Acropolis : Subaru World Rally Team - Preview
The Subaru World Rally Team has entered two Impreza WRC2007s for the eighth round of the World Rally Championship, Acropolis Rally of Greece. Petter Solberg/Phil Mills will drive car number seven, while Chris Atkinson/Stephane
Prevot will drive car number eight. Petter and Phil have contested the event six times with Subaru: in addition to a win in 2004, they have also finished second (2001), third (2003), fifth (2002) and seventh (2006). This will be Chris's third time in Greece (albeit his first with Stephane Prevot as his co-driver) and the Australian is aiming to use the experience gained on the Greek stages in 2005 and 2006 to secure a solid points finish. The Subaru World Rally Team has a record of five wins in the past 13 seasons in Greece.
There's been little time for rest and relaxation for the drivers since Rally d'Italia-Sardegna ended. The drivers all left the Italian island on the Monday after the event. Petter and Phil joined the test team for two days of driving deep in the countryside of mid-Wales, on Wednesday and Thursday. Chris is scheduled to take over testing duties today. Chris, Phil and Stephane are due to join the team to begin their pre-rally preparations on Sunday, with Petter following on Monday. Meanwhile, the bulk of the equipment has been transported straight from Sardinia to Greece without returning to the team's UK headquarters in Banbury, Oxfordshire.
Richard Taylor, SWRT Managing Director
We're in the middle of a test at the moment, and it's difficult to set precise targets for Greece until we've assessed the results of our three days in Wales.
The close proximity of the Acropolis Rally to the previous event in Sardinia, allied to the fact that we have to use the same car for both events, means that we won't have much time to implement improvements to the car, so we're anticipating that the changes in Greece will be small. However we have a very good engineering plan for the summer break and also expect to utilise some extra engineering resources to help our development move forward at a faster rate. I'd expect to see significant progress by the time the WRC reconvenes for Rally Finland in August.
Paul Howarth, SWRT Operations Director
We're heading to Greece a little earlier than usual we have to use the same car for this event as we did in Sardinia, so we'll rebuild the cars down there, rather than back at base. The build-up to the event has been very wet. I don't think it is going to be as rough as the Acropolis was last year. The stages have received more work since last year and seem to have held up despite the poor weather. Nevertheless it will be a tough event, and Saturday is going to be more like rallies were in the past we've got a 48km stage and two remote service halts, so the team will be chasing the rally cars around the country. There could be as many as 20 World Rally Cars on this event, so there will be a lot of competition for points. We need to make sure we stay consistent all the way through.
We've been working hard to develop the car in Wales this week, so hopefully we'll see an improvement when we get to Greece next weekend. I think we also need a change of luck! Of course this event has always been difficult with the weather and rough tracks, although the new stages might be slightly less demanding on the car. We will know when we do the recce, but to be honest I don't care if the stages are tougher or easier, I will always try my best.
It's hard to make a prediction before I test the car today, but there were moments in Sardinia when we were right where we wanted to be. Our pace on the opening morning was promising and right now we're trying to ensure we can attack like that all the way through the Acropolis Rally. We already know it's going to be one of the toughest events of the year. The rally throws up so many variables and you've got to stay sharp from start to finish.
Subaru World Rally Team