Alex Filip, 32, started his career as rally racing driver in 2003 with a Dacia Nova. In 2005 he raced in the first full season of Romania’s World Championship, coming second in group A 1.6. His favorite racing driver is Sebastian Loeb and his favorite rally races those from Piatra Neamt and Maramures. In January this year he tried a mass produced Dacia Duster at Covasna Winter Cup 2011 in conditions of poor road grip.
1. Some info on you and your co-driver. When did you start driving together?
I’ve been a rally racing driver since 2003 and I started on this path at the wheel of a Dacia Nova GTI within the Onesti Rally Racing. Since then, I’ve gathered some experience and more than 12,000 kilometers in special stages. My best result was when I arrived second in group A, in 2009 with co-driver Bogdan Iancu. I started driving with Bogdan in 2009, stuck with him in the same team in 2010 and, in 2011 we’ll race together again. He has a long list of achievements; he was national champion of H group and raced against famous drivers such as Horatiu Ionescu Cristea, Gunther Graef and Mihai Leu.
2. Alain Prost drives Dacia Duster on ice at the Andros Trophy. You tested it on snow. How did the car behave? Did you make any changes or improvements?
That’s right, Alain Prost arrives in the first positions at the Andros Trophy*. He is a valuable racing driver at the wheel of a well-prepared car. Let’s not forget that he runs against models that have been present for a longer period in this type of competition and that have more experience.
We tested it on snow, at Covasna Winter Cup 2011, a mass produced car, which has not been specially equipped for competitions. Practically, the Dacia Duster 4x4 1.5 dCi is a car like any other car in the showroom, our purpose being that of testing the car in poor road grip conditions on a private road. Of course, the tires were adequate to the weather, i.e. snow tires.
* At the end of the Andros Trophy 2011, Alain Prost came second on Dacia Duster Glace.
3. Why did you choose the Dacia Duster?
I liked that car from the very beginning, since I first saw it at Dacia Duster Off-road Experience. I had the opportunity to attend that competition and I considered that there is no better way to test that car. I spent a weekend at the wheel of Dacia Duster on asphalt, tarmac, off road, snow and ice.
4. What are the advantages of Dacia Duster for the Covasna race?
The car stability, the firmness of the suspensions, the torque and the all wheel drive were all on our side during the Covasna race.
5. Are there any elements you particularly liked at this 4x4? Did it manage to convince you that it is a real 4x4?
Yes, I appreciated a lot how the wheels are placed at the ends of the car body, which makes it extremely easy to manoeuvre. I consider that Dacia Duster has another advantage: the ground clearance. It is a car that handles well the situations in off road, a 4x4 on which you can rely.
6. The Covasna race – is it special in a way or another?
Besides the atmosphere and the excellent public who is waiting to see car skids on ice at -15o Celsius, it is the only rally racing on ice in Romania. And good drivers can drive mass produced cars too.
7. What is your recommendation to those who want to test the Dacia Duster in similar conditions?
Now I am answering as a driver, not as a racing driver. Should the car be equipped with snow tires, there is no problem. The car is agile; the torque spares some motivity and the systems the car is equipped with (4x4, ABS and ESP) do their duty. We drove at speeds higher then 125 km/h at the Covasna rally racing and I didn’t feel unsafe not even for a bit. Consequently, I strongly claim that a driver can be safe in a Duster in “winter driving conditions – to use the phrase frequently employed by the authorities.
8. Design versus maneuverability. Should a woman buy a Duster, which of the two do you consider will make her decide in favor for this car?
It is always difficult to know what women think, but in order to be able to answer this question I asked my wife who is 8 months pregnant to drive it and to give me her opinion. Her verdict was that the car has an appealing look, is easy to drive and easy to maneuver. In other words, I think a woman could appreciate both aspects. Since the price is also very important, I consider the car has many advantages.