21 Jan 08
Following the departure of Xevi Pons at the end of last year, Subaru will start 2008 as a two car team. Lead driver Petter Solberg will commence his tenth season alongside Phil Mills, while the second car will be driven by Chris Atkinson and co-driver Stephane Prevot.
Subaru last won a rally in 2005 and after two disappointing seasons the team has undergone a significant reorganisation over the short WRC off-season. Managing director Richard Taylor will concentrate on off-event work, David Richards is back as team principal and the man responsible for much of Subaru's technical success, David Lapworth, has also made a return.
The team's most pressing priority is to replace its ageing Impreza WRC2007 - the car it will use in the first half of 2008. All available resources have been diverted onto the new car project and until it appears Subaru will be keeping a low profile in the service area.
On the Monte Carlo stages, however, where outright performance isn't the most important factor, the WRC2007 may be at less of a disadvantage. "It's one of those events where anything can happen," said David Richards "Monte Carlo Rally has often turned out to be a lottery, where the weather has thrown up some opportunistic and historic victories, and if we can snatch those chances, who knows? I wouldn't be at all surprised if either of our drivers climbed the podium."
Petter Solberg thinks the key to success will be adapting quickly to the new tyres: "With no anti-deflation mousse you can't take risks in the stages as a puncture could finish your rally. There will be a lot of snow I think and Monte is always tricky anyway so it won't be easy, that's for sure. It will be about who can make the most of their tyres and adapt to the conditions fastest, but if someone manages something special with them people will follow quickly," he said.
Monaco resident Chris Atkinson is anticipating a snowy rally this time: "It's going to be an interesting event for sure. It's raining here in Monaco so I'm sure it's snowing in the stages already. I've never done this event with a lot of snow so it's new for me. Both times I've run this rally we've had good results, but I don't underestimate how much of a challenge it is. Although the tyre choices aren't wide because we only have one slick and a winter tyre, it's going to be important when we choose to take each one, and we have to watch out for punctures," he said.