FIA World Rally Championship Cyprus Rally FIA Pre-event Press Conference 13.05.2004 Attendees: Corrado Provera (Marlboro Peugeot Total) Sven Quandt (Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports) Malcolm Wilson (Ford Motor Co Ltd) Q: In the news recently we...
FIA World Rally Championship
FIA Pre-event Press Conference
Corrado Provera (Marlboro Peugeot Total)
Sven Quandt (Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports)
Malcolm Wilson (Ford Motor Co Ltd)
Q: In the news recently we have seen there has been a split from Daimler-Chrysler. What happened and what are the rally team plans for the future?
Sven Quandt: "Good afternoon. What happened was explained in detail in the press and I do not want to go into that again. I cannot give you more information than was in the press. Regarding the motorsport programme everyone is interested to know what will happen with Mitsubishi Motors' two motorsport programmes in WRC and Cross-Country. I can tell you that motorsport has a history in Mitsubishi longer than 30 years and we definitely will continue as this is part of the marketing strategy and the DNA of Mitsubishi. Both of these programmes will be continued."
Q: Are the results of 2004 going to influence the decision on the continuation of this programme?
Sven Quandt: "Of course it is not dependent upon the results. I would like to say that when we showed the new car at our press conference in Essen last November/December, we stated that this would be a three-year programme. This means one year when we strive for reliability and we have not done as much testing as we wanted. Next year we think that we could achieve something, say top five positions, and then in 2006 we would hope to be at the top again. I never said something different than that. My colleagues here on my left and right side know what I mean and what it takes to develop a competitive car. Someone could say now why did you join this year? We made a commitment, kept our promise and we are back as promised."
Q: Talking about the future as we were, are you preparing a new car for 2005 and are you able to tell us the latest situation about Ford's participation in the WRC in 2005?
Malcolm Wilson: "I think the first thing is the financial results from Ford. These have been encouraging to say the least and a big improvement in the first quarter on the whole of last year. I think you are also aware that they would make a decision at the end of April. I am in a position to say that there has been no concrete decision, but we are talking about the future and have been assured that we will have a decision by the end of June. All I say is that it is looking a lot better than it was after last year's Rally GB."
Q: Next year you will continue with the same car you will use here. Can your car remain competitive for another season?
Malcolm Wilson: "That is a good question. Because the new regulations about width of the cars comes in next year and that means in view of the fact that if Ford does continue we must look at a car for 2006. That means it would not be wise to make the extra investment to go to the extra width. The costs involved are probably in the region of £1million. But we are still confident that with ongoing development and the reduced width, the car can be competitive to the end of 2005."
Q: Marcus Gronholm was fighting for victory in New Zealand. How do you see your cars' performance in the last event? How confident are you that the car has reached the right level?
Corrado Provera: "I would just like to say two things. Firstly that Peugeot will be around next year and secondly to thank Piero Sodano for excusing the drivers from attending this evening's press conference. This rally will be driven in a hurry, so thanks for understanding that they are tired. "We are confident because in New Zealand we showed the car was fast. We had some problems in the beginning, but in New Zealand we feel that the problems were solved. We feel that New Zealand is a relatively easy rally. For Cyprus and the following tough rallies, Peugeot Sport has worked very hard for days and days. The car is now stronger. The drivers seem to be confident. The shakedown went well. We will try and win here. I did not say the same thing before New Zealand, even though I was thinking about it. We are maybe ready to start winning. If we have not succeeded on Sunday, then it will be my fauit."
Q: You have Kristian Solhberg here driving for you. One of the younger drivers. Is it better for them to go very fast or go steadily and reach the finish at all costs?
Sven Quandt: "Regarding the young drivers, they need as many kilometres as possible. It is not necessary for them to be the fastest, especially in the first year. We think they have a lot to learn, but they must show their potential and not attack all the time. We have seen it is not easy and on rallies we have seen that on Sundays many drivers do not attack. So, we have to find their speed, which the cars can take."
Q: The Focus has been at its best on this type of event. Would you say that you are still the class leader on rough rallies?
Malcolm Wilson: "I would like to think so, but if you look at the New Zealand Rally, there was one stage which was 19 kms long and we had four drivers, two makes of tyres and they were all within 1.1 seconds of each other. We had an advantage towards the end of last year, but I think Corrado admitted that they have caught up and we have a fantastic championship. It will be very difficult. We still are in a strong position from a suspension point of view, which is a crucial area on these rallies. We have not stood still on this either. I would like to be sitting here on Sunday saying we have another Cyprus victory, but it will be very difficult."
Q: After New Zealand you announced that Harri (Rovanpera) would be staying with you until the end of the year on gravel rallies. Are we going to see Freddy Loix driving again or are there any decision on asphalt drivers for the team?
Corrado Provera: "We have not yet taken a final decision who will be driving. As soon as we make up our minds, I promise you it will go public to inform everyone, including the Belgian press."
Questions to the Floor:
Q: to Sven Quandt (David Williams - freelance): There is a possiblility of the team running three cars. If so, which drivers and which rallies?
Sven Quandt: "We will enter three cars only when we have the car reliable. It does not make sense to enter three cars when we still have problems with reliability."
Q: to Sven Quandt (David Williams - freelance): How long might that be?
Sven Quandt: "We think we will increase the performance in the next three rallies - the parts should arrive for Argentina. I think that is a major problem holding us back at the moment."
Q: from Eric Briquet (Auto Hebdo) - after the delays and the recce over the last two days, I want to know the feeling of each of the team managers.
Malcolm Wilson: "We are all in the same situation and it has created a lot of extra work for a lot of people to set up in a shorter timescale. We have incurred extra costs. But at the end of the day rally teams are a resourceful bunch and I think we all got on and the great thing is the rally will start with a full compliment of cars."
Sven Quandt: "We could have done with some more hours to get the car ready for the shakedown. We only did two laps and that is not enough for our car. On every shakedown we learn something. The guys are tired, so it is a bit short. It is no-one's fault and things like that can happen."
Corrado Provera: "To bring in a bit of humour, everyone was in the same boat!"
Q: from Fred Billet (L'Echappement): Concerning the changes of regulations, when do you think the manufacturers will find a union together to stablise the regulations?
Corrado Provera: "We are all agreeing on the fact that co-operating with the FIA is the best way to keep alive the championship and bring it the boost for the years to come. In this political sentence you have two pieces of information. We are all in the same position and the FIA listens to us all and this is very important."