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Q&A: Gigi Galli - Stobart: EXCLUSIVE

9 July 2008

by Rob Wilkins


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


Stobart Ford's Gigi Galli finished the first half of the season with 17 points on the board, following five points finishes from eight events, including a podium result in Sweden. The Italian is currently the top Stobart driver in the drivers' championship - in seventh place overall, 1 point up on Henning Solberg. Crash.net Radio caught up with Gigi recently to chat to him about the year to date...


Crash.net:
Gigi, we have had eight of this year's 15 WRC events so far, how happy have you been with your performances?

Gigi Galli:
First of all I would like to say hello to everybody. It has been a long time since we last spoke together. I am just so pleased because we have done generally what we planned. When we spoke about the championship at the start of the year we were so happy to have this chance to drive for Ford. We had a plan to start the season quite carefully and to improve our confidence with the car. After the first few events we wanted to try to push a little bit more - and this is what we did.

Until Sardinia the speed wasn't that good. Okay we had a good performance in Sweden and got a podium but to be honest we were a little bit lucky because some of my rivals had some troubles. It was not a real podium.

But after Jordan we saw some good speed in some stages and in Sardinia we had a good result [and finished fourth]. Of course we had some bad luck in Greece and in Turkey. In Greece we had a problem with a stone and in Turkey we had a problem with the car [and then I was sidelined by dehydration]. But it is okay. I am so pleased because we found a good pace. Now all we need is just a bit of luck to be consistent.

Crash.net:
How frustrating was it to go into the summer break on the back of two DNF's in Greece and Turkey?

GG:
In Greece everything happened. On the first day in SS2 we hit a stone in the middle of the road. It was completely my mistake and we broke the front right track control arm in the suspension. The second day we had some troubles with the hydraulics. I don't understand yet what happened. But we lost completely the hydraulic pressure. The third day again we had a problem and hit a rock. It was still good though as we found a good speed and we even won the 'Colin McRae Trophy'. This was very good for us and Stobart. But of course it was a little bit frustrating because we didn't score any points.

In Turkey as well we had a very good performance and we had a very good first day. We almost had a good day on the second day too but we had some problems at the end. I don't understand yet what it was as I haven't spoken to my engineer. But it doesn't matter what happened. We lost 5 minutes. But this is rallying. We have to accept that and what I learnt from that is that we had good speed. Hopefully we can use that for the next half of the season. Also after the second leg there I had some problems with my health. I didn't drink enough and I had a physical problem. But of course now it is okay.

Crash.net:
You have done eight events with the Focus now, how much has the feeling improved since Monte Carlo?

GG:
The feeling is very good, especially on the gravel. I don't know how it will be in Germany though. I haven't driven on tarmac since Monte Carlo. I don't think it will be easy on asphalt. Also I don't really like tarmac because you can't drive in the way I like. But there will be three rallies on tarmac in the second half of the year and I think I have to find a way to enjoy them. I am sure I will find a way to do that.

Crash.net:
Have you set yourself any targets for the second part of the season?

GG:
The first target is to get third place in the manufacturers' championship for the Stobart team. I think we have a real chance of achieving that goal. If we have a bit of luck we can reach that. I would like to be on the podium too and I am sure in some rallies, like New Zealand, we can get a good result. Maybe second could be possible there - or maybe something more. I don't know. It is quite difficult to say because there are a lot of good drivers. But I am sure we have a good car to reach a good position - and do even better than third. As we saw in the last rally we have a chance to run at the top of the pack. But we need a bit of luck and also a bit of consistency. We will try to find this. This is our target for the next part.

Crash.net:
Have you got any tests or anything during the long summer break?

GG:
No, unfortunately we don't have any tests. There is no testing planned. I don't care about that however. For us it is enough to have a chance to enjoy driving with Ford this year and have a chance to score points for Stobart. This is already enough. We will try to do our best without testing. We had some tests effectively during some of the rallies too when we had some problems and re-started under the SupeRally. We used those rallies to do some testing and try out some bits and pieces.

Crash.net:
For the first time you are doing all the events in the WRC, how big an advantage is that?

GG:
Yeah for sure it helps. It is our first season where we can compete on all of the events and that is good because you can think about not just one event but the whole season. This is good for the pace and for the motivation. The feeling is very good and now, like I said before, hopefully we can find some consistency. I am sure if we find that and have a little bit of luck, we can get some good results.

Crash.net:
The next event is Finland. Are you looking forward to it?

GG:
Of course - but we look forward to every event. Finland however is a special one because it is very famous and because there are a lot of good drivers there. The rally is very fast. There are a lot of jumps and a lot of people. It is a lot of fun. Like every event we will be ready to do our best.

Crash.net:
What might be possible there?

GG:
Everything! You have to consider the other drivers though. I really don't know. Our target is to try and be a little faster and more consistent during the rest of the season and then we will see what happens.

Crash.net:
At the moment we are in the middle of the summer break - what have you been up to?

GG:
I am still working on my house. The house is now finished. But we need to fix some small things. At the moment I am trying to take care of the garden because it is the summer. I need to prepare the garden. It is a proper English garden! I can tell you.

Crash.net:
Fellow Ford man Mikko Hirvonen managed to edge back in front of Sebastien Loeb in the race for the drivers' title in Turkey. Do you think he can stop Loeb from taking his fifth crown?

GG:
Mikko has shown impressive consistency so far this season. He has scored points in every rally and that is how he has built his championship lead. On paper Finland will be one of his rallies but I am a little bit worried about the tarmac events. There are three rounds on tarmac to come and Sebastien is almost unbeatable on asphalt. We will have to wait and see what the situation is after New Zealand [ahead of the back-to-back tarmac events in Spain and France]. I think it will be a good battle and a good game. It will be very hard until the end of the season for both of them.

Crash.net:
We saw a lot of tactics in Turkey - is that a good thing for the sport?

GG:
It is part of the game. I think it is good because to be champion a few years ago you had to play with this rule. It has only been the last four or five years that the first 15 cars were reversed after the first leg for days two and three.

Crash.net:
What do you think about the state of the WRC and rallying? Is the sport in good shape and what needs to be done to improve the spectacle in your view?

GG:
To improve it we need to do something different with the cars. The weight distribution and the active centre diff takes away some of the spectacle and performance. If you can make the cars a bit more like they were a few years ago I think it will help a little bit in terms of making the cars more sideways.


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


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