by Russell Atkins

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE

Andy Priaulx is not only the most successful touring car driver in active competition, he will also go down in the sport's history as a multiple champion, tin-top legend and one of its very finest ambassadors.

That's not to say he's entirely satisfied with his record, however, and after one European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) title and three successive World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) crowns, the Guernseyman is now hungry to make it five out of five in 2008, as he told Crash.net Radio...

Q:
Andy, first of all how are you looking forward to the 2008 WTCC season?

Andy Priaulx:
A lot; I think it's exciting, there's a lot of great competitiveness now - the championship is very, very tight - and from a driver's point-of-view it's always nice to be in a championship that's growing and getting stronger and stronger. I'm very much looking forward to Brazil next week.

Q:
As the defending champion, do you feel that puts you under any greater pressure to repeat the feat this year?

AP:
Yes and no; it's always nice to have four titles behind you - so people know you can win championships and there's no doubt there - but I think the most important thing is I've got to enjoy my driving.

Q:
Obviously you're going to face a lot of opposition this year - from the new N.Technology Honda, the SEATs with their diesel engines, the Chevrolets - how tough do you foresee it being?

AP:
There are about 14 drivers who can win races, so the championship is extremely strong. I think BMW has the package, as long as we're playing with a level playing field. I think we need to allow for the first two or three races to get an understanding of how competitive we are, and what the FIA will do about it if we're still a second-and-a-half behind the diesel engines in the SEAT turbo. From then on I think it should be good racing for the rest of the year.

Q:
Talking of a level playing field, the WTCC employs ballast and reverse grids; what are your views on the format of the series?

AP:
I think it's a great format. I think the reverse grid works and I think the weight handicap system works, but we just need to have stability with the regulations. That's very important for the future of the championship.

Q:
You mentioned 1.5 seconds earlier - is that the advantage you believe SEAT will have at the start of the season with the diesel engine?

AP:
That's what we were seeing for the last three rounds last year, so if things haven't changed then yes that should be a similar advantage. Normally the whole grid is separated by less than a second, so now to be 1.5 seconds behind really puts you out of the ballpark.

Q:
You've got some new events in 2008 too, in the shape of Okayama in Japan and Estoril in Portugal. How are you looking forward to those meetings?

AP:
It's really good; it's always nice to go to new circuits. Estoril we've been to before in the European Touring Car Championship and it's a great track, and I'm looking forward to Japan. It should be I think quite a good event for us, and I hope the promotion is good around the circuit and that we get a good crowd - that's the important thing. Eurosport's TV coverage is superb with all live races, so the TV viewing figures should be good as well.

Q:
And you're clearly looking forward to racing in front of your home fans at Brands Hatch again too..?

AP:
Yeah, that's one round that I really enjoy. Brands is a great circuit, it normally brings in a very good crowd and the atmosphere is really very good. I can't wait to race there.

Q:
Is the championship likely to go down to the wire again do you feel? A couple of years ago there were still nine drivers in it heading into the final round, and it has always been very close...

AP:
I would like it to be finished much earlier! Let's try and aim to do that, but probably that's out of my hands in a lot of respects. I just have to concentrate on my driving and perform at the very best, and optimise both the car and the driver's performance. The rest is out of my control.

Q:
So now you've won three WTCC crowns in a row and the ETCC before that, what are the chances of a fifth straight title for Andy Priaulx in 2008?

AP:
I think the odds would be pretty good. I wouldn't bet against it, but equally I'm not taking anything for granted - I respect my competitors far too much for that. I think it's going to be a great season with great racing, and hopefully I'll be in with a really good chance to win it.

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE