Richard Mason (Subaru Impreza) and Niall McShea (Subaru Impreza).
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
Richard, I believe your fiancée 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?
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.
You have a fearsome reputation for meticulous car preparation. Is it quite tough preparing cars for other people as well as competing yourself?