by Rob Wilkins.
Subaru's Phil Mills is one of the top co-drivers in the FIA World Rally Championship, having sat alongside Petter Solberg
now since 1999. The Welshman played a critical part in guiding him to the title in 2003 and yet despite that, his role and that of the co-driver in general, is often neglected by the media and the fans. While the drivers' get all the attention and most of the glory, the co-driver is all too often a foot-note at the bottom of a story, at best.
Here Mills speaks exclusively to Crash.net Radio
about that - and the news a week or so ago, that he and Petter Solberg
will remain at the Subaru WRT for at least another three seasons. He also talks about their year to date and their hopes for the second half of the season...
Phil, the season thus far hasn't been an easy one for you or Petter Solberg, however there was some good news a few weeks ago, with confirmation that Petter has signed a new deal that will see you both remain at Subaru for at least another three seasons. How important is that for you, Petter and the SWRT?
It is very important. We have been with the team a very long time now and to keep the continuation of that process and the stability and everything within the team and ourselves, it is very important indeed. We are in the middle of a lot of hard work at the moment and it is a matter of continuing that now and getting some good results.
Phil, as Petter's right-hand man 'sort of speak', how much input do you or did you have in his decision to stick with Subaru?
Well obviously there is a lot of discussion when contact time comes around - or six months before contract time comes around. It is obviously a very talked about subject and we get a lot of time in the car on the recce and so on to talk about this. And yeah, I mean, it is continual process of talking about it I suppose for many months.
There was some speculation that Petter might have left the SWRT. Can you tell us if that was something you discussed?
When it is contract time everybody has a look at what is going around. But as I said it would have been easy to walk away from the team. You know we are not having the best of results at the minute. But no, we are here and we are committed and we will be here for another three seasons now. We really want to get this job sorted and get the world championship under our belt once more.
As I mentioned and you said, it's been a tough year to date for Subaru, but there have been some highs for you and Petter, most noticeably the two runners-up spots in Mexico and Argentina. Does that give you hope for the second half of the season and beyond that?
Sure yes - we have had some rotten luck, even in Greece we were lying in second and quite comfortably so, and we had a road accident. Australia and Japan last year, both of those events we were leading and something stupid happened - a kangaroo jumped out in front and we get the biggest rock in the world in front of us in Japan. We have had some rotten luck and I think it is about time that rotten luck changed and it is about time someone else had that rotten luck. We are competitive. We are there or there-abouts on gravel, tarmac is a little harder, but on gravel we are there and we just need to pull it all together. We have some improvements coming now, especially for Turkey and Cyprus, some modifications for the car for that and we really are looking forward to it. We go to every event with the attitude to win it - otherwise I wouldn't be there unless we were capable of winning. So I am really looking forward to the next few events.
What do you think has been the main problem for Subaru or is it a combination of things?
Oh it is a combination of lots of small things. It is difficult to pinpoint any one particular area. I hate using Formula One as a comparison because there are very little comparisons, but if you look at Ferrari for instance, they dominated the thing for five years and then all of sudden last year they were tenth or whatever on the grid and couldn't do much about it. That gives you an idea of what can happen in motorsport. Even if you have the best team, with the best resources, sometimes it turns on its head and you don't get what you think you are going to get. So if we use that as a comparison, which we shouldn't do, but if we do, it gives you an idea of what can happen in motorsport and that is where we are at the minute - lots and lots of small things, but we are in the middle of putting them right.