The Skoda Motorsport World Rally team is the only competitor in the 2002 World Rally Championship which can boast of two women in its cars.

In addition to the ever cheerful Swede Tina Thorner, who is Kenneth Eriksson's co-driver, Ana Goni, who is the co-driver to Stig Blomqvist, represents the Czech team.

Ana Goni was born on April 19th, 1953 in Caracas, Venezuela. She is daughter of immigrants - her father was a Spanish Basque and her mother an Argentinean. She graduated at the French Sorbonne and she is an excellent linguist, speaking English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

Ana is divorced and has three children. Twenty year old daughter Rita is studying journalism in Spain, her son Mario, 19, is studying in the United States while her youngest child, 15 year old Pablo, is in school in the United Kingdom. Although none of Ana's children wants to follow her into rallying, where she is thanks to her ex-husband, they all like the sport and are, of course, big fans of their mother.

In the following interview Ana Goni offers her view of world rallying and describes her relationship to cars.

Q:
Ana (Goni) - What do you need to be a good co-driver?

Ana Goni:
You have to be a very special person to be a co-driver. You need to be tidy you need to be fanatical about timing and to have everything prepared. Some people make rally drivers and some people do not - it's as simple as that. I used to drive but I prefer it in the other seat. I do not know any driver in the current championship who would make a good co-driver.

Q:
Why are there so few women in rallying?

AG:
I do not understand it. We seem to be going backwards. Fifteen years ago there were many more women in the sport than there are now. But it is a difficult job for women. First it's expensive, but also you have to sacrifice a family. I am all right because my children are grown up. But even now I chose my rallying calendar so I can fit in with my children's school holidays. As a woman you can't worry about what you look like or your hair for instance. But even saying that there could be more women.

Q:
Are men better WRC drivers?

AG:
Men are better drivers than women because women tend to be more conservative. Men do not think about the consequences of their driving. But that's why women make better co-drivers. Because they think things through and look ahead to situations. They predict what may happen and give advice accordingly.

Q:
Why is a broken car a nightmare for you?

AG:
I know what's going on under the bonnet of the car. I understand the mechanics, but I can't fix the problem. But then no one can these days, the cars are run by computers. The days when I could do an oil change are now gone. Cars are not built to be tinkered with. I had a hard time recently finding a battery in my car at home. I took two days to find even where the battery was, because it was under the passenger seat in the back of the car. When I asked why it was so difficult to find, I was told that cars are built now so you never need to change the battery. But that's so stupid...

Q:
What passions do you have?

AG:
One of my passions is collecting old rally cars. My favourite is my Lancia. I bought it two years ago. It won at San Remo. I have about 30 cars, but I won't tell you what they are worth. But it is a lot. But you know a few years ago they were worth nothing. These were winning cars but after the rally they were sold and then sold again. Often they just ended up in someone's garage getting dusty. I don't love the cars themselves; I love the people who were driving them, the excitement. I only collect cars with history.

Q:
How much longer will you carry on?

AG:
I will keep rallying for as long as I am able. Stig and I already have plans to do the exhibition rallies. But not yet. We are having too much fun. For Stig it's about winning. He loves to win and he loves seeing the times and saying 'aha.. see him.. how old is he.. and look we are only so many seconds behind.. not bad for a 55 year old.' But for me it's about the thrill of rallying itself, the excitement. I love the cars, the race, the places you go, and the people you meet. It's all about adrenalin and getting the best from the car. You do get addicted to it. You do not do this like it's a job; it's not like sitting behind a desk. We heard one person say recently that there should be a two-month holiday in the summer so he could have time off. But that's madness. You don't do this so you can have time off. It is your life.

Q:
What about accidents?

AG:
I had a very serious accident in Australia. We were driving in a classic rally over there in a Ford Escort. We came over the crest of a hill with lots of jumps and suddenly we just left the road and went into a roll. A full roll with the car end to end. I think we must have rolled about eight times. I remember counting up to four and then I stopped because I just thought that was it. When the car finally stopped I just sat there and thought, my God I am still here. I came out of the car and I had double vision where I had hit my head. But I was back in a car in a month. You have to. But it didn't make me scared of getting back into a car. And I am never scared with Stig because he is an excellent driver.

Q:
What do you see happening in the future, in terms of rallying?

AG:
I worry that rallying has gone a little too far down the business road and that "real rallying" will disappear for good. You need to make sure that there is still room for the privateers. They still have a place in rallying and they need to be respected.

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