Vít Smejkal is going to start in the TCR Eastern Europe Championship for the first time in his career. He has driven countless racing kilometres, however, driving his team’s new Cupra TCR will be a baptism by fire for him, as well as for the Expres AUTO team. Smejkal’s goals are determined – to learn and to gain experience so that he can fight with established opponents as soon as possible.
You raced in the Carbonia Cup in the past. This year, we will see you in TCR Eastern Europe. What brought you to the TCR Championship?
I have been watching TCR Eastern Europe since its birth and I was very interested in this series. It’s about the driver’s talent, strategy in the race, and searching for the ideal car setup. I am a friend of Petr Čížek’s and, as he says, we are from the same bus (which means that we live just a few kilometres apart). Petr has been racing in TCR Eastern Europe for several seasons and he recommended this championship to me to further my development. Thanks to our company Expres AUTO and our main sponsors and business partners, I will be able to be a part of some races.
You bought an older type of Cupra TCR from Mičánek Motorsport. It belonged to last year’s champion Michal Makeš. What are your goals with this car?
After moving from an Octavia KTCR to a Cupra TCR, I had to learn the limits of the car and harmonize my driving style. We have to learn to prepare and set up the car for each race, and we want to get used to the series. I have to thank Jiří Mičánek and his team Mičánek Motorsport, who gave us a lot of information about the car, as well as some of his know-how. As a newcomer, I would like to fight for positions with established opponents.
Have you been working on the car over the winter, or did you buy it race-ready?
The car had been perfectly serviced by the Mičánek Motorsport team mechanics, so we basically just had to do some standard inspections, maintenance, and minor cosmetic repairs. That was followed by a new colour design by RacingtechCZ. We have done our first short test, during which, to our immense joy, the Cupra worked great.
Tell us about your Expres AUTO team.
Our team has a workshop at AP motorsport in Litvínov, where Zdeněk Pipota and multiple rally champion Ing. Václav Arazim built and prepared a lot of racing cars, including our Cupra. The lead mechanic and designer is the skilful Honza Mikšátko, who is a huge enthusiast and has a big heart for motorsport. Miroslav Žalud takes care of APM’s engineering and operation. I am very happy that many other colleagues, friends, and fans help me.
Do you plan to do the entire TCR Eastern Europe season? And which circuit in the calendar are you most looking forward to?
Due to my current workload, we will only run selected events this year. We want to gain experience, test, and learn. I’m looking forward to the Red Bull Ring, but especially to my home race during the Czech Truck Prix at Autodrom Most, which I can almost see from the windows of the company’s office. I raced a lot at Most with the Octavia KTCR and fought with many newer and more powerful cars. In this spirit, I would like to continue with the Cupra TCR.
Do you plan to start in other championships?
We definitely want to switch to the TCR Eastern Europe series and try to do as many races as possible. We are not ruling out [the possibility of] the Cupra showing up in some other races in order to gain more experience.
What is your racing history? What achievements are you most proud of?
I started in hill climb races. There are a lot of beautiful tracks here in the Ore Mountains and a number of races were held there. My friend and I bought a second-generation VW Golf and, after the necessary modifications, such as lowering the chassis, lowering the weight, and installing the frame, we started racing at hill climb events. After two seasons, I wanted to move on and bought a first-generation Octavia, which we began to adjust and prepare for circuit racing. In 2013, I won the overall classification at Carbonia Cup and was the best in all racing specials for the entire season. Thanks to the skilful and hardworking Honza Mikšátko and others, the Octavia KTCR improved every year, and in every race I entered, I could compete against factory cars. It was a great experience.