by Rob Wilkins
TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH RICHARD TAYLOR: CLICK HERE
Subaru World Rally team managing director, Richard Taylor hasn't had the easiest of times of late as the Banbury-based outfit struggle to match the likes of Ford and Citroen.
Rob Wilkins caught up with him pre-New Zealand to find out about what progress is being made, as well as asking him about the new Impreza, which will come out next season and reports Petter Solberg might not be with the SWRT in 2008...
Richard, this season has been a really difficult one for Subaru. At the last event in Germany though, while the result wasn't much to shout about, the pace of the Impreza was very positive. How much of a boost was that?
It was a massive boost for the whole team - and the drivers' as well. I think the progress we have been making has started to show over the last few events. In Greece, Petter [Solberg] had gotten onto the podium and then in Finland, Chris [Atkinson] had a very strong fourth place. So, we were confident we were going in the right direction. However we are obviously really pleased to see the tarmac performance of the Impreza WRC over in Germany.
How is morale at the SWRT because the team have been having a really tough time the last few years?
It has been character building! Morale is still very strong. The team has always pulled closely together and worked well together. Over the last couple of months, as I said, we have started going in a very positive direction and so morale is good.
The bottom line though is that Subaru haven't won since 2005 – that's not a very good statistic is it? It must be a real concern…
Absolutely, it is not the sort of performance we are use to - nor is it acceptable to us. The efforts that have been going in over the last few months to put that right have been massive and while we are confident we are making progress, we have got to prove it by getting some results.
Picking up the point you made about what has gone on over the last few months. Some changes were made at the end of May within the engineering department, including bringing David Lapworth back as a consultant on a short term basis. Are those changes having the desired effects now?