FIA RALLY NEWS 

COMING EVENT - 55th Uddeholm Swedish Rally (3-5 February 2006)


2nd round out of 16 in the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship, 1st round out of ninth in the 2006 FIA Junior World Rally Championship

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
UDDEHOLM SWEDISH RALLY
Media FIA Pre-event Press Conference
02.02.2006

Present:
Mario Isola – Pirelli Rally Manager
Chris Atkinson – Subaru World Rally Team
Marcus Grönholm – BP-Ford World Rally Team
Matthias Ekström – Red Bull Škoda Team
Matthew Wilson – Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team
Marc Van Dalen – Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team
Per-Gunnar Andersson (Suzuki)
Martin Prokop (Citroën)

Welcome to the pre-event FIA press conference.

Q:
Welcome Mario. Some people in this room do not know you yet; could you explain your role within Pirelli, and tell us about the particular challenges tyre manufacturers face here in Sweden?
MI:
I’m the new Rally Manager. Last year it was Brivio; now I take the same place as him. He’s in the new test team. I worked with Maserati Trofeo project for two years, so I have circuit experience for two years. The rally is very different from the circuit. We have a good product from last year with the tyre. We have some new tyres this time, something new with the studs.

Q:
Hello Chris. You are driving the 2006 Subaru Impreza for the first time. What do you think of it? What are the main differences between this and the 2005 car you drove in Monte Carlo?
CA:
Obviously there are a lot of diferences. We’ve been doing a lot of fine-tuning and trying to understand what we want from the car and what the diffs can do for you. It’s going to take a few rallies to get to the top level. What we have here is a good base and, obviously, we’re a bit quicker than we were last year. The feeling and response from this car are not going to be as sharp with mechanical diffs as it was with the active we had last year. The team is obviously working to make this better. We haven’t done a back-to-back test from last year’s car, but it feels very good.

Q:
There is a new design of studded tyre here from Pirelli. Can you tell us a little bit about it? Which sort of advantages do you think it will be able to offer you?
MI: We are always trying to find a stud that is easier to retain in the tryre. Now we are trying to find a stud that gives the driver better feeling and doesn’t move in the tread.

Q:
In Monte Carlo your season got off to an excellent start when you were second overall after the first day. With another year of experience of the Swedish event behind you, do you think you might be able to match that performance?
CA:
Considering I’ve only done four Tarmac rallies, my loose surface skills are probably a bit better. I definitely hope to have a better result here. Sixth is what we are aiming at, but I think I can be quicker than I was in Monte. I’m definitely more suited to this than Monte as I’d never done that event before.

Q:
At the moment, there is only one snow rally in the championship. With the amount of investment and time that tyre manufacturers put into developing snow rubber, would you like to see another snow rally in the championship?
MI:
You are right. At the moment this is the only snow event in the World Championship. This means you spend a lot of money developing a specific tyre and in testing. We have a facility in Italy, but the conditions you find here are nothing like we would find in another place. l have to test this tyre here and it costs a lot of money to come here. For us it’s better not to have a specific product for this rally or we should have another rally to share the expense on two or three different ones.

Q:
Does this rally have special memories for you – it was your first factory drive this time last year? Has your approach changed at all since then?
CA:
I had never driven a World Rally Car before. It was amazing last year. We took an approach, we took some risks and had a few crashes, but we showed some speed. There was no point going out and driving for the finish, especially when I didn’t feel comfortable in the car. It was better to take some risks, show some speed and let the rest come later. My approach this year will be a bit more conservative. But probably we will have better speed. I don’t think we need to take the risks we did then. The result will come from the experience we’ve had over the last year.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR:
Richard Rodgers (Motorsport News, GB)

Q:
Formula One will have a control tyre. What do you think of having a control tyre in WRC?
MI:
It could happen, but it wouldn’t be Pirelli’s point of view. Pirelli wants to have other tyre manufacturers to have comparison and to have a fight. One tyre manufacturer would not be good. In FIA GTs, we have three or four involved, otherwise, it would be similar to the Ferrari Challenge. It’s not the way to have development in tyres.

Q:
What if it could reduce costs?
MI:
Sure it costs more. It’s a small development when it’s a one-tyre championship, the tyres last one or two years. But we want to put all our technology from the race into road tyres and this means we need competition.

Q:
Chris, you’re doing Rally Ireland. Why, and how do you think you will get on?
CA:
The idea behind it is to get some more Tarmac experience. As I said, I’ve only done four tar rallies – and they’re keen on having someone along. Any help for me on Tarmac is invaluable. I’m sure it’ll be tricky. I haven’t driven Group N for a while and never on Tarmac. I’m sure the local drivers will be tough, but we’re not going there to drive slowly.

Q:
Congratulations on your win in Monte Carlo. Sweden is your favourite rally: how confident do you feel of winning here again? Has the problem with your throttle pedal position been sorted out now? Are there any more things that are new on the car? Do you feel you are completely up to speed with it now, or are you still learning some aspects of it?
MG:
Not really confident, but I’m sure we can fight for the win. The car feels good, but it will be really tight. We’ll see. The seat is okay now we have moved the pedal closer to my seat. The angle and travel of the pedal is better. I think I still need some rallies to be really confident in the car. I haven’t driven the car on gravel, just the test two months ago in Sweden.

Q:
Hello Mattias. This is your second Swedish Rally with the Škoda Fabia WRC now. Does the car and the team seem different this time? What are the main things you have noticed? Have you done any rallies since then?
ME:
We have made some improvements. I’ve not been here for a year, but the team has made the car quicker. Everybody else is also going quicker, it will be interesting to see how we can fight with the other guys. I hadn’t done any rallies since the Swedish last year, then last weekend I had some testing and tried to do a national rally, but we stopped in SS1. We lost a wheel in the forest. The preparation is not massive like last year, but I have the experience from last year. This is something I would like to change for the future, if I come again. As for the car, we have a little bit more ground clearance which is good because the car doesn’t bottom as much, and it helps because we run the car quite soft. And the five-speed gearbox helps quite a lot.

Q:
Conditions this year seem very good. Are they ideal, or would you like to see the weather change? What sort of state are the stages in? What are they like to drive? For the first time in quite a long time you will be running as first car on the road – will that have any effect?
MG:
We need just some minus degrees. It’s perfect now, I think it will be good again. In the recce it was good as well, nothing to complain about. Running first can be a small problem. Tomorrow’s first and second stage... I don’t know; I hope not, but maybe a couple of seconds. The plan is to attack, do what we can and then see where we are.

Q:
Is rallying just a hobby for you, alongside your DTM commitments, or do you think that in the future you might be more serious about it? How much do you enjoy it compared to circuit races?
ME:
No, I mean definitely it’s only a hobby. I have signed a three-year deal with Audi for the DTM. The Swedish Rally is once a year for me. It’s very nice to do it with them, but that’s all. Maybe I will be coming to the Swedish Rally for three years, I hope so. I enjoy it a lot, especially when conditions are nice. During the recce we saw the roads were much better than in previous years. I would guess four or five stages might have some gravel, but when we have snow banks it is enjoyable. It’s definitely different coming from a different background. Just getting used to the pace notes again is hard – trying to store more than one corner in the head is difficult. Also driving the car on the road is hard, it’s so narrow and then also we are steering more than we would do on the circuit - this is different.

Q:
Marcus, you said that you had a feeling you could win the Monte Carlo Rally before the event started. Tell us – do you have the same feeling here? Who do you think will be your strongest opponents?
MG:
Yes I have the same feeling that we can win here. Not one hundred percent sure, though. I think Petter and Sebastien; they have won the rally, they know. But also there are many other fast drivers around. It’s easier to say tomorrow.

Q:
Welcome Marc. It was a fantastic drive from Sebastien in Monte Carlo: did the performance of your team and the car meet your expectations? How much pressure do you feel to succeed, now that you have a World Champion in your team?
MVD:
The expectation isn’t from me, it comes from Sebastien himself. That was my first time to work with Sebastien. Before the rally we didn’t know each other so well. He’s a very clever guy, but not like a star. I was very happy at the end of the rally, he said there was no change from last year. There’s not really big pressure. We worked with Manfred and Xevi last year, there’s no reason for us to change the mind of how we work. Okay there’s some pressure from the media, but not really from us.

Q:
Your perspective on the Monte Carlo Rally was probably very different. Are you happy with your performance? How difficult has it been to get to grips with all the new things you have had to learn?
MW:
It was definitely a good start. It was not the easiest to start with, but we got to the end and that was the plan. Having the first three stages cancelled didn’t really help my nerves. It was a baptism of fire, but we got to the end. In my first full year, it’s not easy, but it’s definitely the right place to learn. The more experience I get, it’s definitely going to make it easier in the future.

Q:
If you succeed in winning the World Championship this year, you would be the first private team to do it for 25 years. How confident are you that you will be able to do this?
MVD:
Not yet. There’s still a long season ahead. We have something positive though, the driver of the car. Everything is possible. I expect a big fight between Seb, Marcus and Petter. It’s hard for me to think about the end when we have so many rallies to go. I’m confident in the car. The Xsara is at a very good level and we have the right tyre, they’re just as important as before. BF Goodrich will give us the right tyre. The budget we have is not like a works team, but the motivation is very high.

Q:
What’s your game plan here Matt? Are you looking for the same sort of pace as you had in Monte Carlo, with the main aim of finishing? Or is it your intention to up the pace? How much experience have you had on snow?
MW:
This morning at shakedown was our test! We hadn’t driven the car on snow, but we did a few rallies to get used to it. I did three rallies in Finland last year and got used to it a bit. I got used to this car here today. Tomorrow will be more of that and then maybe pick up pace a little bit over Saturday and Sunday. My aim is to finish, but if we try to be too safe you can lose a lot of time. It’s so fast here, you can lose too much time. You’re in sixth gear for such a long time, you need a rhythm.

Q:
Everybody knows about Sebastien, but among the other drivers you are running there is Daniel Sordo. From what you have seen, how big a talent is he? Could he go on to achieve the sort of things that Sebastien has?
MVD:
It’s never easy for a young driver like Dani. He’s only 22. he has to learn and the finish of the rally is the only way to do that. He needs to make as many kilometres as he can and that’s the most important thing for him. For Xevi, it’s the same situation as Dani. He’s only 25 and learning all the time, that’s the most important objective. For example, it’s his first time driving a World Rally Car on snow. After that he knows the gravel and the Tarmac of Catalunya and Corsica better. I expect an improvement from the next rally, but the most important thing here is to catch a point.

Q:
How about your own ambitions, Matt? How long do you think it will take you to get to the top?
MW:
Realistically, we’re looking at five, maybe six years. Sebastien is maybe the exception. His rise to the top was extremely quick, but as for the guys like Petter and Markko, it’s taken them that time, and that’s from starting at 22. I’m starting at 18, so it could take a bit longer. As a person, I think you mature so much between 18 and 22, it’s the little things like that. Being in the M-Sport environment is amazing. It’s part of my life, it always has been. Growing up with the likes of Carlos and Colin coming around is amazing. I’ve got a fantastic opportunity to be here and doing it.

Q:
Hello P-G. New year, new season. Last year was not the best one for you: how are you going to make sure that the story of 2006 is different?
P-GA:
Just make better results than 2005. It’s hard competition this year though. We still have some good chances, we’ve done some improvements on the car and the driver has also done some improvements. It’s a positive start for all of the rallies.

Q:
Welcome Martin. There have also been a few changes for you too this season. You’ve got a new car – how are you finding it?
MP:
I have many changes in my team. A new car, the Citroen C2 – a big change for me. The car is absolutely different from the Ignis. The car is very good, maybe the best I can buy as a private driver.

Q:
Is there anything different about the Suzuki this year? Are you confident that it can be faster than the Citroen, which was its main rival last year? Are there any other cars that you will be watching out for?
P-GA:
The car has changed since Catalunya, but you know what our goals are. Our rallies are a bit stronger and testing before the rallies is good. Starting at home in Sweden is good for the confidence and it’s nice to show what the car can do. Even if the car’s not quick, I’ll be faster than the Citroen drivers. It’s easy! The same drivers will be fighting: it will be Guy and me, then the same guys from last year – there can be five or six of us.

Q:
You said that last year was mostly a learning year for you. Now that you have some knowledge of the events, which sort of objectives have you set for yourself this year?
MP:
I would like to try to drive faster than before, but the project is for three years. This year is a big step. I have a faster car and bigger team. I don’t know if I’m ready to make some big results yet.

Q:
What’s it like driving on home territory? Is it special for you? Does coming from Sweden give you an advantage over the other drivers?
PGA:
I’ve done it before, but not in the Junior Championship. It’s a big opportunity for me to show what we can do on the Swedish ice and snow. I hope to get a good result and hope to be on top of the podium on Sunday night. We will not be slacking off. We have rallies in Greece and Cyprus where the roads are in really bad condition, driving on the smooth roads here is easier – you just have to get the gears in.

Q:
Like most of the JWRC drivers, you have never driven this rally before. How difficult do you think it will be to get to grips with driving on snow?
MP:
Before I think it’s easier; after shakedown, it’s harder than I thought. It’s very fast and I don’t know how to race here. It’s very, very fast. It’s crazy!

Rally Preview

This week the FIA World Rally Championship will swap the French Riviera for the snow-bound forests of southern Scandinavia when it heads to Sweden for round two of the 16-round series, the Swedish Rally. The event, commencing with a ceremonial start on Thursday 2 February from its base in the small university town of Karlstad, is the only true winter rally in the WRC. While it’s not unusual for temperatures in the area to plummet to minus 30°C at this time of year, full snow conditions are by no means guaranteed. Last year the event was run in relatively mild conditions, giving a real mix of road conditions, including snow, ice and sections of frozen gravel. 

The Swedish Rally remains a specialist event that demands a totally different approach from other rallies. With top speeds approaching 200kph, the ability to use the snow banks is essential and drivers ‘lean’ their cars against them on the exits of fast corners to help guide them round at maximum speed. To increase the grip, cars are run on narrow snow tyres fitted with tungsten carbide tipped studs that cut down through the icy surface to provide maximum traction. Local knowledge of the conditions still counts for a lot though – in fact only one non-Scandinavian driver has won the event in the last 53 years, Sebastien Loeb in 2004. 

Former world champion and Swedish Rally legend Stig Blomqvist deserves special mention, as this will be his 40th time competing on this event. Blomqvist, who will be 60-year-old on 29 July 2006, is also the record holder for the most victories in one event of the World Championship. The Swede won his home event seven times. His first victory came in 1971 at the wheel of a Swedish made Saab 96. 

Team Previews:

Manufacturer 1: Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team / Citroën Xsara WRC
1 Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (F/MC)
2 Xavier Pons / Carlos del Barrio (E)

After a fantastic result in one of the most challenging Monte Carlos in years, the Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team finds itself at the foot of the Northern face of the championship. For this untypical event, which the Belgian team urges to discover, one 2006-Xsara will be entered for the two times World Champions Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, and a second one for their teammates Xavier Pons and Carlos Del Barrio. Like in Monte Carlo, Daniel Sordo and Marc Marti will also be present. The Junior World Champion will compete behind the wheel of a 2005-Xsara, rented by Kronos Racing to the Spaniard. Like before the Monte Carlo, most of the preparation work on the Xsara WRC has been conducted by Citroën Sport. It consisted in adapting the 2006 car to the Swedish special stages, especially the front and rear differentials. After a test session at mid-December, Sébastien Loeb found a balanced and reactive car, showing a good handling. As usual, after finetuning the set-up, the BFGoodrich range of ‘Ice' tyres has been tried methodically. The Kronos Total Citroën WRT and its crews are ready. 

Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: Loeb on his Monte accident and recovery: "On spot, I really believed that everything was over! I insulted myself mentally. I thought about the lead we had built during the first leg, about the championship which wasn't starting the best way... in a word a big disappointment. Then we rang the team and they asked us how damaged the car was and then 'Bing'! As I had never competed in SupeRally before, I simply didn't think about it at all. I realised it wasn't really over yet. I ran back down to the car to check it carefully and Daniel [Elena - my co-driver] started to calculate how much time penalty my mistake will cost us. Our motivation went up again. The next day when we left the service park, we were quite pleased as the good side of this situation was that we had almost nothing to lose. It was 'no limits' - just to stay on the road and set good times. Actually, this recovery and this incredible finale made this Monte Carlo the most exciting we experienced." Sweden: "You really have to fight to loose as less time as possible, with studded tyre that the fresh snow stops from working efficiently and with a car difficult to handle." 

Xavier Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: "I like this rally which I know quite well now. Of course for a Latin driver, the conditions aren't the best to perform. But I really enjoy driving on these very fast roads. It will be the championship's second round and I hope to score valuable points in spite of the fact I've never driven a WRC in such conditions and that I have everything to learn of the Xsara on snow. hope to progress throughout the rally. I feel really well in the team where everybody is very welcoming. The advice of Seb' and the trust that Marc van Dalen has given me make me want to do the best I can. I've understood what this extraordinary team is expecting and I will try not to deceive anyone."

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

As Finns, opening round winners Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen and team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen will feel comfortable in the snow and ice that makes this one of the most specialised rounds of the year. Both will drive the 2006-specification Ford Focus RS World Rally Car which won on its first full competitive outing in the French Alps earlier this month to power Grönholm and the BP-Ford World Rally Team into the lead of the drivers' and manufacturers' standings. Both tested in Sweden before Christmas, the first time either had climbed behind the wheel of the new car.

Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: It is Grönholm's favourite rally, and one that he was won three times from 13 starts, and he would love nothing more than to celebrate his 38th birthday on the winners' podium on Sunday afternoon. "There's no doubt, the best way to celebrate my birthday would be with champagne on the winner's podium, but we have a lot of work to do before I can think about that," he said. "Sweden is the best rally in the championship when the conditions are good. To drive flat out on the snow and ice with such good grip from the studded tyres is really enjoyable. The car seems to float across the surface. "It's not so different driving on snow and ice compared with gravel. On the longer stages it is important to look after the tyres because if the studs start to pull out or move around, then you have to ease the pace. I had a good feeling with the Focus RS in the test and I hope to regain that during the shakedown ahead of the start on Thursday morning," he added. The cold weather should ensure that the frozen snow banks which line the forest tracks are there to provide a safety net for drivers. Drivers often 'lean' their cars into them to guide them around corners at maximum speed. "I don't try to use them that much but when you enter a corner too fast they can be a help. The problem is that a driver can't rely on them. If temperatures aren't cold enough to freeze the snow properly, instead of bouncing off the banks, cars can be dragged into the snow or plough through them and off the road," added Grönholm. 

Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: This will be Hirvonen's fourth start in Sweden and the 25-year-old is confident of a strong result. "I really enjoy this event and I will push hard from the start," he said. "I think it's possible to fight for a podium. If there is fresh snow overnight on Thursday, then we have an excellent start position for Friday. It will allow the new snow to be cleared off the road and give us a cleaner drive. "In winter conditions a driver can afford to let the tyres do more of the work than on gravel. You can slide the car more than and the studs are so good that in some places the grip is just as good as on a loose gravel surface," added Hirvonen.

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 will enter two Impreza WRC2006 cars in the Swedish Rally. Having contested the event seven times in previous years, Petter Solberg finally achieved his dream of winning the rally he considers his ‘home’ event last year. He is aiming to repeat the win this year. Chris Atkinson will drive the second car, his first competitive outing in the Impreza WRC2006. Chris made his Swedish Rally debut last year, his first rally with the Subaru team. In other news Subaru announced that Chris Atkinson will contest Rally Ireland this year, a candidate event for inclusion in the 2007 World Rally Championship. 

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "At the moment it’s very exciting to see how the car and set-up perform in competitive conditions. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to show how good the car was in Monte Carlo, but the feeling is good. I hope we have a good chance to get the same result as last year in Sweden. This would just be brilliant as there will be a lot of people I know and a lot of support from Norway. I view this rally just like Rally Japan – as my home event." 

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "We’re obviously looking forward to the Swedish Rally, as it’s one of the most enjoyable rallies of the year for a driver. However it’s still a specialist event and although we’ll be aiming for a good result, we’ll still have to tread carefully. This will be my first rally with the new car, although I got a good feel for it when we tested in Sweden earlier this year. I’m quite happy with the performance but we’ve got a lot more learning to do. For this rally, a realistic goal is to get in the top six. There will be a lot of local drivers who know the conditions and roads well, however we’ll aim to be towards the front."

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

The result of the OMV Team Stohl/Minor in Monte Carlo (4th overall place) has raised expectations of the OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team. Four days prior to the second WRC-run of the season tests on snow surface were completed in Norway. Thus Stohl and Solberg were able to complete 150 kilometres on ice and snow on Sunday on a four-kilometres-long test course, thereby emulating perfectly “Swedish” conditions. Naturally, the main focus was on the tyres: only 135 mm wide and equipped with 330 spikes of a length between 5,5 and 7 mm.

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: Stohl on testing: "The organisation of the tests was impeccable. Bozian Racing is doing a thoroughly perfect job and the people in charge in Norway were incredibly friendly and cooperative." "The tyres will decide this rally for although everybody will use the same kind of tyres there are huge differences as far as the durability of the spikes is concerned." Manfred Stohl will start Sweden in third position on the road. Stohl: "This is no disadvantage given the icy temperatures. Still, my goal for Sweden remains a top-8 place, for you have a lot of local heroes competing here who know each metre and have trained on this surface since they started rallying. But my feeling for the car is getting better by the day."

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: Sweden is almost a home rally for Norwegian Henning Solberg. It is the eighth time off the starting ramp in Karlstad for the OMV driver. Therefore he has high expectations on his second outing with the OMV Peugeot Norway WRT. Solberg: "Monte Carlo was completely unchartered territory and we made the wrong choice of tyres several times. That shouldn’t happen to us in Sweden. I know this rally inside out and want to be up front with the best. The tests have shown that I’ve got the right feeling for the car."

Manufacturer 2: Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC04
9 Matthew Wilson / Michael Orr (GB)
10 Kosti Katajamäki / Timo Alanne (FIN)

Just over a week after finishing one of the toughest rallies of his short career, 18-year-old Cumbrian Matthew Wilson will step up to the plate again for round two of the World Rally Championship in Sweden. 

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: “Unlike the last round in Monte Carlo, I have got a vague idea of what to expect from this rally. I did three snow rallies in Finland a little over a year ago, so I have driven on the stuff before. Again, it’s going to be an amazing experience to arrive at the second WRC round knowing that I’m part of it all. One of the differences to Monte will be the speed, it’s so quick in Sweden – nothing like some of the slower hairpins on round one. This will be flat-out motoring. When I drove on snow in Finland the thing which amazed me most was the grip. Everybody tells you it’s the same as gravel, but until you’re in there and drifting the car at some incredible speeds, you can’t believe it. It’s probably the braking that really gets me, though. Because the snow builds up in front of the wheel to slow you down even more, you can brake harder and later than you would ever have thought possible. It’s going to be another fantastic experience!” 

Kosti Katajamaki/Timo Alanne: “ I have driven a World Rally Car before, when I tackled the Finnish Championship last year. The entry for this event is very strong this week, so it’s hard to predict what would be a good result. Really I need experience of the car, so a finish with some good times in the stages would be nice for me. Like Matthew, I'm still getting used to this car. I did the Arctic Rally just over a week ago, but that was in an older Focus. Okay, I won that rally, but I wasn't so happy with my driving – I made too many mistakes for my liking. It was good for me to have some idea on the set-up of the car and I have brought some of those ideas with me to this rally. I've worked a little bit on the set-up this morning, but nothing too big. It's easy to make many changes to the set-up of the car and then maybe end up going the wrong way. It's really difficult to say what kind of a result I could expect from here. I want to get to the finish without any problems.”

Malcolm Wilson, Driver Principal
“It's great to see both of the young guys out enjoying their driving this morning. I remember from when I did this event, it was an absolute pleasure to drive here. It was always one of my favourite rounds of the world championship. Like last time, it's going to be a bit of a baptism of fire for Matthew, but like he says he will have much more constant grip than he had on the last rally – and that should give him more confidence.”

Manufacturer 2: Red Bull Skoda Team / Skoda Fabia WRC05
11 Andreas Aigner / Timo Timo Gottschalk (A/D)
12 Mattias Ekström / Stefan Bergman (S)

the team is looking to repeat or even improve upon the results of Monte Carlo, where both cars were able to finish and score points. If anyone is able to achieve that goal, it has to be Mattias Ekstrom. The 2004 DTM champion is a huge fan of rallying and has already shown in the past that he is very proficient at his snowy home event. He won the production class in 2004 and finished tenth overall in 2005 driving a Skoda Fabia WRC. 

Mattias Ekstrom/Stefan Bergman: "I am very motivated for this year's event, I know the car and the stages as well. Consequently it should be possible to improve last year's result and finish in the points." 

Andreas Aigner/Timo Gottschalk: Andreas Aigner has to break completely new ground in Sweden after his first assignment in Monte Carlo: "This means starting all over, I am an absolute beginner in Sweden, and I will have to try an approach similar to Monte Carlo. It is most important not to make any serious mistake and stay in the rally. I am particularly happy that Timo Gottschalk will be back after his ailment. I would like to take the opportunity and thank Klaus Wicha for filling in for Timo in Monte Carlo."

Event Timetable

Thursday 2 February: Ceremonial Start

Start Main Square, Karlstad 19.00

Friday 3 February: Leg 1 Hagfors - Hagfors

Start Hagfors 06.50
SS1 Fredriksberg 1 18.14km 08.01
SS2 Lejen 1 26.47km 09.01
Serv A Hagfors (30 mins) 10.28
SS3 Fredriksberg 2 18.14km 12.09
SS4 Lejen 2 26.47km 13.09
Serv B Hagfors (30 mins) 14.46
SS5 Vargåsen 1 39.95km 15.49
SS6 Hagfors Sprint 1 1.87km 17.07
Serv C Hagfors (45 mins) 17.37
Finish Hagfors 18.48

Saturday 4 February: Leg 2 Hagfors - Hagfors

Start Hagfors 06.50
Serv D Hagfors (10 mins) 07.10
SS7 Hara 1 11.32km 08.00
SS8 Sundsjön 1 20.78km 09.06
Serv E Hagfors (30 mins) 09.43
SS9 Likenäs 21.78km 11.37
SS10 Hara 2 11.32km 12.34
SS11 Sundsjön 2 20.78km 13.49
Serv F Hagfors (30 mins) 14.36
SS12 Vargåsen 2 39.95km 15.39
SS13 Hagfors Sprint 2 1.87km 16.57
Serv G Hagfors (45 mins) 17.27
Finish Hagfors 18.38

Sunday 5 February: Leg 3 Hagfors - Karlstad

Start Hagfors 06.30
Serv H Hagfors (10 mins) 06.50
SS14 Lesjöfors 1 10.49km 07.58
SS15 Rämmen 1 23.35km 08.30
SS16 Malta 1 11.25km 09.21
Serv I Hagfors (30 mins) 10.01
SS17 Lesjöfors 2 10.49km 11.29
SS18 Rämmen 2 23.35km 12.01
SS19 Malta 2 11.25km 12.52
Serv J Hagfors (20 mins) 13.22
Finish Karlstad 15.02

Leading positions after the first day of the rally:

1 Marcus Gronholm (FIN) Ford 1:12:29.8 hours
2 Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Citroen + 10.2 seconds
3 Gigi Galli (ITA) Mitsubishi + 57.5 sec
4 Daniel Carlsson (SWE) Mitsubishi + 1:03.0 minutes
5 Mattias Ekstrom (SWE) Skoda Fabia WRC + 1:22.4 min
6 Manfred Stohl (AUT) Peugeot + 1:28.7 min
7 Henning Solberg (NOR) Peugeot + 1:40.3
8 Kristian Sohlberg (FIN) Subaru + 1:48.4 min
9 Janne Tuohino (FIN) Citroen + 1:51.4 min
10 Thomas Radstrom (SWE) Subaru + 2:11.4 min,

Leg 1 News

Ford driver Marcus Grönholm leads the three-day Uddeholm Swedish Rally, the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship, after today’s first leg of competition. The Finnish former World Champion, who won the Rallye Monte Carlo two weeks ago, took the lead after the first of the day’s six stages and overnights with a 10.2 second advantage. Reigning World Champion Sébastien Loeb holds second in a Citroën Xsara and the Frenchman could well have been just tenths of a second adrift of Grönholm, but for a 10 second lateness penalty which he picked up when the bonnet of the Xsara flew open before the start of the second stage. Petter Solberg had a difficult day. A broken rear drive-shaft saw him lose nearly a minute in the opening stage and a further two minutes in the second test of the day. The Norwegian Subaru driver then suffered gear selection problems this afternoon and overnights in 21st position. Third overnight is Gigi Galli in a privately-run Mitsubishi. The Italian won one of the day’s stages but is nearly a minute adrift of Grönholm after 131 kilometres of competition.

Team News:

Manufacturer 1: Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team / Citroën Xsara WRC
1 Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (F/MC)
2 Xavier Pons / Carlos del Barrio (E)

Marcus Grönholm and Sébastien Loeb returned to parc ferme just 10.2 seconds separeting them, in favour of the Finn. To fully understand the extent of their epic duel, it is enough to look at the Vargåsen stage : at 39.95 kilometres the longest of the entire rally. Crowds of spectators line the route to witness spectacles such as ‘Colin's crest' – the most famous jump of the rally. After 20 minutes and 45 seconds of relentless driving, Seb and co-driver Daniel Elena beat Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen by 0.8 of a second ! By grabbing another 0.6 seconds at the ‘Hagfors Sprint' superspecial, the reigning World Champions were able to reduce the gap to Grönholm to just 10.2 seconds.  This gap had previously been 19 seconds after the Xsara crew picked up a 10 second penalty for starting SS2 late. This was caused by difficulties in closing the bonnet, after it was opened to remove the light pod used on the opening stage. A mistake in fastening it meant that it flew open before the start of SS2, smashing the windscreen, and it was difficult to secure again. 

Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "We are all lucky to have experienced perfect conditions, which are really enjoyable to drive on. I'm pushing at my maximum and so is Marcus, to judge by the state of the snow banks in front of me ! Being the hunter rather than the hunted is never a bad situation to be in. And we are looking forward to continuing the fight tomorrow."

Xavier Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: "The first loop of stages was a bit tricky. Compared to the Group N car I drove here three years ago, the Xsara is in another world. I needed to find a good feeling, particularly when it came to braking. My gap to Seb started off at 2 seconds per kilometre, but I halved that on the second run through the stages. I want to carry on at that pace while bearing in mind my main objective of bringing the Kronos team the maximum number of constructors' points at the finish."

Dani Sordo/Marc Marti: " I will judge my day by the progress I make over all the stages.  I've made good progress, so it's been a good day ! Apart from a tyre choice on the second loop of stages that could have been better, we made no mistakes. My feeling with the car is excellent. Driving on ice and snow over these really fast stages is great fun and very educational. It's been fantastic, and now I just can't wait for tomorrow. "

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

Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen lead the Swedish Rally after today's ice-bound opening leg in the frozen forests of Värmland. The Finns led from the very first kilometre in the same Ford Focus RS World Rally Car with which they won the Rallye Monte Carlo two weeks ago. They hold a 10.2 second advantage tonight over Sebastien Loeb. Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen were equally impressive in a similar Focus RS and held third throughout the day. However, an overheating engine forced them to stop on the penultimate speed test. It is not yet known whether they will be able to restart tomorrow under SupeRally regulations. 

The 37-year-old Finn opted for long studs in BFGoodrich's skinny winter tyres to bite into the ice and provide maximum traction. It proved the perfect option as he raced to fastest time on the first two tests in the Focus RS. Despite a spin early on the next test, Grönholm maintained his lead and set second fastest time on each of the final three tests. He and Loeb were so evenly matched that no more than 0.8sec covered the trio on any of the final three stages. Hirvonen was third on the opening two stages and maintained his position on the second pass through the tests. However, the 25-year-old Finn stopped just 2km from the end of the 39.95km Vargåsen stage, the longest of the rally. It is believed the overheating was caused when the alternator drive belt failed.

Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: " I made a small mistake at the first junction and nearly went off the road. I was going too quickly and almost got stuck in a snowbank. I had to put the car into first gear and use full throttle to get out. I thought there would be more snow on the roads being first car to start the stages, but there wasn't so much and there was quite a clean line. There are more snowbanks by the edge of the road this year and so the corners seem tighter than in 2005 when there wasn't much snow. We have pushed really hard all day. It's motivating to have such a big fight with Loeb, although I would be happier with a larger gap. The tyres were incredible on the long 40km stage tonight. We lost no studs and the grip remained perfect all the way. I've made a few small mistakes in the snowbanks but nothing too serious. It will be a big battle tomorrow and we will see if I can find any more speed," 

Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "I lost my confidence a little on the second stage and made a few mistakes. Conditions were tricky on the repeat run because there was a lot of snow on the road from the passage of the cars behind us the first time through. The ruts were quite deep. As a result I was unsure about the traction and grip in the braking areas. I leaned the car on the snowbanks quite often, but that is part of the driving technique here. It was such a shame because that was a great stage and I was going so well. I entered a corner and the alternator warning light came on and the water temperature went up. I radioed the team and they told me to stop immediately so as not to damage the engine." 

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

Leg one of Rally Sweden proved disappointing and frustrating for Subaru World Rally Team drivers Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson. Last year's winner Solberg ended the day 21st overall after mechanical problems prevented him from showing the potential of the new Impreza WRC2006. An impressive start for Chris Atkinson came to an end on the first corner of SS3 when a collision with a tree broke his car's power steering rack. Atkinson paid a heavy price for the mistake and dropped more than five minutes as he negotiated the rest of the loop with no power assistance. He ended the day in 26th place.

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "It's such a shame that we weren't able to get the result we wanted today. The new car felt incredible yesterday and I was really excited about putting it to the test this morning. We've suffered more than our fair share of problems today and now we're in a position where we can't do anything other than test for the future. Of course we'll do what we can to learn and make the most of this opportunity but overall it's very disappointing."

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "The day started out very well, and we were happy with the speed at the beginning but unfortunately a small mistake, and then the power steering problem as a result, cost us a lot of time. Otherwise I really think we could be in a position for a podium - the car and the tyres felt very good. I've just got to move on now and try to learn more over the rest of the weekend. It's a shame though; this was one of the events we were looking to get experience on and maybe a strong finish. In fact, it turned out that with our speed that we could have been heading for a really good result. I hope we can make more of the potential in Mexico."

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 successfully started into the Uddeholm Swedish Rally. The Austrian OMV duo Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor in the Peugeot 307 WRC lies in sixth place after six of 19 special stages. This in spite of a moment of shock on special stage two when spectators crossed the course. OMV teammate Henning Solberg gained momentum after initial problems and finished the first leg of the second run to the FIA World Rally Championship in excellent seventh place. This means that the two Peugeot 307 WRCs employed by Bozian Racing would currently score points in the manufacturers championship. The Uddeholm Swedisch Rally began extremely well for Manfred Stohl despite comparatively low expectations. The 33-year-old OMV driver achieved fourth best time on special stage one. But SS 2 held an unpleasant surprise in store. Sebastien Loeb entered the stage with a one-minute delay. Therefore the interval between the World Champion and the OMV driver was only one minute. Since spectators reckoned on the usual two minutes, some changed their positions by crossing the course. Thus Stohl/Minor not only had to pay attention to the slippery surface but also to the traversing spectators. Henning Solberg wanted to keep up with the top right from stage one and pushed too hard – resulting in a spin. The Norwegian OMV driver lost some time and it took a while to find the right rhythm again. But at the end of the day the brother of the World Champion 2003 gained momentum and several top times brought him up to seventh overall place. 

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: The rally is as difficult as we expected it to be but we are doing fine. Our current ranking also means a better starting position for Saturday. The rally is not over by far."

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "The spin was definitely superfluous. We had wanted to give our all right from the beginning. In the end there were a lot of tracks on the course. If you drive at full speed in such a situation the spikes start to loosen and you continually lose grip."

Manufacturer 2: Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC04
9 Matthew Wilson / Michael Orr (GB)
10 Kosti Katajamäki / Timo Alanne (FIN)

Nineteen-year-old Cumbrian Matthew Wilson has emerged unscathed from his first day's competition in the freezing conditions on the Swedish Rally, round two of this year's World Rally Championship. Team team-mate Kosti Katajamaki (Finland) made it through without problems. Kosti started this event on the back of fine victory on the Arctic Rally, the opening round of his domestic championship. He was looking to put that experience to good use in Sweden, but admitted he had found the going tough early in leg one.

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "I've really learned a lot today. We've had some fantastic conditions to drive in, but at the same time, stage three was pretty tough going. Before that, we stalled on the last hairpin of SS2. It was quite frustrating, I could see the finish line, but I was sat there trying to fire the car up again to get over it. That third stage was really rutted, it was difficult to keep the car in the ruts on some of the longer corners. I have to say, I didn't enjoy that so much. Then in stage four, it was much quicker and really flowing. Great fun. The long one (SS5) was good, but on the road back to Hagfors, for the final stage, the car dropped onto three cylinders. Michael (Orr, co-driver) and I got out and changed the coil on the car, but that didn't help. We were going to change the spark plugs, but we ran out of time, so we decided to go in and do the short stage with the car on three cylinders. We made it through and back to service, where the boys had the chance to work on it. It's a shame about that problem, because otherwise it's been a good day.

Kosti Katajamaki/Timo Alanne: "I was definitely trying to drive the car too aggressively this morning. We were very sideways in places, too much sideways. In the longest stage (SS5) I really calmed myself down; much more precise with the car. I was much happier after that stage, I managed to get some of the time back to the group of drivers ahead. We're just outside the top 10, but not such a long way away from the places ahead."

Manufacturer 2: Red Bull Skoda Team / Skoda Fabia WRC05
11 Andreas Aigner / Timo Timo Gottschalk (A/D)
12 Mattias Ekström / Stefan Bergman (S)

Both Skoda Fabia WRCs were in perfect shape despite the difficult conditions, there were no problems to speak of, correspondingly the day's summary turns out positive. DTM star Mattias Ekstrom started his home event with a very consistent performance and concluded the day to the delight of his compatriots as second-best Swede overall. Despite his mishap on SS3 which had cost him two minutes, Andreas Aigner knew how to appeal. He posted fast times consistently and was able to gain a lot of experience on his first competitive day in Sweden. The mechanics under the watchful eyes of Dietmar Metrich had little to do today: "We didn't have to replace a single part, both Fabia WRCs have been working flawlessly. I am hoping for a similar performance tomorrow." The team managers Armin Schwarz and Raimund Baumschlager are optimistic as well after the first day in Sweden: "What pleases us the most is the potential of the Fabia WRC. The car is competitive enough to fight for top positions. The performance Mattias has shown is really impressive, but Andreas Aigner also has done a good job so far."

Mattias Ekstrom/Stefan Bergman: "Everything went almost perfectly for me. Just after the start of the rally I had some troubles communicating with my co-pilot and then I did not choose the right tyres for SS4. The Fabia worked flawlessly, I really enjoyed driving the car as I wanted to without having to take any risk. I expect a similar performance on Saturday."

Andreas Aigner/Timo Gottschalk: "This is an absolutely wicked rally! It is loads of fun to drive here, especially on the ice and snow, sometimes mixed with a bit of gravel. I will try again tomorrow to keep the pace without making too many mistakes, and to improve on my position along the way."

Leading positions after the second day of the rally:

1. M Grönholm/T Rautiainen FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 21min 51.9sec
2. S Loeb/D Elena F Citroen Xsara 2hr 22min 17.0sec
3. D Carlsson/B Holmstrand S Mitsubishi Lancer 2hr 24min 24.6sec
4. G Galli/G Bernacchini I Mitsubishi Lancer 2hr 24min 24.9sec
5. M Ekström/S Bergman S Skoda Fabia 2hr 25min 20.0sec
6. J Tuohino/R Pietilainen FIN Citroen Xsara 2hr 25min 20.1sec
7. T Rådström/J Skallman S Subaru Impreza 2hr 26min 18.4sec
8 H Solberg/C Menkerud N Peugeot 307 2hr 27min 06.5sec
9 K Katajamäki/T Alane FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 27min 46.9sec
10 X Pons/C Del Barrio E Citroen Xsara 2hr 28min 09.1sec

Leg 2 News

Marcus Grönholm, three-time winner of the Uddeholm Swedish Rally, continues to head the leaderboard after the second day of competition. The Ford driver once again dominated the leg, winning five of the seven stages to increase his lead to 25.1 seconds with 90 kilometres of competition remaining on Sunday. Nearest rival Sébastien Loeb (Citroën Xsara) claimed the remaining two stage victories, but was otherwise unable to match the pace of the Finn. He overnights in second. The battle for third position is as fierce as ever, with Mitsubishi Lancer privateers Daniel Carlsson and Gigi Galli trading positions throughout the day. While Galli slips from third to fourth overnight, the Italian is however just three-tenths of a second behind the local talent.

Mattias Ekström (Skoda) endured a frustrating day. A small off this morning was followed by an electrical problem this afternoon but after dropping to seventh from an overnight fifth, the Swede recovered to fifth, just 0.1sec ahead of Janne Tuohino (Citroen). Henning Solberg (Peugeot) climbed to sixth before losing 1min 45sec after rolling in stage 11. After hitting a snow bank and sliding down the road upside down, he and co-driver Cato Menkerud were forced to drive the rest of the stage and liaison section back to service in sub-zero temperatures with no windscreen and the car full of snow. They drop just one position to eighth. Team-mate Manfred Stohl retired on the same stage after crashing into a ditch and ripping a wheel from the car. Petter Solberg's (Subaru) troubled rally continued. He dropped 45 seconds with gearbox problems on stage nine, slid into a snowbank on the following test and hit a steel post on the last stage, damaging the right steering arm and losing a further 2min 30sec. He is 14th.  Kristian Sohlberg (Subaru) retired from seventh at the final service with engine problems.

Team News:

Manufacturer 1: Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team / Citroën Xsara WRC
1 Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (F/MC)
2 Xavier Pons / Carlos del Barrio (E)

Despite temperatures that were well below freezing, the sun shone on a battle between Marcus Grönholm and Sébastien Loeb that was as hot as ever, givingthe thousands of fans who flocked to the forests something to remember. The warring duo shared the spoils on the stages today. By winning the first five tests, Marcus took his lead to 28.1s. However, Sébastien quickly replied by setting fastest times on Vargåsen and the Hagfors Sprint stage, bringing the gap back down to 25.1s overnight.

Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "We have been pushing hard all day. When he feels at one with his car Marcus is a formidable adversary, and that seems to be the case here. On the whole, I reckon he was slightly quicker than us throughout the day. Furthermore I think I made two mistakes with tyre choice. I did not have the long studs when I needed them in the first loop of stages, and then I put them on for the second loop of stages when just the standard studs would have been better. Having said that, it is far from all over. I'm going to be pushing my hardest from the start of tomorrow, in order to pile on the pressure."

Xavier Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: "I found a rhythm that I felt comfortable with. My progress is not as quick as I might have hoped. But it's very real, both in terms of the times I am setting and also for my confidence. I am keeping a firm eye on the manufacturers' championship points I could score. I am currently on three, and I am going to do everything I can to protect them."

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 dominated today's second leg of the Swedish Rally to extend their advantage at the top of the leaderboard. They won five of the day's seven speed tests in the frozen forests of central Sweden to arrive at the final overnight halt with a 25.1 second lead in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car.

Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: "I stalled at the beginning of the penultimate stage and didn't really have a clean run but only dropped a couple of seconds to Sebastien. There are many kilometres remaining and you can never have enough of a lead. But I will continue to drive normally tomorrow and so long as we do not encounter any problems, then everything should be OK".

Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "I've not pushed hard and so I'm pleased with my times. I think there wasn't quite as much turbo boost as we had yesterday. The first stage this morning was twisty so I didn't notice it but the next contained a lot of long, fast straights and the car didn't seem as powerful. But that's OK because we can't score a good result now so my target was to test and the car was fine for that. We learned a lot about the tyres and studs which should help Marcus' tyre choice tomorrow."

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

After a problematic Leg one for the Subaru World Rally Team, Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson's main focus for today's second Leg was testing and development work. Experimenting with different car settings, Petter made an impressive start to the day and recorded top three times on the morning's loop of three stages. He ended the Leg in 14th place after losing time with a gearshift problem and steering damage later in the day. Atkinson too made the most of the opportunity to learn on the icy roads. He improved on his Leg one position of 26th overall and will begin tomorrow's final leg in 13th place.

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "Well, we've had a few good stages today. Our pace over the first four was okay and, until the gearbox problem in the afternoon, things were looking promising. Of course, after yesterday's difficulties, we've concentrated a lot of our efforts on testing and learning for the future. So, in that respect we've had a useful day. Finding the metal pole in the snow bank on the last stage was unfortunate but it would have been much worse if we'd found it when we were fighting for a win. We're keeping our spirits up and hope to learn more out on the stages tomorrow."

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "For us it's been a day of testing and learning things. We've been trying different tyres and set-ups to Petter and seeing the difference. Sometimes that has worked well, other times it's not been so great, but that's the way to learn."

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

It was a jinxed eleventh special stage for the OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team at the "Uddeholm Swedish Rally". First Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud's Peugeot 307 WRC overturned just two kilometres short of the finish. Thanks to the help of fans they were able to complete the stage. Bozian Racing did a perfect job at the service zone and the OMV duo finished leg two in ninth place. Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor had less luck. After their accident the engine died and couldn't be restarted. Blessing in disguise for OMV Peugeot Norway Team: all four drivers remained unharmed.

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "We went on for another fifty metres but then the engine died and we couldn't restart it. I suppose that the drive shaft was damaged and a cable had snapped, as well. The fans were right there and immediately began to help us. This time around it was the 'Peugeot corner' where we met our fate - too bad, for up to then everything had been going great"

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "The snowbanks were missing in this right turn. The car started to slither across, our front got hit and we took off to the left. During the rollover the windshield broke and we got loads of snow in the car. I really must thank the fans - they helped us turn the car back over and therefore we were able to finish the stage."

Manufacturer 2: Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC04
9 Matthew Wilson / Michael Orr (GB)
10 Kosti Katajamäki / Timo Alanne (FIN)

After another tricky day on the frozen stages in central Sweden, Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team drivers Matthew Wilson and Kosti Katajamaki are poised to score their first ever manufacturer points in the World Rally Championship.

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "We were in the middle of the tenth stage when I had my problem. It wasn't really an off as such. Basically we were in the ruts, like we had been - and you have to be - on all of the re-run stages. Maybe we had braked a tiny bit late, but the car jumped out of the ruts and understeered off the road. We actually landed on top of the bank, a bank where there weren't many spectators. More people came and helped to lift the car off the bank and put it down on the road, it was amazing to see them lifting the car. I have to say a big thanks to those people, without them I don't think we'd have been able to get back on the road.

Kosti Katajamaki/Timo Alanne: "It's always tough to drive a rally car without power steering, it's so heavy on the arms. The spin was nothing to do with the power steering problem, though. We were going to fast for the corner, it was my fault. Then on the second run through the long stage - Vargasen - we started to have some studs coming out of the tyres. We were losing a bit of traction. I was a little bit disappointed with this stage, and to be honest with my overall position in the rally, but okay we are ready to try and set some good times tomorrow."

Manufacturer 2: Red Bull Skoda Team / Skoda Fabia WRC05
11 Andreas Aigner / Timo Timo Gottschalk (A/D)
12 Mattias Ekström / Stefan Bergman (S)

Arctic temperatures again on the second day of the Uddeholm Swedish Rally near Hagfors at 21 degrees centigrade below zero. The stages were firmly frozen, which led to several incidents with corresponding damage to the bodywork. So far, the second WRC event of the season plays out to be very satisfying for Red Bull Skoda. Mattias Ekstrom is in fifth place overall after 13 special stages completed and is consequently in a position to bring home points for Skoda, both in the drivers' and the manufacturers' championships.

Mattias Ekstrom/Stefan Bergman: "The car felt comfortable the whole day long. If you look at the stage times, you realise how close this rally is fought. I stalled the engine on the last stage and lost eleven seconds just like that. Tiny mistakes may cost you one or even two positions. It's like a roller coaster. That's why it's so important to stay error-free yet swift on Sunday."

Andreas Aigner/Timo Gottschalk: "Sometimes you lose time when you are off-course and you have to wait for spectators to push you back. Apart from that I am happy with the times I achieved, but on the final test I had a misfire. Still, the most important thing for me is that I can learn extremely much here. Every kilometre is helping me - and in order to maximize my total mileage, tomorrow I will try to get to the finish in Karlstad."

Final positions after the third day of the rally:

1. M Grönholm/T Rautiainen FIN Ford Focus RS 3hr 09min 01.9sec
2. S Loeb/D Elena F Citroen Xsara 3hr 09min 32.8sec
3. D Carlsson/B Holmstrand S Mitsubishi Lancer 3hr 11min 58.7sec
4. G Galli/G Bernacchini I Mitsubishi Lancer 3hr 12min 05.7sec
5. T Rådström/J Skallman S Subaru Impreza 3hr 14min 55.2sec
6. K Katajamäki/T Alane FIN Ford Focus RS 3hr 16min 36.7sec
7. X Pons/C Del Barrio E Citroen Xsara 3hr 17min 37.5sec
8. H Solberg/C Menkerud N Peugeot 307 3hr 18min 03.4sec
9. J Joge/M Andersson S Peugeot 206 3hr 18min 19.1sec
10 J Tuohino/R Pietilainen FIN Citroen Xsara 3hr 18min 44.9sec

Leg 3 News

Marcus Grönholm and co-driver Timo Rautiainen claimed their fourth victory in the Uddeholm Swedish Rally, which finished in Karlstad today. The crew, who also won the opening round in Monte Carlo two weeks ago in their debut outing with Ford, led the three-day event from start to finish and claimed a winning margin of 30.9 seconds after 349 kilometers of competition. Their victory, on Grönholm’s 38th birthday, also represents Ford’s 50th world rally win. The Finnish double World Champion did however have two scares today, firstly when the car failed to re-start early this morning, and then when a filter exploded and hydraulic oil poured onto the windscreen. Nevertheless, the Finn maintained his advantage throughout and takes a four-point advantage in the FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers after two rounds.

Reigning World Champion Sébastien Loeb finished second in a Citroën Xsara after a trouble-free run to the finish, but the battle for the final podium position was fiercely fought between Sweden’s Daniel Carlsson and Italian Gigi Galli. The two Mitsubishi privateer drivers have traded positions throughout the rally and were split by mere tenths of a second over today’s closing stages. Carlsson ultimately took third, with Galli seven seconds adrift in fourth. Petter Solberg’s woes continued with starter motor problems and he was finally excluded when he was unable to start the penultimate stage within the permitted time. Swedish DTM driver Mattias Ekström (Škoda Fabia) was also forced out from fifth position when he crashed into a snow bank and crushed the radiator. The Citroen provateer driver Janne Tuohino took that place, but he was forced to retire just 500 m before the end of the last SS, when engine broken. 

Team News:

Manufacturer 1: Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team / Citroën Xsara WRC
1 Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (F/MC)
2 Xavier Pons / Carlos del Barrio (E)

If speed-skating in a World Rally Car were an Olympic sport, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena would have been deserving recipients of a silver medal. And thanks to an excellent seventh place from Xevi Pons and Carlos Del Barrio, the Kronos Citroen World Rally Team would have taken a gold medal, for scoring more constructors' points in Sweden than any other team.

Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "Right up to the start of the last stage we tried everything: absolutely everything! Today Marcus was quicker than us. This morning, when Marcus's car had a problem and we closed to within 15 seconds, we tried a daring tyre choice. We've got no regrets about the outcome. Another second place, with eight drivers' and constructors' points, is a good start to a season which is going to be fascinating. All the signs are there for a good fight!"

Xavier Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: "On my fourth Swedish Rally - but the first in a WRC car - I learnt.that I still have a lot to learn about Sweden ! I achieved the goal that the team set for me : to finish the rally and bring back as many constructors points as possible. I'm very happy not to have made mistakes and I'm also pleased that I have been able to see my progress on many of the stages. On top of that, I scored two drivers' points. All in all, I'll have some very good memories of this event !"

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

Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen scored Ford's 50th world rally victory today when they won the Swedish Rally in a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. The Finns led from start to finish on this second round of the FIA World Rally Championship to provide the perfect birthday present for Grönholm who is 38 today. It was the second consecutive victory for Grönholm and Rautiainen, who claimed a debut win with the BP-Ford World Rally Team in the same Focus RS on the Rallye Monte Carlo two weeks ago. It was his fourth Swedish victory and he leads the drivers' championship by four points. BP-Ford team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen recovered from Friday's overheating problems to finish 12th to help Ford maintain its lead in the manufacturers' championship.

Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: "This is another fantastic result. After my first test in the Focus RS here before Christmas, I thought I could take a good result in the rally but to win is just amazing. To win both my first two rallies in the car is a dream and it's good for the future. My birthday isn't so important now. The big thing for me is that the Focus has proved so competitive all weekend. BFGoodrich provided me with great tyres and I set some superb stage times. I just hope that the car will be as competitive on gravel because it would be great to continue this winning run on the next round."

Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "To score points is a good way to end because on Friday evening that didn't look possible. I'm happy with my speed and if it hadn't been for Friday's trouble then I'm sure I could have taken a podium. Conditions were perfect and the Focus was great to drive on the snow and ice. It was nice to be first on the road today because I could pick my own driving line on the flowing roads."

BP Ford World Rally Team boss Malcolm Wilson said: "It's there for everybody to see on this rally. Marcus has won the way he wants to win and for the team, we were leading from SS1. We were encouraged by the test results. As we all know, it's very early days for the new car. There was a slight glitch this morning but fortunately it happened at the right time. We fixed it so they could go out and keep the pressure on. It's the 50th WRC win for Ford and also the first time here since 1978, when Björn Waldegård won this rally, so it's a very special moment for me. It's a bit worrying what happened to Mikko. We don't really have the solution. We repaired the car and he's done the rest of the rally, but it's always a difficult time working out what it is. We've done lots of kilometres in testing and had no problems. We do have some plans for the future to make some changes in that area, but we'll have to keep testing and find out what we can."

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

After problems earlier in the event, the team's focus for Leg three of Rally Sweden was on testing and learning for the future. Chris Atkinson worked on evaluating new set-ups for the Impreza WRC2006 and ended the rally 11th to score 3 manufacturers' points. Petter Solberg had a good start to the Leg with a third fastest time in one of the morning's stages, but his car stalled at the start line of SS18 and a starter motor problem prevented them from getting underway within the regulation 20 second period. Solberg finished the rally but was later excluded from the final results.

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "I just don't know what to say. I'm trying to remain positive about things but it's certainly been a weekend to forget. Clearly we've got a lot of work to do now to get things back to normal. I want to thank everyone who supported us this weekend, there were so many Norwegian flags by the side of the road and I'm sorry we weren't able to get a better result."

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "We're pretty happy today. We took some steps forward with the set up and learned a bit more. The pace was a bit better and I think we're learning things for the future. Sweden's a good fun rally, but it hasn't been good for our team at all. I'm looking forward to our test for Mexico in a couple of week's time. I'm hoping for a better result there."

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

All's well that ends well - that is how the drivers of the OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team view their Swedish assignment. Despite rollovers on leg two both OMV drivers saw the finish in Karlstad. Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud reached eighth place overall and win WRC points in both driver's and manufacturer's championships. Thanks to the perfect work of Bozian Racing Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor were able to complete the third leg and finish in 18th place.

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "I've learned a lot. It was important to see that we can keep up with the best here in Sweden, too. The restart was psychologically important - each completed race kilometre is a lot of help. My thanks go to Bozian Racing. They did a perfect job."

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "The weekend was a tough affair but I'm happy that everything turned out fine in the end. This result consolidates our third place in the manufacturer's championship."

Manufacturer 2: Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC04
9 Matthew Wilson / Michael Orr (GB)
10 Kosti Katajamäki / Timo Alanne (FIN)

The World Rally Championship's youngest official driver Matthew Wilson brought his Ford Focus RS WRC04 back to Karlstad to an untroubled 13th position in Sweden this evening. The 19-year-old admitted the second round of the series had been every bit as tough as the Monte Carlo Rally, where he made his debut for the Stobart VK M-Sport team a fortnight ago. This is Matthew's first attempt at the highly-specialised Swedish Rally, but the perfect conditions made his job slightly less complicated on today's third and final leg. Temperatures in the central Sweden area, where the rally is running, remained firmly below zero, but the roads had been covered with a dusting of overnight snow. Snow flurries continued throughout the day.

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "I stalled at the start of the first stage this morning. I dropped 15 seconds before I could get going again. I had to power cycle the car, which means if the car doesn't fire up straight away, you have to turn off the electrical master switch and basically reboot the system. It's kind of the same thing you would do with a computer at home. Once the car was running again, that stage was good. I felt confident with the car and then everything was flowing. On the middle one of the loop this morning, I don't know what happened. That Rammen stage is a bit of a classic. It's really fast and flowing at the start, then twisty in the middle and then fast to the finish. It's the kind of stage you need to feel comfortable on very quickly. There are lots of long corners over crests, where you need full commitment to the notes and I didn't get that. The third stage was good again, no problems at all in there. This afternoon has gone to plan nicely for us. We didn't want to take any risks or anything like that. The roads had a few ruts on them on the second run through, so it would have been easy to go off. I was a little happier in the Ramman stage on the second run through, I was faster, but I've still got a bit to learn about that particular stage. On the whole though, I'm happy with what I've achieved here - and better still we have scored some manufacturer points."

Kosti Katajamaki/Timo Alanne: "I have been determined to push harder today, I wanted to show that I could set good time in the Focus. The car has run without any problems and the roads have been fantastic. Okay, there's been a little bit of fresh snow on the surface and running higher up the order meant we had to deal with a little bit more of that, but otherwise it's great. I pushed this morning and we were in the top ten times, but then this afternoon you start to see the finish is coming and I really wanted to get there."

Manufacturer 2: Red Bull Skoda Team / Skoda Fabia WRC05
11 Andreas Aigner / Timo Timo Gottschalk (A/D)
12 Mattias Ekström / Stefan Bergman (S)

After two successful days of the Swedish Rally near Hagfors the final day of the event did not go according to plan for Red Bull Skoda. Both cars retired on the final leg after doing well during the first two days of rallying. Sweden's Mattias Ekstrom crashed out on SS 14 while lying in fifth position with points in both the drivers‘ and the manufacturers‘ championships well within reach. Andreas Aigner was told to stop by the team management just prior to starting SS 16 in order to prevent a broken spark plug to cause irreparable damage to the engine.

Mattias Ekstrom/Stefan Bergman: "After four kilometres the car just got away from me and we touched a snow bank, crushing the front of the Fabia including the radiator, so we were unable to continue like that. Too bad, we were on course to secure points in the drivers' and the manufacturers' championships"

Andreas Aigner/Timo Gottschalk: . "Of course I am bitterly disappointed. Just four stages to go, and despite the misfire the car worked rather well, I felt very comfortable. Nevertheless one has to look on the bright side of things, I gained a lot of experience in Sweden and now I hope for another good result at my next WRC event in Spain."


FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
UDDEHOLM SWEDISH RALLY
Media FIA Post-event Press Conference
05.02.2006

Present:
1st Marcus Grönholm – BP Ford World Rally Team
1st Timo Rautiainen – BP Ford World Rally Team
2nd Sébastien Loeb – Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team
2nd Daniel Elena – Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team
3rd Daniel Carlsson – Mitsubishi Lancer WRC
3rd Bo Holmstrand – Mitsubishi Lancer WRC
Malcolm Wilson - BP Ford World Rally Team

Welcome to the final FIA press conference. Joining us are the winners Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen, second placed crew Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena and Daniel Carlsson and Bo Holmstrand, who finished third. Team Principal of the BP Ford World Rally Team Malcolm Wilson joins us on behalf of the winning manufacturer.

Q:
Congratulations Marcus. Two wins in a row – did you expect that at the start of the season? It was a big fight between you and Sebastien; at what point did you feel confident that you would win? Did you expect Sebastien to be closer to you? What about Petter?
MG:
No, I didn’t expect to win. It’s a new car, it’s a fantastic result. I thought I could win before the last stage, not earlier. Everything is possible. We had our problems this morning. I was expecting Sebastien will be closer but I knew it would be a good fight here, I was sure about that. Petter had so many troubles in this rally, he couldn’t show his speed. We have to wait for Mexico to see what he can do.

Q:
On the last day of the rally today, were you able to drive according to the split times or were you still pushing hard? Were you worried at all after last year, when you rolled on the final day?
TR:
I have to admit, Marcus was still pushing a lot of the time. He had to drive on the edge until the end. We had a frightening moment on SS16 with the oil, but the boys did a fantstic job after the car leaked the oil. We drove at full speed in the car after that. I didn’t remember the corner where we rolled, but it was on my mind. Just before the corner, Marcus said: ”I remember this.” After the corner, it was like, okay I remember too. Last year we had a big fight, but stupidly we lost eight points, then he didn’t settle for them – he wanted the win.

Q:
Sébastien, Marcus was generally a bit faster than you throughout the rally. Does that worry you at all? Do you think that the days when the Xsara was the dominant car are over?
SL:
Sure. I prefer to win than be second. Here in Sweden I knew Marcus would be very fast, he was the fastest all weekend. On the first day we dropped a bit of time with the penalty, we tried to come back, sometimes we got some time, but mostly he was faster. I tried my best. Three stages from the end I tried a different tyre, using the same as him. I knew it would not be enough. I have to admit he was faster. I don’t know about the domination. I know Marcus, with the Ford, will be competitive. I hope we fight and I’m sure we can, but it won’t be the same as the championship last year.

Q:
Your progress was delayed on the first day when the bonnet flew open and broke the windscreen. What happened exactly?
DE:
Okay, it’s me for the bonnet. No sure, when you change the wheel and take off the lightpod, there’s a lot to do. Seb was changing the wheel, I was taking the jack and cleaning the screen, I completely forget to pin the bonnet. After 100 metres, the bonnet is open and through the windscreen. It was not possible to close the bonnet, then Seb is coming to help me. In the end we take 10 seconds of penalty, but it’s my responsibility.

Q:
Daniel – congratulations on your first podium, which takes place in the best possible circumstances on your home rally. How do you feel? Originally, you were not even entered in this car as you were entered in a Super 1600 Suzuki…did you expect a result like this?
DC:
For me it’s just a perfect feeling. Fabulous. For me it feels like a win. Third behind Gronholm and Loeb, for me it’s a win. One week ago, I didn’t know I’d do rally. I was in England meeting the Mitsubishi team. We sorted out the last details and now I would like to thank all the competitors for signing and letting me change the class A6 to A8. It’s a lot for me to imagine now, but a great feeling.

Q:
Bo, you are a new face to most people here. How does it feel to stand on the podium of your home rally?
BH:
This was my sixth WRC start and third in a World Rally Car and first rally with Daniel, so it’s a fantastic start for me. I’m really, really happy.

Q:
What do you think of the new Focus on snow and ice? Did it live up to your expectations? How easy is the car to drive? How would you compare it to the Peugeot 206, which you always said was one of your favourite cars? You had a scare this morning when the car would not start – what happened?
MG:
Yes. I drove my first time in the car in Sweden in December. We did three days there and the feeling was very good and it’s still good.

Q:
Congratulations Malcolm, a great result.
MW: It’s there for everybody to see on this rally. Marcus has won the way he wants to win and for the team, we were leading from SS1. We were encouraged by the test results. As we all know, it’s very early days for the new car. There was a slight glitch this morning but fortunately it happened at the right time. We fixed it so they could go out and keep the pressure on. It’s the 50th WRC win for Ford and also the first time here since 1978, when Björn Waldegård won this rally, so it’s a very special moment for me.

Q: Now that you are leading the championship, does it make a difference to the way you approach things? Is it an easier situation than to be having to catch up all the time? In what frame of mind will you be approaching Mexico?
TR:
I don’t know if it makes a difference. The main threat is, surprise, surprise, Sébastien. We have to keep that in mind, and we have to take any advantage. Just because we’re happy with two wins, we won’t settle for two seconds. I’m sure he will make it very tough. It doesn’t make anything any easier. It’s only the second round and he’s only four points behind.

Q:
Do you think that with some better tyre choices, you could have pushed Marcus harder? When you are used to winning all the time, how frustrating is it to finish second?
SL:
No. I didn’t have the best tyre choice every time. But it was only one or two seconds difference. When we took different tyres it was the same, but when we were on the same tyres he was faster – we had no chance. In Sweden I can accept second behind Marcus. I hope it’s not every time this year though!

Q:
How happy are you with your new team after doing two events with them? Is their level of professionalism the same as that of Citroën Sport?
DE:
It’s a very good team with a good motivation. The mechanics, engineers and the boss push for the maximum and the car, we have no problem in Monte or Sweden. Every time we had to go to the mechanics, after we went off in Monte Carlo or after today and my er... when they have to change the bonnet and screen here, they change it in time. It’s a very good team.

Q:
Obviously Mitsubishi is not here as a factory team any more –how good is the car? With the resources of the factory team behind it, could it have been good enough to win? What are your plans now for the rest of the year? Do you think you will drive the Mitsubishi again?
DC:
It’s not so easy for me to predict. For me to come here with no testing it shows the potential in the car, no doubt. For me, it was easy to get into it and find a good pace to match the pace behind these two very fast guys. It’s a good car, very good. Next week, I’m already in Norway. I’m doing the candidate event. I have no idea for the world championship. It’s like this: one week ago we had the meeting in England and I didn’t have the budget sorted. After the recce I was still calling sponsors to get money for this rally. Hopefully the sponsorship will come after this podium.

Q:
BH: Your battle with Gigi Galli was one of the most entertaining of the entire rally. How was it from your perspective? At what point did you feel confident that you would win?
BH:
It was really, really fun. The biggest gap was only 8.2 seconds for three days.

Q:
Malcolm, Ford are now leading the championship but next up is Mexico, the first of the long-haul events. It’s on these long-haul events that you have some worries about reliability – how confident are you feeling now? Was Mikko Hirvonen’s engine problem a cause for concern?
MW:
In fairness, yes. It’s a bit worrying what happened to Mikko. We don’t really have the solution. We repaired the car and he’s done the rest of the rally, but it’s always a difficult time working out what it is. We’ve done lots of kilometres in testing and had no problems. We do have some plans for the futre to make some changes in that area, but we’ll have to keep testing and find out what we can.

2006 FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st Per-Gunnar Andersson
1st Jonas Andersson

Now for the final press conference of the FIA JWRC, we have the winning crew of P-G Andersson and Jonas Andersson.

Q:
A perfect start to the championship. You were pushed hard by Patrik Sandell on the first day, but you gradually managed to stretch out a lead – how did you achieve this?
P-GA:
For sure I know the stages quite well and the conditions. I like the snow and ice, they’re the best in the championship. I had quite good confidence. I was surprised at Patrik, and I thought Guy (Wilks) should be quicker. I thought maybe Guy could be closer, but not Patrik... we had to put our foot down. We took 20 seconds out of him on the long stage on Friday night, then we could relax a little bit after that.

Q:
Unlike many of the JWRC crews, you have plenty of experience of driving on snow. How much did this experience help you?
JA:
For sure, it helped us a bit, but Patrik has quite a bit of experience too. To know the stages is an advantage.

Q:
Do you think Sweden is a rally that is well-suited to the characteristics of Super 1600 cars?
P-GA:
You can see in the results, not many cars have retired, normally half the field retires. For the cars it’s a good rally. The only problem is to find the traction, otherwise it’s perfect.

Q:
Do you feel that the Suzuki Swift has made a step forward since last year? Which events will you be doing this year? At the moment, we do not know what sort of pace Daniel Sordo will have in the Citroën C2 – does that worry you?
P-GA:
No big changes, no big steps. I hope we can build a little bit better pace in the car so we can be up there and fight with Citroën. I will do all the gravel rallies and leave the tarmac rallies for the Citroën. I hope Kris (Meeke) and Sordo have big battles, so they can pinch points from each other. I can’t do anything about them, just drive my best. If they’re quicker, they’re quicker.

Q:
How much does this victory help you in your objective of winning the championship this year? Will you head into the next round with more confidence?
JA:
It helps a lot. We had our mind set for a win here. It’s great to have the win. We have to work for Argentina now though.

Q:
Have you seen P-GA improve in the last two years?
JA:
Yes for sure, we’ve both improved.

Q:
Looking good for the championship then, P-G?
PGA:
So far so good.