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Q&A: Petter Solberg - EXCLUSIVE

19 July 2007

by Rob Wilkins


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH PETTER SOLBERG: CLICK HERE


2003 World Rally champion, Petter Solberg is looking forward to the second half of the season, which gets underway early next month, with the Rally Finland. Crash.net Radio caught up with the Norwegian recently and he seemed quietly confident that the Subaru World Rally Team will do better...



Crash.net:
Petter, we are halfway through the season now, the long summer break is coming to an end, are you looking forward to competing again?

Petter Solberg:
Definitely, I have been waiting a long, long time and it is going to be a very interesting. The team have been working very, very hard and hopefully we can have a very surprising next half of the season.

Crash.net:
We spoke to you earlier this year after the new Impreza had made its debut on the Rally Mexico. How has the car come on since then?

PS:
Well we have been struggling, there is no doubt about that. I think the team have really found out lots of good things with the car though of late and we just have to wait and see at the next rally. I am actually going to do two-days testing in Finland now on Thursday and Friday this week [July 19/20]. We will then have a few more answers about all the big jobs that the team have done through the summer break. We have tested already on tarmac and we have seen some very good improvements. There are still some more details to sort but it looks like they have found the biggest problem that has been in the car for a couple of years.

Crash.net:
Can you pinpoint what that problem was?

PS:
No - I don't want to talk anything about that. It is better if you to talk to the team about that. Let's just hope we can start to fight again properly and win some rallies soon.

Crash.net:
The last event was the Acropolis Rally of Greece and by all accounts it was a very positive event for you and Subaru - you were second at the end of day 1 and you eventually took third place.

PS:
It wasn't bad. However we did lose too much time with the broken damper. I think we could have easily taken second place [if it wasn't for that]. Obviously it was a better performance than the last gravel rally and since then we have found out a lot more. Hopefully the car should be much, much better now.

Crash.net:
You mentioned testing a moment ago, have you been doing much during the summer break?

PS:
I have done a few days in England and have done some detail testing, just to find out things. We have done a couple of days in Germany for the rally there too. So I have done quite a lot, but we still need some more testing to get everything back on track.

Crash.net:
Have you had much chance to put your feet up during the break?

PS:
Actually I have my feet up now! I have just done some training and have been relaxing and watching the Tour de France a little bit. I have had a good break with my family. I have tried to give them as much time as I can, because I know it will be very tough during the remainder of the season. There is a lot of travelling to do, a lot of PR and promotion work to do and so on - but it is good fun when the car is performing better and better, as it is all the time now.

Crash.net:
The next event is the Rally Finland. What's going to be possible there for you?

PS:
Let's see after I have tested on Thursday and Friday and after we see how much the team has improved the car. Then I can tell you more after the test.

Crash.net:
Subaru will enter three-cars there, with Xavier Pons joining you and Chris Atkinson. Were you surprised by the teams' decision to expand to a three-car line-up?

PS:
That is the team's decision, keep me out of that! I am just the driver and that is it.

Crash.net:
Are you looking forward to working with Xavier and having an extra team-mate?

PS:
Yeah, it is no problem at all. I am quite easy going and as long as we are working for one goal to get the best result for the team, I am very happy.

Crash.net:
After Finland the WRC goes to Germany. There are four asphalt events in the second half of the year, including Rally Ireland. Will those be more difficult for the Impreza?

PS:
Well we have done some good improvements and hopefully that will show. Let's see first though, before I say anything. But things are going in a really good direction.

Crash.net:
David Lapworth is back with the Subaru WRT working as a consultant. How much of a boost is that for the team?

PS:
It is good to fun to have David back – although there are many people involved. There are lots of other guys as well too and there are some guys from other places there - the team is growing. It is a lot of new people, but all the information and things that are coming into the team is looking really good. They all look like they know what they are doing all the time now. That is giving us all a big boost - and confidence.

Crash.net:
What do you want to achieve in the second half of the season?

PS:
Well it is about time we started winning again. The team and me, we have been away from a win for a long, long time and we need to win rallies - that is it. We need to get everything back on track.

Crash.net:
Can you tell us anything about Subaru's plans for next year?

PS:
Hopefully it will be much, much better than it has been the last couple of years. That is the only thing I can say.

Crash.net:
Final question, in terms of the drivers' title, it looks like it will be a fight between Marcus Gronholm and Sebastien Loeb - any tips on which one of those might come out top?

PS:
Honestly, I need to get back and fight with them. That is the main thing. Between them, OK Marcus is really in for a big, big push now to try to win the championship and then we will have to see what he does at the end of the year, with retirement or whatever. He has driven for many, many years but we will see. I don't care so much about their performance. I think more about our performance to get back and beat them.


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH PETTER SOLBERG: CLICK HERE


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