AHEAD of his debut for the Cumbria-based Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team at Wales Rally GB next week, China’s Liu Chao Dong (25) took time out of his busy schedule to speak about his chances at the event and to tell us a little bit about himself.
The three-time Chinese Rally Champion will contest the rally alongside co-driver Anthony McLoughlin in a Stobart branded Ford Focus RS WRC, but will not be nominated for points at the final round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.  Regular team-mates Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin and Henning Solberg/Stephane Prévot will also drive under the Stobart M-Sport Ford banner in Wales and will be the team’s nominated point-scorers for the event.
Liu Chao Dong – welcome to the Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team!  Can you please tell us a bit about your rallying history and how you first got into motorsport?
I started when I was 15-years-old in Chongqing (China) driving a front wheel drive VW Jetta at a super special event. I began competing in the Chinese Rally Championship (CRC) in 2002 and was Chinese National Rally Champion for the first time in 2004.
You recently did some testing in the Ford Focus RS WRC at M-Sport – how did you like the car?
The car was very good but extremely different to a Group N car. There is a lot to learn about the [Ford] Focus RS WRC but I am looking forward to getting to know more at Wales Rally GB.
What are your thoughts about Wales Rally GB, do you think it will be a good rally for you?
I hope so! We did the recce for Wales Rally GB in 2007 so I have some knowledge of the event and what to expect - it is not completely unknown to me. But that was three years ago now and some of the stages have changed so I know I must concentrate hard when doing the recce again next week and not just rely on my memory. I think it will be a tricky rally because of the weather and it will be slippery everywhere.
What has been your best memory/highlight as a rally driver?
Being three-times Chinese Rally Champion and testing the Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. It was great to get behind the wheel of a car that has so much power.
What has been your worst moment?
In 2009 when we lost the championship. The start of year was good but we were unlucky at the end of the year when we just lost the championship by only a few points – it was very disappointing.  I hope to make up for my bad luck last year and to win my fourth Chinese Rally Championship title this season.
What is your fitness regime like?
I like to do a lot of dirt bike riding in my home city of Chongqing and I play lots of golf. I like to keep fit and healthy – it’s important to maintain a high level of fitness to be a successful rally driver.
Who is your motorsport idol?
I like the Finnish drivers like Tommi Makinen and Marcus Grönholm. They were at their best and winning world titles when I first started taking an interest in rallying.
Tell us a bit about your home life?
My normal week usually consists of working in the family business and I try to play golf twice a week.  Also on the weekend I like to practice in the rally car to make sure I am ready for the next event.  I also like to spend time with my daughter and new son.
Favourite holiday destination?
Shanya which is an island close to Hong Kong in southern China. The weather is nice there all year round.
Favourite food?
I live in Chongqing in the centre of China and we eat very spicy food. The hotter, the better!
Where do you aim to be in three years time?
I want to ensure I remain the best driver in China and I’d love to get more experience driving in the WRC.
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