Subaru's operations director Paul Howarth has revealed that early runs with the new Impreza WRC car have all gone well - and that they have had 'no significant problems'.
The Banbury-based outfit has yet to announce when its new machine will make its competitive debut in the FIA World Rally Championship, but Howarth did add that newly signed test driver, Markko Martin, should beginning testing 'proper' later on this month.
To date they have only done shakedown runs with the car, notching up several 100 kilometres.
"We've been conducting rigorous systems tests so far to determine that every aspect of the car works as it should and is up to the required standard of endurance," he explained to the team's official website, www.swrt.com
. "We've conducted many kilometres of testing so far and everything is functioning correctly – we've had no significant problems and all the signs are good.
"Markko Martin commences testing within the next month, which will signal a move to setup and endurance-orientated work, rather than just shakedown runs.
"The current systems tests are essential in the overall test schedule, as we know from past experience that if we spend the time getting each system right in one hit, when we come to do the later tests at speed we know we have it sorted and can focus on performance aspects. Once testing has been completed to a sufficient degree of performance, the car will be launched."
As for what has been happening with the current car, which Petter Solberg
and Chris Atkinson
will have to use until the new machine is ready, Howarth noted that some progress has been made on that front too.
"For the start of the year we've made some changes to the Impreza WRC2007 and we'll focus on achieving the best results we can," he continued. "We've worked on the WRC2007 over the winter and have made some steps forward with it, but we have to remember that Ford and Citroen
are locked in a close battle and won't have been sleeping on their own development.
"I think everyone has the chance to benefit from tyres though, as punctures will be far more costly this year than last [with anti-deflation devices now banned]. Mexico in particular is a very tough event on which we have lots of experience, and the car worked well there last year. There is certainly the chance that results could be decided by punctures, especially early on when drivers are caught out by cuts."