» BACK TO CRASH.NET

Crash.Net WRC News

Q&A: Richard Taylor - Subaru: EXCLUSIVE

24 November 2008

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH RICHARD TAYLOR: CLICK HERE


The Subaru World Rally Team will go to the Rally GB next week eager to end the season on a positive note and give itself a boost ahead of the start of the 2009 WRC campaign in Ireland.

Crash.net Radio's Rob Wilkins caught up with managing director Richard Taylor recently and spoke to him about December's round in Wales and got his thoughts on how things are looking for the future...



Crash.net:
Richard, just Rally GB remains now - what is the team hoping to do there?

Richard Taylor:
Clearly historically GB has been a good event for us over the years. We will be looking to see another step forward on the pace we had in Japan and we obviously posted a few fastest stage times there too. We will be looking for podium finishes at the very least.

Crash.net:
How have the teams' pre-event preparations been going?

RT:
Pretty well so far and as I said, following Japan, we obviously felt we had made some more good steps forward with the car. We hope to see a little bit more of that now in GB. We have still got our pre-event test to do because there are a couple of weeks left until the event [Richard was speaking on November 20 - Ed]. It is early days. But we are looking forward to seeing some improvements.

Crash.net:
How big a challenge is Rally GB?

RT:
I think all events are a significant challenge. GB is not a logistical challenge for us - indeed it is the least logistically challenging event for obvious reasons. But the stages and the conditions could be very, very challenging indeed this year.

Crash.net:
Of course this year the route has been revised slightly and the weather is always a factor too in Wales...

RT:
That is right - it can be. Not only have we got some stages that haven't been used for a while and a different route, but we are also running a little bit later in the year. It is in the first week of December and the weather could be very variable. We will all be doing it on one tyre this year too. I think it could be a very interesting challenge.

Crash.net:
Overall, how would you sum up 2008 for Subaru?

RT:
We have got to be realistic. We haven't won any rallies yet [this year] and that is not what we set out to do. We really aimed with the new car to get a couple of wins in at the very least. Obviously we are not going to be able to do two now [as there is only one round left]. We have had a couple of podiums with the new car and we had a few good podiums with the old car too. But overall we haven't quite got to the level of performance that we aimed to.

Crash.net:
The WRC switched to a control tyre this season and in addition the choice of compounds was restricted. Run-flat mousse was also outlawed. How good a job has Pirelli done in your view?

RT:
I think Pirelli has done a very good job actually. I know a lot of the teams and the drivers were quite nervous about this change twelve months ago and what impact it would have and whether events would be decided significantly by punctures and so on. But that really hasn't been the case. The tyres have performed well and Pirelli has done a really good job with it.

Crash.net:
Would you like to see any changes made for the future, perhaps in terms of more compound choices and so on?

RT:
No, I think on the basis of the way it has worked now it has been fine. Obviously next year we are going to have the interesting feature of the snow tyre not being on special wheels and it will be fascinating to see how that goes. But I actually think what we have had this year has worked very well from every ones perspective - and I certainly hope it has from Pirellis too.

Crash.net:
The new Impreza was introduced back in June on the Acropolis. The team has lots of experience with the car now, how confident are you going into 2009?

RT:
We are obviously looking to make some further improvements. Everybody continually develops their car, as our competition will be doing too. I think now in the last couple of months we have definitely got the direction with the car right. The drivers' are feeling more confident with it now and we can go into 2009 looking for a big step forward and looking to be much closer and mixing it with Ford and with Citroen.

Crash.net:
There has been a lot of speculation about who might drive for Subaru next year. Can you re-clarify who will drive for the team?

RT:
Chris [Atkinson] and Petter [Solberg] are both contracted as has been publically known for a long time. They are both contracted and both will obviously be there in 2009.

Crash.net:
Any news yet on if you will run a third car in 2009?

RT:
We are still talking to a number of people. We are optimistic that we will be able to finalise something fairly soon. It is still very much our wish to run a third car next year.

Crash.net:
Is Guy Wilks still in contention?

RT:
Definitely yes, Guy is one of the people we are talking to and as always at this time of year everybody is looking at the options that they have got and what they will be doing next season. He is definitely in contention and as I said, is one of the guys we are in talks with.

Crash.net:
Subaru will effectively have a 'B' team next season, with the Adapta WRT fielding two Impreza's. How much will that help and could we see any other teams running Subaru's as well?

RT:
Our objective for next season was always to get a manufacturer team running with us and we are delighted that Adapta have chosen to do that. We have had a good relationship with the people there and with Morton Ostberg for many, many years now. He has been part of the Subaru family for ages. We are delighted to see them extending their WRC programme with us.

Crash.net:
There has been talk as well that Prodrive and Subaru might split. Is there any truth to that?

RT:
No, none at all. We are all working very hard together on getting the performance back to where it should be.

Crash.net:
There will be 12 events next year and in 2010 - provisionally - are you happy with the rotation plan that comes into effect in 2009?

RT:
I think what all the manufacturers want to see is the events in the right car markets that have the right market value. The 2009 calendar everybody accepts and obviously there are still question marks over 2010 because there are some events in there that maybe won't run and maybe won't pass the FIA safety standards. But I think from our perspective what we would very much like to see is a core of events that reflect the traditional values of the championship and are in the right markets. Also there needs to be the opportunity to bring in new events in important car markets. Again I think all the teams have made it clear that is what they would like to see in the longer term. The idea of 12 and 12 we didn't feel worked particularly well, simply because there are not 24 events out there that are going to be right for the manufacturers' and the marketing of the championship.

Crash.net:
Final question, the WRC still hasn't got a global promoter and as far as I know, the future regulations still need to be hammered out as well. What progress is being made on both of those fronts?

RT:
Obviously the global promoter has gone out to tender now and the tenders have closed. The ISC, who are the current media rights holder, we believe have put themselves forward and we feel they would be a good partner for that. Hopefully we will see an announcement certainly before the Rally Ireland as to who the global promoter will be and that can then move the championship forward.

Crash.net:
What about the future regulations?

RT:
Again all the teams and all the manufacturers have worked very closely with the FIA for many months now. We feel that the format and the template that has been produced with the kit to give you a Super 2000 plus car or Group N plus car fulfils the marketing requirements for the manufacturers' and is absolutely the right way to go. We very much hope that the FIA will sign that off shortly.

Crash.net:
Will that cut costs?

RT:
Yeah it will do - but it is important to get the right balance there. It is not only about the absolute cost of producing a car. It is about the costs of running the car too. The direction we have gone over the last few years, with multiple use of engines and transmissions and so on, is very important - it is critical to retain that. It makes a big difference to the overall cost of operating. It is not just about the initial cost of the car. It is about the cost of running it too.


by Rob Wilkins


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH RICHARD TAYLOR: CLICK HERE


» BACK TO CRASH.NET