by Rob Wilkins

OMV's Manfred Stohl may have only scored 5 points to date this season but the Austrian isn't giving up. Indeed following a competitive outing in Mexico, the Kronos Citroen driver is convinced that he can do much better now that the FIA World Rally Championship is back on gravel.

Here he speaks exclusively to Crash.net Radio about the season to date and lots more...

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Q:
Manfred, we are already a quarter of the way into the season now, what's it been like being back with Kronos?

Manfred Stohl:
It is quite nice. I know the team from 2005 and I like them. They are very professional and I am pleased to work with them again.

Q:
Has it been easy to re-adapt to the Citroen Xsara WRC, having used the Peugeot 307 WRC in 2006?

MS:
As expected, it has not been so easy. I had big problems in the beginning and I think our car is not so strong on snow. But, now in Mexico on gravel, I have got back a good feeling and I was quite happy with the times we set. I am feeling positive now for the next gravel events.

Q:
At the Rally Mexico, the last event, you finished sixth overall, your best result to date this season. Were you pleased with that?

Q:
Yeah, quite happy - we were good in the times. OK, sixth is not the absolute best result but we showed we can drive at the top speeds and we showed that everything is working OK. So now we need some luck also and then I think we will be back on the podium.

Q:
Did you feel more comfortable with the Xsara on gravel?

MS:
It is much more comfortable, much easier on gravel than on snow. But we know that the car is very strong on gravel and we showed that in Mexico.

Q:
Staying with the Rally Mexico, there were some problems on that event with some of the spectators. What was your take on that?

MS:
It was a bit disappointing that some of the spectators were not well disciplined. It is a shame for the sport. People don't know what they are doing, they have no idea what could happen [when they throw stones and put rocks on the road]. But apart from this, the event was very nice.

Q:
Tell us about the other three events this season, Monte Carlo, Sweden and Norway, where you finished 10th, 7th and 12th overall respectively?

MS:
At Monte Carlo I think we were good in terms of pace, but unluckily we had a problem with the brakes. Sweden was more or less a similar problem - again with the brakes.

As for Norway we were in sixth position before the last stage and then I made a little mistake. We lost 10 minutes when we got stuck in the snow. That was a bit unlucky but that is part of rallying.

Q:
Next up is Portugal - are you looking forward to that event?

Q:
Yeah, because it is a new rally and new rallies for me are all the time very good and very nice. I remember the other Portugal rally, because it is in a different place now. But it was very good, nice stages and lots of spectators. I like Portugal very much and I hope the new rally will be nice also.

Q:
Will it be easier there, as Daniel Carlsson will be back in action and Kronos will field two-cars?

MS:
This is something that is very important for our team in terms of the manufacturers', because in Mexico I fought alone against Subaru and the Stobart Ford team. So it will be very nice to have my team-mate back and he will help me get a lot of team points.

Q:
How are you getting on with Carlsson?

MS:
No problem. I like him very much. We talk to each other a lot regarding set-ups and it seems to be quite a good relationship.

Q:
What's the target for the next few events?

MS:
It is hard to say. Portugal is a new rally for most of the drivers, but my target all of the time should be to fight to get on the podium. I know realistically it is not easy to beat the factory cars but who knows we will see.

Q:
Will it be possible to repeat your fourth place overall in the drivers' standings again this year?

MS:
That is my hope and I still fight for it. There are a lot of rallies still to go and it is open. Mikko Hirvonen this time last year for example had very few points and in the end he finished third in the championship. So, I think it will be OK. I am really looking forward to the remaining events.