Subaru duo face snow debut

Subaru's second-string drivers Chris Atkinson and Stephane Sarrazin are quietly confident about their chances on next weekend's Swedish Rally - their first ever event on snow

Subaru duo face snow debut

Neither driver had a great deal of WRC experience prior to being signed by Subaru for the 2005 season, with ex-single-seater racer Sarrazin having only previously competed on tarmac rallies and Atkinson only familiar with gravel events. Both have been testing in snowy conditions in recent weeks however, and are looking forward to the challenge of Sweden.

"The driving style on snow is not that different from driving on gravel, so it's not as much of a jump for me as people might think," said Atkinson. "The way you approach corners and the way to carry speed is similar, but you have to be more careful when braking on snow than on gravel, as you don't have the same amount of tyre on the road."

Sarrazin expressed similar sentiments, and believes he will enjoy his first experience of competing in the snow.

"It's very exciting to drive on snow," he said. "I've done some testing and have a good feeling, but I'm still short on experience.

"Driving on snow is more fun than on tarmac. Asphalt is very quick and you have excellent grip, but on snow you slide all the time and it's important to be very confident on your driving line. I know I need to push and improve my style, but I have very good car and that helps a lot."

Subaru team boss David Lapworth said that he would not be putting his inexperienced charges under pressure to score points in Sweden, but does expect to see them progress during the rally.

"We're not looking at finishing positions for Stephane and Chris," he said. "Our focus will be to benchmark them against some of the top drivers, set targets for them stage-by-stage and enable them to improve during the event.

"We want them to start conservatively until they feel they've got some confidence. But you don't learn anything driving a whole rally cautiously, so we'll want them to be exploring their limits by Sunday."

The Swedish Rally will be Atkinson's first appearance as a works Subaru driver, but Sarrazin has already competed for the team in Monte Carlo - where he ran in the lower top ten until crashing on leg two.

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