Last year´s TCR Eastern Europe debutant Vít Smejkal has a reason to look forward to a new racing adventures. His friend Petr Čížek came to the Expres Auto team not only as a driver, but also partial team boss, so both will be sharing their managing duties.
The big news in your team is the arrival of Petr Čížek. Who approached whom?
Petr and I have known each other for many years because we are basically from the same village. Since I tried a few races in TCR Eastern Europe last year, we eventually got to the question of working together in the racing team. And then the idea matured and we started to work on it.
But Petr Čížek won´t be just a team driver, will he?
Yes, Petr and I are team bosses now. We have divided the responsibilities and activities we will take care of in preparation for the team running. I’m glad that we enjoy it and we are happy about it. Everyone in the team knows what their job is and what to do. During races everything has to work automatically, but we are a completely new team and time will tell.
You’re going to run a full season with two cars. Your team must have grown, right?
Last season I agreed to work with Radim Adámek and ended up driving for his team ADITIS. For me as a newcomer it was the best possible solution. But now we had to put together a completely new team of mechanics and the background people, who are skilled and know their way around Cupra TCR.
You’ll both drive Cupra. Are they the same cars from last season?
It was clear from the start that it would be best for the team to run two same cars. It simplifies the logistics and reduces the room for error. Peter will have last year’s car after a complete overhaul and I will be driving the new Cupra Competition, for which we went to the Cupra factory in Barcelona in December.
How important is working with Petr Čížek for you as a driver and for the mechanics? How can he help you as an experienced driver?
Petr has a lot of experience and he understands the Cupra. He already knows what needs to be changed or adjusted on the car. This experience can help me on my way to good results. We will definitely share knowledge from the track to support each other.
How do you rate your personal development as a driver after last year debut in TCR?
You can´t compare the Cupra to the Octavia KTCR. That car needs a completely different treatment. That was the biggest change. TCR car won´t give you anything for free, you have to concentrate on every piece of the track and a small mistake can ruin your chances for a good result. It’s also contact sport, wheel to wheel. You have to be able to accept that, but be ready to fight back. The Cupra Competition is again a little different to the previous Cupra, so I have to learn the car’s behaviour again. I hope that in testing I will get to grips with the car quickly.
First race of the season will be held at Oschersleben. Have you ever raced there before?
Oschersleben is a nice, interesting track and we are looking forward to it. I’ve never been there and never raced there, so I don’t have any experience with it and I’m looking forward to a double debut – a new track and a new car. I’ll be preparing on the simulator with TMM racing and Peter Lisa from Motorsport Simulator. Also from onboards and we are planning a pre-season testing in Most.