by Rob Wilkins.

Britain's Guy Wilks is once again competing in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship this season and following his victory in Argentina, after the disappointment of not scoring in Sweden, he has put himself right back in contention for the title.

Here speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio the Suzuki driver talks about that event and looks ahead to Sardinia, his next round in the JWRC, as well as talking about Suzuki's WRC programme, which will see them step-up to the senior level for the 2007-2008 championship...

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Q:
Guy, you have just got back from Argentina, where you won the Junior WRC category. You must have delighted with that result?

Guy Wilks:
Yeah absolutely, it was the only option really after we had such a bad start in Sweden. To come away from there with zero points was a real blow to the body and the mind. Then the only way to put that right was to go and get ten points in Argentina and we set off to do that and successfully completed it.

Q:
How difficult did you find it - obviously on the one hand it is a tough event for a S1600 car, but on the other only four JWRC crews entered the event?

GW:
Yeah OK, but I can only compete against the people who turn up. But at the same time, three of those drivers, including myself, are of a high standard and are at the forefront of the field and are some of the front runners in the championship. So it was never going to be an easy challenge. But we got off to good start on the Thursday night on the super-specials and then obviously on the Friday morning we really exerted ourselves and showed them what we were made of. We had a good run through the first day - and that was about it to be honest, on the first day we put enough pressure on them and took enough time, our job was more or less done.

Q:
We were speaking to Kris Meeke recently, about the fact that with nine JWRC events and drivers' only being allowed to nominate six, it means the main protagonists for the title only meet on three or so events this season. What are your thoughts on this?

GW:
To be quite honest I dislike the idea. I don't think it is a good thing for the championship. I don't think it is a good thing for the followers of rallying or the neutral because it is so difficult to understand what exactly is going unless you have competitors going head to head all time, which for me is best because when you win you want to know you have beaten everybody. It is always much better to have a greater depth of field so you really can fight tooth and nail all the way to the end. Like I say it is not my favourite idea but it is the championship this year and we just have to drive it. But I am sure Kris probably feels the same way - did he?

Q:
Yeah pretty much.

GW:
I don't think it is liked so much by many of the drivers.

Q:
Next up is Sardinia and with 18 of the 21 JWRC drivers' taking part it will be one of the best subscribed events of the year. Are you looking forward to it?

GW:
Yeah absolutely, I am looking forward to that immensely. It is going to be a very difficult rally though. Argentina was quite a rough rally and Sardinia is as well. Obviously with the junior cars not running any mousse in the tyres, punctures are going to come into play and also the strength of the car. So I think while you have got to definitely be very quick to be at the front of the field you have got to use your head a hell of a lot too - and make sure that once you have got to the front, you stay at the front. It is very easy to get carried away and try and think you can put time on your fellow competitors easily, but that is when you get caught in traps.

Q:
What is your target?

GW:
I always go out to try and win - and Sardinia will be no different. It is going to be difficult, like you say there is a lot more competition there, but at the same time I think we can do it no problem. We have proved it in the past. Sardinia is an OK event. It is not one of my least favourite events but it is not my most either. It was quite hard last year - we had seven punctures on that event in 2005 and it didn't go quite so well, but the year before we finished second and we had a few problems then too. Hopefully if we use our heads and have a clean run we should be up there and fighting for the win.

Q:
Do you have any testing planned prior to it?

GW:
No, we did quite a bit of our testing in France and Spain prior to Argentina and we obviously got some settings from that, which will be fairly useful for Sardinia when we did that test. So no, we won't do any testing beforehand but we might be out on a rally in the British Championship - the Pirelli Rally and hopefully that will get us a bit more seat time.

Q:
Talking about that, is that confirmed because the organisers have put out a statement saying you will do it in a Suzuki Ignis?

GW:
Yeah that is correct. We are going to do it, they were sweating a bit, the organisers, because the entries closed today [Friday May 5] and I put in the entry late last night. So everything is confirmed, all wheels are go - and we should be turning out on the Pirelli Rally.

Q:
Any other BRC events planned?

GW:
Maybe, maybe, we don't know at the moment. We are going to do the Pirelli Rally as it goes quite nicely hand in hand with Sardinia. We will finish the Pirelli Rally next Sunday and on the Monday after it we will fly to Sardinia and compete the following Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So it is all about getting time in the car, which is quite important to me at the moment. Last year we did 13 out of 16 World Rally Championship events and this year we are only scheduled to do six, possibly seven. It is important to try and get seat time - and that is what we are doing by taking in this rally.

Q:
Do you have any plans to do any WRC events with a World Rally Car?

GW:
I would love to go and do some World Rally events in a WRC car, but obviously we have a commitment with Suzuki. At the same time there is also a monetary issue there, those cars are expensive. At the moment I would be looking for a sponsor to try and help me out doing some of those events. To gain a sponsor, well not at short notice, but it is not the easiest thing to do. But we will see what happens. We have got to talk obviously with the people at Suzuki. They are of course bringing out a WRC car next year and we will see what happens.

Q:
Going onto that how is that programme going with the SX4?

GW:
Well the first cars, as you know, are being built at the moment. As far as I understand testing is going to start taking place in the middle of the year. As most of us know next year it is a split championship and I think that Suzuki have already said they are looking to come in for the 2007-2008 championship, which is obviously a winter championship. I am not exactly sure when the first rally is for that championship, I think it is about August time, so I think that is the first time you will see the car competitively. Although I am sure there will be a lot of testing going on in between.

Q:
I would imagine you are looking to secure one of those drives there with Suzuki when they step up?

GW:
Yeah absolutely, you know it is something I have aimed for, for a long time now to try and get in a WRC car. I have been close on a number of occasions and it has just been right place, wrong time. But this time everything is right and that is another reason for doing these extra events to make sure we do as well as we can in the Junior WRC this year. Although I don't think it so fundamental, Suzuki know what I can do. I want to be in a WRC car sooner rather than later. I know I have got the pace to be up there and I think even at the moment we could get top five results, so that will be our aim, definitely to get into a World Rally Car soon.

Q:
Daniel Sordo has graduated up to the senior level this season with a Citroen Xsara World Rally Car. Two questions here - one: have you been impressed with him? And two: do you think it will help other drivers' in the JWRC, like yourself, step up in light of his form?

GW:
Firstly, yes I have been very impressed with Dani. I think on the tarmac he has been going fantastically, but then again he hasn't been doing a bad job on the gravel either.

I think last year I found personally myself that I definitely had the measure of him on the gravel. It was more that he was looking to beat me rather than me looking to beat him. But on the tarmac, yes, he was definitely quick. Although in Spain last year before we went off we were only a handful few seconds behind him after the first day. So that is very encouraging to know that we have that sort of pace on tarmac - but also, that we are quicker than him on the gravel. That only bodes well for myself and gives me great encouragement, however at the same time it is hugely frustrating because I know that - and because I am not in a WRC car. It really does tend to... you can let it drive you up the wall that somebody else has got a chance and it is difficult to see when your chance may be.

I think Dani is in a very lucky situation. He has obviously got the backing of Carlos [Sainz], but not only that, he has the backing of the RACC - the Royal Automobile Club Catalunya, which is a massive automobile club. They are not only putting a lot of money in but they are helping him find sponsorship and money. He is in very privileged position. But if I was in same situation I wouldn't let anyone take it away from me easily.

Q:
That's great Guy. Thanks for your time and good luck in Sardinia.

GW:
Yeah - and on the Pirelli!

Q:
Good point, fingers crossed you get the results.

GW:
Yeah, absolutely... cheers.