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Q&A: Marc van Dalen - EXCLUSIVE

24 August 2007

by Rob Wilkins


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH MARC VAN DALEN: CLICK HERE


OMV Kronos Citroen team boss, Marc van Dalen was understandably a very happy man after Francois Duval's brilliant drive to second on the Rallye Deutschland recently. Crash.net Radio's Rob Wilkins caught up with him to chat to him about that success and lots, lots more...



Q:
Marc, I have to begin with what happened in Germany and particularly Francois Duval's performance there in your second car. It was just outstanding. Congratulations.

Marc van Dalen:
Thanks a lot. We are very proud of this and very happy.

Q:
Since the second half of the season started, the OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team seems to be a lot more competitive. Just what did you do over the summer break?

MvD:
Nothing special at all - we have just been working hard together, in the same way as we always do with the driver, the sponsors, the team, Citroen, everybody, to try and come back. The gap at the beginning of the season was not so big but the WRC is so competitive if you lost two tenths here or one tenth there you are directly eight places off the top six or top five.

In Finland though, we saw that Manfred [Stohl – our regular driver] was back, even if he went off. The times were there and the performance of Manfred was very good. Now Francois has shown the car is on the level definitely everywhere and we have a lot of optimism now for the future. The next rally will be New Zealand and I am sure Manfred can do something good there.

Q:
How impressed were you with Francois' drive?

MvD:
I think like everybody I was impressed because it is not only the question of being at the top but we have to remember that this guy has been without a good car for one and a half years. He only had 100 kilometres of testing before Germany and we arrived there in the rally and on Friday he was leading. It was a very, very good job. Honestly I haven't seen a drive like this since I was with Sebastien [Loeb] last year. It is unbelievable.

Q:
Manfred Stohl seems to have been a lot more positive in the last two events - what can he do in NZ? Is a top five or podium possible?

MvD:
I hope we can get a top five. I talk a lot with him - and have said 'look what the car is able to do and now it is up to you'. I know Manfred can do it and he really likes New Zealand and I know also that the car is able to do something good there, so I hope altogether we can help him and push so that we go like we did in Germany or Finland. It is always difficult to be in the top three or top five but we have to try for sure.

Q:
Has Francois' form in Germany spurred Manfred on a bit?

MvD:
I don't know. I think it is helpful for Manfred to have a team-mate like Francois because we can compare our cars. We can also get them to work together. It is a big help for Manfred on asphalt, as he is not a tarmac specialist. But I know that Manfred is at a good level on gravel anyway.

Q:
Beyond NZ, can you confirm if Francois is going to be doing any more events with your team?

MvD:
I am working like hell for that - believe me! We are working very hard to find the money so he can do the next event in Europe. There are four rallies left in Europe and the entries close on August 30 for Spain, so I have seven days left to find the money. I am quite optimistic though because there are a lot of people around me who are trying to help me. Everybody is pushing for that and I hope we can do it. It is very important for all of us.

Q:
How are things looking beyond this season? Any idea if Kronos will stay in the WRC next season?

MvD:
Honestly it is too early to say. In any case I am working hard on a project in the IRC [Intercontinental Rally Challenge] and I am currently on the way to Zlin for the Barum Rally [in the Czech Republic this weekend - round six in the IRC] and I have a very good programme there.

I do want to stay involved in the WRC, but only if I am sure I can have good drivers', good cars and if I can join both of those with the sponsors we need to do it. However it will only be on this condition. If I have to go with, let's say, not good drivers, not so good cars, there is no sense for us to stay there.

Q:
I know the calendar next season will remain at 16 events - but does the fact it will go down to twelve from 2009, help at all?

MvD:
Sure - twelve events is much better, 16 per year is too much. It is too much money and you need more people and you need so many other things to be ready to do 16 events - that is my point of view.

Q:
You have also got a programme in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge – that you mentioned a moment ago - and will continue with that in 2008 under the 'Peugeot Belgium' banner. Are you a fan of the IRC?

MvD:
I am. We have a two year contract and will go further. I want to stay in the IRC with more than one car and so my hope is to have two teams of two cars - so four cars altogether. This is one project.

But it is not a problem for Kronos to do the IRC and the WRC together like we have done this year. This is what I want to do and if I am really sure I have a guarantee to enter the top level in the WRC I will carry on.

Q:
Is the IRC a serious rival for the WRC or do they compliment each other?

MvD:
I don't know. It is difficult to say. I think there is a place for both of them but currently I am more optimistic for the IRC than the WRC.

Q:
There are six events left this year – what do you want to achieve in those rounds?

MvD:
The only way for us is to fight like hell to be as close as possible to first place. This is all that we want to do and from the beginning of the season that is all that we wanted to do. But there is a gap between what you are able to do and what you want to do – that is rallying. OK we are pushing to improve and work like Germany and like Finland. I think it is important for all of us and OMV.

Q:
Final question, at the moment it is a very close in the battle for the drivers' title. Who would you tip to take it - Marcus Gronholm or Sebastien Loeb?

MvD:
My heart is for Seb, because he was my driver last year. I hope we can help him also with my cars [and take points off the Fords]. At the moment however, currently I believe it is a 60 per cent chance for Marcus - and 40 per cent chance for Seb.


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH MARC VAN DALEN: CLICK HERE


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