Ahead of his debut for the Cumbria-based Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team at Rally Bulgaria next month, Sweden’s Per-Gunnar Andersson took time out of his busy schedule during a visit to team headquarters at Dovenby Hall to speak about his chances at the event and tell us a little bit about himself.
The 30-year-old former Junior World Rally Championship title winner will contest the rally alongside co-driver Johan Andersson in a Stobart branded Ford Focus RS WRC, and will be nominated for points in the seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship in addition to team-mates Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin.
How do you feel about joining the Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team in Bulgaria?
It’s fantastic!  I’m really delighted to join one of the top teams in the WRC and I feel so privileged to have been given this chance
How did the opportunity come about?
I was asked to drive in a Ford Fiesta R2 in the Pirelli International Rally in April.  We nearly didn’t make it because we were delayed by the ash cloud returning from Rally Turkey but ended up driving from Sweden to Cumbria in 28 hours in order to still compete. The rally didn’t go as well as I had hoped but I was asked to stay on for an extra couple of days to do some endurance mileage on the Ford Focus RS WRC and after some good feedback from M-Sport, I was offered the chance to drive in Bulgaria
How do you feel about driving the Ford Focus RS WRC?
I tested the Focus on gravel the other week which was a great experience for me - I know it has the speed to win rallies.  Like anything, you just need to learn how to drive the car in order to get the best performance
What are your thoughts about Rally Bulgaria, do you think it will be a good rally for you?
I’ve not driven on tarmac for over two years now so that is preying on my mind a little.  However, this rally is new for everyone and after I’ve done some testing, I will be prepared as I possibly can be.  My main aim is to get a good final result.  It may take a few stages before I am comfortable but I plan to increase my pace throughout the rally
How did you first get into motorsport?
I’ve been watching rallies since I was really young and have always had an interest in rallying.  My big break came when I started competing in Rallycross when I was 15
What has been your best memory/highlight as a rally driver?
My best memories are winning the two J-WRC titles in 2004 and also in 2007.  Another brilliant memory is when I had my debut in a WRC car in Monte Carlo back in 2008
What has been your worst moment?
That would have to be in 2004 when I rolled my car twice in Greece
What would you suggest to somebody who is trying to get into rally driving?
I would tell them to start on a level they can afford and to try and get as much experience as they can.  My experience of the Fiesta R2 in the Pirelli International Rally was a bit of an eye opener, the R2 is just a small car but feels like it’s a proper rally car – it’s really fast and with the series of championships in different regions this would be a potentially good route for anyone serious about progressing into the sport
What is your fitness regime like?
During the warmer months, I go running and I ski during the winter.  I try to maintain a good level of fitness all year round
How is your fan base back in Sweden?
My fan base in Sweden is great and I seem to have lots of fans - maybe because there hasn’t been a top driver in Sweden for several years.  Joining the Stobart team will help increase the interest of rally in Sweden so it’ll be brilliant news for all of my fans
Who is your motorsport idol?
Colin McRae
Tell us a bit about your home life?
I live with my girlfriend Marie Louise, and her 5-year-old daughter, Alice, in a lovely house in Arjang.  When I came back home from the IRC round in Sardinia last week I found a new member in the family... a cat aged 12 weeks (Elvis)!
What do you do to relax away from motorsport?
I love spending time in the countryside – fishing, hunting and generally relaxing. I really enjoy getting the chance to spend time with my friends and family too. I also like going to other motorsport events but I don’t always have the chance or the time to do that
Favourite car?
I like the look of the new Ford Focus RS 500 – I’ve not had a chance to drive it but it’s been well received by the press and looks really good in black.
Favourite holiday destination?
Favourite food?
A good steak!
Where do you aim to be in three years time?
In three years I will be fighting to be the world rally champion... watch out Loeb!
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