26 Jun 08
Markko, you joined the Subaru team at the start of the year to help develop the Impreza WRC2008, how busy has the team been keeping you?
I don't know exactly the number of days but it's been reasonably busy - actually busier than I expected. It's been good fun though. Last year I didn't do anything in a WRC car, so the first six months with Subaru has been the most time I've spent an a rally car for a long while.
How do you rate the new Impreza compared to the other WRC cars you have driven?
On the whole it doesn't feel too different to the other ones I've tried. For me the main thing is that it feels well balanced and easy to drive; these are the key improvements over the old model. Of course there's still some work needed here and there, but it's almost there I think.
You have said you prefer driving on asphalt to gravel. How the did the Subaru go on its asphalt test?
It was good straight away. Of course we had a few small issues but we were able to improve those very quickly. The car responded well to the set-up changes we made.
When do you think the car will be ready to win rallies?
It's hard to tell, but it feels good on asphalt and I think it should be competitive this year. Whether its ready to win rallies yet I'm not sure, that's up to the event drivers. Once they're happy with the package, the results will follow.
Looking at the WRC as a whole, have any of the drivers surprised you with their progress in the last few years?
I think Jari-Matti Latvala has made a huge improvement. He was showing good progress in the last couple of years, but this season he's taken a really big step and he's very competitive now with everybody. When a young driver shows such good pace that's a good sign, and you can't argue with Jari-Matti's speed. He's still very young, so he still has plenty of time but he's doing great so far. I'd say everything is possible for him.
How is the rally scene in Estonia now?
It's good. There are plenty of young drivers coming up, some of which I've been working with in recent years. This year I'm helping a young guy called Ott Tanak, he's doing really well at making the change from two-wheel to four-wheel drive and he's leading the Estonian Championship. He's done well so far but we'll have to see how he gets on. Always the first steps are easy; then it gets more difficult.
And in the WRC, your fellow Estonian Urmo Aava seems to be doing very well?
Yes, I think on the last two rallies he's shown some good stage times but he still needs to put a complete event together. He's shown he has the pace, but to win some stages and then finish a long way down the order is no good. But he's definitely shown some good progress and some speed. Next the final results have to be up there, that's what he needs next.