by Rob Wilkins

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH GIGI GALLI : CLICK HERE

Gigi Galli received the best Christmas present possible a few weeks ago when he was confirmed as a Stobart driver for 2008, replacing the BP Ford bound Jari-Matti Latvala. Crash.net Radio caught up with the Italian to chat to him about that and his hopes for the coming season...

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Crash.net:
Gigi, congratulations on securing that drive with the Stobart Ford team, I guess you must be very happy with that deal?

Gigi Galli:
Of course - but first of all, let me say, happy new year to everybody and I can tell you my 2008 started very well. It is a good chance for us to work with the Stobart team. Just before Christmas I visited the M-Sport base in the UK and visited the beautiful factory. I met also the Stobart chief and it was very pleasant to spend some time with them. Now it is time to start [working properly] in the next week. We will try and do some tests with the Focus RS WRC. For me it is completely new. I have never been in a Focus WRC car before.

Crash.net:
Having only done selected events in 2006 and 2007, how important was it for you to get a deal to do a full season in 2008?

GG:
This is another key point for the season because in the last two years I did just a few WRC events. I couldn't get a good rhythm and then I couldn't keep a good pace on the rallies. For this reason in the first part of the year I will be, in agreement with the Stobart team, just a 'taxi driver'. I just need to get to understand and learn about the car, the cock-pit and get everything working well on the car. After that, when we feel confident with the car, we can try to do something more.

Crash.net:
What are your aims for the season overall?

GG:
We have to think about the championship and get points for the Stobart team. That is my main goal and what I will keep in mind. I cannot also forget though ourselves and we - Giovanni [Bernacchini - my co-driver] and myself - will try to do our best to have fun with the Stobart team. That is it.

Crash.net:
You will be nominated to score manufacturers' points on every event. Is that going to put you under more pressure?

GG:
Everything is pressure. But I think this is the kind of thing that happens when you are in the WRC. I prefer to have this kind of pressure than to have no pressure and be sat in my living room at home!

Crash.net:
Have you spoken with your Stobart Ford team-mates, Henning Solberg and Matt Wilson yet?

GG:
I have known them for a long time and of course with Henning I have already shared some events in 2006 [when we both drove Peugeot 307 WRCs]. I think we will make a good team.

Crash.net:
Are you looking forward to working with them?

GG:
Definitely, I think when you can work together with the same goal it is always good.

Crash.net:
How are you going to approach the Rallye Monte Carlo?

GG:
Monte Carlo is a strange event. We don't know yet what the weather conditions will be - if there will be snow or not. We don't know about the tyres as well - the Pirellis are completely new [for 2008]. After this rally I think we will be able to understand more easily and understand our pace and how we can do on subsequent events.

Crash.net:
You last did the Monte back in 2006. The route has changed a lot since then. Is that going to make things tougher?

GG:
Of course - the special stages have completed changed compared to the last time I did it. Ok we did the recce last year, but that is not enough. As I said before though we have to take it easy in the first part of the season for the reasons I have already mentioned.

Crash.net:
This year the tyre regulations have changed quite a bit and there are no-anti deflation devices. Are you looking forward to that challenge?

GG:
It will be another key factor for the season. We don't know exactly yet how it will be, how much we will be able to cut [the corners], how strong the tyres will be and so on. After driving a few years with run-flat mousse things will change now. I don't know how exactly - but it will change. I think the driving style will change and we will have to try and avoid punctures.

Crash.net:
Sebastien Loeb will be going for his fifth title this season - do you think he can achieve that?

GG:
After Marcus [Gronholm]'s retirement he will be favourite - the number one - for the title. But for sure Mikko [Hirvonen] and Jari-Matti [Latvala] they will try to make his life not so easy.

Crash.net:
Do you think Mikko is ready to challenge Sebastien?

GG:
In 2007 Mikko showed very, very impressive pace - and I think he is ready, yes.

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH GIGI GALLI : CLICK HERE