Austrian Achim Mortl, newly signed by the factory Subaru team to contest the German and Italian rounds of the WRC, talks about how he clinched the converted seat, the pressure he's now under and working with the likes of Tommi Makinen and Petter Solberg.

Q:
A factory team drive with the 555 Subaru World Rally Team sounds an incredible opportunity. How did it come about?

Achim Mortl:
My contact with Subaru/Prodrive began several years ago. In 1999 I won the Austrian national championship driving a Subaru supported by the Prodrive team. In 2000, certainly the most difficult year of my career to date, the Promoter Rennsport team contacted me and together we were able to better plan preparations for my driving career.

In the 2001 season, we competed in a Prodrive supported Subaru WRC. In 2002 we changed over to Grifone/Peugeot Sport and competed in the first half of the season. Because of our experience in the Subaru and our performance on asphalt surfaces, we were contacted by the 555 Subaru World Rally Team and offered this wonderful opportunity.

Q:
How does the programme for you and co-driver Klaus Wicha look in more detail?

AM:
We are planning to compete in four rallies in 2002. The first two are on asphalt in Germany and Sanremo and for those events we will be nominated to score manufacturers points for the team - a team can nominate up to three drivers to score points. We are also looking to compete on gravel in New Zealand and Australia although the exact details of those events have not yet been finalised.

Q:
That means you are under plenty of pressure?

AM:
Yes! However, it is a positive sort of pressure. We can work together with the 555 Subaru World Rally Team on a very professional level. The team has very specific aims for what they want me to achieve and we must work very hard to try and meet those expectations.

Q:
Have you had much time to test the Subaru Impreza WRC2002?

AM:
Because the Finland Rally is being run before we compete in Germany, we will scarcely be able to test, due to the compressed programme. But the team is aware of this situation. Consequently we will try to drive at the highest possible performance level at the German Rally. Should we attain enough special-test kilometres at the German Rally, then we will certainly be more on the offensive at the San Remo Rally.

Q:
What do your two team-mates, Tommi Makinen and Petter Solberg say about your enlistment?

AM:
They are both 100-per-cent professionals, who mainly concentrate on themselves. At our first meeting they congratulated us. During the test days in Germany, we already exchanged certain information about our experiences. Basically in the rally sport, you must rely on yourself and your personal team, such as your co-driver, etc. The only thing that counts is your performance.

Q:
How is it working out with your German co-driver, Klaus Wicha?

AM:
Considering the relatively short time that we've been working together, we've adjusted to each other very well. Now we've got to do a good job in the elite league. We're confident and very much looking forward to our first event with the team.