Silverware for SWRT on all-new Impreza's debut The debut of the all-new Subaru Impreza WRC2008 was marked in style with second position overall at the close of the Acropolis Rally, the most challenging event on the WRC calendar. On the final...
Silverware for SWRT on all-new Impreza's debut
The debut of the all-new Subaru Impreza WRC2008 was marked in style with second position overall at the close of the Acropolis Rally, the most challenging event on the WRC calendar. On the final day, Chris Atkinson and Stephane Prevot were fastest on the opening stage, whilst Petter Solberg and Phil Mills crossed the finish to clinch their best result of the season.
The final day of competition on the Acropolis Rally of Greece faced competitors with stages of a very different nature. The seven tests were run on a much looser and even dustier surface, leading to generally reduced grip levels over yesterday when the longevity the Pirelli tyres was tested to the extreme. Although the first two stages were less rocky, the final test of the morning was incredibly rough.
"Chris continued his development and testing of the car today and tried a few new things that proved successful, giving him a dominant stage win this morning" said David Richards, Subaru World Rally Team Principal. "Today was a day of consolidation for Petter and Phil. You can take nothing for granted on a rally like Acropolis until the very end, and Petter's task was to bring the car home unscathed on a very challenging day that saw his brother drop from the lead trio.
"Many thought our decision to come here was risky but I'd like to pay tribute to the tireless efforts of our test team whose efforts have been totally vindicated. We are now onto the next stage of development for the WRC2008. We've completed the first event, and the many lessons we have learned here will stand us in good stead for the second half of the season."
Solberg and Mills consolidated a solid weekend aboard their new Impreza WRC2008 by retaining a remarkable second position overall. After a steady morning in which the pair took no risks and focused on simply driving to the finish, they marked a key milestone in the team's illustrious history.
"Ah! This is just incredible! I am so, so pleased. I can't put it into words!" exclaimed an excitable Solberg. "It is so good to be back here again, and so important. I'm so happy for the team who've put in so much work to get this car ready. It's incredible, I can't believe it. First time in the new car, second is not bad at all! We knew it would be tough here but to finish second is just great. It's what everyone has been waiting for. Phil and I, the team, the fans, everybody. This car has so much potential, I mean so much. This is it, we're coming back!"
Atkinson and Prevot set out to prove a point this morning. They left the service park for the first stage focused and fired up, and promptly delivered the Impreza WRC2008 its first stage win on its debut event.
After his electric pace during the day's opener, Atkinson had a spin on the second stage of the morning whilst running third fastest. Normally this would cost no more than a few seconds but, being the unforgiving Acropolis Rally, it lead to damage to his rear suspension when he struck a rock. Completing the remainder of the test, he was nevertheless unable to start stage 16 and was forced into retirement.
"It's good to get the first stage win for the new car on its first rally; it's a good feeling" said Chris Atkinson. "It obviously hasn't been a good weekend for points for us, but other people have had bad luck this year and we were just unlucky this time. We wanted to see what the car would do and it felt good this morning, which showed in the speed. We can be faster though as there is still more to come. When we get the package just right we'll be a lot faster still."
The next round of the series is Rally Turkey, last seen on the calendar in 2006. The sixth gravel event in a row this year is based in the city of Antalya, running from the service park in the town of Kemer. It consists of nineteen stages totalling 360 competitive kilometres. The stages are rough, and having moved to a date in June, the temperature is predicted to be near 30 degrees Celsius and the humidity high making for another punishing challenge.