If all goes to plan, Nikolai Landa, a rising star of Austrian rallying, will be embarking on an FIA ERC3 Junior Championship assault in a Pirelli-equipped Ford Fiesta Rally4 run by the DriftCompany Rally Team and co-driven by his father Günter. This is what he had to say.
What were the most important lessons you learned during your first ERC season?“Definitely to never give up! I think Rally Roma di Capitale was by far the most challenging event I’ve ever done. Coming from my first roll ever [on a rally in Slovenia], I was just missing a lot of confidence, which we all know is the key to being fast. Additionally, on the second day we encountered some technical issues which originated in the roll. There were times where I would have given up, but my father and co-driver motivated me to finish the rally and I’m more than just glad that we did. Even if the results didn’t show our progress during the rally, I learned so much.”
What was the best moment of your ERC season and why?“Probably coming into the service after we finished the last stage of Rally Liepāja. It was a good rally for us and we could show that our pace on gravel isn’t so slow. Coming to the service, the whole team started applauding us and I felt that this is 100 per cent the thing I want to do! It’s the best feeling to have such a great team.”
In what areas do you think you need to improve in 2021?“The big thing I want to improve in 2021 is my feeling in the car. I think I just have to enjoy every second and the pace will come by its own. Last year I tried to force myself to be fast but that is not sustainable. The stages I enjoy the most are always my fastest stages. My aim will not to be the fastest guy in ERC3 Junior because I know that this will not happen as I’m missing a lot of experience. But I try to be the guy who will learn the most over the season so let’s see what 2021 will bring.”
How important is Beppo Harrach and his team for you and your continued progression?“To have such an incredible team by my side, which is led by Beppo, with his experience from driving, is amazing. We are working close together with Beppo and he also invests a lot of his time in our project. Every time we speak I try to absorb as much information as possible, like a sponge. We would definitely not be where we are now without Beppo and the team and that we can continue this partnership makes me really happy. Also, to have Niki Mayr-Melnhof as a team-mate is amazing. He is a really great guy and we get along really well. He helps me a lot by taking me with him in the R5 during testing and he always gives me really important tips during the rallies.”
You have two Tarmac events planned in 2021, how good are you on Tarmac compared to gravel?“I would say Tarmac is not my favoured surface. As I don’t have a background in karting like a lot of other guys, I’m struggling a bit to find the limits on sealed surfaces. Therefore, I prefer gravel as there is a little bit more room for errors. But to recognise this is really important and we are working on my Tarmac skills. We have two Tarmac events planned before Gran Canaria so I hope I can learn a little bit more and get comfortable on Tarmac before coming to the first ERC3 Junior event.”