Interview with Vladas Jurkevičius about returning to Latvia and the Sarma Rally
Tell us about the weekend in northern Latvia. How was the roads, the atmosphere?
The atmosphere is very good. In 2017-2018, when I started racing, Sarma and Alūksne were two rallies where very fast crews from abroad (K.Rovanpera, N.Gryazin) gathered. It added a lot of festive and sporty atmosphere. It was fun to ride in front of very fast crews this year. The special stages are very good – both fast and slow with twisted sections. The stages were narrow with considerable snowbanks near the road, so it was necessary to drive precisely.
Last stage syndrome recurred. Where do you think the essence of this phenomenon lies?
I just over-pushed this time. Maybe braked a little, too late. I didn’t feel any stress, I didn’t care much about where we were – progress and speed were more important than chasing the leaders. The goal of the rally was to improve.
In the first section of the rally you were in leaders second per kilometer. SS1 – 0.99s, SS2 – 0.32s, SS3 – 0.66s. Where is the difference between, SS1 and SS2 time? Mistakes, more comfortable turns for you or what?
So far, I haven’t felt very confident driving in the winter. In the first stage, I realized that I was feeling really good this time and was ready to drive fast. So SS2 was driven well. The first part was a bit slower, but the second part of the SS2 was really good. The SS3 during the reece was a bit scary – narrow, very fast, and in the woods. As a result, I wrote the pace notes a little slower and safer, resulting in a slightly worse time than SS2.
Is it easy to get back on the snow after a very long summer / fall season? What is the key aspect of driving that needs to be changed?
Overall things are very similar, just driving in the winter requires more precision. The difference in traction between track and non-track in winter is greater than in summer, so it is necessary to drive very precisely, as everything can end badly when you are off the best line. But anyway, the principles are the same.
How did the road change during the second run? Easier or harder to drive?
Personally, it was much harder for me to drive in the second pass. In medium and slow turns, the ruts were very deep in the second pass. There was no way for me to enter the corner at the right speed and stay in it until the end of the turn – either I entered too slowly and could not tilt the whole machine properly. Or I entered too fast and jumped out in the middle of the turn and lost time.
Can you compare how you felt on the snow a year ago and now?
I felt very good at this rally. It was very timid in Ignalina 2 weeks ago, but I feel very good after Sarma. I would like to drive another rally in the winter.
You drive on the same level with the fastest in Estonia, which is an aspiration for many. Where is the limit of your rapid progression curve?
Hard to say. At the current level, all boundaries are just in mind. You don’t have to be afraid to take risks to drive faster. You push through yourself and realize that this is possible and the next time your boundaries expand. It probably depends on how much you want to take risks.
Where is the next start abroad expected?
There are no clear plans yet. It is possible that the next start will be the first stage of the LARC in Poland.