Q&A WITH REINIS NITISS: "THERE IS ONLY ONE AIM - TO WIN!"
Latvia’s Reinis Nitiss will race an Audi S1 EKS RX quattro Supercar for Mattias Ekstrom’s EKS team in the FIA World Rallycross Championship this season, as an individual entry. We caught up with the 2014 World RX of Norway winner to get his thoughts ahead of the first round of the year in Barcelona this weekend.
Q. How does it feel to be starting the new season driving an Audi S1 Supercar with the reigning champions, EKS?
RN: “This feel really, really good. Being in a factory-backed team really means a lot to me and it gives a wider perspective. But for sure, nothing is taken for granted and it will take a lot of hard work to show I am worth this spot.”
Q. How soon before the official announcement did the deal come about to drive with EKS this year?
RN: “It wasn’t long before, but what matters more is the time after the official announcement. There has been some very intense and hard work with the team already.”
Q. How much testing have you done before the season?
RN: “We have driven quite a lot, and for me it was vital to get to know my new car. There is still a way to go until I can say I know the car 100%, but I feel confident with it now.”
Q. What is it like to work with Mattias and Topi?
RN: “Since they are both older than me and they have more experience in the Audi S1 EKS RX quattro – and in the sport – I can learn a lot from them. They never say no if I need advice, especially Mattias - his experience is so great and he is willing to share it.”
Q. You’ve worked with Swedish and German teams previously, what’s the language of choice this season in the Swedish-German EKS team?
RN: “It’s not only German and Swedish people in the team. We have the greatest minds and hands from many countries, so the official language in EKS is English.”
Q. What is the Audi S1 like to drive compared to the other Supercars you’ve driven in World RX?
RN: “It’s a new concept for me as it has a transverse engine. That brings some differences in the required driving style. But, I feel comfortable with it on track and testing has helped me to get used to the characteristics of the car.”
Q. Does driving for the Audi Sport-backed team in World RX mean you get a nice new road car, as well as the S1 Supercar?
RN: “Audi Latvia were thrilled to see me join the EKS team and yes, from now on my car of the choice is an Audi. A white A5 to be precise, but since I have been traveling a lot lately it is waiting at home until I get back from Barcelona.”
Q. You won your third ever Supercar race in 2014, do you think more wins are possible this season?
RN: “For sure being in the top team with top guys around me makes it more realistic in some ways, but there will be no easy wins. There are 10-factory backed cars on the grid and 10 more with great engineers and great drivers behind them, so it’s going to be tough. But whenever I am on the start line, there is only one aim – to win! Fingers crossed!”
Q. You’ve previously helped another team (OMSE, in 2014) to win the Teams’ Championship. Even though you’re an individual entry, can you help EKS to retain its title this season?
RN: “Mattias and Topi are the designated Team’s Championship drivers and they will do the points collecting for EKS. For sure having a third car on the grid helps to ‘steal’ points from competitors and that is what I intend to do. We are one team and we will do the maximum to achieve the team’s goals!”
Q. What are your hopes for the first event of the season this weekend?
RN: “This is a though one. We don’t have a crystal ball in EKS, so we cannot predict the rankings of all the teams. Saturday morning (Practice) in Barcelona will show some glimpses of what can be expected. I will do my best, but at this moment I’d better keep my predictions to myself.”
Q. Who do you think will be the main contenders for the Drivers’ Championship this season?
RN: “The guys that we saw on the top spots last year will be fast this year also. Petter (Solberg) and Johan (Kristoffersson) are in new cars, but that doesn’t mean that they will be slow. Last year we saw Andreas (Bakkerud) jump straight onto the podium with his brand new car. It’s the same with me - I know I can be fast, but I’m in a new car and only when we drive side-by-side with others we will know the true pace of each other.”
Q. Lastly, Andreas Bakkerud did some rallying in an R2 car this winter. You did that last year too. In a head-to-head fight on a rally, who would win?
RN: “Haha! I need to find an Audi-based R2 car for that first. But being serious, I think it would be a close battle. We have about the same amount of pace note training and stage driving experience. Maybe that’s something we should think about for the next winter break.”
Share this story on facebook Share this story on Twitter