"We should always be in contention for victory"
As Subaru manufacturer's Principal, Toshi Azuma has high expectations for the Subaru World Rally Team. Despite the lack of results in the first half of the 2006 season, Toshi Azuma is optimistic about the team's ability to
win - even before the end of the 2006 season.
Is Solberg's re-signing a reflection of Subaru's future commitment to the World Rally Championship?
“If the current situation continued, then obviously there would be little point in Subaru continuing to rally. We are one of the top teams and should always be in contention for victory. It is not easy at all to maintain the position as world's best, but we've already taken every possible action to achieve it again. If we can demonstrate it to the world, then long-term commitment to WRC will come naturally. Petter is one of the top drivers and our team is also one of the best. I firmly believe we have enough potential in terms of the car and engineering that we can achieve good results. Our biggest commitment can be seen in the fact that we will be competing with Petter for the coming three seasons.”
How important is WRC rallying to Subaru's marketing strategy?
“It is extremely important and in line with Subaru's philosophy of building cars that give a driving experience that is both safe and fun. The best way to demonstrate the world's best drivability, high speed and high safety that Subaru has with its all-wheel-drive layout, boxer engine and low-center of gravity is rallying.
It meets the purpose and can bring far more useful feedback to the development process than circuit racing because the former uses normal public road covered with ice, snow, rain, gravel or asphalt while the latter uses just asphalt. For us, there is no more appropriate stage than the WRC.”
How close is the relationship between Subaru in Japan and the team in the UK?
“At the beginning of Subaru's WRC activity the engine was developed in Japan while the body was mainly developed in the UK. With increased manufacturer involvement in the championship, we realised that engineering involvement from Japan had greater importance and we quickly increased the collaboration between Japanese and UK engineers. At first this focused on the engine area, but having achieved positive results we are now taking every possible action to increase levels of collaboration in other areas. Above all, The Subaru World Rally Team is a global team and while the UK and Japan sides still have their own areas of expertise, our aim is to have the most appropriate engineering team irrespective of national borders.”
What are your hopes for the rest of the season?
“At Subaru we have a philosophy of “driver and car in one-body”, which means a car that behaves as if it was part of the driver's own body, and that's what we're hoping to achieve with the rally car too. It is now required that we review our processes and make some changes to the cars. The most important thing is to be calm and steadily improve the rally cars and team to return both to the top level. During the second half of season, we hope to get podium finishes on all remaining events. We still believe we can win the rallies in Japan, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand.”
Press release SWRT