New FIA European Rally Championship recruit talks about his rallying switch and the challenge ahead of this weekend’s ERC Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés…
Q: Welcome to the ERC Robert. What made you choose rallying when you had options in circuit racing?
RK: “I’m attracted by the very big challenge in front of me. It’s huge, one of the biggest, if not the biggest challenge of my life. Every rally will be a new discovery – and I might do more European championship rallies than currently planned – and that gives you more excitement. Also I’m a big fan of rallying from, following on the internet or watching on Eurosport. I was always looking to these guys and very soon I will be the guy doing those stages so it’s a really nice feeling for me.”
Q: Given what happened to you in your accident were you not put off driving rally cars again?
RK: “Unfortunately in motorsport accidents can happen. I don’t wish that something similar happens to other people but we have seen worse accidents in motorsport. Somehow my big passion to motorsport overall, including rallying, helped me a lot in these past two years to keep me focused to keep working and improve my condition.”
Q: Did you always believe you’d come back and compete in international motorsport again?
RK: “I would prefer to still be an F1 driver but my passion has led me to this programme and this is my focus although I cannot say how long for. One and a half year ago, if somebody told me I would be announcing a big programme with Lotos, Citroën and Michelin in the European championship and WRC I would not believe it. Normally I’m not an excited guy but when I am at the start of the stage it will be a huge excitement, particularly for the first rally in Canarias because it’s the first high-level challenge for me after the crash.”
Q: What’s your target for this season?
RK: “Definitely I need to learn and that’s why I need to keep in my mind I’m not on the race track, I’m in rallying, I’m on the stage, I have a lot to learn, I’m new to this sport. It will take time I know it but I have to take advantage of this opportunity that I have this season to learn as much as I can.”
Q:Have you marked out any long-term career plans?
RK: “In some way I still hope to come back to where I was, that’s definite. It’s a bit strange because I’m coming from Formula One and suddenly what was all my life stopped in one second. Now I know, I knew it always, but now I appreciate more that there’s nothing better in life than doing what you want to do. I had a great opportunity to be an F1 driver but on the other hand I have a great opportunity to become a rally driver with a very good programme. I can do a good job and provide excitement. Maybe not straight away results but excitement and somehow I can give something back to the people who have supported me.”