25 November 2006
Q&A: Malcolm Wilson - EXCLUSIVE.
In real terms however, we always felt from mid-season on-wards and I think if you look we were only seven points behind [Kronos] Citroen [in the manufacturers' after the Cyprus Rally, before Seb got injured]. We felt we could be very strong on the last four rallies and we have proved that to be the case with the string of results that the guys have had. Mikko has now taken eight podiums on the last nine rallies and he had a really bad start. So, it is really the team effort and the way that Mikko has improved that has been one of the vital parts of giving us the manufacturers' championship. I really feel we were well on track even if Sebastien had been there for the manufacturers', but as I say, for the drivers', we had no chance.
Just one round to go now, what's the game plan and target for Rally GB?
The game plan is great - it is completely different to what it has been for the rest of the season. I agree with both drivers' that they can go and enjoy themselves and go and drive exactly as they want, with no team orders, in any shape or form. I think it is going to be a very exciting rally because Mikko has basically being playing the perfect number two role for most of the season. He has got the brakes off and it will be interesting to see what happens.
Looking to 2007, can you keep up this momentum?
I really feel so, I mentioned it before, I really feel as a team that we have got everything in place. I have said about the infrastructure and everything before, but, the thing I didn't mention, we have got two great drivers as well. If you look at the way they have performed in the second half of the season, then I think we are going to be a very strong team, right from the very first event.
We are working, obviously, all the time to try and improve the car, because we realise when Seb comes back, Citroen are going to be very competitive with their new car. It is very important that we continue to keep developing and pushing that envelope and make sure that we are ready when they return.
Rumours suggest you are going to delay the introduction of the 2007 spec Focus, why is that and are you confident it is going to be just as good?
We feel, certainly, in the first four or five events of the new season that they are not all about out and out performance. They are quite specialised events. I think the important thing we need for those events is a reasonably good set-up and reliability's key too - that is where we feel we have to be very strong to start with.
Also with certain new regulations with the FIA, in terms of homologation, you are a bit more restricted. So you want to make sure you're test and development parts are 100 per cent reliable - and you have got to test them in a lot more different environments to make sure you are going to be much more competitive in all situations. So we are not too concerned. We still feel we will have a very good car. There are changes that we will be making too, that are not homologation issues, so it is not that the car won't be improved. There is always something small that happens for every rally.
When might we see the new car in action then, you said four or five events into 2007, which would be for Mexico or Portugal...
At this moment in time it could be then or it could be in the middle of the year. I think a lot will depend on how the first few events go.
Final two questions, Ford have been running a 'B' team this season, will that continue next year and could we see the Blue-oval running more than one 'B' team [as has been talked about for a while]?
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