Petter Solberg’s chances of defending his WRC title are looking slim, but Subaru says improvements to the Impreza WRC2004 will enable the Norwegian to triumph on Corsica’s twisty asphalt course.

Petter Solberg’s chances of defending his WRC title are looking slim, but Subaru says improvements to the Impreza WRC2004 will enable the Norwegian to triumph on Corsica’s twisty asphalt course.


Subaru team principal David Lapworth recently said that the 2004-spec Impreza was better than its predecessor on asphalt and on gravel. Peugeot and Citroën have dominated on the end-of-season sealed surface events in the recent past, but Lapworth said the trend would reverse at Rallye de France.


“We’re expecting the new car to work well on tarmac,” Lapworth said. “A lot of the work that we’ve done on the car has an even bigger effect on asphalt than it does on gravel. We’ve shown the step forward the car has made on loose surface events, and we’re hoping it will be an even bigger better on asphalt”.


Solberg needs to win the Rallye de France outright to stand any hope of catching title favourite Sébastien Loeb in the standings. The Frenchman is currently 26 points ahead and needs only five points from the remaining three rallies to take the title, and his Citroën is likely to be the car to beat on the asphalt events in France and Spain. The Norwegian will be hoping for a repeat of last year’s inclement weather, which helped him to win the rally.


“It has been really good fun to win the last three rallies,” Solberg said of his hat-trick of gravel victories in Japan, Great Britain and Sardinia. “I’ve had such a good feeling in the car and everything came together really, really well. There’s a big difference between asphalt and gravel. I do like the asphalt events, but it’s a different type of challenge.


“Last year, the win in Corsica was fantastic. I think we were helped a little by the weather and some good tyre choices, but to make such a comeback was great – the team worked so hard that weekend. Looking to this year, we’ll see what we can do. We’re just going to try and get the best result we can,” he added.