by Rob Wilkins

OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally team boss, Marc van Dalen has been somewhat frustrated with the season so far. Here he speaks exclusively to Crash.net Radio ahead of the Rally d'Italia Sardegna and warns that something needs to be done to help the privateers. He is also none to keen on these super specials...

Q:
Marc, so far this season the OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team has scored 22 points. Have you been pleased with this?

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Marc van Dalen:
On the one hand yes, because it is so difficult to be involved in the WRC this year. There are not so many teams and it is tough to do it. But on the other hand it is not like last year and we are a littlie bit, lets say, not really disappointed, but we expected better results. However I think the reason [for our performances] is very clear.

Q:
Last time out in Argentina, Manfred Stohl finished eighth. He said at the finish that it is getting harder and harder to compete with the full manufacturer backed teams. What can Kronos do to try and keep up?

MvD:
We are pushing like hell to try and convince Citroen to give us a stronger car. The problem is that the gap from the end of last year to now is very big. We think that the car can be quicker, because I am sure our crews are very good and I hope my team is working well too. So the problem is that the speed of the car is currently not enough. We need to try and find a solution with Citroen to have better parts to develop a quicker car. We need a quicker car to improve - that is a fact.

Q:
Has development on the Xsara been frozen then?

MvD:
Yeah it is, but there are little things that we can perhaps do to adapt the car better to Manfred. It is always Citroen who have prepared the car and who have done all the development before. But perhaps they have some parts we could use from the past. There are two options. One is they can help us a little bit and the second is - and perhaps they have already given all the best parts they have, and the gap between the end of 2006 and 2007 is bigger than expected. I don't know.

Q:
There were big logistical problems in Argentina after the Buenos Aires super special on Thursday evening. What lessons need to be learned from that?

MvD:
I think it is time to come back to the 'normal rally'. I've never liked these super specials because there is nothing to really see. It is not like the real rally. It is always the same. For me this is definitely not what rallying needs for its future.

It is time to come back to reality and also to do something to help the privateer teams. As you saw in Argentina we were the only privateer team there and it is not normal. It is urgent that everyone involved in the WRC understands that we need to help each other, especially to ensure that the privateer teams are there in the future. Otherwise it is not going to be easy for them.

Q:
Are you worried about the state of the sport at the moment then?

MvD:
Not really now, but in the immediate future, if there is only official and works teams involved there are not enough cars. Last year there was Red Bull Skoda and Bozian Peugeot and those teams are not involved in the WRC anymore. This is not normal. We are the only ones, the last one and believe me it is not easy. That means perhaps this is the last year for us also in the WRC. It is time everyone understood it is time to change some things and it is better to put money to help teams than to go to Buenos Aires for nothing. This is not what we expect.

Q:
Next up this weekend we go to Sardinia. You will be back to a two-car outfit. What is the target?

MvD:
The only target is to try and be as close to the top six as possible - but like we have seen since the start of the year it is more and more difficult. We are still very motivated though and we are fully behind Manfred and we are going to try the best we can. It is not true to say I am optimistic about being inside the top three. However if everything is going well and the car is working perhaps we can be inside the top six. I don't unfortunately expect anything better than this.

Q:
Does it help Manfred and the team, when Daniel Carlsson is there and you have two cars and that extra data?

MvD:
Well every driver does his own thing. So they can't really help each other. It is just a case of trying to follow the other one at the start of the rally. We will see.

Q:
At the start of the year, Kronos confirmed that Daniel Carlsson would do 'at least six events' this season - and after Sardinia he is down to do Greece and Finland. What's going to happen after that?

MvD:
I don't know. Already there is a problem from the next rally. Daniel has a problem with his sponsors for Greece. So it is difficult. I don't know exactly what he is going to do. I hope he will start in Sardinia and Greece, but I have no guarantee currently for the future.

Q:
What would you be happy with at the end of the season?

MvD:
If we can make the podium just once or twice that would be fantastic. But I am not dreaming and I know that is not easy. If we can go to the end of the year without any problems - and if we show some good performances, that would be good. We have to improve though because where we are is not exactly the place we expect. It is a difficult time for us.

Q:
What do you make of plans for Wales Rally GB to include a few night stages, like what we had in Monte Carlo?

MvD:
I am open. Rallying was like that in the past, so this is a good idea. I am not against it. For me it is much better to have night stages than super special stages. This is 'real' rally.