by Rob Wilkins

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH HANNU MIKKOLA: CLICK HERE

1983 FIA World Rally champion, Hannu Mikkola was one of the big 'names' at the Rallyday 2007 last Saturday. Crash.net Radio caught up with the Finn at Castle Combe to get his thoughts on that event and the current state of the sport...

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Crash.net:
Hannu, what have you made of the Rallyday so far?

Hannu Mikkola:
It looks to be very nice event. There are lots of good cars and lots of people. It is fantastic to see people are still interested in old cars and in rally cars.

Crash.net:
Do you enjoy events like this?

HM:
Yeah I do like coming to things like this, I think in this country interest is very strong. In Great Britain people enjoy the history - and rallying much more than some other countries.

Crash.net:
What do you make of the WRC now?

HM:
It is a completely different sport now. It is not the same as when I was doing it. It is much shorter, it is done in daylight and I could say much more commercial. There is no night time driving or competing in fog or any of that kind of stuff. But the cars go very, very fast and there are some good drivers in it.

Crash.net:
Do you still follow the sport?

HM:
I do, my son is doing a little bit and through him I follow it. Sometimes I see some of the Finnish drivers too and talk to them. I am still a little bit involved.

Crash.net:
This year your son is competing in the BRC, is that the aim ultimately for him, to get into the WRC?

HM:
He is doing the BRC this year and they found him some backing and it is good for him to come out here and do some rallying. He was driving before in Finland and this year he isn't doing anything there. He is just competing in the UK.

Crash.net:
At the moment in the WRC, Marcus Gronholm and Sebastien Loeb are both engaged in a fierce fight for the title - who would you tip to win the crown?

HM:
Marcus has said that this will be his last year, so let's hope he will win.

Crash.net:
How much of a blow for the sport is it to lose Gronholm, because he is a big name and a big character?

HM:
Yes he is a big character and it has been mostly between Loeb and Marcus. Let's see if there is anybody that can challenge Loeb after that.

Crash.net:
Is Mikko Hirvonen ready to step up and lead the BP Ford WRT?

HM:
We will see. He has to do it and now we will see if he has got it.

Crash.net:
Colin McRae was tragically killed last weekend, is there anything you would like to say on that?

HM:
It was shocking news. You never think that this kind of thing can happen and to have his son with him, that just shows how dangerous this world is. You think one day that everything is fine and then the next day it is a catastrophe. I was very sad to hear the news.

Crash.net:
How do you see the WRC developing in future years?

HM:
I think the biggest challenge is what it costs to do it. In my mind that has got out of hand. They have to concentrate and some how get the costs down and get more people in it - they need to get it back to how it use to be a bit more.

Crash.net:
Do you think that is a big barrier for drivers' - and for your son as well in terms of getting into the WRC?

HM:
Yeah it is - there is no way a normal person can find that amount of money and find what it costs. If you don't have an oil company you are really in trouble if you want to step up! You can do Group N that is still manageable. But when you go to World Rally Cars it is so expensive a private person can't do it. That means all the good drivers' can't come through.

Crash.net:
What do they need to do to lower costs?

HM:
I think you can't make an omelette without breaking any eggs! You have to really turn 180 degrees. Just forget it and start from the beginning. I don't think the spectators really need to have very high technical solutions there. You can have it very enjoyable with the Escorts.

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH HANNU MIKKOLA: CLICK HERE