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“Sébastien needs less information than many other drivers”

“Sébastien needs less information than many other drivers”

2017-07-27

Four questions to Erik Larsson (AKA Eric Färén), Sébastien Loeb’s spotter

 

• How would you describe the spotter job in Rallycross ?

It’s like a co-driver for a rallydriver, but we are not in the car. We are outside on the spotter tower along the track. We help the driver with what he can’t see. We are an extra pair of eyes from the outside. But the biggest thing is the joker lap and the tactic for that. We have an eye on what happens to the other cars around. I take split times of the other cars. It’s like playing a tactic from the outside as Seb is in the car trying to make his best. I’m responsible for taking the decision of the joker lap, which is very tricky because we have to decide very quickly. There is a big part of instinct because you make a plan before the race but, most of the time, it almost never happens. Depending of the start, you have to stay alert all the time. I must have a vision on everything happening on the track : if it’s wet, slippery, dirty…

 

• Is the job more difficult on specific tracks ?

Each track is different. When the joker lap is just after the start, it’s a little bit easier for me because Seb needs to take his own decision according to his feeling and his position at the start. I don’t like this situation so much. When the joker lap is short, it’s a bit more difficult. With a long joker lap, it’s easier to see the gaps between drivers. If the joker lap is short, it’s more tricky and tight. Sometimes, your driver starts from pole position, takes the lead and then it’s easy.

 

• How is it to work with Seb ? Is it much pressure for you ?

Yes, of course. Many people comes to me and say : “how can you do that ? It’s too much pressure !”. Seb is the most successful rally driver ever, so it’s some more pressure but he’s a normal guy in life and I try to do my job the same way I did before. He was very successful in rally and I want to help him being successful in Rallycross too. We never met before he came to Rallycross but I think we have a good relationship. We have developed a kind of language. It’s not long sentences but short words. He doesn’t want a lot of information. He needs less information than many other drivers. It’s a bit unexpected as he had someone talking to him all the time in the car when he was a rally driver ! Maybe, he’s fed up with that ! He tells me that I don’t need to remind him he has to drive fast so I tell him to try to get some extra performance only when it’s critical in order to gain a position. When I tell him that, he knows that he really needs to push. If he’s not happy with a decision, we talk during the debrief. It’s honest and open. Most of the time, there is an explanation the driver can’t understand when he’s in the car. In quali, we aim the best possible time and we need to avoid the situation of Seb being stuck behind someone slow.
 

• Does your racing driver experience help you in this position ?

Yes, I think so. I was runner-up in the Swedish championship in 2015 under the name of Eric Färén at the wheel of a PEUGEOT 208 WRX. It helps me to know what is the feeling in the car and what can happen. It’s important to have the racing instinct to be a good spotter.