Petter Solberg's co-driver Phil Mills believes that the main focus during the remainder of the season now for the Subaru World Rally Team should be to get ready for 2009.

While there is definitely an air of optimism at the Banbury-based outfit following the launch of the all-new Subaru Impreza WRC2008 on the Acropolis, the team still has some way to go to challenge Citroen and Ford.

Mills is confident however that they can do it and he has been encouraged by the form of the latest Impreza.

He now wants to make sure they get the car spot on over the next few months, so that he and Petter can hit the ground running in February 2009, when the new WRC season begins with the Rally Ireland.

"It has been three years now that we have been looking forward to the new car," Mills told Radio recently. "It was just a matter of sticking with it. The old car was a frozen specification and there was never going to be anything new on it.

"We knew exactly what we had from the start of this year. So there were no shocks there or no surprises. We just had to go with what we had. But in Greece everything turned around with the new car and I think it was all quickly forgotten. It showed it colours straight away and what it was capable of doing.

"We have had our fair share of disappointments [over the last few years]. But we are still hungry for it and we still go to every event thinking we can win or certainly be on the podium.

"We have never lost confidence in ourselves or the team. Everybody is working very, very hard. I think when the first victory comes in the new car it will be a very, very sweet one.

"The main thing now is that we get this new car sorted out by the end of the season. Then we can start 2009 with a proper attack on the championship. That is the priority at the moment."

While the year to date has been, as Mills labelled it, 'up and down', Phil added that it is by no means out of the question that he and Petter might take a win towards the end of the season, something they haven't managed now since 2005.

"I don't see any reason why we can't win in the second half of the year. The car is looking good," he continued. "Probably a little bit later on in the season is more realistic - Japan or Wales Rally GB time. We should start getting stronger now and if we can get onto the podium in any position we will be very, very happy."

This weekend the crews will compete on the Rallye Deutschland and while that will be the first asphalt run with the new Impreza, Mills is cautiously optimistic about what they might accomplish.

"It is looking very, very good. The car is just so well balanced compared to the old car - and that is crucial on tarmac," he explained. "On paper the car should be excellent on asphalt."

Asked if it seems like a long time ago that he and Petter were champions, Mills noted 2003 is a bit of a distant memory. He is convinced though that their fortunes will change.

"It seems like an awfully long time ago now [that we won the title]. In 2002, 2003, 2004 and even 2005 we had a real rollercoaster ride. We won many, many events. We won on snow, we won on gravel and we won on tarmac. We proved that we were an all-round crew. But then it has been just disappointment ever since. It will turn around though and we will have a lot of fun again. I can guarantee you that," he concluded.