Subaru Aims for Japan Win

With all eyes on the Sebastien Loeb – Mikko Hirvonen duel for the championship title this weekend, Subaru's Petter Solberg advised all rally fans in Japan to reconsider his team's chances of clinching their first WRC win in 3 years on home soil. The former world champ insisted that, despite Subaru's poor performances this season, the new car has been especially developed to fight for the win in Japan.

“My message to the Subaru and WRC fans in Japan is this: please look forward to this rally! We have been shifting our focus to gravel performance for Japan and GB and developing a set-up that will get the best from the car in these conditions. Just like when I won Rally Japan in 2004, I will head to Japan thinking of nothing but a victory,” said Solberg.

The Japanese manufacturer failed to develop their new 2008 car in time and started this season with the car used in the previous year. Nevertheless, even after the introduction of the 2008-spec car earlier in the season, Subaru still wasn't able to challenge rivals Citroen or Ford for championship wins. Their last win inside the WRC dates back to Rally Great Britain in 2005, when Solberg took advantage of a deliberate penalty gained by championship leader Sebastien Loeb and was awarded the 1st place.

Ranked 4th in the overall drivers' standings, Solberg's teammate Chris Atkinson also looks forward to the Sapporo-based rally with confidence. The Subaru driver became the first Australian to score a podium finish in Japan back in 2005 and is convinced he will do better this year.

“Though the stages are new and the rally has moved to Sapporo, experience shows that I like the narrow high speed stages of Japan which are similar to Finland where I scored my last podium this year. I was the first Australian driver to stand on the podium when I scored my very first podium here on the 2005 Rally Japan so I have some good memories. It's an important rally for us and the team, and I'm looking forward to it. It's the team's home and everyone there is a huge Subaru fan,” said Atkinson.

Subaru is currently 3rd overall in the constructors classification, 24 points ahead of 4th place Stobart Ford Rally Team.
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