ERC hero Habaj will be missing but won’t be forgetting Poland’s big 100
Łukasz Habaj, one of the standout drivers from the 2019 FIA European Rally Championship, will be a notable absentee when ORLEN 77th Rally Poland takes place this week to mark the event’s 100th anniversary.
With business commitments taking up the bulk of his time, Habaj is on a break from competing and won’t be making the journey to Mikołajki, where he finished on the podium the last time the ERC visited in 2019.
But while he won’t be taking part, the 2015 Polish champion has taken time out of his busy schedule to talk centenaries, happy memories and why absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Rajd Polski is turning 100 this year, what do you think of that achievement?
“Rajd Polski is one of the oldest rallies in history of motorsport and surely one of the most important motorsport events in my country. Being organised in different parts of it, has always attracted thousands of spectators. It’s a shame this year they will not get a chance to watch it, especially that there will be so many great drivers competing. I think the 100th anniversary is a great achievement of the Rajd Polski organisers and proves how long and great history Polish rally sport has.”
What are your earliest memories of the event?
“Watching the opening Super Special Stage in Cracow together with 200,000 other spectators. Great Polish drivers such as Krzysztof Hołowczyc, Leszek Kuzaj in the unforgettable Subaru Impreza WRC. Another great memory is from a few years later with Simon Jean-Joseph fighting Bruno Thiry in S1600 cars. Rajd Polski was a Tarmac event at a time and I will never forget it.
And your best memory?
“Back in 2015 I had a chance to take the right seat alongside Kris Meeke, who was driving people during a C2R2 promotional pre-rally event. Afterwards he showed a spectacular performance by winning the front-wheel-drive category in one of the first appearances of an R2 car.”
How much would you like to be taking part on the rally this week?
“It’s hard to describe the feeling of being outside rallies both physically and mentally for the first time since I started competing back in 2003. Obviously, I would love to be taking part, but the level of competition is so high now that it is not just a matter of this one rally. In order to be able to show the pace you need to be fully committed to the sport at all times and this is something I can’t afford now.”
Who would make your podium, first, second and third?
“Gryazin, Lukyanuk, Mikkelsen.”