Subaru team leader Petter Solberg was upbeat following the Rallye Deutschland at the weekend even though he only finished fifth, more than a minute off the final place on the podium.

Petter ran in the top-six throughout and as the event went on he felt more and more comfortable with the new Impreza WRC2008, which was making its competitive debut on asphalt on the Trier-based round.

Indeed his times progressively improved and on the final day he was third fastest in the penultimate test and equal fastest on the 4.37 kilometre Circus Maximus Trier SSS.

"We had no problems at all this weekend which is very good. The very positive thing is that things have improved through the rally," 'Hollywood' reflected. "We started with okay speed, and it got better through the rally.

"You have to remember we've only done two days' testing with the car [on tarmac], so I'm really very happy with it.

"I think we've found the direction we need to get the maximum from the car, so it's good."

Chris Atkinson was also reasonably happy and while he finished sixth, 2 minutes further back, the Aussie had a number of minor issues that cost him time - including an overshot on day 1 in SS6, a puncture on day 2 in SS11, and then a broken damper on day 3 in SS15.

"There were large gaps today so we weren't taking any silly risks," Chris continued. "Okay it's not been a bad weekend and there are a lot of things we can take forward from it.

"This morning was a little frustrating, but we tried to find out some new things today that will help us continue fine-tuning the car and improve our performance which is the main focus."

Subaru technical director David Lapworth meanwhile concurred with Petter and Atkinson that they learned a lot about the performance of the new Impreza on tarmac over the three-day event.

He also reckons that they will be in a much better position now ahead of the two remaining tarmac rallies in Spain and Corsica: "We came here with very little experience of the car on tarmac, yet Petter and Chris have scored good points, and we now have a very clear direction for our continued asphalt development," he concluded.