Actual winner of INA Rally Kumrovec Niki Mayr-Melnhof is coming back to Croatia to defend the title. He will be driving with new co-driver, but he will be aiming high for sure. Special stages of Rally Kumrovec will be the perfect preparation for him, for the next round of Austrian Championship. He took some time to answer some of our questions.
1. You are coming to Croatia once again, after such a dominant win last year, you will be defending the title. What are your expectations, since you won’t be driving with Poldi Welsersheimb?
First of all thank you very much for inviting me back to beautiful Kumrovec in Croatia. Its been a real pleasure driving in Kumrovec last year and with the sweet win at the end it was an amazing experience for us. As I´m still pretty new to rallying it was my first ever Rallye win, which I will for sure remember for a long time.
Surely I´m a little sad not to come back with Poldi, but he has some important business to take care of! On the other hand with Thomas Zeiser I have a very experienced and professional co-driver on my side, and we already did a lot of testing.
2. How do you like the concept of the Rally Kumrovec – short itinerary with almost 70% of special stages, not many opportunities to make a mistake and come back later?
It's a very attractive concept which I like a lot. It has very difficult, quick and narrow stages, which leaves no room for any errors. And most of all it's perfect for the fans, which there were plenty last year round. They get very close to the action and because it's such a compact Rallye, they can see a lot of the action.
3. Can you compare the special stages of Rally Kumrovec with the ones in the Austrian championship?
It is very much comparable with the Rebenland Rallye in the Austrian Championship which will take place two weeks later. So it is a perfect preparation for us to get back into the rhythm.
4. You were unlucky at the season opening. How will your retirement at Janner rallye effect the rest of the season?
The technical retirement at the Jännerrallye was very unfortunate, but we learned a lot and I got a lot of confidence in the car now after diving in this very difficult conditions. The whole Drift company Team worked really hard for this Rallye and it was just not meant to be, but we will be back next year even stronger. As it's just the beginning of the season I´m not worried at all, and there are still a lot of points up for grabs.
5. You had a several starts last season with Audi. Will you compete in circuit races this year also?
The plan is to fully focus on rallying this year and not to do a whole championship in GT with Audi. But if anything comes up at the Nordschleife I might reconsider.