Rally Mexico: Post-event press conference

FIA World Rally Championship Corona Rally Mexico 14.03.2004 Attendees 1st Markko Martin, Michael Park - Ford Motor Co. Ltd. 2nd Francois Duval, Stephane Prevot - Ford Motor Co. Ltd. 3rd Carlos Sainz, Marc Marti - Citroen Total Malcolm Wilson...

FIA World Rally Championship
Corona Rally Mexico

1st Markko Martin, Michael Park - Ford Motor Co. Ltd.
2nd Francois Duval, Stephane Prevot - Ford Motor Co. Ltd.
3rd Carlos Sainz, Marc Marti - Citroen Total
Malcolm Wilson - Team Director Ford Motor Co. Ltd.
Daniel Sola, Xavier Amigo Colon - 1st, FIA Production Car World Rally Championship

Q: Markko, fantastic rally. You are now joint leader in the championship. It's early days, but what do you think of your chances in the championship?

Markko Martin: This event was definitely a little bit of a strange one for us. I never had a race like that where everything falls into my hands. Normally, it works against us, but when I came here after the recce, I expected a little different to the other drivers. I expected this event to be quite tricky and we were expecting some damage to the cars. Our plan was not to damage the car and to keep it on the road. We concentrated really hard all weekend on getting to the finish. We had some small problems and there were some small mistakes, but it was a good team effort from everybody -- especially from Francois who got second. It puts us in the same position in the Manufacturers' Championship and I'm joint leader in the Drivers' series which is good for us, because a couple of weeks ago in Sweden it looked as though Sebastien might walk away with it, but now we're back in it. I think this weekend showed that this is a strange sport; you never know what's going to happen next. One minute, it can be all under control and the next minute it's all gone. That's what you can expect from the championship; it's not over until it's over. We've got to keep trying to win events.

Q: Michael, many congratulations. What was it like from your side of the car?

Michael Park: Definitely, in the past we've been on the receiving end of bad luck. We had some good luck this weekend and we weren't always the fastest. But it shows that you have to drive with your head as well as your right foot and that definitely helped us out.

Q: Francois, if Carlos hadn't rolled, do you think you would still have beaten him?

Francois Duval: Sure, this is the best result for me. I am happy. Carlos made a small mistake this morning, it wasn't good for him, but it was for me. Markko finishing first and me second is good for Ford and good for the future.

Q: Stephane, do you think this was Francois' best drive ever?

Stephane Prevot: He is driving quite well everywhere. It's nice to see on a new rally he was able to get a good result, where not everybody has experience. Last year he was always looking to be at the finish, but he didn't like any of his notes -- but it's better now and that's how we were able to be in this position, without making any mistakes.

Q: Carlos, you rolled this morning, tell us about that. Was it a big problem?

Carlos Sainz: When you are fighting for the rally win and then you end third, it's a little bit disappointing. What has happened is a little bit of a joke. We were having a small brake problem which meant we had to bleed the brakes after every stage. We did the first two stages no problem, but when I came to bleed the brakes after the second stage I had lost the tool to do it, so I couldn't bleed them. I kept on pushing, but then went a little bit wide in one corner and we rolled onto the side. Unfortunately there was only one man there and Marc, so I had to get out of the car and help. That was one minute gone.

Q: Marc, was there a lot of Spanish-speaking support out on the stages? Was it like a home rally?

Marc Marti: It was nice to stay here in Mexico. First, because it's our first time for the rally in the championship. It's nice to have people talk in your own language -- it makes you feel like you are close to your own home.

Q: What does this result mean to Ford?

Malcolm Wilson: Everybody knows the situation we were in last year and there's still no decision for 2005. The plan is to have a decision by the end of April, and this result has got to help our position. I just hope this result gives Ford the confidence to continue in the future.

Q: What do you think of the event? Is it good enough to be in the championship?

Markko Martin: The rally as an event was a big success. I was surprised to see so many spectators out on the stages. Everybody seemed really enthusiastic about the sport. It ran really smoothly. The stages were very good, there was a bit of everything in there. It was tricky for the drivers and for the engineers to find the right solution for the event. The only downside was the high altitude which takes away some of the power from the engine, it sometimes felt like we were in a road car rather than a rally car. I think we need a bigger air restrictor on rallies run at this altitude.

Q: Malcolm, I think you'd like to make some comments on the rally...

Malcolm Wilson: I certainly would. This event has set new standards in the World Championship. I've certainly never been to an event with such a good template; I mean, to have all of your stages within 50km is very good and to have this facility and the atmosphere. I truly believe this is the template from which we must go forward. Credit must go to the organisers, especially when there were all the permutations about whether it would be Mille Piste or two plus three, they did very well. There was no lateness or anything like that.

Q: Michael, Malcolm has touched on the new regulations, but what did you think of the recce system which was compressed into two days. Did it work well?

Michael Park: For me personally working two days on a recce is very hard work. We had a lot of work to do in the evenings. For me, the perfect solution would be to do this on Tuesday and Wednesday, and still have the Thursday free for a ceremonial start or shakedown if they want. At the moment I think it's little bit too compressed, but this is the way the sport is going and unless the FIA decides to change it then we will have to continue.

Q: Over to you, Stephane...

Stephane Prevot: For sure that makes sense. It was very compact and not too many notes, but for Cyprus I would think it would be impossible to do it. There are too many corners on a speed like that. Here it hasn't been so bad with the average speed a little bit higher. This is something we have to think about.

Q: Marc, what do you think?

Marc Marti: It's difficult for us as we don't have much time to work on the notes. We can try to find a solution to try and consult, but I don't know which one is the solution for now.

Q: Francois, the next event is New Zealand, now you've got this result under your belt on a rally you don't know well are you confident for the future?

Francois Duval: Sure, it's looking good all of the time. New Zealand is a typical fast rally, faster than here; the plan for me there is to finish inside the points for the rest.

Q: Carlos, you fell victim to the new tyre system. How could it be improved?

Carlos Sainz: Well, I think first of all there are many new ideas. It seems that everybody is having great ideas, the latest idea to change. The fashion in rally is change, change, change. I wonder how much money we have saved with this regulation in this rally. Maybe, if it is a rally you know then I understand it better, but to have this regulation in a rally where you have never been, I don't think it's so necessary. Apart from this, I am finding every single change more boring for the drivers. Now we do four stages per day, we used to have 20 minutes for service, but now we're here for one hour. Each time it's less driving and more hanging around and more difficult for people to understand. I think before there are more changes in the championship, we should think that we have a rally championship with a format which is not so stupid, for sure we have to improve it, some of the new ideas are good, but please before we do something new let's talk. But not only the FIA or the teams, but also the drivers. I think we are an important part, which is never consulted. It is good for us to have the chance to express our opinion. I know I have been rallying for a long time, and I agree that rallies have to change a lot and rallies have changed a lot, but please don't change the rallies much more. We are taking the risk of changing some of the rules, some of them are valid, but some of them are completely... I will say a word, but Piero will ask me to change it -- difficult to understand.

Q: Malcolm, what did you think of the flexi-service system?

Malcolm Wilson: Certainly from a team point of view, it works. We've brought 30 per cent less people and that's a direct cost saving for the team. There are a lot of things I agree with Carlos on, but more importantly we have to sympathise with the organisers. To have this extra window in during the day is very difficult. On this event it's been okay because the stages are close to the service, but when we go to events like Australia or New Zealand it will be difficult for the organisers and for the teams. The teams aren't going to be going to bed until one o'clock in the morning, which is far from ideal.


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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team