GET TO KNOW EKS NEWCOMER NICO MULLER
DTM star Nico Muller will make his FIA World Rallycross Championship debut at Loheac in France (September 1–3) as part of a four-car EKS team.
We caught up with the first Swiss driver to enter a World RX event to find out more.
Q: What appeals to you most about competing in World RX?
NM: “First of all, the World RX Supercars are fun to drive, very challenging. You are more than busy all the time when you drive these cars. From my very first passenger ride I enjoyed the adrenaline rush and I can’t wait to find out how it feels to line up with a few other guys in more of these beasts and head down to the first corner side by side. It will be super exciting!”
Q: What have you found to be the most transferable skills from circuit racing and what have you had to learn from scratch?
NM: “There are many things I have to learn, but with my experience from circuit racing it feels quite natural to choose the right lines on asphalt especially. To drive the car on the grip limit on asphalt is also something I’m familiar with. The car in general is different because of the four-wheel drive. That will be a challenge for sure, but it is still a car with four wheels and four rings, so I hope to get used to it very quickly.”
Q: Did you have any previous experience of driving on loose surfaces?
NM: “I had the chance to drive a bit on ice with EKS during the winter. That was a good opportunity to learn the basic handling of a four-wheel drive car. And I also did some laps with the Audi S1 EKS RX quattro in Barcelona and in Mettet. But nothing other than that. I grew up in classic circuit racing. Karting, single-seater cars and finally touring and GT cars. But I want to learn new things. I won a race in DTM, I won races in endurance racing like 24 Hours of Nürburgring. I always want to try to be competitive in as many different cars as possible and prove that I can be at the sharp end on loose surfaces in World RX as well.”
Q: How has working with the EKS team been so far?
NM: “I have been enjoying working with EKS from the very beginning. My first task in Barcelona last year was looking after some Audi Sport guests and washing the tires, because I lost a bet to Mattias. I’ve seen the way the team works from very different perspectives. I love the passion from everyone who is involved. You can feel that they are driven by the hunger for success and that’s what I love. Now I can’t wait to get onto the next level with that team.”
Q: How much testing have you done in the Audi S1 EKS RX quattro?
NM: “I haven’t done much testing to be honest, more or less 1.5 days. These were high quality laps and I’m looking forward to get some more experience before Lohéac to be able to finetune my skills a bit to make sure that I’m on a decent level when the action gets underway.”
Q: Have you been able to learn much from Mattias, Topi and Reinis?
NM: “Yes, of course. I’m in a very lucky situation to have these three experienced rallycross drivers from whom I can learn. Our relationship has been great from the very beginning and I already learned a lot, but I will learn much more during the upcoming weeks.”
Q: How has your pace been in testing compared to the other EKS drivers?
NM: “To be honest, it’s always difficult to compare pure pace in testing, because obviously in rallycross, the track conditions are changing constantly, but I felt the improvement and you could see this in terms of lap times as well. Now my aim is to get as close as possible to the maximum performance of the great Audi S1 EKS RX quattro.”
Q: How will be to race against two other drivers you know well from DTM in a different environment?
NM: “To race against Mattias and Timo (Scheider) in a different environment is a really cool story. And I love to see that not only Mattias as the reigning World Champion, but also Timo is doing really well. They proved that you can adopt quickly from DTM to World RX and I want to do similar to these guys.”
Q: Is this a one-off drive or might you compete in more rallycross in the future?
NM: “At the moment I’m fully focused on the event in Lohéac and I will try to enjoy it as much as possible. But let’s wait and see what the future will bring after France.”
Q: Have you ever been to Loheac before or are you using onboard videos to learn the circuit?
NM: “No, but I heard a lot of positive things. The atmosphere must be terrific and the track is lots of fun to drive. For sure, I will prepare myself by looking at onboard videos. That’s the easiest way, together with talking to my team mates.”
Q: What are your hopes for Loheac?
NM: “I think it’s hard to define a clear target in terms of ranking. It will be tough to compete against 24 other guys in World RX. But it would be amazing if I can get close to a top 12 finish, which would mean that I qualify for the semi-finals.”
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