24 Jan 08
Just before the 2008 season gets underway, wrc.com asked three WRC team bosses to make five predictions for the rallying year ahead. At the end of the season we'll see how they accurate they were. Who knows, if they're really good, we may even award a prize. For now though, here's what they said:
David Richards, team principal, Subaru World Rally Team:
1) The forthcoming 2008 Impreza WRC will enable Petter and Chris to compete for outright rally wins before the end of the year.
2) The drivers who are going to be successful on the new Pirelli control tyres will be the ones who can best modify their driving styles.
3) The drivers' championship will be more open than in the last couple of years. A greater number of different drivers will win events throughout the season.
4) Suzuki might prove to be a dark horse and before the end of the season we could well see four manufacturers competing for podiums.
5) 2008 will be the year when we see the emerging talents of a new generation of young drivers.
Malcolm Wilson, team principal, BP-Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team:
1) I think it's going to be extremely difficult for anybody to beat Sebastien Loeb on asphalt this year.
2) Some rallies are definitely going to be won and lost as a result of punctures. There's no question about that.
3) With just one tyre for all conditions, I have a feeling that the television footage from this season will be spectacular. If conditions are difficult on gravel rallies, then I think we're gong to see more drama than ever before.
4) I think that Stobart driver will beat the team's current best result of third overall.
5) Jari-Matti Latvala will win at least one WRC rally this year.
Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima, team principal, Suzuki World Rally Team:
1) There is no doubt that Sebastian is the driver who is going to rule the championship. However, there is a possibility that several other good drivers and good cars might have a chance to beat him on some rallies.
2) For Suzuki this year is the beginning of a project and everything we encounter will be new to us. Since it is the first year to do full championship, it will be an honour for us if one of our two cars finishes within the top six regularly in the latter part of the season.
3) By the end of the season, P-G Andersson will have brought his car home on the majority of rallies and will be in a good position to push harder in 2009.
4) I think that the new S2000 version of SX4 will make its debut in New Zealand.
5) I think this year's rally Japan will be more popular than ever before. With a new base in Sapporo I think it will attract 300,000 spectators.