by Rob Wilkins
BP Ford team boss, Malcolm Wilson has every reason to be satisfied following the season to date, especially as 'his' M-Sport-run outfit lead both championships and have a comfortable 15 point advantage in the manufacturers'. Crash.net Radio
spoke exclusively to him recently and while he is satisfied, he isn't getting carried away, all to aware that with twelve events to go, it is by no means over...
Malcolm, I guess you must be pretty happy with your team's start to the season?
Yeah, we have had a very good start and there is no question about that. But we realise we really do have to try and capitalise on the early part of the season, because Sebastien [Loeb] has got a new car and we need to maximise our potential and reliability on these events.
Plus we are not underestimating the task ahead on the asphalt rounds in the latter part of the season, especially with the way Sebastien and Dani [Sordo] are likely to go on those. So it is important that we try and amass as many points as possible on the events that tend to suit our car - and drivers' better.
Daniel Sordo of course struggled on the snow events in Sweden and Norway, as it is not a surface he knows very well. Do you think they will get 'paid back' somewhat on the asphalt events?
We saw that in Monte Carlo when they finished first and second. We reversed the roles on them in Norway and it is important that we keep trying to do that on some of the gravel rallies. I think we can always probably quite comfortably beat Dani on the gravel, with both Mikko and Marcus, but obviously the real battle is trying to get that number one spot off Sebastien.
Can you tell us anything about the new 2007 spec Focus and how work is progressing there?
Well it is not possible in this day and age to do big changes, but we are looking to do an evolution of the 06 car for probably around the Rally Finland. At the moment though we are still working flat-out on the current car and trying to make evolutions which are not
FIA related homologated issues.
You will, however, see some detailed changes for the 2007 car, but they won't be significant. They will be quite small changes on the outside, but hopefully maybe under the skin there might be a few more.
What sort of time are you hoping to gain with the new car?
It is very difficult to say - you are talking such very, very small percentages now. If you look at some rallies, they are being won now by less than a handful of seconds after 350 kilometres over three-days on totally different terrain. So it is very difficult. It would be nice to say there is a clear percentage to be gained and you have done these calculations and implemented those changes, but in real time it doesn't have the same affect. We know though what we are trying to achieve but it is certainly not significant and I think you can see how difficult it is by how close all the cars are at the moment.
Changing the subject slightly, Ford and M-Sport are now fielding upwards of six cars on most of the events this year. How difficult is that?