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First look: Impreza WRC prepares for Acropolis now!

Pleiades: Subaru hopes its all-new Impreza WRC2008 will make a star debut at the Acropolis Rally in Greece.

Aussie racer to debut Subaru’s all-new rally weapon ahead of schedule

26 May 2008

THIS is the car that Australian driver Chris Atkinson hopes will propel him to a maiden victory in the World Rally Championship.

Atkinson, who lies third in this year’s title race after an unexpectedly strong start to the season with the old car, will debut the new Impreza WRC2008 ahead of schedule next weekend.

Along with team leader and former world champion Petter Solberg, who is eighth in the standings, Atkinson will both drive the new car on the famed Acropolis Rally in Greece starting on Thursday (May 29).

Subaru World Rally Team boss David Richards confirmed the earlier than expected debut of the long-awaited hatchback, which is based on the latest generation five-door Impreza.

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“We are very excited to be able to launch the all-new Impreza WRC2008 ahead of schedule,” he said. “It is testament to the dedication and commitment of the team behind the scenes in the UK and at STi in Japan.

“Just as the latest Impreza road car represents a new era for Subaru, so the WRC2008 represents a new era for all of us at the Subaru World Rally Team and I am confident that we will arrive in Greece able to fight competitively.” Although shorter than the previous WRX sedan both front and back, which should assist the drivers on tight rally roads, the new WRC2008 sits on a longer wheelbase and is based on the Impreza WRC STi that was launched in February.

The team has released few details on the car but said the 2.0-litre turbocharged flat-four engine produces around 224kW.

Subaru’s first hatchback WRC car will still run the iconic blue colour made famous by the team but features a new paint scheme with a more prominent Subaru logo. The drivers and crew will also appear in similar new outfits on the Acropolis.

After three years that were noted for crashes more than results, Atkinson is finally making his mark in the WRC.

Following last week’s sixth round in Sardinia, the Queenslander has 31 points to narrowly trail Ford’s Miko Hirvonen (43 points) and Citroen’s world champion Sebastian Loeb (40 points) with nine rounds remaining. Solberg has only nine points.

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