Returning to ALL-INKL.COM MÃ¼nnich Motorsport in 2017 for his first shot at driving a CitroÃ«n C-ElysÃ©e WTCC, the British driver is one of the favourites for what would be his second FIA World Touring Car Championship title to add to the crown he claimed with Chevrolet in 2012. He talks testing, beautiful cars and rekindling old friendships.
Youâre back with ALL-INKL.COM MÃ¼nnich Motorsport for 2017. How have your pre-season preparations gone so far?
âWeâve had a fantastic start. Itâs only testing, but it gives me confidence that what weâre doing and the way weâre learning the car is in the right direction. Weâre a little bit ahead of the [SÃ©bastien] Loeb Racing guys and that team has had a few years of experience with the CitroÃ«n now. But I feel very happy with the car and the team has done a great job. I donât want to say weâre not trying to be quick because we are, but weâre working through a test plan which doesnât mean weâre putting everything together to be as quick as we can. But we completed a lot of kilometres today, we did a race run and Iâm very happy with the car.â
Are you surprised youâve been so quick, so soon?
âNo, you can never be surprised with a car thatâs won three world championships, but itâs just beautiful, it works and itâs as simple as that.â
The official WTCC pre-season test took place at Monza and the championship will be returning to the track for the first time since 2013 at the end of April. Excited?
âl love this place, itâs brilliant, just spectacular. When you drive in through the park itâs just beautiful. Itâs been sorely missed from the WTCC for the last three years and itâs going to provide some fantastic racing â it always did and always will. Iâm very happy itâs back on the calendar.â
How much confidence do you get from a successful test programme?
âWe tested in Navarra and straight away we were quick compared to the Loeb guys. We came to Monza and we were quick. I feel very happy with the car, Iâve adapted really well to it and the mechanics have adapted well too. CitroÃ«n have helped out a lot â my guys have been to the factory working on the car with the CitroÃ«n mechanics to really learn and understand it â not to give us a head start, but to help us catch up as much as possible. Thatâs paying dividends because the changes on the car are making it quicker and quicker all the time. Itâs just a dream to drive and Iâm quietly smiling.â
Whatâs it like to be back with ALL-INKL.COM MÃ¼nnich Motorsport?
âBrilliant. I loved working with this team in 2013, and Iâve worked with them since and stayed very good friends and in contact with [team boss] RenÃ© [MÃ¼nnich]. Itâs just nice, there is zero pressure. I can make my own decisions and weâre free. The feeling of that is something I have to say is quite special. After 13 years in this championship, Iâm ready for this change.â
Finally, what can you achieve this season?
âIâm in a strong position with more experience and of course with the ultra-competitive CitroÃ«n package. When RenÃ© approached me with the idea of a Huff-CitroÃ«n/MÃ¼nnich Motorsport attack on the WTCC for 2017 it was an opportunity that I simply could not pass on. It is a year when itâs quite possible for a private team to be WTCC champions, and that is our number one goal.â
Foto: WTCC Media