by Rob Wilkins.

Subaru WRT sporting director, Luis Moya speaks exclusively to Crash.net Radio about this weeks announcement that they have agreed new three-season deal with their number one driver, Petter Solberg. He also gives his thoughts on their dismal form to date in 2007 and explains why he is convinced it will be a different story in the second half of the year...

Q:
Luis, some big news for the Subaru camp this week with news that Petter Solberg has signed a new three-season deal, how big a boost is that for the team?

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Luis Moya:
It is very important. I think the timing is also good because our situation at the moment is not very good in the championship. But we have no doubt that, like I have seen in the past myself when I was with Carlos [Sainz], it is a question timing, when you are competing you cannot be on the top ten years in a row! We will be again back on the top and until we are again, Petter's deal shows we are confident.

Q:
Obviously the results, as you say, haven't been what Subaru or Petter would have wanted this season. How much pressure has that put on the relationship?

LM:
Oh no, it is no pressure. I mean we all want to win, we are here to win and we will win again - that we have no doubt. The positive thing though is that we know that the car is fast and it is far from being 100 per cent at the moment. And yet despite not being 100 per cent we are still showing some competitive times and Petter is very quick in some rallies. And so we have no doubt that, of course not this year, because this year our target now should be to win some rallies because although mathematically we can still win the championship it is not realistic, but definitely next year we are going to go for the championship.

Q:
Petter has looked and sounded very frustrated at times - there was some talk he might leave the SWRT. How close was that to happening do you think?

LM:
Well I think it is normal that you get frustrated when you are not winning. But it is not only Petter, also Phil [Mills - his co-driver] is frustrated, I am frustrated, and the mechanics are frustrated and the people back at Banbury and Japan they are frustrated. We are all trying to win and it is difficult when you are trying so hard, because we try very hard and we can't [win]. At moment we have to take our hats off to Citroen and Ford because they are doing a very good job and we just have to make sure that we don't lose our line. We must stick to our line and we must stick to our philosophy - and we will win again.

Q:
How confident are you that you can bounce back in the second half of the season?

LM:
100 per cent - but as I said before, our target now cannot be to win the championship because even though mathematically we may have the possibility it is not realistic - it is far from being realistic. The car will be competitive. We have been making some changes in the car and slowly, slowly we are getting back on the line we want to be. And when we homologate new things for the end of the season then I have no doubt that will help as well. So we will be up there again.

Q:
Can you give us any detail on what is being done to improve the Impreza WRC during the summer break?

LM:
Well I am the sporting director of the team, I mean for those technical questions it is better to speak with Paul Howarth. But there are things everywhere. It is a little bit on the engine, it is a little bit on the geometry of the car, it is a little bit on the diffs, it is a little bit on the suspension. There are bits everywhere. As you know we are quite limited by the regulations so there is not much you can do. But within the limits of the regulations we trying always to improve in all the areas we can, aerodynamics as well - so we are trying all possible directions. But as I say it is difficult to improve massively in one go. So it has to be step-by-step.

Q:
I assume Pirelli are busy working on the tyre front as well?

LM:
Yeah but I mean the problem with Pirelli and it is a problem they have had for a lot years, it is not Pirelli themselves. It is the fact that Michelin have five teams working for them and Pirelli has only one and that makes a huge difference when you are going to test or race because every test Michelin has been doing the last 10 years it was always multiplied by five and then the teams can re-check the tyres and all that. With us it was only one, until Mitsubishi and Peugeot joined lately [in 2005], but Subaru has been very faithful at working with Pirelli because they do a very good job with us. But of course when someone can do five times the amount of work you do then obviously you develop quicker.

Q:
Which events left now do you think will suit Subaru?

LM:
I would say the other way, I would say there is only one event that doesn't suit us and that is the Germany event, the one coming immediately now [on asphalt in August]. After that we will be very competitive in all the other remaining events to the end of the season, like Finland, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, RAC or UK or England - I never know what is the name of the rally there! - the Rally UK. There are plenty of events that we have won there and we have shown we have been very competitive there. Petter has not won in Finland but I have no doubt he can do it there. So apart from Germany I think we can win in all the other rallies. It doesn't mean we will win them all of course, but we can win in all the rest.

Q:
Looking ahead to 2007, what can you tell us about the team's plans for next season?

LM:
Well the plan will be the same as we always do - develop, make good work, but of course we have to wait until July for the World Council decision on what the 2007 championship is going to be like, because we don't know the rallies yet. We have to define our team for the future and we have to define the strategy for next year. But at the moment until we see which rallies we are going to do, because it is not decided yet, it is very difficult to plan.

Q:
There was no news on who will partner Petter in 2007, have you been pleased with the performance of Chris Atkinson and Stephane Sarrazin this season?

LM:
I think they did what we asked them to do to be honest. And as I said to you now, until July we don't know how the next season is going to be [in 2007]. So we would like to plan as soon as possible, to start to plan for next season and of course we are thinking about it, but we need to know what the rallies are going to be like and how the championship is going to be. We think it will be eight or nine rallies but we don't know whether it will be a lot of tarmac or not and that would probably change the strategy.

Q:
You were quoted a month or so ago saying how much you admire Daniel Sordo. Can you add anything to this? Are you in talks with him?

LM:
When people ask me about Dani Sordo I say something that is obvious to anyone in the newspapers and to anyone who follows rally: he is a very competitive driver and he doesn't make mistakes. That doesn't mean that I am not happy with our drivers though. I am very happy with Chris, I am very happy with Stephane and of course with Petter, but sometimes they ask my opinion about Sordo and because I am Spanish I give an answer. But I wouldn't like people to think because I am saying this we are trying to get Sordo. We have to work with the drivers we have and then the future, the future will tell what to do. At the moment we are very happy with both Chris and Stephane.

Q:
Final question: what do you think of plans to operate a rotation system with the WRC calendar in the future?

LM:
Well I would like to see how it is rotates. As I said in the past I thought that a second division would be ideal. You know to create a second division of rallies like we do in football, basketball, in mainly all the sports. If you have a second division and you put a criteria for the rallies based on safety, cost and logistics for example and then the rally that doesn't achieve a minimum amount of points should go down to the second division. Whether it is two or three rallies that go down to the second division that is up to the FIA to decide. But I thought that would be a good idea because with that you put pressure on the events to run them as professional, as good as possible. Also at the same time you allow new events to come in, because of course you have to open a door to Portugal, Jordan, Norway and South Africa. I mean at the moment I think the championship is in one of the healthiest situations in the history of rallying because we have 16 events and six countries that want to come in. So, that shows we are doing things right. But how we get them all in I don't know.

Q:
Are you in favour of the WRC running over two calendar years?

LM:
Yeah I think the idea is very good because we are trying to avoid the summer. In the summer, this year we are seeing with the World Cup but also there is a lot activities in motorsport - motorbikes, Formula One - and I think we should try to be away from them because then we will get much more coverage. Our sport like every sport we do is to sell the cars and the more the people see us on TV and in the press and the better it will be. And so for that reason I think we should run it like that.