An interview with Martins after the first ERC Round in Portugal
First of all, congratulations on finding a way to implement Plan A and launch ERC under the best possible conditions with such great instruments and team. Can you tell us about the whole process up to that point? I believe there was a lot of work behind the scenes
Thank you, we’ve put so much work into this project, it’s still in progress to get a full season budget-wise. But we’ve been able to manage the best package available with car, team, MRF tires, etc. It was a few months of searching possibilities, long hour brainstorms, long calls and meetings with sponsors. It’s definitely a rollercoaster.
The anticipation for this ERC round was huge. What was it like to be there, between such competition and the world stars of rallying? How do you deal with the excitement?
We are no newcomers to the ERC, having won the JERC in 2018. Anyway, being able to drive side by side with WRC-level drivers whose careers are many times longer than mine is an intriguing experience. Driving the same machinery is a good opportunity to benchmark where we are when our speed is compared. It is exciting to finish the stage ahead of them at times. But at the end of the day, we are all just drivers, human beings. So there is no extra pressure, we are just enjoying and doing our job.
You’ve tried these roads in the last two years. How did that experience help you last weekend?
In fact, I’ve been driving these roads for three years with three different cars. We have won JWRC Portugal in 2021 which used the same roads. For sure it helps when you have experience on the same roads, but cars and conditions change, and so do your experience and speed over the years. You cannot depend on your previous experience, you have to progress.
It was really difficult conditions to get a feel for a new car. But how was it? Were you able to see the potential of the car?
We were seeing that this rally will be a big challenge, so we did a winter rally in Latvia to have more seat time in the new Fabia RS from Sports Racing Technologies. We are getting used to it with every kilometer, but still, there’s lots of room for improvement. The car has so much potential to be driven much faster.
There are some points that speak about the new Škoda – aerodynamics and longer wheelbase, which is great on fast roads, but has a negative impact in twisty sections. Have you noticed any differences compared to the previous evolution of the Škoda Fabia?
Comparing the cars between evolutions, what can I say? They are totally different, all the character of the cars are different. For my driving style, I am truly pleased with the reaction of the RS and my ability to drive. The new RS is not an aggressive style car because it has a different wheelbase, it suits me well.
There were a lot of accidents and retirements. Was it difficult to manage the balancing act between the speed you need to achieve results and the good condition of the car?
This rally was challenging, and the WRC event is using nearly the same roads. For sure it was not easy to compromise speed and keeping the car in one piece. Also, rocks which was unfortunate for us, getting a puncture setting us down from P5. The trickiest part was the second loop, as the roads were really messed up, with deep ruts and a lot of rocks in the line.
Will you only compete in the ERC, or will there be other races this year?
No doubt, our main target is ERC, but we are looking at options where to drive, maybe in Lithuania, too. We have really good cooperation with Pro Racing and their R4 Litus rally car for the second year in a row. We have done so much “behind the scenes” work with them, having progressed for both parties. We have shown R4 Litus pace around Europe, getting a car and us better and better. I think without this hard work we could not be so fast in ERC1 lately.
You can follow the sporting progress of the team on the accounts of social networks: “Twitter” @MSesks, “Facebook” @MartinsSesksRallying, “Instagram” @martins_sesks and on the website https://www.martinssesks.com
Photos – Martins Sesks Rallying Facebook