WRC » 23 March 2007
Q&A: Malcolm Wilson - EXCLUSIVE.
Logistically, we have introduced a new team of people to take care of the management of the service park and that side of it has gone exceptionally well. We are really happy with the way the presentation and layout has worked. Also the way the event organisers have helped us to set up such a big service park that has been a real bonus.
I think the difficult part is actually the workshop time and the turn around time for the cars between the events - just the sheer volume of cars. We actually had nine cars running in Mexico and it is quite an operation. Any slight delay, like a delay of one day getting the cars back for instance from Mexico, has a knock-on effect, as the cars still had to leave to go to Portugal on the Tuesday or Wednesday this week. So you get one slip up there and it really puts an extra amount of strain on all the work shop and on all the turnaround components to re-build the cars.
The Stobart Ford team are going well and are currently third in the manufacturers' championship - can they stay ahead of Subaru?
I think we have all seen the potential of the 'new Petter' with the new car in Mexico. So, they are definitely going to be a strong threat and in real terms we need Petter [Solberg] to be challenging in there with Sebastien and putting pressure on him rather than just being our two drivers. We need them to be competitive.
We have also got though two exciting drivers in the Stobart team. Henning [Solberg] is obviously a known quantity and Jari-Matti [Latvala] is developing all the time as each event goes by and he is getting more and more experience. They are both in reliable cars, so I think at the end of the day it could be quite a close battle towards the end of the season.
Have you been happy with Henning Solberg's input?
Yeah he did a great job in Sweden and Norway. He got caught out in Mexico, but I know he is really looking forward to Portugal and Argentina. I think Argentina is one of his favourite events. He is getting more experience in the car. He is doing a test this weekend in Spain as well so he will be a bit more familiar with the car again and will probably change some of the settings to what he wants. So, I can only see an improvement from him really.
Matthew, your son, scored another point in Mexico. Do you expect him to continue to make progress this year?
He has to, but he is doing everything that we require. He is trying to finish as many rallies as possible and get that invaluable experience. And yeah, he managed to get a point in Mexico and I am sure he will get some more before the end of the season. I don't think there is any doubt about that. But, we have a long term plan in place and the important thing is that he continues to get the experience and the understanding of the events and then we will take it from there.
Have you set him any targets this season?
The targets are to try and finish all the rallies and get the experience. On the odd stage on certain events we see the performance is there on some of the splits, so I am not bothered. We have a five-year plan like we have done with Mikko and like we did with Petter too. So there are no specific results orientated targets, it is more a case of building up that invaluable experience, which you need now to be a top driver.
Pirelli recently won the rights to supply tyres to the WRC from 2008-2010. Michelin are contesting that and have started legal proceedings against the FIA. In you opinion how will this affect the WRC? Is it something of concern?
Of course we know that Pirelli have won the tender but I still think there are a lot of detail things to be finalised. For instance, we haven't been [officially] notified yet and there is still a lot of paperwork to be sorted out between the FIA and Pirelli. So we don't know the terms and conditions for the teams yet.
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