Subaru rally driver Chris Atkinson is set to debut the new Impreza WRC2008 when the Acropolis Rally gets underway in Greece this Friday.

Atkinson has had his best season ever, taking four podiums from the first six events, but he is hoping that the new car will mean he has the weapon to push for outright honours as the season continues.

The Acropolis Rally is one of the most testing events on the calendar, and while Atkinson hopes he will be more competitive, he is not anticipating instant success.

It’s the Queenslanders fourth running of the event; his best was a sixth last year.

“It’s the first time out in a new car so it’s very exciting, but you’re always a little cautious,” Atkinson said.

“If the feeling’s good I’ll be pushing straight away. There’s no reason not to, and obviously I’m looking forward to the opportunity to see where we are with the car.

“We know it’s going to be a very tough event as there are so many variables, so it won’t be easy, but I hope we can take another step in the right direction and start to close up to the frontrunners.”

Subaru World Rally Team principal, David Richards, is upbeat about the weekend ahead.

“Acropolis will see a very different Subaru World Rally Team as we return to full strength upon the debut of our new car,” Richards said.

“Whilst a very different look and direction for us, the WRC2008 is instantly recognisable as a Subaru and I am sure will continue the marque’s iconic heritage. I am confident of a very positive step forward in our pace in Greece, despite it being the toughest event of the year.

SWRT operations director Paul Howarth knows the Greek roads will provide a real test for the new car.

“We’ll see a lot more base bedrock on the stages than in Sardinia, which makes the surface a lot harder,” Howarth said.

“Using some of the old classic stages of the championship, it’s very, very challenging; the most challenging of the season for us. They’ve had a bad winter in Greece so the stages will be quite deteriorated already, and large rocks in the road always make the second passes harder.

“We’ve done a considerable amount of endurance mileage with the new car, so this should stand us in good stead. The rally is bound to throw up new challenges to those we’ve faced in testing however, and it’s an event likely to throw up surprises, but it’s a good tough weekend to quickly highlight areas in which we can fine-tune and continue to improve.”

Subaru World Rally Team is conducting a media information evening at 7pm on Wednesday (Athens time) conference this Wednesday, where further details about the new car will be revealed.

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