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Q&A: Tony Mason - EXCLUSIVE.

I don't know - all I have done is read the odd motoring 'paper, which might suggest one or two names. My own view is that it is a pity Markko Martin retired and had the crash when Michael Park was sadly killed a couple of years ago. Markko more or less retired after that, but he hasn't fully retired. He is still interested in the sport and still doing things. I was with him at Goodwood and I think he would like to come back into motorsport. He was a very fast driver - and a future world champion. He is still not too old by a long way and I'd like to see him back in the team.

Crash.net:
Subaru have had a tough year again and Petter Solberg has once again not had the car to match the top two…

TM:
No he hasn't - but he would admit that. He is very, very down and fairly low about it. He and Philip Mills, his co-driver, who I was talking to last night, basically they are very loyal to Subaru, but the car been outpaced a bit this year. They have got a new car coming next year and that will be fantastic obviously. I can't understand why they should be so late in getting up there with the other two, the other major manufacturers' though. But they will get there I am sure and it will be next year. I feel a bit sorry for Petter because he really hasn't got the machinery at the moment. It is amazing how things move on so fast in rallying isn't it?

Crash.net:
Suzuki will step up next year with the SX4 WRC – that is obviously a boost for the sport. How do you think they will get on?

TM:
In there first year they will obviously have a few problems here and there - and a few struggles and so on. They probably won't win an event, but very few people win on their first involvement at that level and in world sport. We will see. But as you say another manufacturer is a great thing.

Crash.net:
The calendar is going to be slashed from 16 events to 12 from 2009. Do you think that is the right way forward?

TM:
Not necessarily I don't and swapping events and doing all this kind of thing – no not really. I think it is nice to have a proper championship with 16 events but I suppose they are trying to reduce the actual expenses for manufacturers in flying cars around the world. I don't think it should be watered down though or made any easier. It should stay at 16 events. I am not into the politics of it however and I do know they make lots of mistakes in these kinds of things and regret it. But this business of taking events out and putting them in a year later and swapping them and dropping them and all that - it just makes it confusing. It should be nice and simple. The general public should know there are 12 rallies and they are in every continent in the world and that is the world championship.

Crash.net:
It is quite close in the BRC too, a three-way fight between Guy Wilks, Mark Higgins and Gwyndaf Evans. How do you see things developing in the last two events?

TM:
I am not sure what Mark will be driving on the final round - the Wales Rally GB at the end of the year. He has been driving in the Irish Tarmac Championship and the PWRC and swapping cars and he has been in the wrong car on occasion. I don't know. I'd like to see Mark win and take his fourth BRC title – then he would equal Roger Clark's four BRC wins and be one behind Jimmy McRae. I'd like to see Mark win but I know all of those drivers' and they are all good lads. As you say it is a great - another battle and you have got another good championship. You have got Formula 1 - that is going to be decided right at the end and you have also got the two main rally championships, the World and the British.

Crash.net:
Colin McRae was tragically killed 7 days ago. That has obviously overshadowed things here. Is there anything you would like to say in tribute to him?

TM:
Well I handled the one minutes silence here and we read out a few tributes. I knew him extremely well. I knew him when he was 17-years-old and on his very first RAC Rally we did a TV programme about him. I helped him get onto that rally in a little tiny Vauxhall Nova. Ever since then I knew him and I interviewed him right the way through to his world championship wins. I was very close to him. We had a good relationship, I did a lot of interviews with him and we use to have quite a laugh sometimes. I always remember that whenever he broke down or crashed or something happened I would always be there and he couldn't believe it. Whenever I interviewed him and said: 'Are you going to get to the finish?' He would always say: 'No problem Tony' - and it became like a saying and everybody said: 'No problem Tony'. They even had T-shirts made with that on. When he won the world championship and the RAC in Chester in 1995, I was on the finish ramp to do a live TV interview. When he drove up I was the first person to speak to him on camera with the microphone and there were 50,000 people at Chester race course and my first question was: 'How was that then?' and everybody shouted out 'No problem Tony'. It was fantastic. So I have got lovely memories of Colin and his family. I feel very sad about it like everybody else here.


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH TONY MASON: CLICK HERE


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Tony Mason and Matthew Wilson
Matthew Wilson, Stobart Ford Focus
Tony Mason on stage at the Rallyday 2006
Petter Solberg celebrates at the 2007 Race of Champions
David Llewellin and Harri Toivonen. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Metro 6R4. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Metro 6R4 celebrations. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Metro 6R4 celebrations. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Elfyn Evans chats to Rob Wilkins. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Roy Edwards. `Brian Stubbings Spirit of Rallyday` award winner. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Harri Toivonen. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Mitsubishi R5 launch. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Mitsubishi R5 launch. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Mitsubishi R5 launch. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Terry Kaby. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Howard Davies and Tony Mason. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Mikko Hirvonen`s 2010 Monte Carlo winning Ford Fiesta S2000. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Harri Toivonen. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]

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