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Prodrive considering 'B' team

Prodrive is considering entering a Manufacturer 2 team in next year's WRC, this week's Autosport magazine reports.

The team, who run the factory Subaru squad in the WRC, will decide over the next couple of months whether to enter a B-Team in the series, and this will have a decisive impact on the team's driver strategy.

Subaru World Rally Team MD Richard Taylor said: "It's been something we've been looking at over the past month or so, and we would hope to have our strategy decided - including our drivers - by the end of September or early October at the latest.

"Having a Manufacturer 2 team would be interesting for us, but there are lots of things to weigh up first."

The Manufacturer 2 concept was introduced this year, allowing manufacturers to enter the WRC without having to contest all 16 rounds but able to run homologated cars.

Subaru's traditional philosophy has been to run young drivers in the factory team, in order to develop them for the future, but this has rarely put them in a competitive position for the manufacturer's title.

A 'B' team would allow Prodrive to nurture young talent in a pressure-free environment without compromising the performance of the main squad. It would also provide a ready-made outlet for older-spec cars previously used by the factory.

This is a strategy that has been successfully adopted by Ford this year, with 19-year-old Matthew Wilson driving a Stobart Motorsport-entered Focus WRC that is run by factory team M-Sport.

Nonetheless, Taylor emphasised that any Manufacturer 2 programme would have to make commercial sense.

"Our priority will always be to the official factory team so we would be unwilling to spread out resources too thinly. Subaru as a manufacturer is only interested in the main team, so a Manufacturer 2 team would have to pay for itself," he added.

"That's not something we could compromise on."


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