Drivers: Armindo Ara?jo (Mitsubishi) and Mark Tapper (Mitsubishi).

Press conference.

Q:
You now lead the PWRC after the news that Nasser Al Attiyah has been disqualified from Greece. That's under appeal but it puts you into the lead of the PWRC. You weren't supposed to be in Australia, but you are here under a new entry.

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Armindo Ara?jo:
Yes, it's good I'm here. After Greece, Nasser was excluded. Of course, we are awaiting the appeal but at the moment we are in front in the Championship by six points. Since the beginning of the year our target was coming to Australia, because it's a new event and it's good for me. But some months ago, more or less our sponsor decided to support our rally here in Australia and it's possible to come. We are here in a good position to take points here and it will be my sixth event. I am very confident; of course I want to win the Championship. I will do my best.

Q:
You want to win the Championship but you don't know now, I suppose, whether you will win the Championship until we hear that appeal with Nasser.

AA:
Okay, we need to wait for the decision. Now my job at the moment is finishing in first place here.

Q:
What have you thought of the stages, all 35 of them? It's the most we've had at an event this year.

AA:
I think it will be a sprint rally, the stages are very fast in the second and third days. In the first day they are more tight and narrow. But I think during the Monday shakedown test we did very good work. I am very confident.

Q:
What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge out there this weekend? You say it's going to be a sprint, we've got drivers saying it's very much like New Zealand; in places very fast then some days it's very slow.

AA:
I think it will be fast the whole weekend but in places you have to be very careful because it is very easy to make a small mistake and one small mistake makes problems. My target is to find a good speed and don't commit any kind of mistakes.

Q:
Mark, it's been a busy year for you, competing in the PWRC and Pirelli Star Driver programme. What have you thought of your year in 2009?

Mark Tapper:
It's certainly been a thrilling year. There have been certain frustrations along the way but it's been a once in a lifetime opportunity and I've really enjoyed every minute of it.

Q:
There have been some ups and downs and you have been injured as well. That shoulder injury and wrist have been quite nasty. You've driven with it though, fully repaired or not?

MT:
It's definitely not 100 per cent but it's getting better every day. We did a rally at home in New Zealand a week or so ago and we did 220 kilometres in one day back in a right-hand drive car. I hadn't driven a right hand drive since the injury and we had no problems. It gets a little bit sore at the end of the day but then goes away.

Q:
You are a New Zealander so you can tell us whether the roads here are similar to over there or not.

MT:
Yeah they do have some similarities, certainly in some of the slower stages, except we don't have the camber aspect like at home. So it makes it a little bit slower and a little bit harder. There's certainly a lot more off-camber corners than you get at home in New Zealand. But yes, the roads do have some similarities and I'm looking forward to it.

Q:
In the PWRC event we're used to making three stages then a service, at the most four. Here we have seven stages then a service. Is it difficult to keep focus and visualise the stages ahead in your mind?

MT:
I don't think it's so hard; a lot of the stages here are reasonably short. I'm used to longer stages so that's not going to be such a problem. The key being away from service for so long will be keeping your fluids and food, looking after yourself, looking after your body. Keeping your mind on the job is going to be very important.

Q:
Obviously jet lag has been something you've had to live with, but not so here.

MT:
I've actually tried to keep on New Zealand time here in Australia because of the early starts, so that will keep me a couple of hours ahead. It won't be so bad waking up early.

Q:
We have the Pirelli Star Driver shoot out for the Asia-Pacific region here. Have you been giving any advice to the guys?

MT:
Yeah certainly, I've been looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a huge intense battle tomorrow between only two or three of them really but they are going to fight it out hammer and tongs and I'll be very interested to see who comes out on top. We've got another Kiwi in there and it would be great to see young Hayden Paddon wearing these colours next year - two Kiwis in two years.

Q:
It's been a good experience for you this year being with the Pirelli Star Driver programme?

MT:
Yeah, we've got two more events - two very famous events and I'm certainly looking forward to the challenge of the tarmac. Spain is our next event and then GB is the last event and hopefully we don't have any problems and there's a chance we could maybe get three good results at the end of the year and hopefully put something together for next year.

Q:
That was going to be my next question, what is the future for Mark Tapper?

MT:
We're out there looking and working hard on it but I need to get some results to be able to get the backing, so that's what this weekend and the next two rallies are about.

Q:
Armindo, if you could win the Championship, what would it mean for you for finding a drive for next year? How would winning help you in 2010?

AA:
Of course if I win the Championship it would be good for my sponsors and for Portugal. At the moment I don't know what it is possible to do next year, I don't have any kind of plans. First I want to finish this Championship and see if it is possible to win or not. After that I will decide what will be the best for me.

Q:
If you finish fourth here, is it still possible for you to win the Championship?

AA:
Yes, if Brynildsen doesn't finish in first place in the next two rallies.

Q:
Strong competition here though, local drivers and a strong field of normal PWRC drivers as well. It's going to be tough to make it up to the top.

AA:
Yes, I think it will be very tough because a lot of drivers are very very fast. It will be very hard for me to finish on the podium. I will try.