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GP Week : Issue 38
>>WRCINSIGHT example the registered drivers at Rally Ireland were Conrad Rautenbach and Chris Atkinson. Then for subsequent rallies with Conrad and Evgeniy Novikov. Ogier’s programme is to compete the first six rounds of the 2009 World series, and then we will see what happens.” Quesnel comes from an unusual business background, having worked in customer competition work with Peugeot and other work for the PSA group in the past, then in the Hommell publishing company which has strong motorsport traditions. This gives him an unrivalled ability to view what effect rallying has on the media. What is his feeling about the way the sport relates to the media these days. Does the media in general still have the same understanding about rallying as in earlier years? “Obviously I know most about the French media. I think that 10 years ago the media were aware of rallying in a different way. “In the days of the successes of the Peugeot cars it was before there was a ROUND 2 was Rally Norway, held in the snows that epitomise the joy of winter rallying. The main focus of attention was on the Solberg brothers. Henning was once again in the orange Focus but it was touch-and-go whether Petter would take part. In the end he had the chance to drive an eight-year old Citroen Xsara World Rally Car, still fitted with an active transmission system – banned from newer rally cars. It was a big rush to prepare the team, but everything came good French phenomenon like Sebastien Loeb. We enjoy the connection in the public’s mind that Sebastien Loeb is Citroen. The two names are completely integrated. People cannot think of one without also thinking about the other. I am happy that it is like this. Sebastien is a special human story.” Times are moving fast in rallying, and all the time there is concern about the direction in which the sport should move. What does Quesnel feel is the best way forwards? “Personally I believe that we need someone hands-on in the sport able to tackle problems and make decisions as and when they arise. Things do not happen like that at the moment. “We need a chief who talks with us, understands and listens to what we say. I do not think the current people at the top of the FIA are close enough to the sport and when they are present they do not come to speak with us very often. I am not sure that the FIA wants their Promoter to be this sort of sporting director, but I must say that we agree with the new World Rally Car rules.” Rallying attracts people in different when his black and silver car made fastest time on the opening stage, a superspecial in Oslo. Dominating the event was too much to expect but he finished sixth, despite various problems including a sticking throttle. It was a super effort considering the age of his car. While Loeb went on to win once again, the event was also noted for Skoda’s new Fabia S2000 PCWRC category win on the first appearance of this type in world championship rallying, finishing ahead of the orthodox Group N cars. ways. Obviously the world championship nowadays is considered the top level, and when we think of the future with the S2000 cars it means that the top level for competition will not be so far away from everyday rallying. “The new rally car formula means that a lot of rally driving enthusiasts will be able to compete more easily with the drivers like Sebastien Loeb and Jari-Matti Latvala. It will also mean that companies like Fiat, who would not have the budget for competing at our present level, will be able to compete in the world championship. “Maybe the whole change was all their idea, who knows? It is a pity that France does not have a world championship rally in 2009, but however much we will miss Corsica this year, the biggest disappointment is that we will not have Monte Carlo. Missing Monte Carlo is the worst thing about the sport this year.” 45