– Before the final race deciding the championship title, the great rival Rob Huff said it He told, that Macau will elect its champion. He was right?
“Apparently so, though I don’t know exactly what Rob might have meant when he said that.” A bit of luck is also useful in Macau, because you have to go very close to the walls, which involves the possibility of a mistake, and on this track even a small mistake can have serious consequences. You need a routine to be fast so that you don’t make mistakes. If that’s what you meant, I agree.
– The fact that he won the first world championship race of his career in Macau in 2010, and now just he won the championship here. Did the coincidence touch you?
“Yes, very much!” I still vividly remember the first win, which was incredible, but to win not only a race, but also a championship here… There are few places in the world more special in that regard. Macau has a long tradition and is one of the most dangerous tracks in the world, here the adrenaline simply jumps higher than anywhere else, which if you combine with the fierce fight for the championship title, you will get an experience of a lifetime.
– When he became the World Cup champion in 2019, touring car racing was at its peak, and then the epidemic affected this series as well. Compared to that, how do you evaluate your championship title this year?
– It was a terribly difficult year, since we were the only two Hyundai competitors in the field, so on paper we were at a disadvantage against the rivals with multiple cars. It wasn’t just a quantitative advantage on the side of the opponents, as both Link & Co and Audi had very strong drivers and technical backgrounds. I had to fight at least as much for this year’s championship as in 2019, and if you look at my personal performance, I was more balanced and better than in the year of the first championship.
– Four years ago, he celebrated in ecstasy, but now he seemed to experience the success differently, somehow creating a calmer impression.
– It is true that I experienced it differently now than in 2019. When you are a champion for the first time, you gain a little confidence and a lot of pressure is taken off your shoulders. And it follows that you handle the next challenges more maturely and more prepared. I didn’t put as much pressure on myself this year as I did then, I simply believed that if I focused on myself, it could end well.
“Was it always as easy as it sounds?”
“Actually, no.” There was the low point in Hungaroring, when I was pushed out, Uruguay, where I was squeezed in the straight and it was only by a hair that I didn’t have a major accident, or the second race in Sydney, where I think I could have won, but they came at me from behind. Not to pull myself up in these situations and to remain focused with all my nerves required boundless patience. But I knew there was only one thing I could do for my own good, if I stayed calm and focused. I think it’s a great thing that this was done until the last moment.
– Three competitors from three brands started the season-ending weekend head-to-head, sometimes taking the flag for one, sometimes for the other, and the entire year was similar. When everyone is determined to do everything, how fair can the fight be?
– I like it when the fight is tough, but there were points in the season when I was very angry and angry. I didn’t feel like some of the movements were sporty. However, I’ve been racing long enough to know that it’s part of the game. It must be accepted that there is contact in such a league and that it is not a safe sport. Although I wasn’t always happy at the given moment, looking back, I see it like other things in life: fighting hardens you, makes you tougher, you really grow in such intense battles.
– Now that you’ve become champion for the second time, do you remember that you were already twenty-one years old when you first got into a racing car and that’s how you got to the top of a world series?
“Sometimes what happened to me still seems like a dream.” I remember a time when I really thought I would never become a professional race car driver. When I was a teenager, I realized that I was way too late. Earlier we talked about the fight, and now I remembered that at the beginning of my career I was not so trained in fighting, which was precisely the result of the fact that I was not socialized in go-karts at the age of five or six, and hard battles were missed when I was young. Everything came later for me, and the experience you need for a championship cannot be obtained through TV, only at the cost of many, many real fights. I am proud of the professional path I have taken, because if I look back at the last ten years, I can see that I have improved a lot. The raw pace may have always been there, but the combat training was missing for a long time, and now I feel that I am fully prepared for more and more situations. That’s why I can be more relaxed, I enjoy hard battles more, and I even look forward to them, because I know they will help.
– Does the fact that your career started later mean that it will last longer? You will turn forty next year, how many more years do you see ahead of you?
“Good question, I don’t know, but I hope there’s still a lot left.” Anyway, I really have the idea that if I had started car racing when I was younger, I might have finished it by now. I believe that nothing happens without a reason, and it is true that my career started later than the majority of competitors, but it was also an advantage because I was able to appreciate the opportunities better. I still really enjoy racing.