29 May 08
Subaru World Rally Team principal David Richards says he settled on the Acropolis launch date for the new Impreza World Rally Car back in January this year.
Richards said the strategy was designed to give focus to the team’s test and development engineers and to enable the team to gather feedback on two WRC events before further development work is completed over the six week summer break.
The Subaru World Rally Team finally took the wraps off its new Impreza - known as the WRC 2008 - at a lunch function in Greece on Wednesday night.
The team says its new hatch-back World Rally Car is the most radically different version of the car to be introduced since the first Impreza was launched in 1993.
Developed alongside Subaru’s latest Impreza STi road car - which Petter Solberg and Subaru World Rally Team engineers helped to design - the new car shares virtually nothing with its saloon-bodied predecessor. The notable exception is Subaru’s flat-four ‘boxer’ engine, which is almost unchanged.
Externally, the new blue and silver livery is a bold step away from the familiar blue and yellow scheme which had decorated every WRC Impreza since 1993. Gone too is the car’s aggressive bonnet scoop.
At the launch David Richards talked to wrc.com about the new car.
What are the most significant changes over the previous Impreza?
DR: There is not one per cent the car that is the same. It has lower centre of gravity, different suspension, improved aerodynamics and so on. Fair enough, the engine is a carry over, but as everyone has always said, the engine is one of our strong points. So the engine is virtually the same but everything else is completely new.
What are you hoping to achieve on the car's first rally here in Greece?
DR: I think we’ve got to find out where we are in performance terms and expect the unexpected. There will inevitably be failures with the car. There will be things that go wrong; that’s how it is with a new car I’m afraid. We’ve got to adapt quickly to that and learn from it. We will learn more in these next two events that we’ve learned in the last six months of testing. And so we’re accelerating the process. Yes, it’s public, yes we face failures, but that that’s what it’s about, that’s what you’ve got to accept.
Petter says he would have liked more testing in the car before its first rally. Why did you decide to launch it here and not wait until the project was completely finished?
DR: Because it never will be 100 per cent finished. The only way is to throw everybody in at the deep end and say: ‘No excuses - we’re going to put you against the stop watch now.’ Engineers will take as long as they want, and so I said to them in January - guys we’re going to the Acropolis, I don’t want to hear one single excuse from anyone and also I don’t want any compromises. If anyone turns around to me now and says ‘if only I’d had more time or more money’ or ‘I wish I’d done it differently’. Well, just don’t ever say that to me.
What about Chris and this year’s championship. Can he challenge Loeb and Hirvonen in this car?
DR: If the car is good enough we’ll take what comes our way. It’s really optimising our performance now. If the car’s good enough then we must make use of it. I have every reason to think the car will be good.