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Q&A: Nicky Grist - EXCLUSIVE.

by Rob Wilkins


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH NICKY GRIST: CLICK HERE


Colin McRae's former co-driver, Nicky Grist was one of the stars at the recent Castle Combe Rallyday in the UK. Crash.net Radio spoke to him about that event and the World Rally Championship in general...


Crash.net:
Nicky, what have you made of this year's Rallyday?

Nicky Grist:
The sun is shinning and there is not a cloud in the sky. In previous years that has always been a bone of contention and it has been washed out regularly. But today is an absolutely stunning day. There are loads of people here and a load of cars. It is just a great day out.

Crash.net:
How important are events like this for the sport and the WRC?

NG:
I don't think it is especially important for the WRC as that is enough of a show in its own right. But it is a great show for all those enthusiasts who spend every spare bit of cash of their own on their rally cars. It gives them a chance to show off in front of the crowds. That is a far better tribute for this event than the big stars. But don't get me wrong the big stars are the ones that really do attract the spectators.

Crash.net:
Mikko Hirvonen is the headline act here - can he beat Sebastien Loeb and win the 2008 WRC drivers' title?

NG:
It is going to be difficult. But you should never, say never. There was obviously a bit of a cock-up in New Zealand, which set them back quite dearly. But Sebastien will never be far away. When it comes down to it, I think it is going to be a race right to the finish. But you can't underestimate the coolness and the experience of Sebastien Loeb. He will always be there at the end.

Crash.net:
The next two events in Spain and France are on asphalt and that of course traditionally favours Sebastien...

NG:
I was going to follow on and mention that. You can't say that Sebastien is not going to win it. But bearing in mind all they have to do is finish second and it is only a two point difference. It is not like the scoring was ten years ago, when you maybe had a five point difference between first and second. Now it is only two points and he is only going to gain two points if he wins and Mikko finishes in second place. There are a lot of other tarmac boys though that could come in and mess things up. If Mikko has a couple of hiccups and starts finishing down the order then these tarmac rallies could be crucial.

Crash.net:
Ford has demoted Jari-Matti Latvala to the 'B' team for those two events. How do you think that will affect his confidence?

NG:
Not at all - it will make Jari-Matti even hungrier to go out there and show what he can do. Of course Francois [Duval], historically, has always been pretty quick on tarmac and he does have some good sponsorship behind him. At the end of the day he should help Ford's championship hopes. But it is important for them to try and get Francois in a position to get right up the leader-board if, for any reason Mikko can't keep up with Sebastien. It is all tactics at the end of the day and you can't underestimate what Dani [Sordo] could do either. Spain is his home event and no matter what, it is surprising how when it comes to your home event you somehow always perform a little bit better. Who knows what he can do. He could finish second and could possibly even finish first. You just never know and he is in a good car.

Crash.net:
There have been a lot of tactics this year - is that good or bad for the WRC?

NG:
That has always been the case for many years. To be honest no matter what you do and how you structure it, I don't think there is any real fair way to suit everybody. The running position has always been a bowl of contention. The reserve order did make things a lot, lot easier for the leading crews. We suffered from it in the late 1990s and the early 2000s in just the same way. I think it is good for the sport. It is applying a little bit of brain power as well as throttle and horse power.

Crash.net:
There is talk Marcus Gronholm might come out of retirement - should he return?

NG:
The sport needs somebody like that. No disrespect to Mikko or any of these young guys that are coming up through the fray. But there are no stars of yesteryear still and when you think about it Marcus Gronholm is not that old a person. He is still a very young driver and still extremely competitive. He was the only one when Sebastien was on top form that could really live with him. It would be good for the sport if he does come back. But he has got to suit himself. He has had twelve months off now and perhaps that will have put a bit of fire in his belly and given him the opportunity to say: 'Yeah right, I want to come back'. It would be great to see it.

Crash.net:
How would you like to see the WRC develop in the future?

NG:


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Nicky Grist (GBR) Kronos Citroen World Rally Championship, Rally of Turkey, 12-14/10/06, Turkey.
Nicky Grist. Rallyday 2008. Castle Combe. September 20. [PIC CREDIT: Andy Crayford - BangerPhotos.com]
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]
Gwyndaf and Elfyn Evans and Howard Davies. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Gwyndaf Evans. MML Sports Mitsubishi WRC05. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]

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