Cypriot driver Alexandros Tsouloftas has managed to impress with his performance, in just two years of rallying at his homeland, Cyprus. The good times in Special Stages were combined with good results and the 25 year-old driver is making a huge step in his new Citroen DS3 R5, supported by Citroen Cyprus and Citroen Sport!
His presence at SEAJETS Acropolis Rally 2017 marks his debut outside Cyprus as well as behind the wheel of the Citroen DS3 R5, and is the first event of his partial ERC program this year. Except for the facts above, a new element for Alexandros is the cooperation with experienced co-driver Denis Giraudet. Just a few hours before the start of the rally, we had a very interesting interview with Alexandros Tsouloftas.
What is your first impression from the special stages of the rally?
"The stages I have seen so far are very nice! For sure, they have nothing in common to the stages I have driven so far, as they are way faster than those of Cyprus, which are more twisty, narrow and technical."
When and how did you start rallying?
"I basically started in 2016, although I had done one or two events in 2015. Before that, I had no connection with the sport. Since then, I have managed to claim some good results, which are a good sample of the work we are doing and, as the others tell me, a sample of my talent. Neither have I done karting, nor have I done any lessons."
How did you decide to drive Citroen DS3 R5?
"This is an effect of the good results I have claimed. Citroen Cyprus has played a pivotal role, while Citroen Sport has helped as well. This is how we came up with this program, which consists of 4 events, starting with the Acropolis. In parallel, I will compete for the Rally Championship in Cyprus driving a Mitsubishi Lancer, because I prefer to drive an equal rather than a superior car, in terms of competition."
Your father (Andreas) has been a competitor in Cyprus. How important was his contribution in your involvement with rallying?
"For sure, family tradition was important. He passed me the "virus" of rallying, although, during 2005, when he retired, I wasn't so heavily involved with the sport, as I was little and don't remember many things. The truth is I wasn't even following the sport. All this until I watched, by chance, a special stage during Cyprus Rally. So that you understand that it was all by chance, I was driving, saw dust and stopped! Then I saw rally cars and was fascinated. I watched foreign and Cypriot drivers going very fast and was impressed by the spectacle and the way they were driving. At that time, I decided to participate in a Rally Sprint. I went down to my father's garage, prepared our Mitsubishi Lancer EVO VII and competed. Well, it didn't turn out as I expected, because we went off in the first corner. Something logical, if you consider that we used 8 years old tyres!"
How is the transition from a Mitsubishi Lancer, which you have driven only for 1,5 year, to a car like the DS3 R5?
"The transition is difficult and the step huge! Being in this car in just one year seems like a dream. When I started, some months ago, I didn't know many things, and today I have found out everything! Sometimes I can't realize the huge steps forward that have been done. The car is amazing and its limit is very high. It's totally different than the Gr. N and of course, even the fact that we are here, is a huge step forward."
You will be co-driven by a very experienced co-driver like Denis Giraudet. How did this happen and how is your cooperation?
"Basically, we met just three days ago. This cooperation was a proposal from Citroen. They told me that he is the most capable of helping me. Our cooperation is very good. Of course, we haven't worked on notes yet. The way of keeping notes is totally mine, developed after my watching on-boards in the web. They are in english, but we decided not to make any change for this rally. The new things for me are a lot here! New car, new stages, new co-driver..."
What is your target for SEAJETS Acropolis Rally?
"Everything is new for me in this rally. That's why our main target is to finish and do all the kilometers of the rally. We will not push, as we will try to adapt in driving of the car."
What are your targets and dreams in general?
"Basically, my dream has already come true! I'm in a level no Cypriot driver has managed to be so quickly. And I would like to believe there is more to come. My target is to participate in ERC 2018 and do all the event. After that, I don't know what will happen and how many steps forward will follow!"
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