Contrary mainly to Nicolas Ciamin for two days, the Lorraine driver had an ideal Saturday to take his Polo GTi R5 to victory. Thanks to this victory acquired with Kévin Parent, the driver of the Sarrazin Motorsport team is leading the championship, level on points with Nicolas Ciamin.
The day after this success, Quentin responded to our interview to talk of course about this Rhône-Charbonnières rally but also about his regular progress since his debut in the premier category.
Hi Quentino. The day after your victory in Rhône-Charbonnières, I imagine you are very satisfied.
“It’s nice to win, I’m obviously satisfied. But winning a round is not an end in itself, the goal is always to achieve a result throughout the championship by putting together good performances. Vittoria, I see her as something that comes from regularity and work. Last year, without winning definitively, we fought to the end for the title, and that’s what I remember. We could have gone out a lot and won, but we were worse in the championship.
Last year, I was not at all frustrated with not winning a round. The goal was to be consistent and score points. In the Var the objectives were different, the situation was not favorable to winning the title and I was aiming for victory more than usual, telling myself that I could push hard. In the end, it didn’t work out for me with a tire story, but we’re not going back now.
On the evening of the first day in Charbo, you are head to head with Nicolas Ciamin (8 tenths behind). What were your impressions then?
“I was a bit frustrated on Friday night because I wasn’t driving well. I had notes from 2018/2019 on stages that I knew well. And instead of riding the note as well as it should be, I have muddled the notes and my memories of the phases. Also, I didn’t have a setup that would give me complete confidence in speed. I knew we would be more comfortable in the new phases with smoother notes. In the past, I’ve always been a little better than others in new specials.
The day after you chained the best times, always with a small margin, and the gap gradually widened with Nicolas Ciamin. How do you explain this difference compared to the day before?
“With a slightly modified setup, really nothing crazy, I had a much better feeling. We played on the field of the car, we stiffened the hydraulics and the car gave me more stall. I was able to ride well on the new stages with a steady pace, always bearing in mind that there could be entrapment in some strings for example. I could trust my highly experienced trailblazers (Alexandre Bengué and Cendrine Ruel). I had softer notes for that day.
So we had a good car, I had a great feeling and I was really comfortable to be able to attack as I wanted while maintaining a certain margin, even if it still wasn’t perfect in my driving.
Starting behind Ciamin, I saw his tracks and told myself that he didn’t have to be the top in terms of setup. And when you see the brake tracks of the front one, you tend to always want to brake a little later! It was easier for me to find myself in this situation than to open the second day, as it happened to me sometimes last year with Yoann (Bonato).
In the last two stages I pushed less. Robert (Cédric) asked me if I had pressure and no, it was okay because I was comfortable with my pace.
In the last one I had a bit of difficulty concentrating, I asked Kevin for his notes several times and I was above all afraid of dying. In the end, the weekend will have been perfect and the car impeccable ”.
For some time you have shown great progress by managing to clearly fight for the title of champion of France. How did you manage to progress in this way?
“Experience has a lot to do with this. Stéphane (Sarrazin) allowed me to improve enormously in driving, but also in my approach to racing. Before, I pushed a lot on rallies and made a lot of mistakes, while now, above all, I aim for consistency in my performances. We are still struggling with riders like Yoann and Nico who are helped by the manufacturers and who can be considered semi-professionals. I spend less time in the car, I have less experience than them. Yoann is often in tests with Michelin or Citroën while Nico is still aiming to become a professional driver. For me, it’s great to be able to run in front of them and perform well.
I am an amateur who runs in a professional structure that belongs to an official team.
Do you think you will feel less comfortable in some upcoming events?
“When I returned to the French league in 2017, I feared the Cévennes and Antibes because I had no experience. Last year, it was only my second Cévennes while Yoann may have done it 12 times! But in fact I did as well in these races as in the others.
In recent years I have gained in precision in driving, especially against Stéphane (Sarrazin), as I said. But I still have to gain consistency. In Charbo, for example, we lose 6 twice in a special against Ciamin. Yoann was in the same situation as us but we must try to understand this difference.
You have spoken several times about your work with Stéphane Sarrazin. Can you tell us more?
“We worked on how to brake, on the trajectories and on many small things, which put together make you improve. He was able to see my guide on specials and of course on video. He rode with me a couple of times too, but not that much. I was also inspired by videos of him to progress. His contribution is enormous. Overall, I also stopped making the little mistakes I made too often.
I am also well supported by my engineer (Yannick Hubert) who comes from the circuit. He has worked in particular in Endurance, GP2 and Formula E. Since the beginning of our collaboration in Le Touquet, we have worked very well together. Compared to my rivals, I still lack a bit of technical preparation, so his contribution is really fundamental “.
For the 3rd consecutive year you drive a Polo GTi R5, a car without modifications. Is it embarrassing for you?
“The team is constantly looking for ways to improve the car even though VW is no longer developing anything. The team is very close to Wevers Motorsport in terms of components. The Polo is a good car, Citroën and Ford too because Fourmaux showed it in the past, for example. Nico also shows that Hyundai is level. However, I think that all the R5s perform well ”.
Before Antibes, what is the program?
“After this victory, I’m going back to work tomorrow morning. I am a corporate employee in a visual communications company run by Thierry Chkondali called Message. I am also a ski instructor and can adapt my schedule a little bit as I want.
Without all my mates following me, I would not be able to drive in rallies at all and I am well aware of how lucky I am to have them. I also thank my employer who allows me to free myself for the French championship.