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Q&A: Russell Brookes - EXCLUSIVE

3 October 2008

by Rob Wilkins


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH RUSSELL BROOKES: CLICK HERE


1977 and 1985 British Rally champion, Russell Brookes was at the recent Castle Combe Rallyday in the UK and he reckons Mikko Hirvonen will only be able to beat Sebastien Loeb and win the 2008 WRC drivers' title if he avoids 'pussyfooting around'. Crash.net Radio asked the questions...



Crash.net:
Russell, what have you made of this year's Rallyday?

Russell Brookes:
The weather has made it. The sun is absolutely brilliant. It is a beautiful day and the sun has really drawn the crowds out. There is a brilliant atmosphere and it is very friendly. It is great to see people I have met many times in the past in rallying and good to be reunited with some of the old rally cars.

Crash.net:
How important are events like this?

RB:
I think it is very important and it brings all the branches of the sport together. You have got people who were rallying cars in the early 1960s with their cars here. You have got current WRC people with their WRC cars. You have got Rally Raid cars and you have got stunt cars - absolutely everything. It is a great petrol heads day out.

Crash.net:
You have been on track - do you enjoy getting back behind the wheel and driving?

RB:
Yes I do. I feel a bit rusty on occasions, but I was reunited with the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus I drove on the 1981 RAC Rally. We don't say much about that because I put it in a ditch and stayed there permanently! Also I drove the Opel Manta 400 which I won the championship with in 1985 and then used later to win the 1987 Welsh International before it was sold by General Motors to a museum in Switzerland.

Crash.net:
Are there any of the current cars that you would like to try?

RB:
I'd love to try a WRC car - or even better one of the current Rallycross cars. The acceleration is phenomenal apparently with these Rallycross cars - and I was talking to a couple of the guys and they reckon they do 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds. That has got to be mind blowing.

Crash.net:
Mikko Hirvonen is the headline act today at the Rallyday. He is currently battling with Sebastien Loeb for the 2008 title. Have you got any words of advice for him?

RB:
Go for it – it is the only thing to do. There is no way you will win a championship like that by pussy footing around and I am sure he will be trying as hard as he can.

Crash.net:
There are four events left in the WRC and forty points up for grabs. He is only 8 points behind. Can he do it? Is it still open?

RB:
It is still open, although assuming everybody finishes each event without too much trouble eight points can seem a long way. But you don't run through every event without a problem and it just depends on the way the dice falls. I think he is in there with an equal chance of winning the title.

Crash.net:
The WRC and BRC has evolved over the years - what do you think of the sport at the moment?

RB:
I think it use to be better than it is now, but then I am an old guy and I would say that. But I have to take my hat off to some of these modern drivers. In my day when we did the World Rally Championship we use to get almost unlimited periods of practice. I remember going to Corsica and we spent six weeks practising for the event. Nowadays they are allowed over the special stages just three times at slow speeds - once to make the notes and twice to check them - and then boy do they go flat out on those pace notes. They are really skilled at it.

Crash.net:
How would you like to see the sport develop in the future?

RB:
I'd like to see it become a bit more adventurous. The rallies could do with being a bit longer than they are now and I think there is an over emphasise on these single service points to the detriment of the sport. Also I'd like to see more night stages included. I believe people miss those and spectators miss the excitement of them. If you had a bit more variety and added a bit more endurance into the events they would be very, very good indeed.

Crash.net:
What do you think of this idea of rotating events?

RB:
I don't know. But it must be very hard for the organisers because having wound your organising team up for one event it is then very difficult to stand them down for a whole year and then wind them up again in two years time. Likewise I think sponsors want more continuity than that provides. But I am not close enough to that end of the sport to be able to really pronounce on it.

Crash.net:
This year's Wales Rally GB is going to include some of the older stages in a new look line-up for day 1 on the Friday. Is that a positive thing?

RB:
It is very good and I think it is going in the direction I was talking about earlier. I think a little bit more of that, a little bit more adventure and a few more night stages will be good fun. Night stages add an entirely different aspect to the sport. It is a different challenge for the drivers' - and the one thing rally drivers' should be able to do is cope with having anything and everything thrown at them unlike grand prix drivers.

Crash.net:
Do you follow Formula 1?

RB:
I do and I am willing Lewis Hamilton on. But he does seem to get the bad luck and he seems to catch the stewards having got out of the wrong side of the bed in the morning!


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH RUSSELL BROOKES: CLICK HERE


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