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When Citroen recently announced the line up for their Junior Team in this year's World Rally Championship, alongside Chris Atkinson's name was that of Evgeny Novikov.  Whilst Novikov's name might not mean a lot to many yet, Citroen have earmarked the 18 year old Russian as a potential champion, and sitting beside him calling the pace notes, will be another Aussie, Dale Moscatt.

RallySport Magazine's Peter Whitten recently spoke to Moscatt about his dream come true - the chance to compete in the sport he has dedicated his life to on the highest stage.

How did the Citroen C4 WRC drive come about?

The original plan had been to run an S2000 car in the PWRC again for ’09 but there was interest from teams who had seen how much progress we’d made with Evgeny in such a short amount of time and all the advice was to get him into a WRC car as soon as possible. So Evgeny tested both the C4 and Focus before Rally GB (unfortunately I was in Dubai with the Abu Dhabi guys and had to miss it) and both he and the Citroen team were impressed enough with each other to put this deal together.

What's the program? Which events will you be doing?

We’re confirmed to run in the eight European rounds of the WRC in the official Citroen Junior Team, so that will see us drive a C4 in Norway, Cyprus, Portugal, Sardinia, Greece, Poland, Spain and GB. Our own E-art team have then also put together a programme of up to five rounds of the Czech Championship to help build some tarmac experience. It’s a fantastic calendar of events that should all add up to both plenty of kilometres in the seat, as well as a wide range of different events to build experience from. 

Do you think Evgeny will step up to the WRC car easily?

Well, as I’ve said, unfortunately I wasn’t there when he tested the WRC cars in GB but everyone else there said they were amazed at how quickly he achieved a comfortable feeling with the car and he was repotedly up to speed quite quickly. In 2008 he drove a Subaru N-12, N-14, Peugeot S2000 and Evo IX in rallies and I think he won an event in all of them so, for someone so young, he is amazingly adaptable and although it is obviously a big step up, I’m sure we’ll adapt quite quickly.

Evgeny is a naturally talented driver. What are the goals for 2009?

He does have an amazing amount of natural talent and a real passion and flare for what he does in the car, but as I’ve said, it is a big step up to a seat in a ‘factory’ team, especially at such a young age. In my mind, if we can keep these thoughts to the side and concentrate on our own progress and not get too caught up in battles and comparisons too early on, then I think the times will be good enough and the results and speed will come along with that.

How does it feel to finally get your chance to compete in the WRC?

I’m obviously thrilled and very excited to be a part of it.  It is a fantastic opportunity we have here and I just can’t wait to get started. I have had a lot of calls and messages from friends and the rally community congratulating me and wishing us well, so it has really been quite an exciting time.

It must seem a long way from wiring houses as a Sydney electrician!

It’s funny, I’ve heard a lot of people say how ‘lucky’ I am to be in this position and Coral Taylor and I were laughing about this the other day because they obviously need to re-think that. I really have put my whole life into forging a career out of co-driving.  It’s 15 years since I first started rallying and I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to get to where I am now. You really do take a big risk when you decide to quit your job and chase a dream and it’s only through hard work, perseverance and sometimes just taking that chance and putting your balls on the line, that it all comes to fruition. But in saying all that, I wouldn’t change that for the world.  If it was an easy path you probably wouldn’t succeed when you did actually get here.  It’s still just as hard on the workload side of things and then you have the added pressures and expectation on top of that, so I’m sure without the 200 odd rallies worth of experience, it would be a much tougher task.  

You are also doing some Czech tarmac events. Will you continue to live in Sydney, or will you and your wife move to Europe?

We did look at the option of moving to Europe and I actually spoke to Chris (Atkinson) quite a bit about it, but with the way the events are grouped our calendar pans out quite well and we’ve been able to keep our base down here (in Australia). There will be a couple of trips that will be six weeks away and I’ll stay in Europe between events quite a few times, but I will bring Selina up in between some of those events and it looks like it will work out quite well. The team have been fantastic and although we are still waiting on the confirmation of some test days, etc., it looks like it will work well.

You co-drove Cody Crocker to an ARC crown. How does Evgeny compare in talent to Cody?

2005 was a great year and we certainly won a lot of events that year. Cody did a great job in the car and rarely put a foot wrong in that regard. It is hard to make a fair comparison off that, though. What makes Evgeny stand out (and stand well above most), is the way, with no previous event experience, he attacks a new piece of road with that raw speed that even the seasoned PWRC pro’s can’t normally match. He started winning National rallies both in Russia and Estonia when he was just 16 so that speed was there right from the start and obviously if you multiply that by the fact he’s only just turned 18,  it’s easy to see why Citroen have earmarked him as a potential champion.

It must be a great feeling to be competing in the same team as Chris Atkinson.

Yeah, look Chris and I are good mates. I’ve stayed at his place in Monaco between events up in Europe and we always try to have a meal and a catch up at events (or a beer afterwards) so it’s going to be nice to have a mate and some extra Aussie support in the team. Obviously he has been to most of these events before as well and it will be great to have him and Stephane’s experience there in the team.

You received your early Christmas present. What's Dale Moscatt's New Year's Resolution?

I’m not really that big on the resolutions thing but I guess I believe it’s the hard work I’ve put in that has brought this dream to fruition so I’ll be trying to stay focussed on that work ethic and making sure I concentrate on those same areas and the smaller details that make you good at your job. It’s really not that long till Norway now, though and the anticipation is starting to build - strapped into that C4 on the start line, in the snow, on the long studs, launch control engaged - it is going to be a way cool experience and I just can’t wait!!

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