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Emil Blum Reflects on Victorious Alūksne Rally

Even though in recent years, Emil has demonstrated very fast driving, this was only his second victory in the absolute standings in his career (in 2017, Blum won the rally sprint “Latvija”). In recent years, in some rallies, Emil was absolutely a few hundredths short of victory, but this time in Alūksne, his crew was the fastest, ahead of Samsonas by 0.63 seconds.

About how the Alūksne rally went for Blum, about it in this story.

Rally Alūksne, as usual, started with speed stages in the dark. How did you do this time?
After last year, it was a lesson that to drive fast in the dark, you need good lights, and this time, thanks to the general sponsor, it was also successful and we could start with good lights. This is an important element because you have to see in the dark (smiles). If we talk about the driving itself, the speed stage was very demanding from the crew, a lot of work had to be done. There wasn’t such a run-in phase, but here, right from the first meters, the crew’s cooperation had to be perfect. The first time the surface was slippery and we slid more, but we expected that before the start. The second time there was already a spur and the driving was different, but faster (Emil SS2 was five seconds faster than SS1). However, we drove without undue stress and at a leisurely pace, even though we had to be able to adapt quickly. Such conditions had not been driven for a long time. It’s like the same speed stage, but each time the conditions were different. Was it interesting.

Were you surprised by the Estonian drivers with ‘Ford Fiesta Rally3’ cars, who were very fast on the night dopes?
I knew those guys were fast and on these working roads they would be in a high place overall. Not too surprised by their results, as this night stage was very grateful to their cars.

Foto: Edgars Zalitis Photography

In the second speed stage, you are the first, brother Kalvis is the second. The feelings must have been very pleasant for you brothers.
Of course. But I knew that Kalvis would shoot and that everything would be fine. But, of course, we were very happy and proud. I think the last time something like that happened was during the time of the Neikšan brothers.

You finished fifth and sixth in the first two stages on Saturday morning. You hadn’t woken up yet?
In the first two stages of the morning, I don’t even know what really happened. Maybe we were driving too cautiously, we were looking for something – then we braked sometimes wide, sometimes early. I don’t know, but the ride was so jerky.

The second time, when the road was cleaner, the results also improved.
Yes, it was easier to drive on that road and you knew what was waiting for you. But we also counted on that and everything was fine. Yes, somewhere we were helped a little by kupenas, but these winter rallies are also cool when you can use kupenas.

”Rally Buhariki”. Foto: MVFoto

In the afternoon, those results were already more stable and faster. You probably already knew what awaits you.
I made some jokes in the seventh stage, where I turned too fast in one sharp corner and we hit the coupe. It threw me a little off balance, but I recovered and continued driving at our own pace.

Before the final stage, you lost 8.2 seconds to the leader Martin Samsonas, but at the finish you were ahead of him by 0.63 seconds. Went to the whole bank?
No, absolutely not. We didn’t even think to risk and catch anything. We drove at our own pace, but in the speed section I saw that he was leaning against the coupe here and there before me. When we met and talked after the finish, he revealed that he had also ridden at his own pace and he didn’t think we could bring him that much time. However, in the end, you can see that we were able to recover what we had lost and take the victory, which I would like to dedicate to Didzi, who was ill in this rally, but did his job perfectly!

Apparently Samsonas was not happy about such an outcome.
It wasn’t (laughs). When Mārtiņš Sesks told us after the finish that we had won, Samsonas was surprised. He came to us, congratulated us and said that we are not really good (laughs). A couple of curse words came out of his mouth (smiles).

Photo: Jānis Asaris

Until now, in some rallies you lost a few hundredths in the overall standings, but this time luck was on your side.
Yes, there have been a couple of painful rallies when the victory is one-hundredth of a cent away, but this time the rally Gods were with us. It feels good that we were also finally lucky.

What about the audience? Was there more than last year?
It seems that there were more spectators this year. In general, I can only say the best things about the rally – great organization, festive atmosphere, as well as great weather. The dark stages where we saw a lot of bonfires are especially memorable. Such a surreal feeling. Of course, many thanks to all the fans who created a great atmosphere. Thanks also to everyone, especially the “Rally Bukhariks”, who cheered us on the side of the track with the many Latvian flags. It must be said that we as athletes are slowly getting used to it (laughs). But no, no, the feelings are still cool when you see Latvian flags. It is also a great pleasure for us to create festive feelings for the audience.

Did you count yourself how many times you went on stage at the awards ceremony?
About six (laughs). We brought a lot of cups home this time.

And also a box of eggs.
Yes, the whole district will be able to eat now (laughs).

What are your crew’s future plans?
Next in our plan is the Otepe Rally, and then we will look further. At the moment, we have no plans to start a full season of the LRC or Estonian Rally Championship. Let’s look at the possibilities and the situation.

And how about the start of your crew in the WRC stage “Tet Rally Latvia”?
It’s hard to say at the moment, but of course we’re working on it. It’s not easy, but we’re not throwing the plinth in the bushes yet. I would really like to try my hand at the big WRC stage, but everything is not as easy as I would like…

Resources used:
Home – Go4speed

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