Stig Blomqvist and his co-driver Ana Goni will be lining up alongside Armin Schwarz/Manfred Hiemer and Bruno Thiry/Georges Biar in the Skoda Octavia WRC
in the forthcoming Rally of Finland, an event which is without doubt one of the highlights for the team this season. Blomqvist is one of the most famous
rally drivers of his generation and has a longstanding relationship with Skoda.

The 55 year old legendary Swede co-operated with the Skoda Motorsport team from 1994 to 1997. He was involved in the development of the Skoda Felicia
Kit Car, the successful F2 rally car, and he rallied it from 1995 until 1997. He also helped the team with the development of the Octavia Kit Car, which was the two wheel drive predecessor of the Octavia WRC. During his career Stig Blomqvist won 11 rounds of the World Rally Championship and finished 33 times on the podium. In 1984 he became World Champion with his co-driver Bjvrn Cederberg. The crew of Stig Blomqvist /Ana Goni has competed in five World Championship rounds this season with a group N car
entered by the David Sutton Team and is currently in 6th place with six points in the FIA Team's Cup. In 1996 he finished in a remarkable third place overall in his Felicia Kit Car in the British RAC Rally. Now, five
years on, he returns to the fold to drive alongside the Czech team in Finland, which provides an ideal opportunity to evaluate his feelings on Skoda:

"I have wonderful memories of the time I was a Skoda works driver and the opportunity to drive Octavia WRC in Finland is of course a thrilling opportunity for me. I hope I can help Skoda Motorsport to a good result", says Stig.

Your co-operation with Skoda Motorsport dates back to the beginning of the 90s. What really started it off?
"Mainly my longstanding friendship with Pavel Janeba and, as is so often the case in life, some accidental meetings. In the early nineties I worked with some people in the Velimex Skoda dealership of Ceska Lipa. One Swedish engineer was working there and asked me to come down to Mlada Boleslav, which is not far from Ceska Lipa and asked me to try the Favorit. After that, which was over the period 1994-1995, I twice competed in the Bohemia rally with the Felicia Kit Car, alongside Bernard Munster. I went with the Felicia twice to the RAC rally and scored that really nice third in 1996. It was only a shame though that it did not help Skoda achieve victory in Formula 2 that year."

You have had your hands on all three recent Skoda rally cars. How do they compare ?
"The Felicia used to be a very nice car to drive. It was also an easy car to handle, so I had a lot of fun driving and a lot of enjoyment. I cannot really say very much about the Octavia Kit Car because I have driven it only once on the pre-event testing before the Finland rally and it was a raw and very new car. But I felt it was a big difference in performance there. As regards the Skoda Octavia WRC, I can say now that Skoda used to be a winning team of the classes, but now the team has a world class machine and the people should say: Hey, they're the big boys now!"

You are a real veteran in rallying. How does it feel to switch from a formula 2 car to a group N four wheel drive and now to an Octavia WRC?
"Actually I have to say I was bred on two wheel drive cars. So I guess I know pretty well how to handle them and it is sometimes still fun for me to drive
such a car. But WRC is pure enjoyment for me. It is a car that really works well and does exactly what you tell it. But as it is damn fast, you have got to tell it what you want exactly when you want it. Concerning group N cars, I think they are a better solution for the young talented drivers to start with instead of Formula 1600. It is often said that Formula 1600 is more financially accessible - but it still is not. And two wheel drive cars are not really the future of rallying, so the 1600 cc machines cannot give the driver similar experience to that of handling the WRC as that which you get from group N, because apart from the 4wheel drive, group N cars have approximately the same weight as the WRCs. Therefore I fully understand Skoda Auto policy of not getting involved in the 1600 cc class."

What reputation has Skoda in your home country Sweden?
"Certainly, it is a very well known manufacturer and as regards sporting history, everyone knows how long Skoda has been involved in motorsports. But until the WRC project, it has been a little underestimated. But now everybody has registered the Octavia WRC as a top class car and everyone is also registering how much better and better the car is getting. The result of Armin (Schwarz) in Kenya was a case in point. Then I got further evidence personally with the testing just a week ago before Finland. The car I tried once about a year ago cannot be compared to he one Skoda has now."

How was the idea of driving Octavia WRC in Finland born?
"It was quite a coincidence. I had just started thinking with my co-driver Ana what we would do for Finland, because every year there are quite a few good Scandinavians with group A cars and we knew we could not really be aiming high with group N Lancer there. So I talked to the Skoda team manager Pavel Janeba about the possibilities of renting an Octavia and as you see, we found a solution which satisfied us both. In addition, and not least, Ana wanted to have some fun, so I guess with the Octavia WRC she will get quite a bunch of it!"

You will not be the only veteran rally driver to try your fortune in Finland. Did Markku Alen's start affect your motivation?
"You bet it did! When Ana and I realised Markku was going to be competing in Finland we knew we simply had to have the WRC for Finland too! And if you ask me if I can beat him - I say yeah - I hope so, I can do this! But do not ask me to predict the results, I do not know myself, but I can promise you, I will not go slow!"

Your start with Octavia WRC in Finland is just a one-off. What else is the 1984 World Champion doing now?
"I spend quite a lot of time in Sweden. I live in Orebro, which is between Gothenburg and Stockholm. I have a little workshop there where we are now helping one talented young driver in Formula Ford to prepare his machine. So as you can see motorsport is simply the main point of my life!"