Citroen C4 WRC
“I remember doing some testing with the C4 when Citroen was trying to prepare for the WRC’s first trip to Ireland. We were on the Isle of Man and it was the worst weather you’ve ever seen to get early miles in a car – really heavy rain, and lots of slippery, shiny tar.
“Strangely, I didn’t have the same initial feeling with the C4 that I did with the Xsara – but that might well have been down to the conditions, and I didn’t end up doing so many miles with it. In any case, Sebastien [Loeb] did well enough in it, so it can’t have been too bad!”
Citroen DS3 WRC
“I might have made my competitive debut with the DS3 WRC on Rally Finland 2013, but this is a car I know well because I’ve done a fair amount of testing with it. As with the Xsara, really, it’s such a well-developed car that you have huge amounts of confidence in what it can do and what you can do with it. I think our times ‘out of the box’ in Finland proved this, actually.
“I love driving it – and that could be because I probably have the most of my experience in this type of package, with no centre diff; don’t forget that I spent a couple of years in Super 2000. So to go from that car to one that’s similar in principle, but now with a 1600cc turbocharged engine, is fantastic. I’m obviously delighted we’ll get more opportunities to drive this one throughout 2014!”
Citroen Xsara WRC
“I tested this on quite a few occasions, and it was a fantastic car. There have been some great Citroens over the years, of course, but this one really set out their stall right from the off. I can still remember the first time I drove the Xsara; one of the things about all Citroen rally cars is that they give you lots of confidence, but the Xsara managed to stand out on that front even so. You really could feel like you could do anything with it.
“I racked up quite a few kilometres testing the Xsara, then, but I never got to do a rally in it. However, I did do a Bologna Rallysprint in a Xsara and I managed to finish on the podium.”
Mini Countryman WRC
“The history of this car is pretty well known now, but it was a project that I was involved in right from the beginning. Towards the end of 2010 we got signed into the Mini team, my big break into the full WRC, and I was really hungry to make this a big success.
“Unfortunately it didn’t work out, which is well documented, but the car itself had some strong points. The chassis was excellent – again, one of those ones that gives a driver confidence. But we never really got on top of the engine, perhaps because budget was becoming an issue by that point, or politics. It would be too strong to say that it was stillborn, but it’s just a pity there wasn’t more backing from BMW for us to carry on and develop it further. It had potential, for sure.”
Subaru Impreza WRC
“I’ve driven quite a few different specs of these over the years, right from Rally GB 2005. Subaru had many championship-winning years and produced some very successful cars, and it’s been fun to try a few of the 2.0-litre World Rally Cars. They had fully active differentials throughout, very much all-singing, all-dancing creations, and it can feel like driving a spaceship at times.
“I loved driving the Impreza, and took one to quite a few wins in Ireland. One of my fondest memories is in an Impreza WRC, in fact; I won my local rally, the Ulster Rally, back in 2007, with a Pirelli-liveried Impreza S11. I felt very much at home in this car and enjoyed it.”