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GP Week : Issue 170
GPWEEK: Notwithstanding the high profile dilemma concerning the future of Jari-Matti Latvala, are you confident concerning the many different rally operations with which M-Sport is involved? MALCOLM WILSON: We are still working on everything at the moment. We are obviously planning on going ahead with the WRC programme next year – we have a two year contract (2012-2013) with Ford so we plan to be here. Regarding drivers, we are still in discussion. I’ve got nothing to report. There are no deadlines for decisions at the moment. If you think back to December last year, we didn’t even know if we would be running the team. We would obviously like to keep Jari-Matti but if we can’t I’m sure everything will slot into place. .2013 is going to see changes with your rivals at Citroen; how do you see Citroen’s situation without Sebastien Loeb as a regular driver? It’s just a shame that Sebastien’s decided to go now into semi- retirement after all these years that we’ve been on the receiving end, just when our car has never been so competitive! There is no question that losing Loeb is going to make a difference for them. Let’s be honest, he is by far the best driver there has ever been in the world rally championship. He’s still got the pace to go on and win a ninth title, but he’s made a decision. It would just have been nice, if he stayed. We were the last people to beat him on tarmac (with Markko Martin in 2004). We’ve got two events left to do it again and it remains a target of mine to try and find a way to beat him on tarmac – hopefully we can do that either here in France or in Spain. Of course we expect this might be a little bit difficult here, it being his home rally, but I think Jari has now got the pace to be able to do it. What is the situation regarding the Academy tender? Hopefully we can manage to retain that. It is something we would like to continue to do. We’ve got a great bunch of guys doing that from Poland. Hopefully the competitors (and we’ve done our own research with the competitors) are all relatively happy and hopefully we can find a way to still keep that running. Certainly the feedback that we’ve had is that the FIA are very happy with everything. But obviously it is a competitive market and if you’ve got other manufacturers out there you have to check the alternative options. Do you have future visions for Super 2000? There are still a lot of customers using them throughout the world. Our strongest market is probably South Africa, but having said that there are 45 cars out there and a lot more of these cars in other parts of the world, so the old 2-litre normally-aspirated S2000 is still a very popular car. We are obviously moving lots of parts, still being successful in that way. I think it is a car that will continue to be around for some while because it is any easy car, quite simple to run. But with the RRC cars coming on stream, aren’t the RRC cars now more competitive than the old 2-litre versions? I think it is still quite evenly matched. Giandomenico Basso has won a couple of important rallies but its been very, very close; but the advantage that you get with a Regional car is you get the benefit of all the developments we are making for our World Rally Car, which can then be transferred to Regional cars. For sure the S2000 development is standing still whereas the Regional car is ongoing because of what we’re doing at world level. And of course you’ve got hand-me- down second-hand works World Rally Cars which can be converted to RRC cars. Super 2000 provides a place for them to go. Yes, but there certainly isn’t the volume of business there has been in the last few years, though there is a lot of interest and people are starting to think about next year, so hopefully we can keep on selling them and get plenty of Fords out there. Concerning the new WRC2/WRC3 support championships, do you think this new division is a good step forward? Hopefully at least it will help to simplify all the different categories. It all sounds good. Finally how do see R5 working? We feel very positive about it. We’re embarking on the project so we feel that it is going to be really successful and we are really targeting it because we realise that to be commercially successful in that category, you’ve got to produce a very cost-effective car. That is our real emphasis. Hopefully we can use the expertise of what we’ve learned on a World Rally Car to be cost-effective fashion so that the customer gets a competitive car but also gets a car that is reasonably well-priced and is easy to run and maintain – that is what we’re always trying to achieve for our customers. Do your engineers agree with the general opinion that the R5 is going to be at least as competitive as the two types of S2000? There are mixed views there. My view is that it will be competitive, I think I might be proved wrong but I’m pretty confident that it will be a good match for the RRC and the two-litre S2000. 5 MINUTES WITH MALCOLM WILSON MARTIN HOLMES discusses the changes facing world rallying with the M-Sport chief 5 MINUTES 20 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: