» BACK TO CRASH.NET

Crash.Net WRC News

PWRC: Q&A: Stuart Jones - EXCLUSIVE

26 January 2007

by Rob Wilkins


MSA British Rally Elite 'graduate', Stuart Jones will compete in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship this year, stepping up from the British Rally Championship, after competing in a SJR Hankook-run Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

Staying with the Group N Evo that he knows so well, Jones is looking forward to the challenge - and here he speaks exclusively to Crash.net Radio about his year ahead, which begins in March on the Rally Mexico, his first Production event...



Q:
Stuart, you are going to do the FIA Production Car WRC this season. Can you give us some details?

Stuart Jones:
The actual sponsorship deal I can't announce totally yet, but there are certain sponsors, like Silverstone Tyres. They have come up with a good deal for us - a good support deal. So that is nice. But we will be able to announce more soon.

Q:
When will an announcement be made?

SJ:
The announcement should be made at the end of this month or the beginning of February - in a couple of weeks.

Q:
You are skipping the first PCWRC event in Sweden and will begin your season in Mexcio, why is that?

SJ:
We looked at the calendar and one reason we decided not to do it, is because it gives us a little more time. Also Sweden is quite an expensive rally to do, so we have decided to do Greece instead.

Q:
Why have you opted to use the Mitsubishi and not a Group N Subaru?

SJ:
Basically we have gone for the Mitsubishi, because we have got the experience and knowledge of running the Evo. I believe we have got one of the fastest Evo's you can get your hands on anyway. We had it there from last year, so all we had to do was re-build it, which has been quite easy.

Q:
This will be your first year in the PCWRC, but what is your goal?

SJ:
This year I want to get all the mileage I can and preferably not using the SupeRally or anything like that. I just want to get the experience and hopefully it will lead into an assault on the championship next year, when we can go for wins.

Q:
I take it you see this as a long term programme then?

SJ:
That is what we are looking at. Definitely to see how we can do over a couple of years, maybe even three years, but we will just have to see how it goes this year.

Q:
Are you confident the Production Car WRC will allow you to continue to progress and ultimately continue to move up the ladder?

SJ:
Yeah for sure, especially this year, the entry in the Production Car WRC is quite impressive. There is a lot of young Swedish and Finnish drivers' doing it. It is not just full of the more experienced drivers', like it has been a bit in the past, so I think this year, it will be better.

Q:
You say that, but there are still quite a few established names - Toshi Arai, Nasser Al-Attiyah, who took the title in 2006 and Mark Higgins, who of course you know from the BRC. Are you looking forward to going up against people like that?

SJ:
Yeah definitely, those guys have got so much experience and they are consistently fast all the time, which is brilliant, because that is what we have to be. We have to be fast and we have to be consistent. To have that competition there for every rally will be great.

Q:
Are you doing anything else this year apart from the PCWRC?

SJ:
We are looking at trying to do some other stuff, but mainly we are going to concentrate on getting everything in place to do the PCWRC properly. Maybe if we find some additional budget we might do some other European WRC rounds. Time will tell.

Q:
Would that be in a Group N car as well?

SJ:
Yeah.

Q:
Are you going to miss the BRC?

SJ:
In one way I would like to have had another go at it, because I didn't have the best season last year and this year I am feeling a bit more ready for the speed and the competition of people like Mark and Gwyndaf [Evans]. But I am happy to move on. We have got the opportunity to do the Production Car WRC, so we have grabbed it with both hands.

Q:
This year, you and Mark Higgins will be in the PCWRC. Guy Wilks looks like he might be doing a few events with a Ramsport-run Ford Focus WRC. How tough is it for the Brits to progress?

SJ:
Well, it would be good for Guy to get a competitive car and show what he can do. I think if he has a good run and is confident in the car, I am sure he will turn some heads. So if something comes from that great. But it is difficult to say, there are so many people trying to get into those works seats and there are so few of them, it is tough for everybody.

Q:
You were a member of the MSA British Rally Elite scheme. You have graduated from it now. But how much has that helped you over the last 18 months or so?

SJ:
Since I became apart of it two years ago, it has been a great help, especially once I moved up and started doing a few WRC events and you have got people like Robert [Reid] and Phil Mills and so on, to call on for a bit of handy advice and help. If you are confused about anything, you can just give them a ring and they will usually help you sort it out. That bit has been brilliant. Also with the nutrition and fitness as well, it has brought me on as well.

Q:
Are you going to miss that support or is it still going to be there if you need it?

SJ:
I think it will still be there. Robert has always said: 'If you have ever got a problem, just pick up the phone'. It is quite good like that. That is another good thing with the MSA scheme - it does give you a lot of contacts.

Q:
That's great Stuart - thanks for your time and good luck in Mexico.


» BACK TO CRASH.NET