Drivers / co-drivers: Toshi Arai and Tony Sircombe (Subaru) and Niall McShea and Michael Orr (Subaru).

Press conference.

Q:
Toshi, if we start with you. Congratulations on your [PCWRC category] win. There was very little more you could do. How many stages did you win here?

Toshi Arai:
I don't know. 16 may be.

Q:
That's quite a lot but not enough to win the Championship.

TA:
I started my own team so always I am thinking about the money and the people, not so good.

Q:
Is it easier to drive?

TA:
Difficult because I'm always thinking about the team but its not so bad.

Q:
Tony, quite a dramatic end to the rally here, was there a point after Jani [Paasonen] had his problem and Alistair [McRae] had his problem, did you think that maybe you would end up as champion?

Tony Sircombe:
We came here and it would be a miracle to win the Championship. I've competed here 13 years so I know that anything can happen in Australia. It would have been nice to beat Niall [McShea] but I think he was a deserved winner of the Championship.

Q:
Now Toshi, the other thing you've achieved this year, you've made Subaru win a Production Car round. Why did you leave it until the end of the year?

TA:
I think the Subaru is quite a strong car now.

Q:
Now over to you Niall, first of all congratulations for becoming the FIA Production Car World Champion. Given some of the financial difficulties in the year, it must seem like a bit of a miracle that you're sitting here at all.

Niall McShea:
Yes we started the year and we knew at the start that we'd have a very big problem at the end. Things really got quite good for us in the middle of the season and we've had our ups and our downs as well. Well, what I thought we'd be coming here with a realistic chance of winning but unfortunately we ran completely out of money just before the end of Corsica and it looked like we weren't actually going to make it here. So after Corsica I phoned a few friends and let them know the situation so a group of some businessmen and a lot of the top Irish competitors in Ireland put together a budget for me to be here. From the first stage I think we realised that we didn't seem to have the power in the engine that we needed and the cars seemed to be in a rally of their own. We stuck with it we made sure that we stayed out of trouble and we didn't get exasperated and try to hard or damage the car and finally in the end it paid dividends.

Q:
You've also been running the car very much to a budget too haven't you?

NM:
Yes, the situation, as you know, we've had a very good team and the suppliers have done a mega job of keeping the car as fresh as possible but it is not always possible and I am very thankful just to do this. The car really has given me so few problems this year it is unbelievable. We seemed to be on the pace on every rally last year and had problems but this year we had no problems and I am extremely grateful to the team and everybody involved for that. It worked very well indeed.

Q:
Thank you. Michael, congratulations, when you woke up this morning and had Alistair in front of you, you can't really have expected to be sitting here now.

Michael Orr:
That's for sure. We've had that feeling since Friday morning, maybe even Thursday night. It is very unfortunate for Alistair. His team have done a great job developing the car and he was extremely quick here, as was Toshi and there was nothing we could do with that. Our guys were amazing this weekend and the preparation and first class. With a limited budget there is only much you can push the car but we knuckled down and now here we are, it is all a bit of a dream.

Q:
Toshi, what are you plans for next year? We've finished one season, what will you be doing next season?

TA:
Well I hope the same as this year. Next year much faster I hope.

Q:
Is it possible we will see you in a world rally car at all?

TA:
Yeah I hope.

Q:
Now, unfortunately last year's Production Car World Rally champion Martin Rowe... he's had a bit of a quiet season this year, what are your plans to make sure it doesn't happen to you?

NM:
Certainly my plan would be not to disappear at all. I would like very much to do this Championship again, try to do it in a better form. Probably not even possible to do it in a better team or anything like that. Just to have more budgets so that we can have the luxury of being able to do more testing and I would very much like to try to bring in a few rounds of the WRC Championship in a WRC car.

 

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