Petr Semerád is a young and very talented driver. He shines in circuit racing and rally. Switching between two different kinds of motorsport isn’t really a problem for him, as he proved during the opening event of TCR Eastern Europe, where he finished fourth and second with the Hyundai / Janík Motorsport team in a Hyundai i30 TCR. Now the next stop is Red Bull Ring and he hopes to repeat the results.
Petr, you are doing great in the rally and on the circuits. Those are two quite different kinds of racing. Has anyone told you that you are like Ester Ledecká?
I haven’t heard that yet (laughs). I think if anyone called me that, I would have to win the World Rally Championship and also some circuit championship, and Sébastien Loeb has already done it, so I am quite at ease about it.
What is your secret to mastering rallies and circuits so brilliantly?
Going from rallies to circuits is relatively easy. In principle, it is still about driving the car as fast as possible in the given conditions, except that, in a rally, one has to work much harder with the pace and the conditions on the track, changing grip and so on. A man can relax a bit on the circuits because he doesn’t have to think so much about everything and can drive at maximum pace non-stop. On the other hand, this certainly doesn’t mean that racing on circuits is easy. You have to fight with other cars, predict opponents’ behaviour, and try to avoid making contact.
How would you characterize your driving style on circuits and in rallies?
I think that, because I started my career on circuits, I have a relatively calm and precise driving style. On the other hand, rallies will teach you a lot about respect, so I try to make as few mistakes and be as consistent as possible.
Are there different ways that you prepare for those two types of racing?
The preparation is definitely different. It’s a little easier for the circuits because I’m building professional racing simulators for my clients, so I have one at home. This makes it a lot easier for a person, as he can practice the circuit with a particular car in advance, and when he comes to the event, he knows exactly what to do.
You raced a TCR car for the first time at the end of last season in Brno. You finished with points in a Cupra in both races. Then you started with a Hyundai i30 TCR at Hungaroring this year and finished fourth and second. Did you expect such a result?
I honestly didn’t expect such a result. I was hoping that it would be better than Brno, where I struggled a lot with the conditions. My new tyres stopped working after two laps there and it became more of a survival drive. On the other hand, I like Hungaroring. In the winter, we go there with our Hungarian Topp-Cars team for the traditional Szilveszter Rally and we have always been successful there. It turned out that I was similarly successful with TCR there.
Success at Hungaroring probably motivates you to achieve similar results at Red Bull Ring…
I really like Red Bull Ring, like Hungaroring. During the time I was racing formula cars there, it was probably my favourite circuit, along with Most. I hope that we will be able to maintain the pace from Hungary and that I will be able to fight in the Top 5.
How did the cooperation with Hyundai / Janík Motorsport come about?
The cooperation was established by chance. I got an offer to race for the Janík Motorsport team in Hungary, and the weekend was a good one. I think I surprised the team too. The team is truly at the top-most level of professionalism and I am really grateful for the opportunity to start with them. From engineers to mechanics, everything in the team works as it should. I don’t think I’ve experienced a more professional approach in circuit racing.
And what about your team boss and teammate Václav Janík? How do you help each other and who gives whom advice?
Vašek is a very experienced circuit and hill-climb racer. I’m glad that I managed to beat him over the weekend in Hungary. We both expected to be close to each other, which, unfortunately, didn’t go as well as we thought during the race. Vašek had to retire during the first race and, in the second race, he was stuck behind a train of cars. On the other hand, we exchanged feedback from the cars and tried to work together to speed things up, which is an ideal situation for me.
Is your future participation in TCR Eastern Europe still open-ended, or will you be fully dedicated to the rally after Red Bull Ring?
My participation in TCR Eastern Europe is still open and I hope, after Red Bull Ring, to continue with the Janík Motorsport team. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to race in the rally. We’ll keep on competing this season and the next race for us will be the Bohemia Rally.
You began racing in TCR Eastern Europe as part of the ESET RaceStar project for young and talented drivers. How important do you think it is to have such a programme in motorsport?
I think that supporting and training young drivers is absolutely essential for our sport. I am very glad that such a project exists – one which is trying to bring drivers into motorsport and help them.