FIA RALLY NEWS 

COMING EVENT - 62nd Wales Rally GB (20-22 January 2006)


16th round out of 16 in the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship, 9th round out of ninth in the 2006 FIA Junior World Rally Championship

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
WALES RALLY GB
Media FIA Pre-event Press Conference
30.11.2006

Present:
Urmo Aava – FIA JWRC
Guy Wilks – FIA JWRC
Matthew Wilson – Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team
Daniel Sordo – Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team
Harri Rovanperä – Red Bull Škoda Team
Mikko Hirvonen – BP-Ford World Rally Team

Welcome to the pre-event FIA press conference.

Q:
Urmo, you’re leading the FIA Junior World Rally Championship at the moment, but by just one point. How are you going to approach the event? Will you need to drive flat-out from the start, or are you going to look at what everybody else is doing and adjust your pace to suit?

UA:
I think I have to forget the Championship and only concentrate on a good result in this rally, I think that is the easiest way. I think we have to go very fast but still have to keep the car in one piece. But there’s no time to look you have to attack. I think it’s still possible, I’m one point ahead of second; one point is one point.

Q:
Guy, it’s been an exciting few days in the JWRC. You’re now four points behind the leader, so also in with a good chance of winning the Championship. Is your approach going to be any different from that of Urmo? Is it wait and see or flat-out from the start?

GW:
Our approach to the event is to try and win it, we can’t control what other people do or what happens to other people and first and foremost we must try and win the event. I think there’s quite a lot of tactics to be played in this rally. Obviously there’s four drivers that stand a chance of winning the Championship, which is quite unique in this day and age of rallying; you know it’s not very often that it comes down to the final round. And there’s four points separating four drivers, I think it’s very interesting; I think it’s one of the most interesting things that has happened recently for the sport. And as far as the tactics are for the event, yeah you can go out and try and be fast and try and set the pace, but I think in this rally you have to be quite lucky to stay out front. Wales can always throw up a problem or a puncture, even, and a puncture in the junior cars - obviously we don’t run mousse like the WRC cars - that’s a big disadvantage to gain a puncture and you have to try and be very wary and balance your speed and stay with the front-runners, I think it’s the most important thing.

Q:
Urmo, it’s the first time that we’ve had a World Championship rally in December for many years and obviously we’re likely to have rain, maybe even snow and ice. With just two wheel drive, how slippery do you think the conditions will be for the JWRC drivers? Are you going to be struggling for traction and grip?

UA:
I think it’s easier than in a WRC car because the speed is a little bit less, so we are lucky. I think the traction will be the key point of the fast driving so I think that everybody now is making their set-up to get perfect for the traction, but okay it’s the same for everybody.

Q:
Guy, do you think you have a home advantage? How well do you know these stages? Who do you expect to be your biggest challenger for the win, regardless of what happens in the Championship? What’s the key to doing well here do you think? How different are the conditions going to be on this rally in December as opposed to September?

GW:
Not so well because they’ve reversed quite a lot (of the stages) and changed quite a lot this year funnily enough. Obviously the days have changed. Brechfa and Trawscoed are now on the last day and they used to be on the Friday. I don’t think you can ever know a rally too well. It’s my home rally and you know it’s great to have that support. We always approach a rally trying to win it so from that point of view it doesn’t change anything apart from obviously we have a lot of support here which is fantastic. In terms of knowing the rally there’s a lot of stages reversed, a lot have changed around or there’s link-up sections in the middle and that almost disorientates you when you first see them. I don’t think it’s so much of a disadvantage for somebody like Urmo who hasn’t done the event for a couple of years to be coming in and fighting in this situation. I think my team-mate PG (Per-Gunnar Andersson), he knows the rally almost as well as I do; I’ve only competed on the rally once more than he has. Obviously Kris Meeke and Urmo as well. You know I think us four are generally the strongest competitors in the Junior World Rally Championship and it’s no joke or funny coincidence that three out of those four drivers are in with a shout of winning the Championship. The difference (in the conditions) this year is massive compared to last year. Last year I signed a picture for a guy that had a massive plume of dust behind the car, I don’t think you’re going to see that this year. The grip last year was incredible, it was very good. This year the mud’s coming through the road, there’s been a lot of rain over the past few weeks. Brechfa and Trawscoed are notoriously slippery in these conditions. It makes a difference because it slows the average speed of all the cars down and it’s definitely going to make it a lot trickier. Phil (Pugh) and I have discussed that already. I think that always rallying is about going quick and keeping the car on the road, but here this year it’s a lot about keeping the car on the road.

Q:
After this rally is over, it’s less than two months until the 2007 Rallye Monte Carlo. What are your plans for next year Urmo? How much does it depend on the Championship battle?

UA:
I have plans but they are not 100 per cent, so I cannot say anything. Of course it makes it easier but if you win the title it doesn’t automatically give you something, so still you have to find the sponsors to continue.

Q:
How about you Guy? How close are you to getting 2007 sorted? Is there much on the table? How difficult is it for a driver in your situation to find a drive? How much easier would it be if you won the Championship? Is your idea to step up to the World Rally Car formula, or would you consider something else.

GW:
I hope so, but there’s nothing guaranteed at the moment. It’s difficult times in rallying I suppose, especially for guys like us who have been around the JWRC for a while. We’ve proven we’ve got the speed, it’s just a case of either having a sponsor behind you, like Urmo said, which is very difficult to get. Winning doesn’t guarantee you a seat with a manufacturer, or a better chance of getting a sponsor, it might aid you. Hopefully we’ll be doing something, there are a few of us in the JWRC who would like to get into WRC cars and feel we could do a good job and be more than competitive with a number of drivers, so it’s just waiting, well, not waiting, but going out and getting the opportunity which a number of us are trying to do at the moment. Obviously I’ve driven with Suzuki now for three years, we all know about their plans, but at the same time it’s about getting an opportunity as soon as possible. It’s very difficult trying to gain sponsorship for rallying; it’s not an easy task. People say it matters in which country you live, I don’t think it does. Some countries definitely have a larger following or larger percentage following of rally enthusiasts and firms and industries that are interested. It’s very difficult but it’s not stopped us yet.

Q:
Hi Matt and welcome. You unfortunately start this event with a one minute penalty. Do you think you have lost a chance of a result here? What do you think it’s possible to achieve? What is your strategy for the rally now? Is this one of the most important events of the year for you?

MW:
I think it’s probably gone with a chance of a result, but I think if we can go out and hopefully do what we did in New Zealand and set some good times like we did on day two and day three then I’d be reasonably happy. I think we’ve got a little bit more experience of this event and that should help, but obviously the date change is going to make it a little bit more difficult. But we’ve seen on the recce that the stages are quite tricky in places so we’ll just have to wait and see. I think you’ve got to treat all the events the same. It is quite nice coming home and doing your home rally, especially after every rally this year has been totally new to me. It is nice to come back and do some stages that you know, it just makes life a little bit easier. There are a lot of quick guys here. I mean Mark Higgins, for example, is probably going to go very well in the older Focus and we’ve seen before how competitive he is at the front, so it’s going to be difficult to do that but I will be happy if we can show some speed; we’ll see what happens.

Q:
Your first Rally Great Britain in a World Rally Car Dani. What do you think will be your biggest challenge here? Now that the Manufacturers’ Championship is decided, does that mean you’ll be able to drive as quickly as you like? How important is it for you to end the year with a strong result? How much more difficult is it to drive a World Rally Car on this event than a Super 1600 car?

DS:
The stages are fast and slippery, but I’ll try and take some good notes because it’s important to finish the stages this year. I will try to drive fast all the time but it’s difficult, it’s really difficult also, for Matthew, for young drivers, to drive very fast with two passes for recce. Sometimes it’s really difficult on Tarmac but it’s better for me because it has more feeling. But on gravel in these conditions on really narrow and fast stages it’s difficult to take a very good position with two laps only. The S1600 car is different, the sensation is faster but after the speed it’s faster in a WRC car. In the JWRC the people sometimes make more mistakes than WRC cars, in World Rally Cars people like Marcus never make a mistake, this is difficult.

Q:
Hello Harri. We last saw you on the Rally of Turkey in October; what have you been doing since then? Have you been testing? You’ve always liked this rally; are you confident that you will be able to go well here? Do these difficult conditions suit you? Is it difficult to come back in and drive quickly straight away when your last rally was nearly two months ago?

HP:
Okay, it’s been business in Jyväskylä and again I have continued building my house. Yes this week on Monday I tested. This car is similar like in rallies before, there are not any new things here, it’s still the same. Every year the rally is quite similar and I’ve gone well nine times, so I hope it’s 10 times. We will try. It’s my last rally with Red Bull Skoda and I will really try pushing this weekend. Yes of course, it’s a little bit difficult but I don’t have any pressure and I’m not thinking about this. I’m sure tomorrow morning everything will be starting as usual. Everything is working well.

Q:
Mikko, we’re here at the last rally of the year after Ford won the Manufacturers’* title in New Zealand. Does this mean that you are off the leash now? Do you think you can match the pace of Marcus in a straight fight, or even beat him? Are you going to be flat-out from the start?

MH:
I think maybe in a way yes, but I don’t know if it is it going to change things so much. Of course I can take a few more risks and maybe try to push a bit harder, but okay I will try. These are the conditions I am really lacking experience in and I’m always losing time when it’s muddy and slippery so this is now a good opportunity to learn a bit more and really try my limits. Yeah maybe flat-out but I don’t know am I going to stay on the road for too long?

Q:
How much does it mean to you to be competing on your home event Matt? How well do you know these stages from your experience of the British Championship and Wales Rally GB in the past? How much trickier do you think it will be competing in December? Have you enjoyed a lot of local support?

MW:
Yeah, it’s good to come back home and probably see a lot of the people that you don’t see on the other rallies. For me you’ve got to treat every rally the same, but like you say it is nice to be a bit closer to home and maybe even have some more support as well. I did this rally for the last two years so we’ve got two years experience, but I think being held at this time of year it’s going to make it difficult like Mikko said, what he lacks in these slippery types of conditions it’s probably the same for me. It’s going to be a good chance to try and pick that up this weekend and get more feeling in these types of conditions.

Q:
How was the recce Dani, was there was a lot of rain on the stages? It looks like the weather is not going to be too cold, but there might be more heavy rain. Will the weather conditions be a big factor? How easy is it to make a mistake on these roads? Your last rally with the Xsara; how do you feel about that?

DS:
There was a lot of rain in the recce but I think here it’s normal, the rain and mud all the time. But I think that sometimes it’s difficult on the corners because they are very fast and very long and close and it’s difficult to make the notes, but I think it’s okay. It’s very nice to drive, very fast especially fast and nice, I like it. The Xsara is the same all the time, it’s a good car. I drove only one year with the Xsara but I think it’s more for Sébastien and for Citroën, but of course, yes, because it’s a very good car on Tarmac but also on gravel, it’s a World Champion with Sébastien.

Q:
Looking back over the year, how do you think it has been Harri? Are you likely to be driving the Škoda again? Do you have any plans for the 2007 season at this point?

HP:
It’s not so easy always this, but for rally business it’s normal. Not. Like I say I have a business in Jyväskylä too so if I’ve not found anything in rallying. Yes of course I’ve enjoyed it.

Q:
Mikko, you’ve been testing as well before this rally. Do you think that the Focus will suit these stages? Do you think the battle will be between you and Marcus on the stages or will there be a few other drivers involved as well?

MH:
I’m sure it will. It’s been a good car in all the rallies actually this year so I’m sure it’s not about the car; it’s how we’re going to do the rally. I’m sure there’s going to be some other drivers as well. It’s like with Subaru, they have the speed and some rallies they have been struggling; maybe they’ll be very fast here. I’m sure Henning (Solberg) and Manfred (Stohl) they will be very fast here. Like Citroën, I think in New Zealand at the end of the rally that Dani and Xavier were doing very well and it might be that we have a big fight in the end.

Rally Preview

For the last two years Rally GB has taken place in September, but the shift back to a winter date increases the possibility of ice, fog, mud – and even snow. It has been unseasonably dry in the area in recent weeks, but rain is forecast in the days prior to the event and that could drastically alter the nature of the stages.

The later date means less daylight hours in the UK and rally organisers have made several changes to the route to compensate for the shorter days. The first stage of the rally, Port Talbot, is a revised version of the former Margam stage. Together with Resolfen and Rheola it forms the opening loop of stages which are run twice on Friday. Resolfen features many surface changes and takes the crews high up Rhigos Mountain, so fog could be a factor during the first run through the stage on Friday morning. Rheola is no place for a mistake: it is fast, but contains some huge, intimidating drops off the side of the road. The stage also includes the fan-friendly Walters Arena section near the end.

While leg one takes place in the undulating valleys of south Wales, the crews travel north to the fringes of the Brecon Beacons for leg two. It includes two runs through a trio of well-known tests: Crychan, Halfway and Epynt, before the day ends with the 1.1km Cardiff Super Special held inside the Millennium Stadium. An estimated 25,000 spectators will get some respite from the harsh winter weather under the stadium’s retractable roof.

The third and final leg comprises two runs through Brechfa and Trawscoed, although this year the drivers will tackle the stages in the opposite direction compared to 2005. These two long stages take place on a hard-packed surface, but while the former test is fast and features some long, cambered corners, the latter is much tighter and strewn with hairpins.

Team Previews:

Manufacturer 1: Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team / Citroën Xsara WRC
1 Xavier Pons / Carlos del Barrio (E)
2 Daniel Sordo / Marc Marti (E)

As for New Zealand, three-times World Champions* Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are present in Wales solely to complete the reconnaissance. For the rally, the two Kronos Total Citroën’s Xsara WRCs will be placed in the hands of Spanish team-mates Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio and Dani Sordo/ Marc Martí. Xevi Pons, who feels fully at ease at the moment, can lean on his good knowledge of the Welsh stages he has successively tackled with a Production car (2003), with a super 1600 (2004) and with a Xsara WRC (2005). The Catalan driver wishes to finish an excellent second half of season in a nice way, by climbing on the podium which he has missed narrowly on the three last rounds. The situation is slightly different for Dani Sordo who takes the start of a new event for the sixth consecutive time. The Junior World Rally Champion aims to complete a careful job in reconnaissance to be able to drive safely on the first passes through the stages, before increasing the pace on the second one. Even if it’s not his number one priority, he also hopes to defend his fourth place in the ‘Drivers’ championship…

Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: “I like the RAC rally like everybody I think… It’s true it’s not an easy rally and especially when it takes place in November where water and mud are the rally’s highlights. But there’s something special in this event’s route. Maybe the fact it’s a traditional and classic round of the championship gives it a special thing and makes it’s different from another one. I think its comeback to being the season’s last event is a good idea. Even if the weather conditions will be more difficult, I feel really pleased to tackle the ‘real’ Wales Rally GB which should be very different from the September version…”

Dani Sordo/Marc: “I think this final round will be difficult for the weather. It’s Rally GB, isn’t it? Usually, it features rain, mud and cold, I think. I will try to defend my fourth position in the Drivers’ rankings, even if Manfred [Stohl] has shown a good speed and only lies one point behind me… However, if he did take it, it won’t really matter. This year has been so useful for my experience, as it was my target number one. For Wales Rally GB, I will try to do a good job on the pacenotes and aim to finish the event to have a good knowledge of the stages. I realised how different it is in between a rally which I have already competed in and one completely new. For example, in Sardinia, where I participated in a S1600 last year, I sort of remembered if such corner had grip or if such place was slippery. With only one competitive pass, we have a very different feeling, really!”

Manufacturer 1: BP- Ford World Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC06
3 Marcus Grönholm / Timo Rautiainen (FIN)
4 Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN)

Newly-crowned FIA World Rally champions BP-Ford aim to complete the most successful season in their history by ending a long winless streak on next week's Wales Rally GB (30 November - 1 December). After securing the manufacturers' world title earlier this month for the first time since 1979, BP-Ford drivers Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen and team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen have their sights set on giving Ford a first British win since the same year.

Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: Grönholm has plenty of experience in Britain, having started nine times and won once. "It can be an extremely difficult rally," said 38-year-old Grönholm. "When the conditions are OK then the stages are fine but when it is wet, foggy, muddy and icy – sometimes all together – then the roads can be really hazardous. Fog is something that we don't encounter on many rallies during the season, but you can guarantee that with the rally back at the end of the season, at some point we will have fog and that's horrible. "I'm looking forward to a good battle and I'm sure that Mikko will be one of my biggest challengers. He has increased his pace as the season has progressed and I know that he wants to try to prove himself in Britain so it should be good fun," added Grönholm, assured of second in the drivers' standings.

Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: Hirvonen has started in Britain on three occasions and the 26-year-old is relishing the opportunity to attack. "There will be no pressure through having to score points so I'm looking forward to giving it a real go and driving as fast as I can. The stages in Wales are good but it's not an easy event in which to bring the car home to the finish because of the conditions. In the dry the stages are quite simple but in December we can expect temperatures below zero with ice and fog. Fog is the worst. The roads are so fast that when it's foggy you can't see well. "I will try to win but I know that to do that I need to beat Marcus at least. I hope that I can match his pace and put pressure on him through the whole weekend," added Hirvonen, who is already assured of third in the drivers' championship.

Manufacturer 1: Subaru World Rally Team / Subaru Impreza WRC 2006
5 Petter Solberg / Philip Mills (N/GB)
6 Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall (AUS)

As the Subaru World Rally Team heads to south Wales this weekend for Rally GB, it is preparing not only for the final challenge of the season, but also one of the toughest events on the calendar. The varied nature of the gravel stages and the traditionally unsettled Welsh weather makes the rally notoriously difficult to prepare for. Historically it has been an event where the Subaru World Rally Team has been strong. In all, Subaru has taken nine wins in the last 11 occasions on which Rally GB has been part of the WRC (it was not part of the 1996 championship).

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: “It’s going to be a big attack from the first metre of the rally: it’s as simple as that. It’s the final round of the championship and there’s nothing to lose. I hope it will be good old-fashioned Rally GB weather, with lots of mud on the stages. Those would be the best conditions for me. Our tyres have always been very competitive on the event and the team has lots of experience of how to deal with the tricky conditions. We always have a lot of support on the rally, especially with Phil [Mills] living close by, so it would be fantastic to end the year with a good finish.”

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: “I contested Rally GB for the first time last season, but with the date change I’m expecting conditions to be quite different this year. Last year there was a little bit of mud at the start, but the stages were dry on the second leg. This year there will probably be ice and fog, which will make it tricky. It won’t be a completely new experience, because I’ve done winter rallies in places like Tasmania, where the conditions were similar. Some of the Rally GB stages are new, and that could level the playing field for me because the more experienced drivers will be learning the route too. We’ve had some good speed at certain points of the last two rallies, so now we’re working on trying to find that pace for an entire event.”

Manufacturer 2: OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team / Peugeot 307 WRC
7 Manfred Stohl / Ilka Minor (A)
8 Henning Solberg / Cato Menkerud (N)

The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team will take up the last run to the FIA World Rally Championship, the Wales Rally GB, from November 29 to December 3 in the Cardiff area with a lot of self-confidence. Manfred Stohl and Henning Solberg have bestowed the OMV Peugeot Norway WRT and Bozian Racing with the most successful season in history already prior to the showdown. Nevertheless, both the Austrian as well as the Norwegian OMV driver have big plans for the rally finale 2006.

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: “The Wales Rally suits me just fine. I like the conditions and know that I can be very fast there. It is good that we still have a goal in front of us in order to keep up the tension. And I obviously want to end this season with my fourth podium place.“

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: “We drive a very high speed which sometimes takes its toll. But it is the only way to keep up with the top. It is important to us to test our limits. We have had some very good results this year already. And we want to top that at the Wales Rally.“

Manufacturer 2: Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC06
9 Matthew Wilson / Michael Orr (GB)
10 Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (FIN)

Cumbrian world rally sensation Matthew Wilson arrives back in Britain after a whirlwind 11 months, taking in 15 countries and 15 rallies on five continents, as the most successful 19-year-old driver ever to compete in the World Rally Championship. Despite only just being out of school, Wilson signed up to drive for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team in this year’s World Rally Championship – and made an immediate impression. Despite a fearsome reputation in the sport, Wilson made his name on Rally Argentina earlier this season. The son of former British Rally Champion, Malcolm, rocked the establishment in South America, where he became the youngest driver ever to set a fastest time on a world championship stage – and the youngest driver ever to clinch a WRC point. Joining Wilson in the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team is Jari-Matti Latvala from Finland. With Wilson aged 19 and Latvala 21, this team really represents the sport’s future. There’s going to be a fascinating battle between the two team-mates, both of whom have already won at the highest level in Britain, but Latvala certainly edges Wilson in terms of experience. The fast Finn arrives on the back of two Production World Rally Championship wins in Australia and New Zealand, so his confidence will be high.

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: “I’m really looking forward to this one! Having traveled around the world for the past year, it’s great to be coming home for the biggest rally in Britain. As you might expect, Rally GB is the event where I have the most experience, which will help me. The one thing which is likely to be different is the weather. Every time I’ve done it before it’s been in September. Okay, we’ve had some rain during those events, but nothing like the conditions we could experience next week. There could be anything: rain, snow, ice, anything, but that’s all part of the challenge. Competing in the world championship means everything to me, but coming home is always going to be just that bit special. “Obviously I am disappointed about the penalty, but it’s there, there’s nothing we can do about it. I have to just get on and drive. It does make getting a good, strong finish very difficult, but I can’t think about that. I’ve driven the 2006 Focus three times now, and each time I drive it, I just can’t help grinning that bit more – it’s an amazing thing to drive and driving it at home in front of people who have watched WRC on the television all year is mega!”

Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: “I am definitely looking forward to Rally GB. For me it will be the first time in the 2006 car, I have done three asphalt events with Stobart and it’s been a great car, but now it will be even better. I have a good feeling with the stages in Wales and have a good setup, this will help. My best result was in 2003, but last year I had some problems. Despite those, we set a sixth fastest time on three stages. Last year was good experience and will help me a lot with my confidence for this year. “I liked Wales when it was dry last year, but I think now it will be wet and muddy, but it helps now that I have been driving my last rally in New Zealand as the conditions were very similar to what it will be like in Wales. It’s also encouraging that we have won the last two Production rounds, it gives me a good feeling going to GB, I hope that I can keep the same speed. I hope I am a more clever driver now than earlier in the year. I made mistakes with the previous events, but I have definitely learnt a lot from them.”

Manufacturer 2: Red Bull Skoda Team / Skoda Fabia WRC05
11 Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen (FIN)
12 Andreas Aigner / Timo Timo Gottschalk (A/D)

Both Skoda Fabia WRCs will be well-prepared for the season finale of this year's World Rally Championship in Cardiff. An additional test in Wales has been organised for this coming Monday with the help of the sponsors. The two team bosses Raimund Baumschlager and Armin Schwarz are hoping for a good outcome to the rally because of that: “With this extra knowledge it should be possible to repeat the performance we had shown in Germany and Turkey, so that the team can celebrate a positive conclusion to the season.”

Andreas Aigner/Klaus Wicha: Red Bull youngster Andreas Aigner in the Fabia WRC has great intentions for Wales: “I want to try and reduce the gap to the front runners with several top ten times to just under one second per kilometre, like I did in Germany. It’s a high benchmark I’m aspiring to for sure, but it would be a significant personal result for my self-confidence as well. The test day also is very important for this venture after almost a two-month break.”

Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietiläinen: Harri Rovanpera already has had great success in England. In 2001 he finished in second position overall, then it was P7 in 2002. In 2004 the Finn made it to sixth, and to P4 the previous year. Nevertheless Harri talks about the Wales Rally as a very difficult task: “A lot will depend on the weather, it’s a real challenge to drive in the rain each and every time. What’s most important: We’ll be able to test there on Monday the week of the rally. That should enable me to deliver the best result of this season in the Fabia WRC.”

Event Timetable

Thursday 30 November: Ceremonial start

Start Milennium Stadium, Cardiff 19.30

Friday 1 December: Leg 1 Swansea - Swansea

Start Swansea 08.30
SS1 Port Talbot 1 17.41km 09.17
SS2 Resolfen 1 24.49km 10.02
SS3 Rheola 1 27.91km 10.54
Serv A Swansea (30 mins) 12.26
SS4 Port Talbot 2 17.41km 13.33
SS5 Resolfen 2 24.49km 14.18
SS6 Rheola 2 27.91km 15.10
Serv B Swansea (45 mins) 16.27
Finish Swansea 17.12

Saturday 2 December: Leg 2 Swansea - Swansea

Serv C Swansea (10 mins) 07.20
SS7 Crychan 1 19.47km 08.50
SS8 Epynt 1 13.76km 09.24
SS9 Halfway 1 18.37km 10.01
Serv D Swansea (30 mins) 11.47
SS10 Crychan 2 19.47km 13.37
SS11 Epynt 2 13.76km 14.11
SS12 Halfway 2 18.37km 14.48
SS13 Cardiff 1.10km 17.06
Serv E Swansea (45 mins) 18.26
Finish Swansea 19.11

Sunday 3 December: Leg 3 Swansea - Swansea

Serv F Swansea (10 mins) 06.40
SS14 Brechfa 1 28.89km 07.47
SS15 Trawscoed 1 27.11km 08.44
Serv G Swansea (30 mins) 10.19
SS16 Brechfa 2 28.89km 11.46
SS17 Trawscoed 2 27.11km 12.43
Serv H Swansea (20 mins) 14.11
Finish Cardiff 15.41

Leading positions after the first day of the rally:

1. M Grönholm/T Rautiainen FIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 14min 51.9sec
2. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza 1hr 15min 17.7sec
3. M Stohl/I Minor A Peugeot 307 1hr 15min 40.0sec
4. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 16min 46.3sec
5. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroen Xsara 1hr 17min 02.9sec
6. X Pons/C Del Barrio E Citroen Xsara 1hr 17min 03.8sec
7. C Atkinson/G MacNeall AUS Subaru Impreza 1hr 17min 38.1sec
8. M Higgins/R Kennedy GB Ford Focus RS 1hr 17min 44.6sec
9. F Duval/ P Pivato B Skoda Fabia 1hr 17min 45.0sec
10 H Rovanperä/R Pietilainen FIN Skoda Fabia 1hr 18min 32.1sec

Leg 1 News

At the end of the opening leg of Wales Rally GB, Ford driver Marcus Grönholm heads the leaderboard by 25.8 seconds. Petter Solberg is finally enjoying a turn of fortune and the Subaru driver holds second with Manfred Stohl (Peugeot 307 WRC) third overnight. For the first time in three years the event has reclaimed its traditional winter date and its status as the last round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Wales, at this time of year, provides some of the most challenging conditions of the season with rain and thick mud characterising one of the most historic events in the series.

Marcus Grönholm started the day on a charge, the Finn claiming victory in the first three stages to pull out nearly 20 seconds on team-mate Mikko Hirvonen. With another stage win this afternoon and a trouble-free day of competition, he heads Solberg but is all too aware of the tricky nature of the Welsh forest stages. Petter Solberg, a four-time winner of this event, lost time in the first stage when the engine cut out twice. However, the Norwegian has climbed from fourth to second in the Subaru Impreza with a 22.3 second advantage over Manfred Stohl.

Fog this morning and a puncture in one stage have hampered Stohl, but the Austrian Peugeot 307 driver continues to enjoy good fortune, set one fastest time, and has a healthy lead over his nearest rival. The leading retirement of the day is Mikko Hirvonen, winner of Rally Australia. The Finn’s Focus took a heavy impact from a rock in the first stage and, when the car was examined at the mid-leg service, it was found to have a damaged roll cage and the team was forced to withdraw the car on safety grounds.

Team News:

Manufacturer 1: Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team / Citroën Xsara WRC
1 Xavier Pons / Carlos del Barrio (E)
2 Daniel Sordo / Marc Marti (E)

Dani Sordo/Marc Marti and Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio end the day separated by less than a second, in fifth and sixth places respectively. Both drivers overcame small setbacks at the very start of the rally to fight their way back up the order - and this will continue to be their mission over the remainder of the event.

Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: "What I really enjoyed was the excellent balance of my Xsara in the afternoon, after we made a few changes at midday service. There was a big difference compared to the first loop, and it was really easy to drive. I feel a lot more confident now, and I think it's perfectly possible for me to improve my position tomorrow. »

Dani Sordo/Marc Marti: « When you're driving on these Welsh stages for the first time, which have so little grip and change constantly, it's always good to get to the second run through them. Only then do you have a chance to drive them properly, after correcting your notes at high speed the first time through. I've got Jari-Matti Latvala less than 20 seconds in front of me and he is a tempting target. I've got to try : particularly as Xevi is pushing so hard behind me. »

Manufacturer 1: BP- Ford World Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC06
3 Marcus Grönholm / Timo Rautiainen (FIN)
4 Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN)

BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen lead Rally GB after controlling today's opening leg in south Wales. The Finns, winners of six rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship this season, were fastest on four of the six speed tests in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car to build a 25.8sec advantage. Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen were second, but retired midway through the leg on safety grounds after a heavy impact damaged their car's roll cage.

Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: "It was normal Rally GB conditions this morning with plenty of mud, but no standing water. First through the stages was the best place to be in those conditions. We pushed hard but took no risks. This afternoon I was not in such a fighting mood, I drove a little too safely and Petter closed in. But I am where I wanted to be tonight and tomorrow I will push hard again."

Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "I just slid wide and went over some rocks on the outside of the corner. It was a stupid mistake because there was plenty of room. I wanted to carry on and the car was still competitive but it's a safety issue so we cannot. It's a big shame because BP-Ford was first and second and that would have been a great way to end the season."

Manufacturer 1: Subaru World Rally Team / Subaru Impreza WRC 2006
5 Petter Solberg / Philip Mills (N/GB)
6 Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall (AUS)

The Subaru World Rally Team ended the opening leg of Rally GB with two cars in the points and with Petter Solberg in a strong second place. At the end of the day, the Norwegian was on top form and set two fastest stages times. On the final run through Rheola, he took eight seconds off rally leader Marcus Gronholm, setting up the prospect of a fight for the lead tomorrow. Chris Atkinson was battling for fourth position until an electrical glitch cost him time. He is still in the points in seventh position.

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "I've been trying very, very hard today, let me tell you, but I think that's the only way to go if we're going to stand a chance of winning. I must say though that things are looking good and I'm feeling very positive. It's a shame we lost about 10 seconds on the first stage this morning when we stalled in a hairpin but we took a good amount of time back on the last stage and that was good fun. It's been ages since we were able to take so much time from anybody and that's very motivating. I hope we can continue like this tomorrow - I think it is going to be a very interesting day."

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "It's been a difficult day, we've been struggling to find a good set-up and haven't had enough confidence in the car to be able to push flat-out. I thought we were going to be able to finish the day in fourth place but then what looks like an electrical problem cost us about a minute and ruined that plan. Tomorrow we'll wait and see, it's difficult to predict what we'll be able to do, but we'll certainly give it our best shot."

Manufacturer 2: OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team / Peugeot 307 WRC
7 Manfred Stohl / Ilka Minor (A)
8 Henning Solberg / Cato Menkerud (N)

The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team is once again surprising the rally world at the "Wales Rally GB", the last run to the FIA World Rally Championship. After day one the Austrian OMV Team Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor lies in sensational third overall place. Not to mention that Stohl achieved overall best time on special stage four. Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud (Nor) weren't as lucky on Friday morning. Following a slip the Norwegian duo lost almost five minutes.

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "It is great when you can convert your good feeling into good results. Our car performs faultlessly and we can keep up with the enormous speed of the top. This gives a boost to our self-confidence for the next two days. And the slippery road conditions are also to our advantage."

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "When you want to keep up with the top you've got to take a higher risk. With us it didn't work out today. Now all that counts is to attack. I am convinced that we will be able to move up several places during the next two days."

Manufacturer 2: Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC06
9 Matthew Wilson / Michael Orr (GB)
10 Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (FIN)

For the first time in its short history in the sport, the Stobart VK M-Sport team ends the leg of a World Rally Championship event challenging for a podium position. Despite this being his first event in a Ford Focus RS WRC 06, Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala turned in a stunning charge to end the day's six stages just outside Swansea in fourth position.

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "This morning was quite difficult. I found it hard to read the grip in the road. On some rallies you look at the surface of the stage and you get a good idea of what kind of grip you're going to get, but that's not the case here. The first stage was good, I felt relaxed and everything was going well - it felt like New Zealand again. Then in the second stage the surface was quite different, it wasn't as good. Resolfen is where there are the long, long corners which tighten up at the end and it's in there that you need to know about the grip. If you're going to go into the corner committed, you need to know you can rely on surface not changing and that wasn't the case. My notes weren't ideal in that stage, either, they weren't descriptive enough about where the road began to tighten. The afternoon was better, but we had a small problem with the anti-lag system which was trying to force the car on instead of braking, which made things quite lively from time to time."

Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: "It was still taking me some time to get used to the speed of the car this morning and the conditions weren't all that easy to be learning the car. The grip was changing a lot of the time, we didn't know what to expect in some corners. The times have been good - I was happy about that and I have to say I was quite surprised as well. I didn't expect to be so high up. This afternoon I have felt confident with the car, but the road has been strange - the road has got slower. The surface is more slippery this afternoon and the tyre maybe hasn't cut through as much as we would have liked. It's so important for me to be at the finish. This year I have made some mistakes when I have been under pressure, I can't do this on this rally."

Manufacturer 2: Red Bull Skoda Team / Skoda Fabia WRC05
11 Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen (FIN)
12 Andreas Aigner / Timo Timo Gottschalk (A/D)

Finland's Harri Rovanpera had a solid and very consistent performance in the early stages of Wales Rally GB. After posting 10th to 13th fastest times, he is classified tenth overall and stands a good chance of getting into a points-paying position over the course of the next two days:

Andreas Aigner/Klaus Wicha: "I hit a puddle of water in a right-hand bend about eight kilometres from the finish. The Fabia lost its balance, skidded off the road and into a meadow, where unfortunately a tree stump obstructed our path. We hit the obstacle with no more than 40 kph, but the car cleared it and turned over twice. Neither Klaus nor myself got hurt in the incident. The mechanics won't be able to decide whether we'll be able to continue tomorrow by means of SupeRally before later this evening."

Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietiläinen: "We had a start early this morning that wasn't too bad, but far from perfect. Our tyre choice was the right one, but in the afternoon conditions changed and my compound turned out to be too soft. I also had a spin on the final stage but I was still able to post a top ten time. I will go all-out tomorrow to protect my chance of scoring WRC points."

Leading positions after the second day of the rally:

1. M Grönholm/T Rautiainen FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 13min 55.6sec
2. M Stohl/I Minor A Peugeot 307 2hr 15min 14.4sec
3. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza 2hr 16min 04.3sec
4. X Pons/C Del Barrio E Citroen Xsara 2hr 16min 26.5sec
5. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 16min 30.9sec
6. C Atkinson/G MacNeall AUS Subaru Impreza 2hr 17min 21.5sec
7. F Duval/ P Pivato B Skoda Fabia 2hr 17min 29.3sec
8. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroen Xsara 2hr 18min 22.4sec
9. H Rovanperä/R Pietilainen FIN Skoda Fabia 2hr 19min 46.7sec
10 J Kopecky/F Schovanek CZ Skoda Fabia 2hr 20min 12.5sec

Driver's comments after Leg 2

Leg 2 News

Finland’s Marcus Grönholm continues to dominate Wales Rally GB, the final round of the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship. The Ford driver now holds a one minute 18.8 second advantage going into the final four stages on Sunday. Austrian Peugeot 307 WRC driver Manfred Stohl has climbed one place up the leaderboard into second with Petter Solberg slipping to third overnight after going off the road earlier in the day and then breaking the steering this afternoon.

Grönholm started the day with a 25.8 second advantage over Petter Solberg but extended his lead when the Norwegian lost half a minute in the first stage, understeer sending him off the road. Manfred Stohl claimed the position but a hard-chasing Solberg overhauled his rival to climb back into second by the penultimate stage. However, Solberg then lost out again to the Austrian when he hit a gate post, broke the steering and lost another 55 seconds. He is now more than two minutes adrift of Grönholm, with little hope of claiming a victory for Subaru for the first time in over a year.

Behind the top three, Xavier Pons has climbed from sixth to fourth in the lead Citroën Xsara WRC, the Spaniard edging out Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala, who is driving the 2006 specification Focus for the first time in his career. Subaru’s Chris Atkinson rounds off the top six.

The closing leg of the FIA World Rally Championship takes in just four stages but 112 competitive kilometres in the Welsh forests. Ironically, should Grönholm win Wales Rally GB he will finish the series just one point adrift of the newly-crowned FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb*. But for his roll in Rally Australia just two events ago, the Finn could well have claimed the title in Wales tomorrow.

Team News:

Manufacturer 1: Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team / Citroën Xsara WRC
1 Xavier Pons / Carlos del Barrio (E)
2 Daniel Sordo / Marc Marti (E)

Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio finish a challenging second day on the verge of scoring their first podium in a World Rally Car, having battled through wet and muddy weather that is typical of Wales in December. The Spanish duo are fourth, with less than 25 seconds separating them from a coveted podium place. Dani Sordo/Marc Marti are in a points-scoring eighth after experiencing a transmission problem in the morning.

Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: « In the afternoon it was raining really hard from the start of stage 10, but luckily my tyre choice was perfect. Unlike yesterday, I had no problems all day. I've got a lot confidence now and I am definitely going to try and catch Petter Solberg in third tomorrow. I think it's possible : this is my big chance.»

Dani Sordo/Marc Marti: « The grip seems to change all the time, and the rain we had in the afternoon was as bad as I have ever seen it : just like the Rally of Turkey. I need to remember that the reason why I am here is to gain experience and not to push too hard. Everybody is reminding me of that and it is true. Tomorrow's stages are some of the most difficult of the rally, so I think it will be a big challenge right up to the end. I'm learning a lot, but it's not easy. »

Manufacturer 1: BP- Ford World Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC06
3 Marcus Grönholm / Timo Rautiainen (FIN)
4 Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN)

BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen extended their lead during today's second leg of Rally GB. The Finns won five speed tests in the forests of south Wales in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car, and returned to the final overnight halt in Swansea with a 1min 18.8sec advantage in this 16th and final round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: "I tried to continue pushing this afternoon because I don't want to have to fight hard tomorrow, but the times didn't come so easily. Tomorrow's stages are technically difficult and always very, very slippery and it's not the place where I want to have to push. The weather forecast is bad for tonight, with heavy rain, so it could be a long and hard day."

Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: Retired after damage sustained from accident on Leg One

Manufacturer 1: Subaru World Rally Team / Subaru Impreza WRC 2006
5 Petter Solberg / Philip Mills (N/GB)
6 Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall (AUS)

Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson are still in points-scoring positions after the second leg of Rally GB in south Wales today. Petter and co-driver Phil Mills dropped back from second to third place after clipping a gatepost and damaging their car's steering on SS11. Chris increased his pace during the day and moved up from seventh to sixth place.

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "Well obviously we tried a little bit too hard this morning; we chose a new tyre, took a bit of a risk, and unfortunately it didn't quite work out. In the afternoon we tried just to stay in second place, then I turned-in just a few millimetres too early near the end of SS11, hit a pole, broke the steering and I was out of second. The last forest stage wasn't easy but we got through okay, we're still in the competition and that's the main thing. Tomorrow, we'll see. We're in third place now, but a lot can still happen so I'll keep pushing as hard as I can."

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "Our day improved after we altered the set-up at the service after SS9. From then on car felt much better, we've gained some more grip and the car is generally more to my liking. On stages 11 and 12 I was able to push much more and we were second fastest on both - we missed out by two-tenths on getting fastest times. Now that I have a better feeling with the car I'm looking to keep the same sort of speed tomorrow."

Manufacturer 2: OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team / Peugeot 307 WRC
7 Manfred Stohl / Ilka Minor (A)
8 Henning Solberg / Cato Menkerud (N)

The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team continues driving on the fast lane at the "Wales Rally GB", the last run to the FIA World Rally Championship 2006. After day two the Austrian OMV duo Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor lies in sensational second place. Their Norwegian teammates Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud moved up from 14th to twelfth overall place. Now "all" Stohl has to do is to get the top result across the finish line at the last leg on Sunday. And Solberg promises to do his all to score points for the manufacture WRC.

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "It was an extremely difficult day today since on the short special stages one can lose more than one can win. In the end luck was on our side. But there are still four long special stages to go on Sunday. But we should be able to get our lead on Solberg across the finish linge." Currently Ford works driver Marcus Grönholm (Fin) is in the lead."

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "We're far behind, of course. But this only motivates us to try our all to move up even further. Scoring a manufactuer WRC-point would be a nice finale. And obviously a SS best-time would be great, too. The special stages on Sunday should suit us."

Manufacturer 2: Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC06
9 Matthew Wilson / Michael Orr (GB)
10 Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (FIN)

The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team continued to impress the watching World Rally Championship with a strong run at the head of the field of Rally Great Britain.

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "Today has been better for me. The first two stages were so slippery, they were like ice. There was a thin layer of slime-like mud on the top of the road which caused a few problems. We'd cut the tyre, but we hadn't really opened it up enough to cut through to the surface. Actually, in all of the stages today, when you go under the trees, the grip really changes. There are pine needles and things like that which are down, that's the kind of stuff which changes the condition. Once we're out in the open, the grip is consistent and you can push harder. This afternoon was a bit tricky at times with the rain, the windscreen wipers struggled a little bit to shift all the water from the screen. I'm glad to get through the stages and that's my aim for tomorrow. I know I've done this event twice before, but having never seen these roads in these conditions, it's almost like a new rally."

Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: "I always knew it was going to be tough to hold on to fourth today, we had [Xevi] Pons getting close to us this morning and he has a lot more experience than me in this kind of car. Of course, I am very happy to be where I am, but I will push for fourth tomorrow. Having said that, if I feel worried about anything, then I will back off - I need the finish. The car has been fantastic again and I feel I am getting more and more confident all of the time. I haven't had any problems with the car set-up, that's probably because I'm using a set-up very similar to the one Marcus Gronholm has - and it clearly works for him."

Manufacturer 2: Red Bull Skoda Team / Skoda Fabia WRC05
11 Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen (FIN)
12 Andreas Aigner / Timo Timo Gottschalk (A/D)

On the second day of Wales Rally GB, run in very changeable conditions, Finland's Harri Rovanpera was Red Bull Skoda's sole representative. After Andreas Aigner had rolled his Fabia WRC on SS 5 yesterday, the car was inspected by the mechanics, who diagnosed damage that could not be repaired within the time frame allowed by SupeRally.

Andreas Aigner/Klaus Wicha: "Spectating absolutely isn't my line, I'd rather sit in the car. But unfortunately too much damage was done prior to our roll despite the slow speed at which we hit the tree stump."

Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietiläinen: "I had a very decent morning, but far from ideal. The stages were very slippery, I had trouble keeping the car on the road. In the afternoon suddenly I had no more grip, I had too much wheel spin time and again, I don't know why. Hopefully we will solve this in service, so we can try and score points tomorrow."

Final positions after the third day of the rally:

1. M Grönholm/T Rautiainen FIN Ford Focus RS 3hr 20min 24.8sec
2. M Stohl/I Minor A Peugeot 307 3hr 22min 00.3sec
3. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza 3hr 22min 20.0sec
4. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 3hr 23min 01.9sec
5. X Pons/C Del Barrio E Citroen Xsara 3hr 23min 44.7sec
6. C Atkinson/G MacNeall AUS Subaru Impreza 3hr 23min 52.3sec
7. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroen Xsara 3hr 24min 33.1sec
8. F Duval/ P Pivato B Skoda Fabia 3hr 24min 47.4sec
9. H Rovanperä/R Pietilainen FIN Skoda Fabia 3hr 28min 25.1sec
10 J Kopecky/F Schovanek CZ Skoda Fabia 3hr 28min 52.6sec

Driver's comments after Leg 3

Leg 3 News

The BP-Ford World Rally Team crew of Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen claimed victory in Wales Rally GB, notching up a home win for Ford for the first time since 1979. The Finns led from start to finish, taking their seventh win of the season in the final round of the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship. Austrian Manfred Stohl finished second, his best result of the season, while Petter Solberg - winner of the event for the past four years - took the final podium position. *At the end of the 16-round series, just one point separated Loeb and Grönholm in the battle for the title and Loeb claimed the crown for the third consecutive year, despite not contesting the final four rounds. The all-important Manufacturers’ Championship was won by Ford for the first time in 27 years.

Today’s final leg took the crews over two loops of two long stages in Brechfa Forest and, with overnight rain, conditions remained treacherously slippery. Grönholm’s overnight advantage meant he could afford to ease the pace. However he lost over 20 seconds with a spin in the second stage but then cruised to the finish to claim a winning margin of one minute 35.5 seconds. OMV Peugeot Norway driver Manfred Stohl has enjoyed one of his best outings of the year and, but for hitting a branch blown down by heavy overnight winds, had a trouble-free run to the finish. Petter Solberg, third in the Subaru Impreza, lost time this morning with a puncture and spin, but nevertheless achieved a podium finish for the second time in three events. Jari-Matti Latvala finished a fine fourth overall in his first outing in a 2006 specification Ford Focus and Xavier Pons was the highest-placed Citroën driver. Rounding off the top six was Australian Subaru driver Chris Atkinson.

The 2007 FIA World Rally Championship resumes in January with the famous Rallye Monte Carlo (19-21 January).

FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (after 16 of 16 rounds)

Sébastien Loeb (F) 112 points
Marcus Grönholm (S) 111 points
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) 65 points
Manfred Stohl (A) 54 points
Daniel Sordo (E) 49 points
Petter Solberg (N) 40 points
Xavier Pons (E) 32 points
Henning Solberg (N) 25 points
Toni Gardemeister (FIN) 20 points
Chris Atkinson (AUS) 20 points

FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers (after 16 of 16 rounds)

BP-Ford World Rally Team 195 points
Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team 166 points
Subaru World Rally Team 106 points
OMV Peugeot Norway 88 points
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 44 points
Red Bull-Škoda Team 24 points

Team News:

Manufacturer 1: Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team / Citroën Xsara WRC
1 Xavier Pons / Carlos del Barrio (E)
2 Daniel Sordo / Marc Marti (E)

Both of the Kronos Total Citroen Xsara crews have finished in the points on the last round of the season, underlining once more their perfect balance between speed and consistency despite their tender years. Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio are fifth, while Dani Sordo/Marc Marti are seventh. Most importantly of all, Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena end the year as World Champions for the third time.

Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: « It has been a huge privilege for me to carry Sébastien's number on my car and to work with him and the entire team. Thanks to them I feel that I have improved a lot over the course of the season. »

Dani Sordo/Marc Marti: « The roads were incredibly fast and narrow, and the weather conditions made life even more difficult. But I am very pleased to see that our pace notes were largely correct even though it was our first time here. My target throughout this year was to learn, and it's incredible that I have managed to do all 16 rallies when the original plan was just to do three ! There have been many fantastic memories for me, but if I had to choose one it would be standing on the podium at my home rally in Spain. I would like to thank the entire Kronos team for all their efforts, which have enabled me to learn so much. »

Manufacturer 1: BP- Ford World Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC06
3 Marcus Grönholm / Timo Rautiainen (FIN)
4 Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN)

Ford ended its FIA World Rally Championship winning season by claiming its first Rally GB victory for 27 years today. Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen led the three-day event from start to finish through the muddy forests of south Wales to triumph by 1min 35.5sec in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. It was the seventh victory of the season for the Finnish duo, and the eighth for the BP-Ford World Rally Team - making it Ford's most successful rally season ever.

Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: "It's fantastic to win again and this ends a great season in perfect style. It has been a long three days in the Welsh forests but we were able to drive cautiously today on what were the most difficult stages of the event. It was made easier for me yesterday when Petter Solberg had problems and since then I have had the rally under control."

Manufacturer 1: Subaru World Rally Team / Subaru Impreza WRC 2006
5 Petter Solberg / Philip Mills (N/GB)
6 Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall (AUS)

The Subaru World Rally Team finished Rally GB with a flourish, setting three fastest stage times from the day's four special stages and ending the day with both cars firmly in the points. Petter Solberg and Phil Mills were fastest on the leg and finished third, maintaining the strong finishing record they have had on this event in the past five years. In the other Impreza WRC2006, Chris Atkinson and Glenn Macneall came home in sixth position.

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "A difficult day, but the stage times we set were very competitive and that was encouraging. I set a very fast time on the first stage, but the puncture and spin we had in the second test made it impossible to overtake Manfred Stohl. We were quick again after that, but the gap to second place was too big, so we had to settle for third. I'm not too unhappy with that result in the last rally of the season. It is good for the team and also for Pirelli, I would like to thank them because we've had lots of good rallies together. I was enjoying the stages in the afternoon and the pace we were setting shows that next year, when things are going better for us, I think we will be very fast.

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "We had a steady run through this morning's two stages and consolidated sixth place, which was the main objective for today. The result isn't ideal, but it has been a really tough event and our aim was to get to the end of the rally and that's what we've done. A points finish is a good way to end a tough year and now we can turn our attentions to making the car strong for the start of the 2007 season. The team has been working incredibly hard and next year we want to reward them with wins."

Manufacturer 2: OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team / Peugeot 307 WRC
7 Manfred Stohl / Ilka Minor (A)
8 Henning Solberg / Cato Menkerud (N)

The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team has completed the most successful season in the history of rallying with a sensational result at the "Wales Rally GB". Following Australia and New Zealand the OMV duo Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor reached the podium for the third time in a row and the fourth time this year with second overall place. Thus Stohl also secured fourth place in the driver WRC 2006. Norwegian teammates Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud finished the last run to the FIA World Rally Championship in eleventh place and take eighth place in the final WRC standings.

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "After everything is over you need some time to realise what just has happened. Now the joy is overwhelming, of course. A privateer right among the works teams on the podium - and it is not a dream but reality. Just like these three podium places in a row."

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "It was important to us to win back our self-confidence after the slip. And there were several times I was very content with afterwards. But unfortunately we were too far behind. Therefore it was impossible to score points. But I still can be very satisfied with this season. The highlights were, of course, the podium place in Turkey and fourth place in Finland."

Manufacturer 2: Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC06
9 Matthew Wilson / Michael Orr (GB)
10 Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (FIN)

The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team celebrated its finest hour in the World Rally Championship today, clinching fourth position on its home round of the series, Wales Rally Great Britain.

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "The spin in the second stage cost us quite a lot of time, maybe 20 seconds or something like that. It was in a long hairpin, I braked for the corner and put it sideways. From then on it just picked up speed, the front of the car touched a bank and that spun the car right around.
Then I had to move forward and backwards to get us facing the right direction. That happened quite close to the start of the stage, which took away my confidence for the rest. It was a shame because the first one this morning had been okay, we'd gone well in there. For the rest of the day, I was focused on getting to the finish, not making mistakes and just getting more experience of the roads. I have been surprised at how tough this event has been. I knew it would be different coming here and not having driven in the wet conditions, but it really has been like a different rally. I think I needed about 15 runs on the recce rather than just two, and even then I'm still not sure I'd know exactly what to expect!"

Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: "After I had been in fourth place for so much of the event, I didn't really want to give it up this morning. I pushed in the first stage and took a couple of seconds out of [Xevi] Pons. Then in the next one he had some sort of problem (a spin), which made a bigger gap between us. To be honest, I could have gone quicker in SS15, but I had a big moment not far from the start of the stage, so I was aware of what I was risking all of the time. I didn't want any mistakes, so I was more sensible after that. The roads have been just as slippery as ever today, but clinching this position is just amazing. I said at the start that I wanted to make some points, but I didn't really know if that was possible. To come here and do this kind of rally has been incredible!"

Manufacturer 2: Red Bull Skoda Team / Skoda Fabia WRC05
11 Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen (FIN)
12 Andreas Aigner / Timo Timo Gottschalk (A/D)

The Red Bull Skoda was able to celebrate a positive end to this year's rally season at the final WRC event in Wales. Despite Andreas Aigner's early retirement on the first day, Finland's Harri Rovanpera achieved P9 in the final standings, which was rewarded with one point for the manufacturers' world championship

Andreas Aigner/Klaus Wicha: "Of course a retirement at the end of the season is far from ideal, but I have already gotten over it. Otherwise this season was a very positive one from my point of view. My sixth place in Germany was the highlight, but I was also pleased with some of the top ten times that I set on various special stages during the season. That's why I can look to the future very positively."

Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietiläinen: "I believe I was going rather quickly. This rally in Britain suits me, that's where I got my best results so far. Nevertheless I feel that a little bit more could have been possible, unfortunately I lost some time on Saturday afternoon because of a lack of grip. But I achieved my objective to bring home my best result for our team in Wales."


FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
WALES RALLY GB
Media FIA Post-event Press Conference
03.12.2006

Present:
1st - Marcus Grönholm – BP Ford World Rally Team
1st - Timo Rautiainen – BP Ford World Rally Team
2nd - Manfred Stohl – OMV-Peugeot Norway
2nd - Ilka Minor – OMV-Peugeot Norway – second co-driver
3rd - Petter Solberg – Subaru World Rally Team
3rd - Philip Mills – Subaru World Rally Team
Representative of the winning manufacturer BP-Ford World Rally Team, Malcolm Wilson

Welcome to the FIA post-event press conference.

Q:
Marcus, congratulations on your seventh win of the year. Again, you took the lead from the start, but did you expect a bigger fight from the others? Did you have any real problems here?

MG:
Okay Mikko was quite close in the beginning but then he retired and then it was Petter who was trying to catch me. Then he had a spin or something on Saturday morning, after that it was quite easy. Not easy, but it was one-minute so it was easier to control. No problem with the car; absolutely nothing. Just a small spin today in the morning, small, yes, so that was the only problem.

Q:
Timo, congratulations on your seventh win with Marcus. In terms of number of wins, how does it feel to end your most successful season ever? Talking about this rally, did you enjoy it? Was everything under control or did you feel any pressure?

TR:
It’s a good feeling to end with two wins; it’s the same way we started the season. We did everything we were expected to do this year, except to clinch the Drivers’ title. That is still a bit in my mind that we could have done it, but maybe we can stop this flying Frenchman in 2007 and win the first 10 rallies in a row and then be at home six rallies on a sofa and watch it on television! There were some stages that were quite enjoyable on Saturday when it was not raining so much and the road conditions were okay. But to be honest I have to say that when it’s heavy rain, bad visibility and no grip at all, I don’t enjoy it at all, no, I don’t know who would enjoy that but not me.

Q:
Manfred, congratulations on second place - that equals your best-ever career result. Could you have challenged for the win? How comfortable did you feel in second and was Petter Solberg a big problem for you? How hard did you have to push in order to make sure of getting this result?

MS:
No, I think Marcus was controlling it very easily all rally. I was a little surprised by his mistake today but the conditions were so s**t that everything can happen and even if you go a bit slower it’s still dangerous behind every corner. I mean on the first and second day I pushed hard, today I was expected that Petter would just in the morning start a big attack. But when I saw the time I saw he managed on the second stage then has deserved the second position actually then he made the mistake and gave us a bit of an advantage again.

Q:
Many people said that the final day of the rally was actually the most difficult – what did you think? Which day contained your favourite stages here? Did you have any heart-stopping moments?

IM:
Yeah, it was the same opinion for me. I said before the rally that the big day is Sunday; it was already the same last year that these stages are in the opposite direction they are always difficult to drive and today in the bad conditions with the heavy rain it was not easy. I just had one moment, when Timo put the top of the champagne bottle in my face! We had some moments but it was quite a good season for us. We had a moment in Sweden and we had a big accident in testing in Catalunya. That was not so nice but at the end it was fine.

Q:
Petter, are you mostly pleased to finish third or disappointed because this is the first time in five years when you haven’t won this event? You had your fair share of problems, such as the broken steering rack yesterday. Without those problems do you think you could have challenged for victory?

PS:
It was good to get some champagne again this year; it’s a long time ago. I’m happy with third. We tried very hard from the start and we had some ups and downs and tried to get back again. I tried anyway, I tried very hard to get everything right, to have a good end to the season and hopefully try to get the win but unfortunately Marcus did it but I’m quite happy in general with many things this weekend. It’s difficult to say but I was in good form and the small improvements we did with the car before the rally was working really. I think I gave him a bit of a hard time but it’s too late now.

Q:
Phil, you’re a veteran of these stages. How did this year’s Wales Rally GB compare to all the others you have competed on? What effect did the move to December have on the conditions? Would you say that this has been a classic Rally GB?

PM:
For sure yeah, it’s gone back to its more traditional date and obviously the weather plays a big part. The conditions were more like the old Rally GB year’s gone by. When we ran in September we had a lot drier roads but now it’s back to full mud and full rain, everything that they can throw at you. So it’s very difficult, one of the bigger challenges. Obviously Turkey this year was a huge challenge for everyone with the conditions there and I think this is on about the same level as that.

Q:
Malcolm, congratulations on another win for Marcus and Ford. Did you enjoy this rally more than you did the previous round in New Zealand, given that the pressure was off for the Manufacturers’ Championship?

MW:
Well it was nice to let the drivers do what they wanted and obviously quite nice for me the fact that they weren’t putting me under pressure on this rally, as you know they were in New Zealand where they kept really trying to make the job even more difficult for me... In fairness we haven’t had a chance to reflect on what’s been achieved but we’re obviously delighted. I think the fact it is 27 years since we won the championship and I think a lot of people probably find it more amazing that it is 27 years since we won Rally GB so it’s a fantastic feeling to be honest to put Ford back on the top step of the podium here.

Q:
Last night we had some very heavy rain and winds; what were the stages like today? Was it difficult to find the correct pace in order to protect your advantage? One effect of having Rally GB at this time of year is that there is now less than two months before Monte Carlo starts – do you think that the gap is too short?

MG:
Okay it’s always difficult to drive when you need to go maximum so you have to lift off a little bit and it’s always more moments than usual, but it was quite okay then and I found the right speed and it was okay. Maybe a little bit yes because next week we have to start testing again for next year and it should be a little bit more relaxed but now we have a small rest in the summer as well which is also good.

Q:
What do you think Timo – do you and Marcus have a busy schedule of testing planned? What about your other commitments? How confident do you feel that you will be able to challenge Sébastien for the Drivers’ as well as the Manufacturers’ title next year?

TR:
Time wise it’s okay, I’m happy with the break I have, it’s no problem but for the team it’s a big effort with all the regulations, the ruling of the test days and the test sessions and which countries you can test in that makes a lot of extra work for the teams. And logistics-wise also and now especially towards the end of the year when we have celebrations and prize-givings and sponsor meetings and everything together with the testing it’s a little bit tight that’s true. But on the other hand like Marcus I enjoy the two-month or three month break in summer, that’s something worth it I think.

Q:
What are your plans over the winter Manfred? Looking back over this season, how do you think it has gone? You must be pleased to have finished on the podium so many times in the second half of the season in particular. Does that make life a little easier when you are looking for sponsorship budgets next year? Will we see you in Monte Carlo?

MS: I think we can be more than happy. We started very good in Monte Carlo and we had another podium in Mexico now the finish of the season is fantastic, there’s nothing more I can say about it. I think when everyone before the season said that this car is so difficult and that we cannot be fast. I was not sure what happened this season but finally everything went perfect for us and I’m very, very happy with the season. I mean I have no problem with my sponsor OMV they are quite good to me and help me a long time; I think now 13 years we have been working together, which is a fantastic situation. But my main aim is to get sooner or later in a factory team and for this I still don’t see any future right now. Monte Carlo is one of the events I like very much and I hope to be there, yes.

Q:
How would you sum up the season Ilka? What were the biggest highlights for you? Was this rally one of them? How have you seen Manfred develop as a driver this year?

IM:
The last three rallies, starting after Turkey it was quite well because normally Manfred is very tired in the mornings so when we go to the first stage he doesn’t always start very quickly. But the last three events starting in Australia, New Zealand and England he started well from the beginning and that is a good step for the next year and I hope that if we do the whole Championship we can start already in Monte Carlo in the first stage.

Q:
It’s been a tough season for you, but you have always stayed confident and upbeat. How difficult has it been for you to sustain your motivation? We had some news from Subaru over the weekend about a switch to BFGoodrich tyres from Pirelli next year – what do you think of the move?

PS:
Well we have learnt a lot this year and I think it’s good also to go through your career with a year like this think. It’s been a bit of a long time but we are on the right direction and things are looking good but the guys are absolutely flat out to get the car ready for next year. It is so many obvious things that it will be a big change next year, so I’m staying positive. It’s what you have dreamt about your whole life; to sit behind a steering wheel and okay you get mad sometimes and have some arguments but still I’m very happy to drive and get enjoyment. But still we want to win. That’s the main thing. We have been through one year like this and now no more and we have to start fighting for the victory but now we can start for next year. I’m not sure but Pirelli have done a very good job, we have won many World Championships with them and won many, many rallies, they’ve done a really good job. Next year everyone is on the same tyres and maybe it will be a level field. But you never know maybe they will come back in 2008 and everyone will have to drive with Pirelli. So we will see.

Q:
No win this year, but what’s it like for you to compete at home? Do you get any time off now before preparing for next season? Do you think that this event was one of the most competitive for you all year? What did you think of the super special in the Millennium Stadium?

PM:
It’s the same if you’re a Finn in Finland, it’s your home event. Your home event is your home event. I think for this event it’s got special memories for both of us. We won our first World Championship event here and our first world title here so to compete at home it’s got special memories all the way through this event and yes, it’s good fun.

Q:
We’ve spoken about Marcus but a quick word about Mikko. He was out at an early stage – how disappointed do you feel for him? Do you think he has developed the speed to challenge Marcus? With this season over the focus now switches to 2007. What are the new things that we can expect to see from Ford next year? What will be the chances of a second consecutive Monte Carlo victory?

MW:
The new things? I would like to tell you but not when Petter’s here really! In fairness we are not planning any major changes. The early part of season we will continue with the car we currently have. We feel the important thing for the first half of the season is reliability and to try and capitalise at the start of the season and we’re probably looking at mid-year to doing an evolution of the current car. Okay, we are constantly developing all the time and making changes that are not homologation related and we will continue to do that. As Marcus said, we are testing now in France and Sweden prior to Christmas and basically it’s non-stop on development and we’re recruiting a lot more people on that side as well so I think it’s important we don’t stand still. Well I think we all know that there’s a certain Frenchman who’s got a similar record at Monte Carlo as Petter here and it’s not going to be easy for sure. But I think it’ll be fantastic to have him back in the Championship and I really hope he’s 100 per cent fit for Monte Carlo because there’s going to be some fantastic battles next year.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR:

Derick Allsop
The Independent (Great Britain)
Q:
Marcus, you’re obviously under pressure from your demanding co-driver, do you expect to be as strong as he hopes you are next year and really give Loeb a fight for the Championship?

MG:
Yes, absolutely, yes, why not. This year we were also fighting with him and some rallies okay, there was a few rallies that I couldn’t do so much but nearly all of them we were in front of him in some point, so yes is your answer.

FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA

1st – Jaan Mölder – FIA JWRC
1st - Katrin Becker – FIA JWRC

1st - Patrik Sandell – FIA Junior World Rally Champion*
1st - Emil Axelsson – FIA Junior World Rally Champion co-driver*

Q:
The rally was in many ways decided by punctures in the FIA JWRC. Did you have a deliberate strategy from the beginning to stay out of trouble? How difficult was it to stick to a plan when so many things seemed to be changing all around you? Was it hard to stay concentrated?

JM:
I wouldn’t say it was very difficult. We had the right pace and throughout the rally we kept it and unfortunately the first two days we had no problems at all but on the last day today we had two punctures in the long stages which caused a problem because we had two minutes time loss but compared to the start of course I didn’t think we couldn’t expect anything like this. A lot of drivers had many problems and many retirements and of course that helps us. But we were in a good mood before the rally because we had a test with the car and since the first test we had a good pace. I wouldn’t say so there was not so much pressure. Of course today, this morning we had five seconds with Patrick Sandell the difference that made us push a little bit more and maybe that’s the reason we got the puncture, but I wouldn’t say it was much more pressure.

Q:
How were the conditions on this event for a two-wheel drive car? How much did you struggle for grip and traction? What about the final day – how tricky was that with all the standing water?

KB:
The first two days were not so bad but today it was hell for a two-wheel drive car and it was quite bad but we’re quite happy to finish. 110 per cent.

Q:
You started the year in a Fiesta before switching to a Suzuki Ignis and now a Swift – how easy has it been to switch between all these different cars? How would you sum up your season?

JM:
Let’s say at the beginning of the year it was very difficult because I hadn’t driven a front wheel drive car in a proper rally with it before and we had so little tests. Of course the first car wasn’t that reliable and we had a lot of problems and a lot of retirements and maybe that’s the reason why we are so slow in the Ignis because we had a bad experience and we weren’t that motivated. But this really was good and knowing we’re driving the top car, that’s a good motivation.

Q:
What have been the highlights for you this year? Do you think that the Junior World Rally Championship has helped you to progress your career? How difficult is it as a young co-driver to make it to the top?

KB:
It’s quite difficult because you expect more from yourself as maybe others do but if it works quite well you are also confident. The more you push the more pressure you put on yourself to be a professional co-driver at this age.

Q:
What are your plans for next year; the Junior Championship again? It’s a good time for Estonian motor sport – you win this rally and maybe Urmo Aava could even have won the title. Do you get a lot of support at home? Do you think this phenomenon is down to Markko Martin?

JM:
JWRC is definitely a good place to be and that’s our goal but we have no certain plans for now yet but we have a few meetings in a few weeks and we hope we will have clearer plans by then. I don’t think it’s all down to Markko Martin. Rallying has been very popular all the time in Estonia and this year Urmo is driving very fast and he had his first win in Turkey and we won here and it’s a big plus for such a small country like Estonia.

Q:
We welcome now the 2006 FIA JWRC Champion, after what can only be described as not only a dramatic day but an incredibly dramatic rally. Patrick it would maybe be best if you talked us through it if you remember it all.

PS:
I can try. The plan for us for this rally was to not do any mistakes. We started on Friday the only goal was to not do any mistakes the second day was to try and push a little bit more and climb the places in the results and we did that too. So the plan was working very well. The first stage this morning I was catching Molder maybe 6km from the end and I was going after him, he had a puncture. Maybe I was a bit stressed because I knew P-G (Andersson) was taking a bit of time on me on that stage. But we talked about that on the road section to the next stage but we were going quite good we just maybe had 5km and too much speed into the next corner and we slid off into the ditch. We maybe thought the season and the story of this season was over, but we heard that P-G was off and then we were thinking that maybe it’s not the end and here we are, and I don’t know what to say.

Q:
Emil can you remember a rally like this? You’ve been from joy to despair and back again?

EA:
No I cannot remember a rally like this. This is the strangest rally I have done. Sometimes you are disppappointed then happy then disappointed then happy, I’ve never been through anything like this before.

Q:
Patrick how much pressure were you under, you came here and you weren’t leading the Championship, Urmo Aava was leading, then as you mentioned you had P-G trying to catch up with you today. How much stress and pressure were you driving with?

PS:
I’ve not been driving on any stress or pressure all season. I always think on every rally that okay this is my first time here, I have to learn and do good pacenotes and have to get to the finish in every event and collect as much experience as possible. But now and then when it was tight in the total thing I cannot say I was stressed about it because I have been thinking the whole season I am not the guy that has to press the other guys because they’ve been doing it many more years so I’m just driving and doing my race and that was the plan for this event also I did not feel any pressure before this rally but before I was maybe thinking a little bit about it but it was not a problem for me, so, no.

Q:
It’s interesting Patrick that you said the other drivers had the pressure on them because you continued a tradition which is the Junior World Champion is always in his first year why do you think that is when there are other more experienced drivers out there?

PS: I don’t know but maybe of course when you have done the ‘juniors’ for many years you maybe get pressure on yourself because you want to take the next step up to the WRC. It’s quite a big step and today you need a lot of money and talent and maybe a lot of people in the Championship, if you take P-G, Guy Wilks, Urmo Aava and Kris Meeke and they are pushing and driving really, really fast. I think the rhythm in this group this year is really fast it’s unbelievable because everyone and you are driving to your limit all the time and there is nothing left on the side in every corner everyone is really pushing to improve all the time. I think it’s good to drive the first year but then you don’t’ have the pressure you are just here and you just try to learn everything. Sometimes you do stupid mistakes and I have done stupid mistakes too. My aim is to continue in the ‘juniors; next year and hopefully I can be at the top then too.

Q:
Emil, after everything that happened today were you worried that the breakdown truck carrying your car to Parc Ferme would breakdown as well?

PS:
Yeah my heart rate was like 220 all the time from the start to post event scrutineering. When you are on the motorway on the M4 you were worrying about a traffic jam or missing the exit all the things so as I said it’s been a tough day and ups and downs all the time.

Q:
Patrick where do you think wining the title will take you? What are your hopes and objectives for next year and beyond?

PS:
I don’t know. My plan was not to win this year but to win next year so I don’t know but I’ve been planning the whole autumn now to do the JWRC next year because I think it’s really good to do the right events. You’re driving together with WRC cars so it’s a perfect place to be if you want to drive in the WRC in the future. That’s my main goal to get to he WRC, but you have to take one step and then another you can’t just jump a step. I think it’s good to do another year and still learn and drive some other events for experience. The plan looks like to continue in the juniors and to learn about Tarmac. We don’t have Tarmac in Sweden I’ve only been doing only one real Tarmac event and the plan is to learn more about that so we can fight for the podium places.

Q:
A question for you both. The Renault Clio is not the most modern or most funded car but you won the Championship anyway. What is it about this car that helped you win this achievement?

EA:
The car has been developed during many years and it doesn’t break down so often and the engineers are doing a good job developing the car so I think it’s more about that and as Patrick said before it’s tight this car it‘s not about having the newest car it’s about getting to the finish line and scoring points on every event. The Clio is really good.

PS:
It’s been a perfect compromise the car. The team and our thoughts on how we want the car to work and almost every wish I have about the car they have fixed for me and I have had good support from Renault Sport and I think that’s the main thing and that. But everything has been working very well and we have had a chance to concentrate on the rallies as we should do.

EA:
We wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for our team they have done am extremely good job during this season and helped us a lot of times.