rally de Portugal. Is the car of the same specification McRae had or have there been some changes made to the car?

Vaskuj: "Correct, it is the same car that won the Portuguese rally two years ago. On the other hand, the car is currently being upgraded into a gravel spec with the 2000 components and data currently available."

Q: Finally, the Acropolis Rally is one of the series' toughest and most demanding tests. What are your objectives for Greece and what result would make you happy?

Vaskuj: "There will be a host of new things and many challenges which the crew and team will have to accommodate and adapt to, which are non-existent on national rallies in the Czech Republic. Neither the crew, nor the team are used to such extremities in terms of rocky roads and tracks, climatic conditions or such strong competition from all the works teams and their crews. For the moment, our main goal is to learn as much as possible about all aspects of the World Rally Championship. In the future, we would like to reach the level of some of the best private teams and surpass them. It does not make any sense to speak about the result at the moment, as the competition due to contest the Greek hell is tremendous.

There are 28 World Rally Car entries with more Group A works Mitsubishis, all together there are more than 30 top cars with 30 top crews, the best competition in the history of this event. I will be pleased to see Kresta prove his potential for the future within the frame of his technical equipment and experience. We now must focus on helping him get as much WRC experience as possible that will enable him enter more world rallies during the 2002 season when he should become more competitive."