Subaru team boss, David Lapworth has predicted that the competition will be very 'tough' in Germany this weekend.

Speaking in the count-down to the latest round in the WRC, Lapworth was slightly pessimistic about the teams' chances, however he was more than aware that team leader, Petter Solberg needs a good result if he is to remain in contention for the drivers' title.

"We expect the competition in Germany to be extremely difficult," confirmed Lapworth. "After all, this is the closest Sebastien [Loeb] has to a home event, and with three consecutive wins here it's obviously a strong rally for Citroen too. We'll do all we can though to keep them under pressure.

"We're now well into the second half of the season and Petter has some work to do if he's to catch Sebastien. We have to get some good results now and Petter's strategy here is to push wherever possible. We need to win some rallies."

As for Stephane Sarrazin, who will pilot the team's second Impreza, Lapworth has high hopes for the Frenchman, while Chris Atkinson, who is not nominated for points, has been told to take it easy and learn the event.

"For Stephane, this rally represents the first proper chance to show what he can do," added Lapworth. "Monte Carlo was a difficult rally to attempt with a new car but he did very well and, where the conditions allowed him to be more adventurous, he set some good times. He's done some testing in the new car and so he's more familiar with it and if we look at what he did last year, we have to think that he's going to be very impressive.

"Chris is the driver with the least experience of the event, so for him it's going to be all about learning."

Germany will be the first outing for the 2005 specification Impreza on asphalt, following its introduction at the Rally Mexico in March. As such it is highly important, with two more asphalt rallies to come later on in the year, in France and Spain.

"Germany is the first of three pure tarmac events and as such, is significant for us as it's the first time we'll compete with the Subaru Impreza WRC2005 on this surface," continued Lapworth. "Compared to the model we used in Monte Carlo, the WRC2005 has all new tarmac suspension and we also have the benefit of more tyre options from Pirelli which we'll evaluate at our pre-event test.

"A difficult aspect for the drivers in Germany is that the three days are all very different in nature, both to each other and anything else in the championship. They don't flow as they do on a traditional asphalt rally, which makes it hard for drivers to get into a rhythm.

"In Germany its full throttle, hanging on, hanging on some more, then brake and turn, while on a classic asphalt rally the roads tend to flow more from one corner to the next and it's much easier to get a feeling for the braking points and the balance of the car.

"In Germany there are lots of dead straight sections that provide no feedback at all. It can be hard for drivers to get any feeling for the level of grip, or the balance of the car and that makes it much more difficult."



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