WRC

Rally Finland: Winners' press conference

Markko Martin, Driver - Ford Motor Co Ltd Michael Park, Co-driver Petter Solberg, Driver - 555 Subaru World Rally Team Philip Mills, Co-driver Richard Burns, Driver - Marlboro Peugeot Total Robert Reid, Co-driver Malcolm Wilson, Team...

Markko Martin, Driver - Ford Motor Co Ltd
Michael Park, Co-driver

Petter Solberg, Driver - 555 Subaru World Rally Team
Philip Mills, Co-driver

Richard Burns, Driver - Marlboro Peugeot Total
Robert Reid, Co-driver

Malcolm Wilson, Team Principal - Ford Motor Co Ltd

Q: Many congratulations on a fantastic second career victory here in Finland with the new Ford Focus RS WRC03; only the third non-Scandinavian to win here. How does it feel to beat the Finns on home territory? Or do you consider this your home territory?

Markko Martin: It's defenitely not my territory, but no, I really enjoy driving here always. I've always dreamed a lot of doing well in this rally. For me you can call this 'The Rally' because it's so fast. You need good driver's skills to win here. If you can win here you can win everywhere. So that's why it was so important for me to win this rally. For sure it wasn't easy when Marcus was doing incredible times we had to go over the limit almost all the time to keep up and it would have been interesting to see the end results without people having problems but I think still a great battle and it wasn't easy for sure.

Q: If Marcus hadn't retired do you think you could have still kept him behind you?

Markko Martin: I think the pace was so quick that it would have been miracle if the drivers had kept the same speed for three days. Marcus took the lead just before he had to retire. I felt that we still had some speed left in the car but unfortunately we had some technical problems immediately so we couldn't prove that.

Q: An absolutely fantastic battle between you and Richard today. How many risks did you take to try and grab second place?

Petter Solberg: Well actually I took quite a few risks in the rally and I was over the limit quite a long time. The whole day was very very quick and I tried to the speed of Richard all the time and maybe even gain a little bit.

The last stage was a little bit different. It's not so quick. It's more over long corners and medium fast. It was possible to beat him there If I went over the limit all the time and took a lot of risks. So I was actually standing in the seat as I was driving. I almost went off in the first corner. I jumped almost off the road. And Phil lost his breath there. And still there we changed a couple of gears down and flat out again. And we needed to catch back even more time. So I tried very hard actually. My mechanics checked the throttle pedal later and it was completely bent down.

Q: Congratulations on third place and increased championship lead. Yesterday you had a wheel bearing failure on the last two stages, and the same thing forced your team mate Marcus Gronholm out of the lead the day before - how much were you worrying about another potential failure today?

Richard Burns: I thought about it this morning but my mind was clear. I heard some noise on the first stage but I didn't even call my engineer to tell him about it, because I didn't want to worry all team. In the final stage in the corner where Petter had a moment someone else had a similar one four minutes later because I was trying really hard. I think it is a really big credit for Petter to do such a good time in there. I really wanted the second place because two more points in the championship would have been fantastic.

Q: Congratulations on your second win. Of those two victories Greece and now in Finland which one do you think means most to pair of you.

Michael Park: I don't know. Everybody says the first victory is the important one but with Finland being the rally that it is its one that everybody wants to win because of the high speed. That one will be very special to me. For me they are pretty equal.

Q: This must be one of the closest events you've ever been involved in. How much more complicated does your role become when you're dealing in tenths of seconds: both from a practical and psychological point of view?

Philip Mills: Well the first corner is as important as the last one. This is probably the most difficult event in the world championship as far as co-driver is concerned with high speed and lines over the crests. You have to concentrate absolutely to the maximum. It's very very difficult in here.

Q: Drivers always say that the Rally Finland is one of the most satisfying events to drive. Is the same true from a co-driver's point of view?

Robert Reid: I think it's maybe just scary. No it's good. Sometimes when you get to the finish of one of the classic stages I feel that I liked it but hated it as well. Your heart is in your mouth. It's probably the ultimate rollercoaster ride. It's very satisfying to get to the end and to have a good position.

Q: The next rally is Australia - which your team boss Malcolm Wilson said recently would probably be the one that you might struggle with most this year, because of your lack of experience. Do you agree?

Markko Martin: For me the last year was the first time to do it and it was quite a difficult then. So I found quite difficult New Zealand last year but this year we finished ok. I think if we work real hard with pace notes to get it sorted for this year I think we should at least be able to fight for the podium, if not better.

Q: Do you think now the Focus can win everywhere? You had a strong performance in Germany and now here on gravel.

Markko Martin: Yeah I think the car can win, but someone has to drive it as well.

Q: You've got 38 points now, so you're 11 points off the championship lead. How much money would you bet on you winning the title this year?

Petter Solberg: If Richard makes a mistake now and we manage to get 10 points from Australia I'm straight up there. I will try very hard. I was second last year and I try to win this year.

Q: This is the first Rally Finland ever where there have been no Finnish drivers in the top five. Do you think this is a sign of things to come?

Richard Burns: It's a good question. It's been a bit of luck on this rally. We have seen a lot of pressure on home drivers here. There's been a few mechanical troubles for the people.

Here in Finland there are well educated rally spectators but I think they're very much only educated to follow and think about their own countrymen and there's been quite a lot of booing for all three of us at the finish ramp which I think is not a very positive thing for rallying just because there are no Finns on the podium.

I hope that the organizers next year can try to cultivate some more positive support for everybody not just the Finns.

Q: There seemed to be thousands of Estonian fans out there. How visible was their support?

Michael Park: You don't notice it on stages. But at every arrival control or every stage finish we were swamped by them. Well usually Argentina is quite bad. You could never see the boards because there's so many fans after autographs. It seemed worse than Argentina here with just Estonians alone. It was really chaos. Apparently there were rumour that ten thousand people came over. I reckon we saw that many easily.

Q: Petter said at service before the last three stages that he fully expected Richard to finish second and that he was quite happy to settle fot third. Did you believe him?

Philip Mills: All we actually did was study the form of the previous day, when Richard was nibbling away at us quite comfortably. So we just expected him to do the same, so that's where that theory came form. But it wasn't to be.

Q: The only real criticism levelled at this event has been that there are some long road sections, because of the Service Park being at Rally HQ - do you think that needs to be looked at for next year or is it OK as it is?

Robert Reid: I think they are a bit boring and long. And obviously we can't overspeed here. Unfortunately there's nothing the organisers can do about it, that's the format of the rally. I don't really know what the solution is.

Q: Everyone's talked about Markko as a future World Champion. But now that he's got 37 points; just how future are we talking? This year, do you think?

Malcolm Wilson: Well, certainly for my point of view. Maybe it's different to Markko's; the equation we've put together is that really next year would be the target. He might have a different kind of view. The crucial thing is that if we can keep up the reliability then I think for sure, even this years is a realistic possibility. We can't have any hiccups. We've really pushed the envelope with the car and it's inevitable that every event will present a different challenge, but I can assure you that we'll do 100% to give Markko a car that can do the job.

Q: Other than the glitch in the electronics system yesterday, Markko's car was largely reliable throughout the rally. Are you now confident that you've got the reliability problems we saw earlier in the year sorted out?

Malcolm Wilson: If you had seen me yesterday for the few hours before the 20 minutes service that would have been far from the truth. That was probably one of the most stressful times that I've encountered in this job. When you have a car that you know has a mechanical problem, you've got a window of time and you know you're probably going to be two or three minutes over the time allowed, you don't know how bad it is and you've got no data to analyse it. You don't really have a lot of direction and it puts a lot of stress on everybody in the team. Having said that our people did a fantastic job. It was all very calm and controlled. Fortunately Markko left without any problems and the car was a 100% fit again.

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Series WRC
Drivers Richard Burns , Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Philip Mills , Robert Reid , Michael Park , Malcolm Wilson , Markko Martin