by Rob Wilkins
Britain's Guy Wilks achieved his primary aim of getting to the finish on the Acropolis Rally of Greece recently, when he brought his privately entered Mobil 1-backed Ford Focus RS WRC car home in ninth position. Here he speaks exclusively to Crash.net Radio
about that - and his next WRC outing in Finland...
Guy, you got your first WRC finish of the season in Greece when you finished in ninth place. Were you happy with the event?
Yeah, it was obviously a very tricky situation for us to be in. Prior to Greece we had had two starts in a World Rally Car and two non-finishes. It was a big hole for us to be in to be honest. We had never really been in a situation like that in our career. We were feeling the pressure.
We are privateers this year and we don't have a manufacturer behind us. We felt we had to go to Greece, because although it wasn't in the schedule to start with, the gap before Finland from Portugal was just too big. We felt we needed to do something before Finland.
So I suppose yes, we achieved exactly what we wanted to do in Greece, which was to finish and have a strong consistent run. We drove at eight tenths all the time, never did any more or any less and had a totally trouble-free run.
I guess you really wanted one of the drivers' in front to retire, so you would finish in the points?
That would have been a bit of a dream, but it wasn't to be. I had not done this version of the Acropolis Rally-based around Athens before. I think on the old Greece perhaps the stages have a bit more character and it is slightly trickier and had it been run there, it might have taken a few more cars out. The last day wasn't so rough. There was nothing too technical although there were some narrow sections.
These guys in the World championship, as in any world series, are all very good drivers though or else they wouldn't be in it if they weren't. It wasn't so much a problem with the driving side - we were just hoping some cars might have some problems. A lot of people said they hit things. On the first, second and third day there was some big bangs but they were lucky enough to get away with it and bearings didn't collapse and dampers didn't fail. So it wasn't to be. I suppose at one point we thought if we can hang on in here we can maybe climb up without doing anything too flash ourselves.
A lot of drivers' had punctures. Did you have any problems?
Yeah we had a couple of punctures, but nothing too drastic. The main time we used our heads was on the second run of the long stage, the 48 kilometre one.
On the first run, because we were running so high, we were running fourth on the road, but [Federico] Villagra went out very early in the stage, so we were effectively the third car on the road. We were sweeping the road and the tyre wear was very minimal. We didn't have a great time, but the road conditions were such that we couldn't push and we didn't want to push, because we didn't want to go off.
The second time through was the time it caused the problems with the punctures. I don't think it was so much - yes some people will have instigated the punctures themselves by hitting a rock; but there were a lot of tyres that just wore right through the canvas.