From Adrian Kirk-Burnnand [ 31/10/2001 ].
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Just before the pre-event shakedown today at Rally Australia a press conference was held with four of the leading drivers and team members from Hyundai and Mitsubishi. It lasted only about 15 to 20 minutes but raised some important issues and contained some interesting comments. Burns got everyone into laughter with his single worded-delayed answer with a smirk - but it was a correct (if not blunt) answer. The atmosphere was great before the conference broke up for photos of all the drivers in-front of a five car line-up, with representation from each manufacture, on the local footy oval.
The script of the official conference was as follows:
Q: Are you in favour of the changes made to avoid the first on the road
nightmares of last year?
David Whitehead - Hyundai: – No not really. Its not very good from our point of view as we will be first on the road and unfortunately if you start first on the road you're likely to start there on day two and day three as well. So no we're not in favour of it.
Q: What do you have to do to cope with the special challenges on the surface
Bernard Lindauer - Mitsubishi:- Obviously this rally has a very specific surface, with running on loose cover. This loose cover is very specific because it is made with stones that are looking like ball-bearings. It is like throwing ball-bearings on the road and then trying to drive on it. This means the acceleration grip and breaking grip mechanics are very loose. And we are to do a lot of work with the suspension and also the tyres. We are doing a lot of work with Michelin to try to find the maximum sort of grip on these conditions.
Q: You have a new car here of course. Have you got it right for this event?
Bernard Lindauer - Mitsubishi: – This is obviously a new car. We have had a very short time to prepare this car. We have been trying to do our best in the testing time that we have. And we are really looking forward to seeing where we are in two days time.
Q: If anyone knows these surfaces its you. What's the difference for example
between these surfaces and those in New Zealand?
Possum Bourne - Subaru: - They are totally different. As you said before the stones are dead round, so they don't compact and stick together. Therefore when you're accelerating around a corner its like you have to dig down a long way to get to anything hard. The most difficult thing for me I think is getting the car stopped and turning at the same time. Because if you break a little bit too much and lock the wheels the car's gone and it loses its line and its quite difficult to get it back.
Q: Now lets go to the one, two, three. Richard you're third in the
Championship and six behind Tommi and Colin. Is it win or bust here? Do you have
to win here and in Rally GB to win the title?
Richard Burns - Subaru: –Yes
Q: Can you do it? Can you win both these rallies?
Richard Burns - Subaru: - Yeah, I think if you look over the last two years between the three of us I think I've got the best record of everybody. So I don't think there's any doubt we can try and get a victory at both the rallies.
Q: Tommi, we must ask you first of all about Risto Mannisenmaki. How is he?
Tommi Makinen - Mitsubishi: - I spoke yesterday evening with him. He is in hospital in Finland at the moment and is recovering quickly. Of course this operation takes about two months to recover completely. I think he will be back at rally at the beginning of next year.
Q: You're paired at this event with Timmo Hautunen. You've only had a few
days to work together. Can you win here? Because that's what you really need to
do isn't it?
Tommi Makinen - Mitsubishi: – I think they are very similar. It shouldn't be any different.
Q: And a win here, would it make up for last year?
Tommi Makinen - Mitsubishi: – Yeah of course I still have some memories from last year. And I think I try to make it the same as last year – but this year I think our car is homologated!
Q: If Tommi doesn't score here and you win - you've got a second world title.
But I'm assuming its not quite as simple as I'm making it sound?
Colin McRae - Ford: - If it was that easy everyone would do it. No, in theory, we know what can happen here, but there's an awful lot of drivers that are going to be pushing very hard to try and win. Our plan is to do the same, and then see if everything else falls into place. Tommi and I are in a good position, so we have a small advantage. So we'll just have to wait and see how everything else performs. But the plan is to go as quickly as possible from the start.
Stay tuned for more new from Australia and I took heaps and heaps of photos too! (but really stuffed up by kinda exposing one roll to the light!! I'm an idiot.)