Drivers: Richard Mason (Subaru Impreza) and Niall McShea (Subaru Impreza).

Press conference.

Q:
Richard, you're one of only three New Zealand drivers competing in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship category. What would it mean for you to win here?

Richard Mason:
Yes we wanted to see if we were up to speed with the competition. Although we got second last year there was a fair bit of competition and we weren't right up on the pace for the first two days. It would be nice to be in the front of the PWRC field if we can get there, and this round is also part of our New Zealand Rally Championship, so for the first two days we will be thinking about that as well. For the last day we will think about the PWRC. What it could mean to us is that maybe we could find a sponsor that could give us the opportunity to do the whole season, and that is what our aim is.

Q:
You have competed in a number of overseas events. Do you think this type of international experience helps, or is competition the same the world over and your experience in New Zealand enough to give you an advantage?

RM:
I think really that the international events certainly help, we've had good competition in China where we have been racing a bit, but maybe local knowledge will help in the way of conditions.

Q:
Niall, your plans for New Zealand came together very late, just at the start of this week. How tough has it been arriving here late and making sure your preparations don't suffer?

Niall McShea:
We always intended to come to New Zealand and unfortunately for various circumstances we weren't able to go to Greece, so I was informed on the Wednesday before we left on the Saturday that we couldn't go to Greece. My co driver Gordon went to Greece and organised everything with the FIA and the other competitors in the PWRC to let us go to Japan instead, but there was no problem at that time with New Zealand. Unfortunately after that something arose again and it looked like we weren't going to be able to make it, so last Tuesday at 9.30am they told me that I could leave the next day to come here, so it was a nice phone call. I'm feeling great, you know, as regards to preparation; you can do an awful lot in 12 hours. We did a good test and the car's brand new so no problems, I am really looking forward to the rally.

Q:
Richard, I believe your fianc?e is your co-driver and the partnership obviously works well. But in such a pressured environment, doesn't that put a strain on your personal relationship too?

RM:
It's funny, quite a few people say that. Initially we were told that partners couldn't be in the car together but for us there doesn't seem to be a problem. Maybe it's better for us because we know each other better and understand each other a little bit further. We don't usually fight too much and we don't really fight too much in the car either. We just make it work in the car and together at home.

Q:
You have a fearsome reputation for meticulous car preparation. Is it quite tough preparing cars for other people as well as competing yourself?

RM:
It is funny that you say that, we do like to make sure that our car is well prepared and funnily enough we have been preparing a couple of other cars before the event and my car has been left to the side while everyone else's has been getting prepared. So now they are finally finishing mine off, so hopefully for the start of the rally it will be very good. But it does put a little bit of extra pressure on; we're mainly a non-professional team, most of our work has been done after hours and if there is extra work to be done then sometimes it gets a bit stretched.

Q:
Your last event in the PWRC was in Argentina, back in early May. Do you think you can be on the pace straight away, or is it going to take you a few stages or even the first leg to get back into the rhythm?

NMc:
I really don't know. To be honest I did Argentina and a small rally in Ireland and this is the third rally this year. To expect myself to be on the pace, I doubt it, but we did a good test. The times were fine on the test, but it's never like the rally, but it was great to come back here and see all the stages and have it on my mind that I can do the job here so I am certainly going to try my utmost to be as fast as I possibly can without making mistakes, as soon as I possibly can, with a reasonable amount of safety at hand tomorrow.

Q:
What is your view of the New Zealand stages? Everyone always says they are some of the best in the world; is it the same for you?

NMc:
I was here in 2003 and again in 2004 and it is quite a different rally than it was that time, but for sure I am one of those drivers that believe the stages are the best in the world. You can do some of them without a sump guard and some you can't, they are just fantastic drivers' stages so it is great to be back. It is a little bit trickier than I had it in my head; that we were going to try and gamble with going with one tyre, but I don't think we will possibly do that now because it's quite possible that we could take two tyres off the car on one stone. There are a few stones here now while before there wasn't so it is quite a different rally but still an absolutely brilliant one with lots of character and I'm really looking forward to it.