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Q&A: Guy Wilks - EXCLUSIVE

24 September 2008

by Rob Wilkins


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH GUY WILKS: CLICK HERE


Guy Wilks launched his 'Back the Brit' campaign back in the summer in a bid to try and secure himself a drive with the Subaru World Rally Team in 2009. Crash.net Radio caught up with the Englishman at the Castle Combe Rallyday recently and spoke to him about the 'Wilks 500 Club'. We also chatted to him about the Rally Yorkshire - the next round in the BRC - and lots, lots more...


Crash.net:
Guy, how are you going to approach the Trackrod?

Guy Wilks:
The same as always, we are going to try and win it. It is as simple as that. That is what we always try and do in the British championship. There is a bit of pressure on. We have not had so much luck - myself and the team - over the last three tarmac rounds. But we are still in with a shout of the championship. Everybody seems to have, not written us off, but think that it is going in Mark [Higgins]'s direction. I am going to do my best to stop that.

Crash.net:
If you look at the results you have had one DNF this season, one win and two second places, which means it is still all to play for...

GW:
Definitely, but we have got to make sure we collect some wins. We need at least two wins out of the last three rounds [Wales Rally GB is a double-header – Ed] and for Mark to finish lower than second. But we will see how it goes. It is one of those things. We have never slackened off the pedal, the team or myself or Phil [Pugh] and David [Moynihan]. Obviously I have had a different co-driver in the car and David is going to continue on the Trackrod. Phil is not quite 100 per cent fit. But that is not an issue. We won last year on the Trackrod and I am definitely looking forward to it.

Crash.net:
The Trackrod is a one-day event - and a very fast one too.

GW:
It is a very fast event. There is a lot of straights and very high-speed. A lot of people say it is just straights and junctions. It is a little bit more than that. But yes, some very high speed sections.

Crash.net:
The 'Wilks 500 Club' was launched back in the summer in a bid to get you a drive with the Subaru WRT in 2009. Tell us about that.

GW:
I could have ended up with egg on my face but it is going really well. We passed half a million a couple of weeks ago now. I am really encouraged by the people that come and actually backed me. Some people I haven't met before and some people I do know. It is quite humbly to see how many people have actually backed me. From that point of view it is actually quite nice to see the support. But in another way we still need more. We are still looking for a good chunk of money. However you never know where it is coming from next and you can't really second guess it. We have just got to keep our heads down and work hard at it.

Crash.net:
Do you have any deadlines in terms of when you need to get the money in place?

GW:
There is and there isn't. If we want to go and put down a deposit then obviously there is a deadline depending on which car, when we need to have it ready by and what the programme is. From that point of view there are deadlines and it is not a case I am not worried about them. It is just a case that we will come and face them as and when they come up.

Crash.net:
Have you got a 'Plan B' or is it all focused on the 'Wilks 500 Club'?

GW:
It is solely focused on the 'Wilks 500 Club'. That is what we decided. We said we can't have anything else going on. Okay if a sponsor comes along great. They can almost be part of the 'Wilks 500 Club' as well. We have had commercial sponsors in the past. Mobil 1 being one of them and even in the British championship, I have a close relationship with Virgin Money - and also Sega computer games. But the problem with those is only two of them are really global. We are out there looking for others as well at the same time.

Crash.net:
This year as well as doing the BRC, you have been driving a Honda Civic Type R R3. Have you enjoyed that?

GW:
It has been massive fun. I have really enjoyed it. A lot of people said: 'Why are you doing that? You are going backwards not forwards'. I said look at it from this point of view. I said: 'Honda is a massive car manufacturer and they plough millions into Formula 1'. They are looking at re-directing some of their motorsport budget and that is what they have been doing. This programme is a toe in the water exercise. I was asked to develop the car and do some events with it to prove how competitive the Civic R3 could be. I think we have more than done that. We did suffer some teething problems. But most recently on the Rally Finland when we won the J-WRC class by over a minute that was fantastic. S1600 cars really should be faster than an R3 car. But I think that shows how good the car is.

Crash.net:
Before doing the Rally Finland, you did the Rally Russia in the Honda too. Russia is a round of the IRC. What did you make of the IRC from that outing?

GW:
It is a really, really nice championship. There is a great atmosphere between the drivers' and the teams. There is a good competitive spirit but at the same time it is nice and relaxed. You wouldn't think that a championship could be so different in its approach. But it is quite different to the World Rally Championship, where everybody, doesn't keep themselves to themselves, but there are definitely divides in the WRC service area and there needs to be with different manufacturers. But that is why it is so hospitable in the IRC. There is manufacturer input, but it is not direct and perhaps that is the difference. I definitely enjoyed it and I would like to go back and do some rallies, albeit in a competitive Super 2000 car.

Crash.net:
You are going to use the Honda again in Australia aren't you?

GW:
Yeah, I am looking forward to it. I have only ever been there once and that was earlier in the year with Honda. I can't wait to go back. It should be a nice trip.

Crash.net:
Will that be your final outing in the Honda this year?

GW:
Possibly, they are talking about maybe wanting to do something on tarmac. If that isn't a rally, it will definitely be a test just to iron out a few things. We will wait and see. I am talking to them quite a lot and in a way they are quite sad to lose me. But at the same time I have said: 'We have a bridge there and we can always cross back and forth'. Hopefully Honda will come and maybe do Super 2000. That would be fantastic.

Crash.net:
You mentioned your regular co-driver, Phil Pugh a moment ago. He is hopefully going to be back for Rally GB and that event with the Honda in Australia too isn't he?

GW:
Yeah - Australia and Rally GB. Hopefully Rally GB is going to be very important because we will have done a good job on the Trackrod. It is a bit hard on David because he has sat in the car now for two BRC events and this will be his third. He has played his part. We have not had the best of luck while he has been sat in the car but that is not down to him - not at all. It is one of those things. I think he has definitely gained from the experience and hopefully he will have learned a lot as well. From my point of view it has been interesting to have somebody different in the car to Phil - although I am looking forward to getting him back.

Crash.net:
Going back to the BRC, as you said it hasn't been an easy year. Gwyndaf Evans is now back as your team-mate. Were you sad to see Phillip Morrow go?

GW:
If it was me and I had lost that opportunity it would definitely be a killer blow. At the same time though I think you have got to move on. I have not had that exact experience. But in my early days Ford weren't so interested after my first year in continuing with the Super 1600 programme. I almost got left in the lurch. But fortunately enough I had a fantastic result in Finland. However going back to what you were saying. It is never nice to lose a driver or a team-mate. You try and build a relationship up. Obviously I know Gwyndaf very well. Phil and I were getting to the point where we were starting to know each other. That is all water under the bridge though now and Gwyndaf is back. He is a very professional guy. I enjoy having him around. I know he is going to do a job for the team and that is important. It doesn't take any pressure off me because the pressure is still there to try and win and bring home the maximum points. I wouldn't do it if there wasn't any pressure. If there is no pressure there is no adrenalin. I love competing and that is why I am here. We are in a pressure situation, but I am looking forward to it.

Crash.net:
Can Mikko Hirvonen beat Sebastien Loeb this year and stop him winning the WRC drivers' title again?

GW:
It is difficult for Mikko. There are two tarmac rallies left in the championship and it is going to be an up hill struggle. Citroen seem to dominate on asphalt – and not only Sebastien, but Dani Sordo is also very, very fast [on the black stuff]. It is going to be very hard for Mikko. Although I must admit I have a closer friendship with Mikko than I do with Sebastien. Maybe for that reason I would prefer Mikko to win. He is a nice guy and he had unbelievable bad luck in New Zealand. That really was a massive kick in the nuts on the last stage! But Mikko is strong and he will come back from it. He will brush it off his shoulders and he will continue forwards. He will be thinking he needs to take maximum hauls in Wales and Japan and hopefully something can maybe go wrong for Seb in Spain or France - a mechanical issue or something because it has happened to Citroen. It is still in the balance.


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH GUY WILKS: CLICK HERE


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