18 Jun 08
Following two back-to-back rallies with its new Impreza World Rally Car, the WRC2008, the Subaru World Rally team is embarking on an intensive summer development programme it hopes will turn the car into a winning machine in time for the next round of the WRC series in August.
When it introduced the WRC2008 on the Acropolis Rally of Greece, the British based team said it intended to use the event, and Rally Turkey which followed, as an extension of its own, off-event, test and development programme.
The theory was that running the car in the heat and dust of competition would enable the team to learn more about the car than by pounding it up and down test roads. Yes, there were downsides to testing in public - especially if lots of things went wrong - but if it meant the car could challenge the Citroens and Fords sooner, then fair enough.
"Greece and Turkey are two of the toughest rallies in the calendar, and that made them ideal for putting our car through its paces," explained Subaru World Rally Team Operations Director Paul Howarth. "They both feature a unique set of conditions you only find in the WRC once a year and it's almost impossible to test in conditions like that; it's hard to recreate the stage length and high temperature. The fact is you can't really prepare for those rallies without actually doing them."
After making it clear that durability and reliability, not results, were the priority on its first two events, the new car came pretty close to winning straight out of the box when Petter Solberg was second in Greece. It turned out that on the punishing Acropolis stages Subaru's cautious and careful approach was also a rally leading strategy. But although the result was welcomed at Subaru as payback for the huge efforts of the team's engineers and designers, the fact that both drivers had demonstrated stage winning pace and the fundamental reliability of their cars was more important to them.