by Rob Wilkins

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH GUY WILKS: CLICK HERE

Britain's Guy Wilks has been competing in the FIA World Rally Championship and the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship this season. Crash.net Radio caught up with him at the recent Castle Combe Rallyday show in the UK and got all the gossip on both of his campaigns...

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Crash.net:
Guy, this is your first time at the Rallyday. What do you think of it?

Guy Wilks:
I am very impressed. It is a nice environment and it has a really good atmosphere. I am astounded to be honest by the number of cars - past and present and road going versions. It is unbelievable. If you are a rallying enthusiast it is a fantastic day.

Crash.net:
Your BRC team-mate, Gwyndaf Evans has been out on track in the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC car. Have you ever driven it?

GW:
I drove it at Goodwood and had real fun in it up the hill. It was quite nice - although it wasn't in full tarmac set-up - just to evaluate the car for myself. Obviously I have been driving a Ford Focus WRC car this year as well in the world championship, but I am not driving today. I am just here watching.

Crash.net:
You have been competing in the WRC this year in a privately entered Ford run by Ramsport - as you mentioned a moment ago. How pleased have you been with your year so far?

GW:
It has been a little bit frustrating to be honest. We didn't have a great start to the season but in the last three rallies we have had top ten results in the WRC in Greece, Finland and also in Germany. But they have not been clean runs and if we had had cleans run we could have scored points on all of them really. It was a pity not to come away from those events with points because we have driven really well. We have been on the pace with the likes of Petter Solberg and OK he is not having the best of times at the moment, but still he has been world champion and he has got the grit and determination to come through it. But it also shows what we can do in an old car against his newer car. We are just desperate really to get a chance in a more modern and update car and give it a crack and see what we can do.

Crash.net:
How much of a difference does it make being in an older car?

GW:
It is quite large now with the damper travel on the gravel, but it is mainly with the engine. The engine characteristics now are phenomenal with the power and torque they are getting out of these new cars - the Citroens, the Subarus and the newer Fords. That is where you tend to lose out with these older cars. My car is still a good tarmac car and in Germany where it is smooth tarmac, it is still very good and very capable. But the problem is more power. In 20 kilometre stages we are 10-12 seconds off the fastest times. We are losing between 0.5 to 0.7 seconds per kilometre to the likes of Sebastien [Loeb] and Francois Duval. If you took that calculation and worked it out over that event and took away the problems we had in Germany we would be top three. We are just desperate to get a chance really.

Crash.net:
An idea what will be your next event in the WRC?

GW:
To be honest we don't know. We are trying to get out in Ireland but budget as always, with everybody, is becoming the deciding factor. We are working damn hard to try and get more budget and we will have to see what happens. It is not only that either - it is a case of being able to get a car as well. We want to try and do it in a good car - a more modern one and try and take that power disadvantage away and see what we can do. We are working on it.

Crash.net:
What about for 2008 - how are things looking for next year?

GW:
It is not a case of how things are looking. We are working damn hard between myself - and Rob Gill. Not many people know of him but he is a bit of an unsung hero. He is very passionate about rallying and he has helped me out massively over the last two years and I am very thankful for that. We are working desperately hard for next year to try and get something. It is as simple as that.

Crash.net:
This year you have been doing the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship as well. That has probably been a bit more positive for you, although it has been up and down too.

GW:
It has been up and down, but there is one thing for sure, our pace is definitely good and we can win with our pace. We know it is winning pace. On the first rally, the Pirelli, we won every stage, bar three, when we had a problem with third gear - basically we lost it. It has been fantastic. We are very grateful to Mitsubishi. They approached me in January and by the time it came round to March we had sorted something out. It is good mileage and I am trying to do a good job for them as well. They are desperate to win the manufacturers' in the British championship and I am desperate to win a championship as well. We have all got the same goals and we are working very hard towards it. We had fantastic wins on the Pirelli and on the Manx. I made a mistake on the Jim Clark and we had some problems on the Ulster. The pressure is definitely on us and on the team to perform from now until the end of the year. We have the Trackrod coming up and a win is the only thing that will do really.

Crash.net:
How have preparations been going for the Trackrod because you have been testing recently haven't you?

GW:
We did two days testing and we also did corporate work. Mitsubishi was very good. There were some competition winners, who won chances to have a go in the car on a test - and also some dealers there, which lets be fair, that is why we are here, we are trying to sell cars. They invited some dealers down, which was a very brave move to do. But that is how confident the team and Mitsubishi are about the product. They let those guys come down and watch and see what goes on. As the majority of people know who have been involved in rallying, they know on a test anything can happen. But they took the brave move and I think it paid off marvellously.

Crash.net:
Obviously the Trackrod coming up is a one-day event, after that the BRC concludes on the Wales Rally GB, which is a three-day rally and a double points scoring round. Will that affect your approach?

GW:
No, we are not really concentrating on Rally GB. We are taking it one at a time and that is what we have done all year. We are trying not to get ahead of ourselves. We have got to win the Trackrod and I think we have got to do it more by managing our speed as opposed to going out and trying to win it by a minute. We have got to be clever and just do enough and make sure we get those points in the bag and put the pressure back on everybody else. It is a bit of a level playing field at the moment, but we need to turn it in our favour before we go to Wales.

Crash.net:
Speed wise the Lancer seems to have had the legs over the Imprezas this season in the BRC, but the reliability seems to have been a bit of a problem doesn't it?

GW:
Obviously the speed is nothing to do with the drivers! But I think the car is very good and I think the drivers' Mitsubishi have this year, in myself and Gwyndaf, are doing a good job. It is definitely proving to be the thing that everybody is looking at and even from the start of events we can put our speed on straight away and can go out and lead when we want. That is what is important.

Crash.net:
Obviously Mark Higgins leads the BRC standings at the moment, but it is all a bit complicated due to those dropped scores?

GW:
It is. I don't have any more options available to drop any scores. My two scores are taken into account now, Mark's aren't and if you take it back we both have two wins. We shall have to see how it pans out.

Crash.net:
Generally speaking in terms of the WRC do you think it is going forward?

GW:
Good question. I think they definitely need to reduce the number of events. I think the cars that they use are definitely the right cars because it is the forefront of technology. We just need to get some more manufacturers' interested in the championship and that is a hard thing to do. It is a fantastic sport. It is a great spectacle. But we need to be taking it to people, not expecting people to come to us. That is not a problem - but it is an area that could be improved on perhaps on some events. It is a very family friendly sport and easily accessible and you can tie it in with a nice holiday if you want to go and watch one of the rounds abroad. All of us need to work on a few areas and try and be a little bit more helpful in trying to encourage people to come to the sport because it is fantastic. Once you see it you needn't say anything about it, but it is getting the people to see it.

Crash.net:
Marcus Gronholm will retire at the end of this season. How much a blow is that for the WRC, because potentially Sebastien Loeb could have it all his own way in 2008?

GW:
It is not a blow. People have to retire and the sport has to move on. I know that Mikko [Hirvonen] has got a good turn of speed under him and he has been doing a fantastic job as a number two driver. But he has been a very strictly controlled driver as a number two and he has done a great job. I think [Ford boss] Malcolm Wilson would back that up. If he was given a free rein I think he could be up there with Sebastien as well. I don't think there is anything to be scared about. Subaru are pulling there socks up. It is one of those things - people will step up to the mark.

Crash.net:
Final question, obviously Suzuki steps-up next year. You have had close ties with them in the past and competed in the J-WRC with them. What do you think they can do?

GW:
I haven't had a great deal of involvement at all with that project. But it has been delayed and delayed and delayed. We will have to see what happens.

Crash.net:
Do you stay in touch with Suzuki?

GW:
Yeah, I stay in touch. I speak to 'Monster' [Suzuki boss, Nobuhiro Tajima] now and again when I see him on events. It is just very difficult to try and get a drive in a World Rally Car at the moment. I think there are very strong links with this Peugeot engineer, Michel Nandan at Suzuki now - he has taken two of his old drivers' effectively to do the events [in Corsica and GB] and so we will see exactly how they perform.

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH GUY WILKS: CLICK HERE