04 Sep 08
We caught up with BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson after Rally New Zealand to ask about the rally, tactics, asphalt and his team's chances in the 2008 championship...
How do you feel about what happened on Sunday?
Personally speaking it was one of the biggest disappointments that I've had in the sport. To have gone into the penultimate stage being first, second and fifth, and then to finish the rally with just third was, yeah, pretty frustrating. But there are a lot of positives to come out of it. Mikko in particular drove fantastically, and had put Sebastien on the back foot to the extent that he said he couldn't beat him on Sunday morning. Citroen deployed as many tactics as they could and we still had the upper hand, so I think Mikko certainly did a great job. For Jari, okay, there was disappointment again, as there had been on the last two rallies, but you've got to keep remembering he's only 23 years old and was trying to stay in front of the world's best driver. On Sunday both guys really had to push. We all felt it was an event where we had to try and get the maximum 18 points. But as it turned out, we didn't manage it and had to settle for six.
Are you annoyed with Jari-Matti for his mistake?
I'm disappointed - don't get me wrong - but nothing like as much as I was in Finland and Germany. That's because there are a couple of good things to have come out of the weekend for Jari-Matti. For a start he almost completely the entire rally route, and that's helped him build maturity as a driver and experience of he event. Also he's been in the position of challenging head to head with Sebastien Loeb and trying to maintain his position on Sunday. This job is all about experience and he'll certainly have learned from that.
What about Mikko. What did you tell him after the rally?
Mikko and I both felt the same. I felt as deflated as he did because over the course of the rally his performance had gone up another notch again. As each rally goes by he never stops amazing me. He just seems to go that little bit better every rally, getting better and better to the point where Seb was genuinely rattled by him - we heard it in his voice. Really he had the rally win in the bag, it's just unfortunate that there were quite a lot of rocks on that penultimate stage and with Jari-Matti gone he was first to drive it. There was a rock on the racing line which gave him the puncture and that was that. It's unfortunate but he paid a high price.