What is your connection with Rally San Marino?
“I won it twice as a co-driver, on both occasions with Andrea Aghini. My first win was 1998, in a Toyota Corolla WRC, and the second was in 2002 with a Peugeot 206 WRC. Back then it was very different: around twice the distance, as it also took in some stages near Gubbio that are now part of the San Crispino Rally in the Italian championship.”
Your driver Andreas Mikkelsen has previous knowledge. How much will this help him?
“We competed in San Marino last year with Andreas, as part of the Italian Gravel Trophy, and we won that too. He liked it: it’s a nice fast, flowing gravel rally. But I’m not sure how useful that experience will be for him this year, as the route is basically all new.”
How much has been changed?
“Only eight kilometres of the first stage, Sestino, have been kept from last year and that stage is run twice: so we just have 16 kilometres in common with 2011. The rest are old stages from back in my day – or even earlier sometimes!”
What’s the key to success in San Marino?
“In the past, the key to success certainly used to be tyres. There’s quite a hard surface underneath a bit of loose gravel, so if you had racing gravel tyres you could really make a big difference, as they were able to bite into the surface below. The road doesn’t clean much though, so the grip stays quite consistent.”
How much of Rally San Marino is actually in San Marino?
“Just one stage, which is called ‘San Marino’ – but that’s more of a superspecial on Tarmac. The service park and the headquarters is all in San Marino though, which is a very good thing as the organisation of this rally has always been fantastic.”