easier run in Portugal
The LMT Rally Team crew of Andis Neiksans/Peteris Dzirkals will start Vodafone Rally de Portugal (2-5 April) in joint third place in the 2009 P-WRC rankings. When they began their first-ever P-WRC season six weeks ago in Norway, they never expected to be in such a high position after two rounds. Nevertheless they maintain that the overall P-WRC position is not their main concern in 2009.
“After two 5th positions in Norway and Cyprus, we are now tied 3rd overall,” said Andis Neiksans “This is a situation we never expected. But let’s not get too excited – this is only our first year in the FIA Production World Rally Championship so we are here to get experience. We have very limited experience of WRC events, so expecting top positions would be like running head-first into wall. In Portugal, we once again want to finish the rally, in a points-scoring position if we can and on some of the special stages, we want to measure our speed.”
The 23 year-old Latvian is able to post top-four P-WRC stage times, doing that on every surface so far this season – snow, tarmac and gravel but the consistency is not there yet. “That is due to a lack of experience,” explains Andis. “We are fast, but not on every stage. So we must keep improving. The more WRC mileage we get, the more consistent and faster we will become. We want to stay on the road this year – we’ll leave developing the combination of speed and staying on the road for the seasons to come.”
However, the P-WRC round in Portugal has attracted 19 participants – that makes it a big challenge to finish the rally in the points. Before the season, the team announced that they want to finish as many rallies as possible and to score points in every rally they finish. With 19 drivers participating, just staying on the road will not be enough for the points, so Andis will have to push a little harder than in Norway and Cyprus. “We’ll try,” he says. “But I hope that Portugal will not be as tough as Cyprus was. The average speed will be higher, which is good but it still doesn’t compare to what we are used to in Latvia – the average speed on the stages varies from 110 to 130 km/h, so faster roads like Finland and Great Britain would suit us better!”
Last week was a busy one for Neiksans. He met with several national media for interviews, as he is becoming increasingly well known in Latvia. Speaking on national television, he was asked about if a switch from his AMP Motorsport-prepared Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX to a Super2000 car would improve the results. He said: “It would make our P-WRC programme more expensive, that’s for sure but I don’t think the results would differ dramatically. Perhaps an N4 car is even better for our learning year than Super2000 would be. You need to drive the Super2000 car to the limit to succeed and that is not our objective in our first P-WRC season.”