20 Jan 08
When can we expect to see the 2008 model of the Ford Focus RS world rally car in theChampionship?
Malcolm Wilson: We don't need a new model - The 2007 car is still good enough. We'll look to see how the season pans out and look at the middle of the year, like last year. A lot will depend on how the season unfolds, in all honesty.
Is Jari-Matti under instructions, or off the leash? And would Gigi be free to beat the factory cars?
Malcolm Wilson: You'd probably be better asking Mikko that question: he's been in that position for two years. There will be certain rallies: Rally GB, he's done for five or six years - we'll take the brakes off him there. But on rallies where he's only done them once, we'll apply the same policy as with Mikko: we want to try and win the Manufacturers' Championship again.
This is your first opportunity as the number one driver of a team - how excited are you for this year?
Mikko Hirvonen: I am really excited. Okay, we have had a fantastic two seasons behind us. I've been there when we won both Championships, we have a great team behind us and I look forward to starting again.
Jari-Matti has proved he is a quick and level-headed independent driver but how do you think he will adapt to being a BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT member?
Mikko Hirvonen: He's going to be just fine. He's been driving a Ford for a few years, so he knows all the right people in the team.
This is the first time you have driven full-time for one of the WRC teams. Describe how important this is for you and what your, or the team's, expectations are of you?
Jari-Matti Latvala: It's a very important moment for me. I have done more than 50 world rallies. I'm only 22, but now I have to improve my speed. Now the work starts. I really hope we can have a good season. I'm looking forward to the season and I hope to fight for podiums. And then maybe a small treat, towards the end of the year, I could win a rally. But I know the team wants the third title, so we have to make points.
What differences will becoming a WRC team driver make to your life?
Jari-Matti Latvala: The big difference for me is that I don't have to work in the family business. I just have to keep myself in a good condition. I am in the job of dreams now.
This year you're returning to your old co-driver Michael Orr, with whom you have already won the FIA Middle East Rally Championship in 2004. How much confidence do you have in it becoming another successful partnership this season?
Khalid Al-Qassimi: Michael was with me when we won in 2004. We work well together, and with a good team it will help me a lot in the new conditions rather than in the desert. It's very good in the mud and the snow and on the asphalt: we have developed a good combination between us.
There's a new team name and a new look for 2008. How important is the WRC to Abu Dhabi?
Khalid Al-Qassimi: As a destination, we are really happy with this partnership with Ford. I believe it's good for WRC and Abu Dhabi. WRC needed a new partner, something like a destination, but maybe something away from motorsport. It's good; it's some new blood into the Championship.