30 May 08
Subaru’s brand new Impreza World Rally Car, the WRC2008, made a successful start to its debut event, powering Petter Solberg to third at the end of day one of the Acropolis Rally.
Despite the team stating that it would use the Greek and Turkish rallies as part of its ongoing test and development programme, Solberg and team-mate Chris Atkinson both enjoyed a largely trouble-free day in the new model.
Solberg fought for fourth position for much of the morning and was involved in a close battle with his older brother Henning in the afternoon. But on the final stage Solberg was promoted two spots when Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala dropped out of the battle ahead.
“This has been a very special day for the whole Subaru family,” said Solberg. “We haven’t had any problems at all and to be third here today is very important. I think that the car has much more to come but we have to take it step by step. Tomorrow will be tricky and rough so we have to be a little bit cautious. You have to think very carefully on this rally because it can take you out so quickly, but we’re going to do absolutely everything we can to get a strong result.”
Chris Atkinson finished the day eighth in the team’s second car. The Australian was unable to match the pace of his team-mate for much of the day, and had to drive the last stage with broken suspension, but said he was satisfied overall with what he had achieved. “Okay, we have finished the first day which is very important” reflected Atkinson. “It’s good to be in the new car, and we know we still have some work to do. We damaged a control arm in the afternoon on the roughest stage of the day which lost us some time. We knew introducing the car here would be tough, and we need to find a bit more performance, but that’s what we came here to learn, and we are learning.”
“It was a brave move to bring the new car to an event like this, but to succeed in motorsport you must be bold” said David Richards, Subaru World Rally Team Principal. “Petter and Chris did a great job and demonstrated a steady and consistent pace today on an event which claimed other front-runners. The new car is a definite step forward for us. By competing at this stage of the season we put ourselves in the best possible position to exploit the huge potential in the car and achieve our objective of winning again by the end of the year.”