We found Slaven posting on rallyforum.com. He’s got some interesting perspectives on rally sponsorship and gives away his gear.
What’s your name? Where are you located? What do you do for a living?
My name is Slaven Šekuljica (Sekuljica). I live in Zagreb, Croatia and work as a professor of Croatian language and literature and also running small business.
What got you interested in rally?
Feeling behind the steering wheel interested me in rally. You must have that feeling in yourself. Also gravel roads.
Tell us about your rally car/truck. How long have you had it?
I’m renting turbo diesel class these days. Don’t want to promote the brand without sponsorship behind it. Also didn’t have my own rally car for years, but must say that it’s better to own the car, because after ten rallies you’ re in plus.
Tell us about a time when you stuffed/crashed the rally car (or maybe had a nasty off).
Yeah, I had nasty roll on one event of European Championship back in 2002. Fuel ran off inside a car and it was danger of fire at any moment, but that didn’t happen (we were very lucky). After codriver and I went out, we saw that it wasn’t possible to continue (broken driveshafts, also steering, and too much damage on body of the car). Three hours later I was driving 120 mph just to see how I felt about the fear. Nothing happened seriously except few scratches beside nose of Edo Čop (Cop), my codriver for years.
Tell us about a DNF. How did you press on regardless?
Any rally is experience and if you don’t finish, it’s not the tragedy. The most important thing is that nobody is hurt (crews and audience)! It’s normal and also happening to Sebastien Loeb (seven times WRC champ) to retire sometimes.
How many events did you enter last year? Is that trending up or down? Why?
I entered only one event last year. Our championship is all asphalt (tarmac) events and I want to drive only gravel rallies. Next year plan is to run the Monte Carlo Rally 2011 and maybe few more events outside Croatia (especially if we buy a car ‘cos it’s easier then).
What kind of cash prize structure would entice you to enter more rallies or push the car harder?
It’s important to have a sponsorships to run the events. Without that you’re broke very quickly.
How important are car classes? What class/region do you race in? How many competitors in your class at each event?
Car classes are very important because an amateur without experience and big money can enter some event with class A5/N1 (these days are becoming R1 FIA classes) and drive it for small money.
I’m driving A7 class (2 litres turbo diesel engines-these day becoming FIA R3D class). On every event you can find up to twenty or thirty A7 competitors (not many with diesel engines).
What do you think about recce vs pacenotes vs blind rally?
Recce is so important and I’m for two passes per stage on recce without trainings (on some regions guys are training for whole year on stages so pracitically they don’t need codriver for rally (laugh)). Blind rallies still exist in Finland and some Scandinavian countries. Must be all with sport regulations!
Spectators: How would you like to see them addressed?
I like spectators! They’re my fans so how not to love them?! I would like to be in their company as much as I can! Must also say that I drove through spectators on many rallies and it was very dangerous in some places. On one rally, a guy was standing with a camera practically in the middle of the road and I said to my codriver: What’s wrong with this guy?! We’re in the full speed. We had to change driving line because of him, but we were not mad on him at all because it’s all part of the sport.
What do you see is the most critical issue needing addressed by the rally community today?
How would you address that issue if you were in charge?
Marketing is very important in every sport/business and that’s what attracts crowd. Also onboard camera because guys want to see how competitors drive through the stages. I understand them. They want to try it by themselves.
Must be LIVE TV stages if you want global popularity. Folks like to sit, watch TV and drink coffee or beer. Maybe Jean Todt (former Vatanen codriver and WRC champ) can change something. Also main guy from Finland event took the WRC with Robert Reid (former WRC codriver champ) as assistant.
How do you get local gearheads involved in rally?
I give my racing gear to younger drivers who want to try but every time tell them: DON’T GIVE IT BACK WITH BLOOD ON IT!
If you could enter any WRC event, which rally would that be? Why?
Monte Carlo or Wales Rally are my favorite events because the surface changes all the time. We’re working on them.
We’ve all got a rally hero. Who’s yours?
My hero is Colin McRae, but must say that Sebastien Loeb is the best rally driver of all times (facts are facts).
Your favorite Group B car?
My favorite group B car is Lancia.
Do you have a local rally club? Tell us about it! (If not, why not?)
We all must be part of FIA to have the FIA licence. I’ll change the team (club) at the end of the season so no more words about it.
How often do you get together with other rallyistas to talk shop?
We’re chatting a lot on the internet and at rallies. Rarely, coffee between the rallies and I don’t like that. Ego trips also exist and I really don’t like that.
I had to start by myself without backing. Sold the drums and some other stuff and bought a little A5 car to start.
Tell us about some people who have made your rally dream a reality.
I would like to thank to my father Obrad (RIP) who told me before my first rally from the balcony of our house: If you win the class, I’ll give you 700 US$! My mother took a sedative… Would also like to thank all my codrivers and Koraljka Tomičić (Tomicic) – my leader through career. Also my girlfriend (laugh)…
If anyone would invite me to any country in the world to compete in any event, just send me an e-mail and we’ll agree.
You can keep up with Slaven on:
Thank you very much!
Thank you, Slaven! We appreciate you letting us share your story with the rally world!
What about you, rally fans?
- How many rallyists do you know on Facebook?
- How often do you use Twitter to discuss rally?
- Ever drive through spectators?