From Subaru Press [ 30/09/2003 ].
Click to read all other Subaru News.
This week, thousands of enthusiastic rally fans will descend on the normally tranquil Italian seaside town of Sanremo, as the area plays host to round 11 of the 2003 FIA World Rally Championship. The 555 Subaru World Rally Team will be entering two Impreza WRC2003s, which will be driven by Tommi Makinen and Petter Solberg. The 555 SWRT duo of Makinen and Solberg have a good record in Italy. Tommi has taken part in the rally nine times, winning the event on two occasions, while this year will be Petter's fifth start. In 2003 he finished third to take the final podium position
Contested amid the stunning scenery of the Southern Alps, high above the Riviera resort, Rallye Sanremo is the first of three classic asphalt events scheduled for October. A more compact event than Catalunya, and less specialised than Corsica, the rally's mix of twisty, narrow mountain roads which run through picturesque Italian villages, draws thousands of passionate rally supporters.
Correctly anticipating stage conditions is one of the most difficult challenges facing teams on Rallye Sanremo. While the town itself enjoys a fine climate all year round, high in the mountains it's a very different story. The unpredictable autumn weather can mean bright sunshine and heavy rain are just minutes apart, and getting a car to the stage start in the correct set-up, with the appropriate tyres, is critical to success. But it's not just about predicting rainfall. The stages are renowned for their varying levels of grip, and drivers need to accurately judge the effect of fallen leaves on the road, damp tarmac in shaded, woodland sections, and adjust their speed accordingly.
Kicking off with a ceremonial start in Sanremo on Thursday evening, the event proper begins on Friday when competitors leave the rally's base in Imperia to contest the first of three days of high-speed action. Comprising 14 stages and a competitive distance of 387.36km, the rally features the second longest stage in the Championship, the 52.35km section at Teglia, which is used twice. Comprising just seven stages in total, all of which are repeated, the rally is centred around a single service park in Imperia, while Rally HQ will be at the opulent Hotel Royal in Sanremo.
Petter Solberg: "I'm feeling so, so good after my victory in Australia. We're getting closer and closer to the top of the Championship now and it feels good, you know, good fun. The WRC is a tough competition, but I'm always trying hard on the stages, and doing my best to try to win as many events as possible - I think it's paying off. October's going to be a challenging month with the next three asphalt rallies coming up, but I'm feeling positive and will be working hard to finish all the events on the podium. I beat Richard in Sanremo last year and will be looking to do the same again. I really enjoy Sanremo, and I'm looking forward getting there again this time as it's always an exciting event. Tyre choice can be tricky due to the changing weather in the mountains, especially as it's always different to the conditions in the service park but, for me, that just adds to the challenge."
Tommi Mäkinen: "For me, Sanremo is a good event, not as twisty as Corsica and not as fast as Spain. I've won the rally twice before and it feels good to be returning to tarmac. As the rally's being held a little later this year, I think the conditions may not be so good - there's likely to be a lot of leaves lying on the roads and standing water. But, it's a good event with lots of different types of surface and nice, flowing stages that are good to drive on. We finished the last tarmac event, Germany, with a very good set up so I'm feeling confident. There are a few little things to change, but we will work on these on the two-day test that starts today."
555 Subaru World Rally Team Principal, David Lapworth: "Sanremo is a classic smooth surface event that brings tricky weather conditions and an emphasis on tyre performance and tyre choice. The weather conditions in service and on the stages are often completely different and choosing the correct tyre for a stage sometimes two hours in advance is often a tough call. Getting the decision wrong on asphalt is a costly mistake - there's much more of a contrast between the grip level on wet and dry asphalt than wet and dry gravel.
"Our main objective for Sanremo, and the following two asphalt events, is to consolidate Petter's Championship position and keep him in contention for the title. We'll go for a calculated approach, looking at our rivals and adjusting tactics accordingly. We're confident in Petter's ability to consistently score points on the forthcoming events with the aim of going to Rally GB in a position to clinch the Championship.
Looking to the technical details, Petter's car will be fitted with a new electronic control system, which replaces the previous engine ECU, transmission ECU and data-logger. The bespoke system, which utilises Formula One technology, is able to process more information at a higher speed than its predecessor and has been introduced as part of our ongoing development programme. As their home event, Sanremo is an especially important rally for Pirelli too. They have been working hard to develop an improved asphalt tyre for events this year. We saw some improvement in Germany and we've seen more again on recent tests. It's always difficult to quantify testing gains outside a rally environment, but with the new construction and compound that both drivers will use here, we feel Pirelli have made a significant step forward."