From the ERC archives: Habaj on his breakthrough Azores victory
Shortly after claiming his breakthrough victory in the FIA European Rally Championship on the Azores Rallye on 23 March 2019, Łukasz Habaj spoke about his standout achievement in a Pirelli-equipped, Sports Racing Technologies-prepared ŠKODA Fabia R5.
Congratulations, your first victory in the ERC. How good does that feel?
“I can’t believe it, but we had good pace all week. The key to the victory was yesterday. I was afraid of those stages the most but, in the end, it worked out well. I am sorry for Alexey because he was the fastest all weekend, but this is rally. This victory was not just luck, there was a lot of hard work behind it and I want to thank my family, my team for the car and Pirelli for the tyres.”
Just explain your emotions of that final afternoon with the conditions and the drama on the final two stages?
“It is impossible to explain in a few words. There was so much going on. But, to be honest, we didn’t have too much time to think and analyse the situation because the conditions were so difficult, and we had to really be so focused on the stages to not make any mistakes. That was something I was really concentrated on. Before the last loop, we were calculating and looking at what was going on in the table, so as not to take too much risk. But I was very confident over the whole weekend and I think I was calm, confident and kept a good pace, which was key to success. Yesterday was very important for us. That was a day that I was very much afraid of because from previous years, on Sete Cidades I wasn’t too competitive. So yesterday was the key for us. After that, I really believed we could be on the podium and because of Alexey’s mistake or bad luck, we won it. I think we are the first Polish guys who won this rally, which is amazing.”
You said yesterday was your best day in the ERC, so how does today compare?
“In terms of driving, yesterday was better. Today we couldn’t enjoy that much because the weather conditions were enormously difficult. I don’t think you can even imagine how difficult it was to drive in these conditions. Sometimes I couldn’t even see because the wipers were not able to wipe the rain off. You will see on the cameras, it was not only for us. So in terms of driving yesterday was better for us but of course victory tastes the best. I have to get used to the fact we won the rally because I still can’t believe it!”
What are the chances of you coming back to defend your title next year?
“I don’t know. Rally is a very expensive sport and also time consuming. I have a family back home and I have a little son, who is starting his school.”
Does he know that daddy won?
“Yeah, I called him right away! He is five years old and he was asking if I won, so this time I got to tell him that, yes, we did it. So, I have to spend some time with him. It’s too early to say. Now I’m thinking about this season, there are still seven rallies to go and if we can be competitive here, I know we can be competitive for the rest of the season.”