“Difference between local racing and FIA championship is huge”
Following are excerpts of an interview with EZY Racing’s star driver Dinesh Deheragoda
Q: How do you feel now that you have your first international championship appearance out of the way?
A: I feel that the experience and data gathered by my crew and myself in Malaysia will surely help in the upcoming rallies in the current championship. Finishing the Malaysian Rally in one piece, despite the extreme weather conditions in which it was conducted, was indeed a relief.
Q: What did you learn from your first international rally?
A: I need more preparation and coordination with my team. There is so much to do within an allocated time as per the regulations or else we face time penalties. The demand to be up there is no easy task for me and for ER as a team. Our experience will surely take us forward in the coming rallies.
Q: What areas do you feel you will need to improve?
A: I need to look at the whole championship a great deal differently. Improving coordination with my co-driver and getting our pace notes fine-tuned is an area that I am mainly focusing on now, alongside with more preparation among the team within the timeframes allocated by the FIA.
Q: What steps/preparation are you making to improve yourself and your performance?
A: I am doing many dummy practice runs with my co-driver to improve our in-car coordination related to pace notes and at the same time the level of physical fitness and preparation to run rallies of almost 1,000kms in two days including about 250km of Special Stages (SS), which is highly demanding.
Q: Coming 6th in your first international debut is a great achievement. How does it feel? Could you have done better?
A: Honestly, my expectations in Malaysia were to finish 4th or may be 5th the most. 6th for me personally is a little disappointing. However, with the above mentioned preparations in place, I am hoping that Japan would see me through to at least one to two higher placings in comparison to Malaysia.
Q: How is the car preparation coming along? Is it very different to what is needed for local racing?
A: Additional preparation of the car is needed for Japan as there was an incident where I hit a palm tree in Malaysia and ended up with some damages to the front left of the car. We have limited time in Japan to prepare the car. EZY Racing as a team has provided me with all the resources that are required to do all the maintenance with the equipment that we carry in the ER88 container.
The high standards of the FIA require the car to be within the exact regulations, plus we need to adhere to many local regulations for each country when we drive the rally cars on public roads in-between the Special Stages (SS). Japan out of all the countries has the strictest road regulations. With all these regulations in force, the difference between local racing and FIA championship is huge.
Q: Do you miss racing in Sri Lanka? Will we see you run in Sri Lanka again?
A: I don’t miss Sri Lankan racing as I have had my share of racing locally and have won over 25 Championships at National and Club level together over the past 17 years. My passion now is competing at events under the governance of the FIA. I may participate in just one rally towards the latter part of November this year with a mere intension of giving a try to secure the National Rally Championship which I have won 6 times in the past. There were two local rally rounds that were conducted earlier this year where I won both and I need to finish 6th overall to retain the National Rally Championship.