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Q&A: Petter Solberg - EXCLUSIVE

24 March 2007

by Rob Wilkins


Subaru team leader Petter Solberg is on something of a high having got his hands on the new Impreza WRC2007 in Mexico. Crash.net Radio caught up with the Norwegian recently and got his thoughts prior to the Rally Portugal, the fifth round in the 2007 FIA World Rally Championship...


Q:
Petter, I guess given the form of the new Impreza in Mexico and the times you were able to set before you retired, you are feeling pretty positive and happy with things?

Petter Solberg:
Well of course, there has been a lot of work behind the scenes from the team and everybody. We are still not up to date with everything. We are still working on the balance and the chassis of the car, but still the main basic things are right and that makes things much easier to drive. It is then much more fun for me and I can do a better performance. We have gone back to basics and now things will go much easier.

Q:
In what ways is the new Impreza better for you as a driver?

PS:
It is just easier everywhere and in every type of condition. This is what we need to go quick. Back to basics is the main thing - good weight distribution, better traction, much, much less under-steer and so obviously big, big change.

Q:
What needs to be done now to fine-tune it for Portugal?

PS:
I am going over to England tomorrow [Friday March 23] to try and fine-tune it and we have some new parts that we want to try. So, from that point of view I hope we can get an even better balance for Rally Portugal.

Q:
Is it at all worrying for you that your team-mate, Chris Atkinson dropped back on days two and three in Mexico (from second overall at the end of Friday to fifth at the finish)?

PS:
It is strange actually. OK, it is different stages, but I don't know [why he lost time] – honest, I don't know. We will just have to see when we go to Portugal. We know that everything was correct with the car and we know that the engine was OK. Everything was perfect. We don't know exactly [what happened].

Q:
Do you think this is the start of a Subaru come-back now after a difficult 2006?

PS:
Yes, definitely. It is just very important for the whole team that we are back again and that is the main thing. So, I hope we can show a very good performance in Portugal and just prove that we can do well there.

Q:
How do you think you will be able to go in Portugal?

PS:
We will see. I think and hope I will be able to win.

Q:
It's obviously a new event will that help or hinder you?

PS:
It doesn't matter. I don't care. I drive on the roads that we go to and it is up to me to show my performance, together with the team. That is how it works.

Q:
Do you or the team know anything about the new Rally de Portugal?

PS:
We know it is fast and smooth. We know the roads are nice, although of course second time through things will be rougher. We will see.

Q:
How have you found it switching from Pirelli tyres to BFGoodrich?

PS:
It is working well and we don't have any major problems. We [Phil Mills – my co-driver and I] don't have any choices with these things and we just follow what the team is doing. I am just the driver and that is it.

Q:
There is a one month gap between Portugal and Argentina, how helpful will that be in terms of working on the new car?

PS:
Well we have some more testing and we will have some new things for Portugal. We will see after this rally what more we need to do in the details and hopefully the gap [to Ford and Citroen] will come down.

Q:
What realistically is the target for you this year now?

PS:
What is realistic? Well obviously we have to try not to panic, since we lost a lot of points in Mexico. There is a gap of 24 points up there to the leader but you can lose a rally very quickly. Hopefully if I can win some rallies soon and a couple of the guys retire we will be back in it again. Then, hopefully I can tell you we will fight for the championship later this year.

Q:
There is still a long way to go isn't there - 12 events, that must be a big plus point?

PS:
Of course, but lets take it rally by rally, step by step and then take a real look at everything halfway through the season. Hopefully then we can give it a big shot for the championship.


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