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Q&A: Juha Kankkunen - EXCLUSIVE

26 July 2008

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH JUHA KANKKUNEN: CLICK HERE


Juha Kankkunen was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed recently and Crash.net Radio's Russell Atkins spoke to the four-time World Rally champion about the state of the sport - and the chances of fellow Finn Mikko Hirvonen beating Sebastien Loeb in the battle for the 2008 drivers' crown...


Crash.net:
Juha, how are you enjoying the Goodwood Festival of Speed?

Juha Kankkunen:
It is always nice. There are a lot of people here and it is good to see old friends and talk. This is one of the biggest events of its sort in the world. I am driving too, as well as looking around and doing some interviews. I just want to enjoy the day.

Crash.net:
What are you driving up the hill?

JK:
The Corolla - it brings back a lot of memories. I spent nine years of my career with Toyota and won many rallies and championships.

Crash.net:
What have you made of the WRC this year?

JK:
It is very tight. The fight at the moment is between the two Fords [Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala] and Sebastien Loeb - as Subaru brought out its new car late. Loeb is strong and when we go to the tarmac he will be very fast. We know that for sure. It will be interesting.

Crash.net:
Do you think fellow countryman Mikko Hirvonen can beat Sebastien Loeb to the title?

JK:
It is not going to be easy. I have been speaking to Mikko and it is of course possible because he is there [and leading the championship at the moment]. It depends how Sebastien drives. It is very close and very open. We have to remember though, that there are these asphalt rallies to come and they are very good for Sebastien. Normally he always does well on them. There are also several gravel rallies as well however, and Mikko is very fast on the loose.

Crash.net:
As a former multiple champion yourself, what do you think makes Sebastien so good?

JK:
He is very talented and he is a very good driver. His driving style is unique. He drives very carefully and of course he has a good car. A good man has to have a good car, so that everything works together. The package is good.

Crash.net:
Has anything surprised you or disappointed you this year?

JK:
Not really - it has been pretty normal. The only disappointment is maybe that there are not enough teams participating. It would be nicer if there were a few more people fighting for the win and just more teams in the rallies. Rallying is a nice sport.

Crash.net:
What about the WRC in terms of the regulations - is there anything you would like to see done to improve it?

JK:
I think there is a lot that needs to be done. The first thing is to bring the teams back and cut down a little bit. My idea, the same as Carlos [Sainz]'s, is to cut down on the number rallies and make them longer. Go for quality. Give the drivers' time to do a proper reconnaissance and concentrate on the event more, instead of doing them practically in a row every weekend.

Crash.net:
What do you think of the tactics we are seeing this year on the gravel events, with drivers' slowing to get a better road position for day 2? Should they go back to reversing the order?

JK:
...Maybe not. When I was driving and when you were leading a rally you had to start first. But then they changed it. I have done both. Tactics are however, normal. You have lots of rallies – not just the WRC, but like the Dakar too - where you have to go fast and where you have to slow down [at certain points]. I think tactics belong to the rally sport.

Crash.net:
Finally what do you think about this rotation system for events in the WRC, which comes into force next year and means the Rallye Monte Carlo won't be apart of the world championship in 2009?

JK:
With the new rotation every event has one year in and then one year out. Monte Carlo is like any other rally - it is like the Rally GB or Finland or Sweden or Acropolis or whatever. It is the same thing.


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH JUHA KANKKUNEN: CLICK HERE


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