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GP Week : Issue 177a
Making a welcome return to the world rally championship at the 2012 Catalunya Rally was Hans Weijs Junior, the Dutch driver who finished a strong second in the JWRC support championship in 2010 but who has faded from the world scene since then. In 2011 he concentrated on competing on local events in Benelux countries and in 2012 he was selected as a driver tor Volkswagen in South African championship events. Best known internationally and locally in recent years as a successful driver of front_wheel drive Citroen cars, it was a surprise that he disappeared off the international scene to drive in the Southern hemisphere for the rival VW company. It was a delight to see Hans and his regular co-driver Bjorn Degandt back on the WRC circus, even if both Hans and Bjorn had to wear racing overalls borrowed from fellow Dutch competitors! Catalunya Rally provided a splendid platform for Hans to display his abilities in a world rally car. They went into the final day in an amazing sixth place behind Loeb, Latvala, Hir vonen Tanak and Ostberg, and in front of seasoned world rally car drivers such as Novikov and Atkinson. Like Tanak, however, Hans was not destined to reach the finish. HANS WEJIS: I had the opportunity to rally in South Africa from Kris Nissen, then the competition chief for Volkswagen, who at the time was looking for opportunities for young drivers. I had driven in the German WRC event with the VW team Skoda, but after that there was not so much time to have another drive as there were some other drivers contracted by Volkswagen and for me there was no opportunity (for them) to go. Kris then gave me this other chance, which was really nice. The opportunity came a little bit later but I was really happy to continue driving, so yes it was great. I had some of my own sponsors and everything together worked out. This programme of rallying was really nice to have because I could get a lot of gravel experience. It all went well. VW South Africa at the time was developing a new car. They had been competing already for some years with an old version S2000 car but they had not won a rally for a long time so they had to decide to make a new car, another 2-litre and at the end of the season we had good speed and finally the week before we came back to Europe for Catalunya Rally we won the last rally, so it was really good for us and the team. We were really happy with that. Our win was their first win in two years, so it was really good. I think we have good speed over there now. Our teammate Enzo Kuun was second and it was really good for us. In general, what do you think about rallies in South Africa? The rallies are really good the only thing is that some rallies you cannot do a recce – you get a DVD from which you must make your own notes or you take the notes of the organiser – but in South Africa you have really good rallies. Really high level stages, so its good practice. Even at the WRC Candidate Rally, which did not go so well, the stages were wonderful but the organisers take it too easy in South Africa. They have to improve a lot but I think there are some good organisers. You have good scenery because the stages are beautiful, really good. Was your drive in a DS3 WRC with the Qatar Rally Team at Catalunya Rally some form of left-over prize-drive from the old JWRC days? No, the drive came from Nasser Al Attiyah himself. I have known him already some years from when I was driving in Super 1600 (2008-2010) and we were often talking together and we started working together when I did gravel note crew work for him in Germany. Then (because of his commitments to next year’s Dakar) he could not drive this rally, so there was a great opportunity for me to use his car! Do you have any plans for the future? For the future, no. It all depends on the money and other things and maybe when we get a good opportunity we take it – it’s what we are waiting for. 5 MINUTES WITH HANS WEJIS JUNIOR MARTIN HOLMES caught up with a young Dutch talent who has been missing from the WRC scene 5 MINUTES 21 GPWEEK.com // 21 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: