Q&A: David Sutton - EXCLUSIVE.

by Rob Wilkins.

David Sutton is the only man to date to have guided a private team to the pinnacle of the FIA World Rally Championship, when his Rothmans Rally Team took the 1981 drivers' championship title with Ari Vatanen.

Sutton was at the recent Rallyday 2006 where the 25th anniversary of that success was celebrated and Crash.net Radio caught up with him there and got his thoughts on the WRC today - and the fact that it now looks likely he will have to share that record at the end of this season with Kronos Racing, as they are also a private team - officially at least - and currently are on course to win not only the drivers' championship, but also the constructors' too...

David, you're at the 2006 Rallyday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of your 1981 win in the WRC with Ari Vatanen and David Richards, you must be delighted to be here...

David Sutton:
It's a great day for us. It doesn't seem like 25 years ago. I'm honoured and flattered that Ari and David have given up their weekend to be here. We've had a lot of support from the Rothmans Escort Club, from Beaulieu who have loaned us the original championship winning car and from Ford's museum who leant us some very nice rally cars. It's been an absolutely terrific day.

Have you been surprised by the response? There was a big queue for autographs…

I felt very sorry for Ari at one point today because from the minute he arrived he was absolutely mobbed. He was mobbed around the rally car, the audience for his interview on stage was fantastic, he must have signed thousands of autographs and he didn't get a cup of tea or sandwich until 2 o'clock this afternoon! His patience is excellent. Terrific!

You are the last privateer team to win the World Rally Championship, something which Kronos looks likely to equal this year, is it going to be sad to pass that record on?

Well, I've held the crown for 25 years, Kronos I think for sure will win the championship this year and I'll be quite happy to hand it over because, although we've been the top privateer team for 25 years, Ford haven't won the world championship during that time. So that's one side of the record which will still stand for a while.

What do you think about Ford? They've looked strong, if a little fragile, this year…

I think they should have won it this year because they have an absolutely superbly reliable car and a very, very good driver in Marcus Gronholm, but there's just been a few hiccups where things haven't gone exactly their way and so I think, sadly, they'll finish in second this year.

Can we get your thoughts on the WRC and the changes recently announced regarding the calendar?

Well I would support this rotation idea. I think there are more than 16 rallies out there that deserve a crack at the world championship and if an event has to drop out, it will only be once or twice every 16 years, so it's not going to be that bad. There are new events that we need to see - in Norway, Ireland, Jordan, South Africa and Poland - I think it'd be great to have those events in.

Three new events have got in - Norway, Ireland and Portugal - but on the other hand we've lost Cyprus, Turkey and Australia…


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
David Richards, David Sutton, Tony Mason and Ari Vatanen pay their respects to Richard Burns and Michael Park at the 2006 Rallyday
Rothmans Rally Team Ford Escort`s
Ari Vatanen battles his way through the crowd helped by Rallyday `minders` Trevor Mudd and Dennis Langley
Dani Sordo (ESP) Marc Marti (ES), Hyundai I20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC, #3 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT)
Martin Prokop, Michal Ernst (Ford Fiesta RS WRC, #21 Jipocar Czech National Team)
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC, #7 Hyundai Motorsport)
Lorenzo Bertelli,  Mitia Dotta (Ford Fiesta WRC)
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (FRA), (Citroën DS3 WRC, #3 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT)
Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #2, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Mads Ostberg, Jonas Andersson (Citroen DS3 WRC, #4 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)
French Rally
Andreas Mikkelsen ,Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC, #9 Volkswagen Motorsport II)

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