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December is one of the few months in the year with no rally event. Are you going to have a rest or are you already planning to get ready for the upcoming season?

Both December and January are usually quite demanding. The season’s ending, and we have lots of duties for Škoda and our sponsors. In a word, during these months we finish what we didn’t manage during the year. Lots of events: ceremonies, PR meetings and VIP drives. Time runs so quickly. All of a sudden, it’s Christmas, and you find yourself not even having presents.

You don’t get behind the wheel at all?

We do. We had tests the other week. It depends on how the next season looks. If we go to Monte Carlo, we’ll have tests in France. And we have two more testing days in December.

How do you manage the Christmas preparations? Do you organise things in a hurry – at full speed – or do you prefer to relax?

I promised myself I’d have presents bought in advance by November. It worked out! So I’m halfway through. I have the rest figured out, too, but didn’t have time to buy them yet. I hope I won’t wind up sorting it out on the 23rd, though.

Who will get the best present from you this year? What is it going to be?

For us, the best present is to be together. The entire Kopecký family, my dad and his brother, my mum, aunt, cousin, grandma — we all meet at the table on Christmas Day. Of course, the boxes are part of it, but they’re not as important as family peace.

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Czech rally driver, a member of the Škoda Motorsport team since 2009. European Champion 2013, Asian-Pacific Champion 2014 and Czech Champion 2004, 2012, 2015 and 2016.

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For us, the best present is to be together.

Jan Kopecký

So is it an exception for the family to get together like this?

It is. It’s fantastic how the family sticks together. If we happen to find the time, we even meet for a Sunday lunch from time to time. And Christmas, that’s a bonus, with the carp and potato salad. We only eat that once a year.

What are your Christmas wishes this year? What would you like to get this year?

I appreciate even small gifts, I don’t need expensive stuff. When the other person captures your taste, even the tiniest trifle brings joy. Anyway, what specifically do I wish? I won’t say. (laughs)

Can you remember a present from the past that has brought you the greatest joy?

When I was a small boy, I got my first remote control model car. It was the old remote — with a cable. I ran around our flat with it and drained the batteries during the night and the next morning. Then I cried because I couldn’t drive it anymore: It was holidays, and all the shops were closed.

 

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Have you ever experienced your own Christmas story with a happy ending?

We see such stories every year. It’s similar every time but no less wonderful. We gather up at about 11. We start by tidying up because we want the place nice and clean. Then we savour a bowl of cabbage soup and wait for the golden pig. It’s an old tradition, and I remember when my grandpa was alive, I could see the pig every year. It would run on our neighbours’ walls and roof, and I believed that if I ate even a bit of meat during the day, I wouldn’t be able to see it. It wasn’t until many years later that I found out it wasn’t a pig but our neighbour running around with a torch.

You come from a small town in eastern Bohemia. Did you skate on a frozen pond, for example?

Sure we did. But I’ve never been a good skater. My uncle played ice hockey for the town back then, he was a regional star. I guess he wished I’d been good at it, too. But I wasn’t.

You come from a racing family. Did you father’s driving affect your Christmas in any way?

Not at all. My dad was gone most of the year, but for Christmas he was always at home.

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Carp with potato salad is a must.

Jan Kopecký

What can be found on your Christmas table?

Traditional things. Carp with potato salad is a must. And a scale under the platter for good luck.

Do you keep any Christmas traditions?

We’re not a family that would keep traditions, except for the carp, of course. For us, as I’ve said before, the tradition is being together.

How do you reflect on 2016? Has it met your expectations?

It was a top one. We won five races — all ones that we started in. That’s what we managed last year, too, so we retained the title. I really appreciate that. Plus, we managed to win the Barum Rally, the country’s most prestigious event, for the fifth time. No one’s ever done that before. We brought home the 46-year-old challenge cup with really famous and big names engraved on it. I’m so glad to be in such company.

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What are your plans for the next season? Is it going to be a wild ride?

I’d love to go on with Škoda. Negotiations about the next season and races are under way right now. And I’d lie if I didn’t mention the WRC 2 is my ambition.

What do you wish for yourself, your relatives and everyone around you in 2017?

I’m not wishing anything for myself; that’d be selfish. For all others, I wish good health, because if you’re all right, you can do anything.

 

 

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