Guy Wilks made a successful debut with Peugeot UK by taking third place on the Monte Carlo Rally, but only after Peugeot arranged for Stephane Sarrazin to take a time penalty to drop behind him. After the finish, Wilks talked to AUTOSPORT about his week and the eleventh-hour controversy.
Q. What did you expect when you came here?
Guy Wilks: I had a very open mind. It was my first time in the car and there was undoubted pressure. This is not a place that's easy to come for the first time in a car. Okay, we have experience of the rally.
Q. Not much experience of the Ardeche, though...
GW: No, true, not much experience of those roads, it was only my second time there. But we believe in ourselves and we know we can make good pace notes, we did good times on the stages we were doing for the first time. Having had the experience of the rally, I now know how good a car this is and how much more I can get from it. There are plenty of little things we can change to get more out of it.
Q. Where does the next step come from?
GW: To be quite honest, the step comes from things that are already available: differential and damper settings. We ran a pretty safe specification all the time. The other guys were on a full tarmac spec car and we were in Monte Carlo set-up. In those conditions it would be an advantage [to run full asphalt spec], but we didn't have the time to test that set-up.
Q. Have you got much testing planned before Rally Islas Canarias in April?
GW: We don't know yet. Obviously [the planned second round in Argentina] went just before we came out here and we don't know what we have planned testing-wise before the Canaries. We'll have to get our heads together.
Q. Looking back at the snow stages, was a 'safe' gamble not to put studs on and if you'd done that, you could have won this rally?
GW: The safe choice was the snow tyre, the more than safe choice - the stud - was actually more of a gamble, in case it didn't snow at all, then we're left trying to drive dry asphalt on studded tyres.
Effectively, the racing tyre, be it a slick or inter, was a gamble at one end of the spectrum and the stud was at the other end. We were right down the middle on both, we wouldn't have lost much time in either condition. I say we wouldn't lose much time, we did lose a lot on the snow because it did snow like billy-o, but you couldn't predict that.
Q. Did you feel comfortable in the car from the start?
GW: Absolutely. From the very first test I did. To feel the car underneath you was great and we've been like that all the time.
Okay, on the last loop and the last stage, we were on the wrong tyre and I had to manage the tyre to stop it moving and overheating, particularly on Turini. But then when we came to the top and got the split, I knew we had about seven seconds to play with over Juho [Hanninen] and we had to go like hell. It shows that I was comfortable with the car that we were able to do that.
Q. And what about the decision to move you to the podium? A podium in Monte Carlo is a great result, yes?
GW: It's not the way we wanted it and at the end of the day, it's a photograph.