Subaru World Rally Team boss David Richards has said that this weekend's Rallye Deutschland will be a critical one for 'his' team.

The tenth round in the World Rally Championship will be the first asphalt event for the relatively new Impreza WRC2008, which was launched before the summer break in Greece.

While the car has now done three WRC events and has achieved two podiums, thanks to Petter Solberg on the Acropolis and Chris Atkinson in Finland, all of those outings have been on gravel and so the trip to Germany's Moselwein region will be a significant one - especially with two more tarmac rounds to come in Spain and France in October.

"Germany will be an important rally for everyone as it will set the tone for teams' performance on the remaining asphalt rounds of the Championship in Spain and Corsica. It's even more crucial for us however, as it's the tarmac debut for the new Impreza," said Richards.

"But testing has been very encouraging, Petter [Solberg] and Chris [Atkinson] have traditionally been fast in Germany, and we now have the experience of three rallies to build on."

Petter Solberg meanwhile was pleased with his two-day pre-event test, but he knows the Trier-based round is notoriously difficult.

Indeed he has been forced to retire as often as he has finished in the six years he has contested it. He also had that big crash in the shakedown back in 2006, something that at one point left a question mark over his participation, such was the damage done to his car.

His best result came last season however, when he finished sixth, despite losing time with suspension damage on day 1 caused by a rock.

"Germany is a rally I like, but one I've had mixed experiences on. It's fast, but it's very unforgiving," added 'Hollywood'. "We have done two days' testing in the new car on asphalt, and Markko [Martin - the team's test driver] has done a few more days, so it's relatively new for us but things so far are feeling good.

"We've been fast in Germany in the past so we will see what we can do there in the new car. It's a new car on new tyres, so there will be a lot of learning for the team, but it's important ahead of Spain and Corsica."

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