Markko Martin has signed as the official test driver for the Subaru World Rally Team, as the team steps up its testing programme in preparation for the launch of its all-new Impreza World Rally Car.

The 32 year old Estonian, who won the Bettega Memorial Rally at the end of last year driving an SWRT entered Subaru Impreza WRC2007, has an agreement that will see him responsible for the ongoing testing and development of Subaru’s new WRC contender throughout 2008.

Martin’s first WRC event with the Subaru World Rally Team was Rally Australia in 2000, where he sat alongside co-driver Michael Park. The duo contested nine events with the team in 2001, with a best finish of fifth on Rally Finland. Martin has a wealth of experience on which to draw, having competed on the world stage for Subaru and several other top teams, and is excited about his return to a major role in the WRC with Subaru.

Markko Martin commented: “For me it’s a great challenge that I am really looking forward to. Having been with the team before, it’s a privilege to come back and be able to help. I’m sure the team has changed a lot since 2001, but the colour is still the same!

“It is crucial for me to understand what the car needs to be, and to find the common language with the engineers. The trickiest bit is that before I was used to setting the car up for myself, but now I also have to remember that the car has to work for other drivers. I think that my own preference is quite neutral though so I hope it will more or less work for everybody.

“For sure there is pressure in this role. It’s clear that the new car has to be competitive, and I feel now a part of the team that has to perform. But that’s what I’m here for, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

SWRT Managing Director, Richard Taylor, added: “As a winner of five WRC events and having gained competitive experience in a wide range of World Rally Cars we are delighted to welcome Markko back to the Subaru World Rally Team and are confident that he will play a key role in the successful launch of the 2008 Impreza in a few months time. We look forward to working with Markko again and hope that this will be the beginning of a long term relationship.” 

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