Interview with Xevi Pons
Spanish driver Xevi Pons will be a new addition to Subaru World Rally Team from Neste Oil Rally Finland, the opening event after the two-month mid-season break.
The former Citroen driver looks forward to the opportunity and talks to WRC.com about his plans before his debut.
How do you feel about starting your new programme with Subaru?
Xevi Pons: I really feel very happy having this great opportunity. I wish to help the team to progress as much as possible on each event, and also to improve myself and learn all that they have to teach me.
How did the deal work out with them or how were you approached?
XP: We already knew people from Subaru World Rally Team because we've all been around the FIA World Rally Championship for a long time now. When this opportunity came up, my manager and the bosses from the team starting talking, and I think the time and circumstances are right to make this happen successfully.
What is your goal for the first few months during the next half of the season?
XP: During the rest of this year it will be very important for me to learn about the car and the team, so that I can prepare well for the 2008 season. Obviously if I feel confident on some of the rallies that I know well, I'll try to achieve a good result, but I won't be taking any silly risks. I have to complete as many kilometres as possible in order to learn for next year.
Finland is a pretty tough event to start with. Are you confident about it?
XP: Finland is the perfect rally to start with the team. Like I said, I need to learn about the characteristics of the car and get confidence. Nobody expects a Spanish guy to get a good result in Finland, so I will be able to focus on driving and learning. Imagine starting in New Zealand, Corsica or Catalunya - that would be real pressure!
What events do you think are going to be difficult for you and in which ones do you think you will perform strongly?
XP: All rallies in the WRC are difficult, and I think sometimes the more difficult rallies are when you are having a bad event, because you try to go faster but the times are not there. On other rallies, it seems easier, but you are on the top. I think rallies like Catalunya, Corsica, GB or New Zealand are where I can hope to do better than others, such as Finland or Japan.
Have you had a chance to test the Impreza yet or when will you be testing it?
XP: I haven't tested the car yet. I'll do it in July and I'm looking forward to it.
There have been a few changes in the development team at Subaru. Will you be working heavily with the new guys on the development of the car during the summer?
XP: As you know, the test days are limited for the teams in the WRC. The team has some tests planned during the mid-season break and, where the tests have already been planned for Petter and Chris to drive, I'll do some driving to learn the car and start my relationship with the team.
What are your plans in general for the mid-season break?
XP: I'm training hard to make sure I'm physically fit. Myself and my co-driver [Xavier Amigo] are also planning to do a smaller rally to start working with pace notes again and to 'remind' ourselves what a rally is. Although many people take holidays in the summer, I've already had too many days off this year!
Podría ser el Osona el "smaller rally" que planea? Tal y como hizo Solà el año del Focus?