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All new for Markko Martin

Peugeot's new World Rally Championship signing Markko Martin kicked off the Autosport International show on Thursday morning by discussing his prospects for the 2005 season, which gets underway with the famous Monte Carlo Rally later this month

All new for Markko Martin

The former Ford team leader admitted he doesn't yet know what the ultimate potential of Peugeot's 307 WRC is, not least because of the team's switch from Michelin to Pirelli tyres. But he has been encouraged by the car's pace during winter testing, having just completed a snow test in Italy in preparation for Monte Carlo.

"Testing has gone well, but there are so many things to learn - new team, new car, new tyres - so we will just have to be patient," said the Estonian. "If we don't go out and win the first two or three rallies there is no need to panic."

Martin added that the specialised nature of the Monte, with some of the most variable weather conditions encountered anywhere on the WRC calendar, will make tyre selection especially difficult.

"It's the most difficult event of the season for tyre choice and setup," he said. "The weather is so changeable, and since the team is new to Pirellis it's going to be a bit of guesswork."

Martin also made it clear he is concerned about the direction in which the WRC has been heading, amid continued uncertainty over the level of manufacturer support. Peugeot's parent company PSE confirmed last season that it will be withdrawing both Peugeot and Citroen from competition at the end of 2005.

"I try to concentrate on just driving the car," said Martin, "but I do worry because I really like the sport and I really believe that in the last 12-15 months the changes have been going in the wrong direction. Thankfully for 2005 some rules have changed back, so hopefully common sense will win. But there are not so many manufacturers at the moment."

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