10 Jul 08
Starts this year: 16
Rally wins: 0
Best result: 6th (Sweden)
Manufacturers' Championship points: 10
Looking only at the performance of your own team and drivers, what has been your highlight of this season so far?
Undoubtedly the two car finish in Greece; it was one of the toughest events of the year and to get both SX4s to the end was a big achievement.
What has been the most valuable lesson your team has learned so far this year?
That's difficult to condense into just one specific thing because we've learned so much. It's certainly not easy stepping up from the J-WRC to the very top level. To realise how competitive the sport is at WRC level and how fast those guys are is a fairly large lesson in itself. Yes we already had some technical information about the events, but because the cars are so completely different we're starting from scratch; we're the beginners again. But we had no misconceptions; we knew it wouldn't be easy. As expected we've had a lot teething problems but we've addressed them. We'll continue to have teething problems and it will probably take the best part of this year to get through all that we need to learn.
Which driver from any team (including your own) has impressed you most this year?
Without a doubt there have been some fairly impressive performances this year from Jari-Matti Latvala. Mikko Hirvonen too seems to have found his feet, and he's doing very well after a bit of a preparation year in 2007. But Jari-Matti is going ballistic. I think Ford are really quite lucky that they've got two drivers who are capable of doing the business.
How much testing will you do between Turkey and Finland and what technical aspects of the car are you concentrating on?
We have a short pre-event test planned before Finland but we've been so busy that there has been no time for an extensive test. The teams in Paris and Japan have been working hard on variant option components and sorting out the necessary paperwork so we can use them from Finland onwards. We've also built two brand new cars for the rally, so that hasn't left us a lot of time. We're taking advantage of a regulation that enables a new manufacturer to test on the day before recce in any country. Most likely we'll be using our event cars, and the test will be more like an extended shakedown. We plan to do a little bit more work on the suspension and set-up but we're not going to flog the cars all day, that's for sure.
Do you have any significant technical developments planned for your car between now and the end of the year?
Up to now we've been working with the initial homologation of the SX4 World Rally Car, fine tuning a few bits and pieces which aren't homologated. But in the background our engineering teams on rallies, in France and in Japan have been working together to develop some new variant option components which should be fitted in time for Finland and will enable us to work on other areas. There hasn't been one area in particular that has continually let us down, but we have made some changes to the suspension and hydraulic areas of the car.