17 Jun 09
Have you forgiven Jari-Matti for what happened on Friday?
"Yeah. I mean Jari's Jari; he'll always be with the team, but I do class his mistake on Friday as one of the biggest that he's made. It completely affected our whole strategy for the rest of the rally and okay, at the end, yes it's turned out to be a dream result for the team, but on Friday night we were looking at disaster. I certainly wasn't happy with what happened but, you know, he was smart and put to good effect what he's learned on days two and three."
So he's redeemed himself in your eyes?
"A little bit, yes."
What can the Ford team do in Poland?
"A new rally means it's a level playing field for everybody and I'm hopeful we can be strong there. We've always done well on new rallies, I think we proved that, and I think Finnish drivers in general tend to adapt to new rallies quicker than the others. Poland is a fast rally and apparently a lot of the roads are quite like Finland, so that should suit Mikko and Jari-Matti."
Last year in Greece the conditions caused your cars a good deal of mechanical problems. How did they fare this time?
"We didn't have an issue. Not one thing bent or broke. Both cars fan faultlessly."
So how rough were the conditions this year?
"It's been a hard rally on the car - don't get me wrong - and okay, we had a bit of a glitch last year, some of which was obviously driver induced. But this year we've got back to our fantastic record on this rally. M-Sport has won here seven times in the last 10 years."
What car preparations are you making before next week's rally in Poland?
"We have a four day test planned this week between Thursday and Sunday."
Mikko is now seven points behind Sebastien Loeb in the drivers' championship while Ford is 15 behind Citroen in the manufacturers?. How would you assess your chances of wining them both this year?
"I really do believe it's game-on in both championships. Obviously the difficult event for us will be Spain, but there are a lot of good gravel rallies coming up for us too. Australia is a new rally, and both Jari-Matti and Mikko go very well on Rally GB. I think the Acropolis result has helped keep both championships alive."
Are the tables starting to turn in Ford's favour?
"If you look before Sardinia, people were saying Ford were out of it. As we always said, to be in a strong position we need both of our guys performing at their best, like they were in Sardinia. We nearly got that here on Friday night, but we got it back - there are a lot of events coming that suit our drivers and one thing is sure, we won't give up."
Along with being named in The Queen's Birthday Honours list, the weekend must have been a special one for you?
"It's been an incredible weekend and one with so many landmarks; it was Ford's 70th and M-Sport's 40th win in the World Rally Championship. Also Mikko's car was the first BP Ford team car to be fitted with an M-Sport-built engine. Add to that the OBE and the rally result and it's a weekend I'll never forget."