Interview in Melbourne with Allan McNish

New Formula One team Toyota's rookie driver for the 2002 Foster's Australian Grand Prix on the first weekend of March, Scotsman Allan McNish, has already made his "debut" in Melbourne - on radio. McNish was interviewed on radio station Talk...

New Formula One team Toyota's rookie driver for the 2002 Foster's Australian Grand Prix on the first weekend of March, Scotsman Allan McNish, has already made his "debut" in Melbourne - on radio.

McNish was interviewed on radio station Talk 1116 tonight by evening show host Gavin Wood and motoring journalist Jan Murcott, who met the Scotsman in Japan this week during the Tokyo Motor Show and as Toyota tested its developmental F1 car at the Suzuka circuit, home of the Japanese GP.

McNish, winner of the "Le Mans" sports car race in Adelaide last New Year's Eve, will partner Finnish veteran of 93 GPs Mika Salo in the Japanese motor giant's team in next season's F1 world championship-opening event at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit on February 28-March 3.

The circuit is within a kilometre of the Talk 1116 studio from which the interview with 31-year-old McNish was aired tonight.

"F1 is the pinnacle of motor sport and so, from any driver's point of view, to achieve a seat (in it) is fantastic," McNish said.

"For Toyota, it's their first ever time in GP racing, and so it's a big thing for them, especially as we're here in Japan at the moment.

"We've been testing the first car. We've been doing a lot of development with the engine. We've been doing a lot of development with the electronics and also the chassis.

"We're pretty happy with the way it's going. So we're really looking forward to getting to Melbourne now.

"It's really hard to say right now (how the team will perform at its debut GP at Albert Park).

"We haven't driven our new car (being built for the 2002 season). As well as being testing this year, we've been developing a new car in the background, and we haven't driven that yet.

"We also don't know what the competition is going to do. The one thing we do know is that, by the time we get there in March, we're going to be really up and we're going to be doing the best we can.

"It's a good place for us to come for our first GP.

"We've got a lot of people behind us that have got a lot of experience in motor sport, and it is a big opportunity with us in F1.

"Toyota know what it takes to succeed in motor sport. You've known that by the stuff that has happened in Australia (in various forms of motor sport competition), by the Le Mans program, by the World Rally Championship programs that have been very successful.

"F1 is no exception. We want to succeed in that, but we also know that it is going to take time. We're in for the long term on this one."

At the end of the interview Jan Murcott confirmed that the Toyota F1 team principal, Swede Ove Andersson, had said during the week that 20-year-old Australian Ryan Briscoe will be tested by the team in the next couple of weeks.

Briscoe, from Drummoyne in Sydney, recently won the Italian Formula Renault Championship. He was identified more than a year ago by Toyota as a potential F1 driver.

-HMM-

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