Tommi Mäkinen, who narrowly missed out on a fourth Argentinean Rally victory last year, intends to make amends and score Subaru’s first win of the season at the event this weekend.

Tommi Mäkinen, who narrowly missed out on a fourth Argentinean Rally victory last year, intends to make amends and score Subaru’s first win of the season at the event this weekend.

The Finn will be looking to continue his successful history on the event. From seven starts, the Finn has not only won three consecutive times (1996, 1997 and 1998), but finished in the points on three other occasions.

Competing in a Subaru for the first time last year, Makinen was fighting for victory when he had a dramatic crash on the penultimate stage. His team-mate, Petter Solberg, has competed in Argentina three times and has scored points on each occasion. He finished in second place last year.

Last month, the 555 Subaru test team carried out two separate gravel development tests in France and Spain. The test in France took place from April 8 to 10 near Chateau Lastours. Test driver Paolo Andreucci took the wheel of a 2003-spec Impreza WRC and completed 430 km of loose surface testing, evaluating modifications to the engine, suspension systems and revised data logging software, consolidating braking and drivetrain set-ups for rough gravel and looking at changes to the engine cooling system.

The Spanish test took place from April 24 to 30 and Makinen and Solberg completed 898 km of testing in preparation for the forthcoming gravel events. During the test, the team focused on endurance evaluation and the set-up of a new suspension system, which will be introduced on the Argentina Rally. Work was also done on further refinements to the latest Subaru engine and transmission systems as well as evaluating brake set-ups for gravel rallies.

"We've just completed some testing in Spain with some new dampers, which went very well. The car felt very good, very nice to drive so I'm feeling positive. I'm looking forward to Argentina - it's one of my favourite events of the year,” Makinen said.

“Obviously, I have memories from last year's event when I suffered one of the biggest crashes of my career. It won't stop me pushing hard though. I feel really ready for the event and will be looking to achieve the best possible result that I can," he added.

"I completed four days of testing in Spain this week with the new dampers and there were no problems at all. It should be an interesting event in Argentina. I was very happy with my result in New Zealand, it was great to be on the podium again, but we still have some work to do,” Solberg said.

“Argentina should be good - I have quite a lot of experience there now and I'm feeling very relaxed and confident. It's a difficult rally, not like any other due to the mixture of water splashes and rough surfaces, but I'm hoping to finish on the podium again and get some more points," he added.

Subaru World Rally team principal David Lapworth said the team considered the recent Rally of New Zealand as “the first real traditional rally of the year”, but Argentina was “even more representative of the kinds of conditions we expect to do well in”.

“The Impreza is well suited to the conditions and we have a good history here, the Pirelli tyres have won here for the last four years and it's a favourite with the team and drivers. We expect to be competitive and realistically will be disappointed if we are not on the podium," Lapworth said.