Interview with Nani Roma: From two to four wheels with a high mark
The aim was to reach Dakar and contribute to the team's victory. He not only reached Dakar but also in sixth position and he has witnessed how his team-mates managed to take the two top positions of the race
Before taking the start in Barcelona many thought that after winning the Dakar 2004 in bikes, the Repsol driver wouldn't give any surprise in 2005. Well, he did; he surprised those who trusted in him and especially those who didn't. After a discreet start, where Nani was getting the feeling of the car and the race, the Spanish driver made an impressive second half of the race. Fourth and fifth in the last stages, Roma has proven to be a, not actually young, but a promise in his new class.
What does it feel entering Dakar by car?
"It's a different feeling, because you get stuck at the access, it's much more difficult to enter the city than on a bike... It took us a lot of time to reach the finish line of the liaison. But it's a big satisfaction as always. In addition, you get the feeling that time passes very fast; it seems that it was only yesterday when I was here on the bike."
Why do you think everybody agrees in saying that this has been the hardest edition of the rally? Would you say that it's because of the route or because of the surrounding circumstances?
"Every time you finish a stage or the Dakar, you have the feeling that it's the hardest you've ever made. Some days later, you realise that they've all been hard and that each of them has had its moments. The problem is that this year there've been several factors that have made it especially hard. A series of unpleasant situations, the death of two friends, the weather conditions that have been quite adverse, a lot of wind... it's been really complicated. But I think that what has marked the difference has been the death of Carni and Fabrizio."
Are the safety measures of the rally not enough or was the death of Jose Manuel Perez and Fabrizio Meoni a question of bad luck?
"You know what you'll be facing when you come to race the Dakar. Safety is what it is and I don't think that it's not enough. I think that Meoni died at once; there was nothing you could do. But it's true that this race is not like racing the Motorcycle World Championship or in Formula 1, where they race in a circuit with risks under control. I think that the organisation does everything possible to guarantee our safety, to have doctors, helicopters... but sometimes no matter how many means you have, you just cannot get there on time."
Dominique Serieys, Mitsubishi Team Manager said that you're racing at a 75%, in an intelligent way and calculating the risks very well. Do you agree?
"I obviously haven't raced at a 100%, although I cannot tell the exact percentage. I still have a lot to give. The facts prove it. I haven't had any accident, I haven't hit the car and I didn't have any fright. It went well but I still have a lot to learn and to progress. And I also have to prove all those that trusted in me that they were not wrong."
This year's aim was to reach Dakar and help your team-mates. You arrived and in sixth place, and your team-mates finished first and second; perfect?
"Yes, with no doubt. I expected the victory of a Mitsubishi, because it's a powerful team, the drivers are very good as well, the car is competitive and the team members are fabulous. I didn't expect myself finishing sixth; my highest aim was to finish among the top ten. What we have all achieved is fabulous because it's been real teamwork, not only the drivers."
You've had no pressure so far; do you think that this result will lead them to start asking for results?
"I don't think so. The most important is that the people from Mitsubishi and Repsol know what my possibilities are and what I have to do. They know that you're not ready to win on the second or the first year. They want me to learn. If we all know it, it doesn't matter what the rest of the people may say. What I have to do now is to keep on learning, to cover more kilometres and the days will come where we'll be fighting for the victory."
From your point of view, what has been the best and the worse of this rally?
"The worst has obviously been the death of two friends. The rest has been fantastic. For example, I have a very fond memory of the start in Barcelona. It was a great feeling, starting from home, driving to the Castelldefels beach with all those people supporting you... But in general terms, the best has been to learn new things every day and to evolve."
And from now on?
"First of all I'll spend some days of rest with the family. Then, my most direct plans are trying to take part in some races of the World Championship and race kilometres and kilometres to learn as much as possible".