05 Nov 09
In the second part of our profile on 2009 Production Car World Championship winner, Armindo Araujo, wrc.com talked to the man himself about his career so far, his title winning season and what the future holds.
You began your racing career on motorbikes. When did you switch to four wheels - and why?
"When I was younger it was always enduro motorbikes for me. From 1995 I started serious competition in Portugal and in 1999 I won the national KTM challenge. After that I said okay, now I want to try the Dakar and other international off-road events. I was starting in this project when I watched a rally which was running near my parents' house and I thought it looked like fun. So I tried one and finished second, then I did another and I won. Soon after that I thought okay, this is for me."
Did you have any rallying heroes?
"Not really. For most of my life the focus had been on motorbikes and riders. That was always my dream. But then I started rallying and my focus changed - but I was never trying to follow anybody else's career. It’s strange really because my family was not in the sport [rally] so I was doing everything alone and from a standing start. But I knew I could do good things and it turned out okay, even though I didn't have anybody - like a keen father - pushing me along."
What does winning the P-WRC title mean to you?
"Well, it's good because in 2007 I said to my sponsors give me three years and I’ll win the championship - and three years later here we are. I've been able to repay their faith. I can say look, you gave me a lot of money and I have given you the title. It’s extremely good news for the future, for me, for Portugal and Mitsubishi Portugal too."
How does the feeling compare to your win at home in Portugal?
"It's impossible to say - they are both highlights. My first P-WRC win in Portugal was an incredible feeling. To do that in front of my sponsors, my fans and family made it extra special. The Portugal win came at just the right time too; it gave me the confidence and the power to win the championship."
Rewind to the last stage of Rally Australia, when Toshi Arai's retirement handed you the points you needed to win the series. What did you think when you saw his car parked by the side of the road?
"It was very strange. Up to that point I’d spent all of the weekend waiting for my opportunity, but I never found the key to getting in front. Then, on the last stage, when I saw Arai stopped I said okay, now this is my moment. I'm World Champion - but only if I get to the end. Those last seven kilometres were very, very difficult, let me tell you."
It was an awkward way to win the title - you got enough points in Australia, but everything depended on the result of the court of appeal. When did the win feel like a win?
"We made a small party in Australia but yes, we were waiting on the appeal so we weren't completely sure. Personally, I was always very confident that the appeal wouldn't change things. But when the FIA delayed their final announcement by three or four days of course that was quite a pressured time. In the end, though, I still felt that we would be okay because the Stewards said that car was illegal, and that's that. It was a big relief when the call came confirming that."
Have you spoken to Nasser Al Attiyah about the exclusion?
"Yes, we talked a little on Rally Great Britain and Nasser gave me his congratulations. We are friends - there are no problems with that. You know, we are professional racing drivers - we never know what happens inside the cars. It's difficult; we might know some details on the car, but we can't know everything."