Thursday 4 April 2019

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Guerlain Chicherit sets clear objectives for 2019 World RX season.

Inspired to create something different, innovative and of exceptional quality, GCK was founded by former freeskiing Champion and motorsport driver Guerlain Chicherit.

The GCK brand encompassed his selection of unique, luxury ski and summer chalets in some of the most coveted holiday destinations, called GC-Kollection. While GC-Kreativ was also formed with the aim of producing unique, award-winning and thought-provoking designs and interiors.

Guerlain Chicherit took a step up to the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2018 with his own team GC Kompetition driving two Prodrive built and developed Renault Megane R.S. RX Supercars. 

The GC Kompetition team was formed with an approach to "changing the rules". Changing the rules in what way? Essentially the team strives to be different and to change in the rules within the paddock, on track, and amongst its fans.

The four-time freeriding world champion holds the record for becoming the first man in history to complete an unassisted backflip in a car. Having had a successful skiing career, the Frenchman made the switch to motorsport having amassed several starts and claiming three stage wins in the Dakar Rally.

Chicherit made his World RX debut in the JRM Mini RX Countryman in 2015 in preparation for a full-time programme with his own two-car GC Kompetition team in 2018. 

In 2018, Chicherit achieved a personal best finish of fifth place in Portugal and 11th overall in the drivers' championship. 

The GC Kompetition team also claimed their first podium in 2018 at Round 6 in Holjes, Sweden with former driver Jérôme Grosset-Janin.

With more experience in 2019, the team will be looking to improve in their second season in the World RX championship and will continue to run the Renault Megane R.S. RX Supercars, driven by Guerlain Chicherit and Anton Marklund

The 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship is set to be a humdinger with no factory teams and no defending champion. It's all to play for and with GCK on the rise, we took the opportunity to interview GCK team owner and driver Guerlain Chicherit
GC Kompetition - Anton Marklund and Guerlain Chicherit and the GCK Academy - Cyril Raymond (left) and Guillaume De Ridder (right)
PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition.
Junaid Samodien: What are your expectations for your second season in World Rallycross?

Guerlain Chicherit: My expectations are pretty high. Last year was like a big year for us because we came with a brand new team and brand new cars. It was my first season in rallycross, so much to learn, and I was more confident at the end of the year with some really good times, but I was not able to put everything together and to confirm a proper good result as I was expecting, but I think we are clearly ready for 2019. And, we want to fight for the top position on every race (weekend) and that is the clear objective that we have with the team.

JS: What are you or GCK doing differently to win this season?

GC: What we did differently. We know the tracks now, that a big difference. We know the sport, and we learn a lot from last year with the cars. So, we knew what we had to change on the cars, and that is what we did. We have been working the whole winter to make some big evolution on the cars, with a new engine and fixed the problem we had at the starts because the launch was our big problem last year. So, now it looks like to be okay. 

Also, we completely changed the front. The front of the car was completely changed to have much more aggressive steering. Not power steering, but traction on the front (axle), that was the weak point of the car last year. So, all of this looks to be fixed, but you know its always easy to be super fast on the test when you are driving on your own.

Guerlain Chichert's 2019 World RX livery.
PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition
JS: The 2019 GCK livery is rather unique. What inspired the change?

GC: I always like to be different and have my own design. I don’t like to follow what the others are doing and I don’t want to be like a proper typical motorsport design or livery like we did for the last fifty years. I try to be much more lifestyle and from where I am coming from. So, just try to change the rules all the time.

JS: GCK has moved from Prodrive to GFORS. Is there any specific reason for the switch?

GC: Yes, so it has a lot of reasons. First of all, GFORS are in France, and it was much better for me to follow and keep up with the team, and in terms of cost efficiency it was also much better. To work with Prodrive in UK it's always super expensive because you always have to cross... Take the boat and plane all the time. So, it was not easy. And especially because this season we launched a second team with the Clio, its was much more efficient for me to have all my cars managed by the same team because its a lot of saving at every post. 

But, do not forget without Prodrive this car could not exist. So, it does not change the fact that these cars are still for me the best Rallycross cars ever built, and I hope that we will show this year that these are the best cars on track, and we will see that. But without Prodrive it could not happen. 

You know GFORS is a really, really good team. Well experienced for fifteen years of rallycross. They have really good experience, but clearly this team could not design this car, because this car is really amazing, its really a masterpiece and I really want to say thank you to Prodrive one more time, and let’s see what goes on in the future that is maybe not finished. Maybe we will work with Prodrive again, let’s see. 

JS: GCK has entered four Renault R.S. RX Supercars for the 2019 World RX championship. Two Renault Megane R.S. RX Supercars and Two Renault Clio R.S. RX Supercars. Would your team approach Renault Sport for factory support in the future?

GC: For sure, I would love to have the support from Renault because I think we are doing a pretty good job, the cars are looking good and the team is looking good. What is missing at the moment are the results, but we are working on this and I think it's coming soon. So, let’s see what's going on for the next few weeks or months for the first race, but we are pretty confident. 

But to not be fully factory supported it also gives me much more flexibility and for the livery and all this I can.. You know GCK can decide exactly what we want to do. We want to be different, we are different. If you are, supported by a factory there are so many rules and you can not do everything you want. And, it works like this for me. I like to be independent, but if Renault wants to help one day. For sure, they are more than welcome. 

JS: In 2021, World Rallycross could switch to electric rallycross. Do you see this switch as a benefit for you (the GCK team)?

GC: First of all, 2021 is not confirmed yet. So, let’s see what’s going on, but if the electric (switch) is confirmed. Yes, that is a big change and we are going to follow this direction. We want to go, but its not my decision to confirm this change or not. But, if the electric is happening there is a big chance that GCK will be there because we didn’t come to Rallycross only for two or three seasons. The plan is to be there for the long term. 

I love motorsport. Especially fall in love with rallycross that is really what I like in motorsport. These cars are really big monsters like they are coming from another planet (laughs). Those cars are really amazing!

And, on electric they will be even more amazing in terms of performance, maybe a little bit more to be honest boring for the fan, but its a question to compensate with something else. Maybe find a more aggressive track. Maybe more jumps, something has to change, you know. The track will have to change or the rules have to change and to give it back to the fans. Again, I can just say what I think. It is not my decision, but let's see. I can confirm that if it is becoming electric, we will probably be there. 

Thank You to Guerlain Chicerit for answering my questions. Also, a big thank you to Nini Mikolajski and Roots Management International for assisting with the interview.

Interview and Text By - Junaid Samodien 
Sources: GC Kompetition and FIA World Rallycross Championship (media) 
Image Sources: GC Kompetition and FIA World Rallycross Championship (media)

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