24 Oct 08
Is the team under extra pressure from Subaru to perform well in Japan?
There is pressure but we don't need anyone else to apply it because we apply it ourselves on every event. Obviously it's important for Subaru, for ourselves as a team and for our drivers that we put in a good performance in Japan but Subaru remain very, very supportive of the team. We're a long way down the road of developing plans for 2009 with them both financially and operationally. It's a positive situation.
Earlier this year your team stopped buying off-the-shelf dampers from BOS and took development in-house. Now the team is working with Swedish damper firm Ohlins. How do they fit into the plan?
Effectively from Finland this year we agreed, by mutual consent, to change our relationship with BOS and take over responsibility for the dampers. This means that some of the hardware is still supplied by BOS but a lot of the internals are our own development. We have now started a development partnership with Ohlins with the objective of producing a new damper for 2009. For homologation reasons we will continue to use the Subaru/BOS units for the rest of this season.
How far advanced is the Ohlins project? Will the new damper be ready for the first event next year - Rally Ireland?
We're currently in the development phase but hope to test for the first time in the next month. We?re aiming to homologate them from 1 January 2009 but we don't know how quickly we'll be able to use them on the cars; sometime in the first part of next year, certainly.
There has been some speculation concerning driver switches for 2009. Will Petter and Chris still be drive for Subaru next year?
Both are contracted to us for next year, and that's been the case for some while. Chris is on a two year contract and it will be the third year of Petter's current contract.
British driver Guy Wilks is hoping to secure a place at SWRT in 2009. How likely is that to happen?
We haven't confirmed anybody for a third car yet. We're talking to a number of people. Hopefully the situation will become a clearer in the next few weeks.
Brice Tirabassi drove a third SWRT car in Spain and Corsica this year. Can we expect to see him back in a Subaru soon?
We honestly don't know at this stage. That was very much a one-off deal for those two events which he was keen to do. He's one of the people we're talking to about next year.
But you expect to run more cars in 2009 than you did this year?
We've always said we'd like to see five or six Subaru World Rally Cars running in total. So far we have the two-car Adapta M2 team - a satellite operation - already lining itself up. We wouldn't expect to run more than three or four cars ourselves, whether as an 'in-house' M2 team or simply as additional SWRT cars. We could run a third car for sure; we've done it plenty of times. We could potentially run a fourth car as well; we're fairly flexible.