9 August 2003
Ari Vatanen - Subaru Team of '93
9 August 2003
As the 555 Subaru team celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Impreza WRC, we spoke to Ari Vatanen, one of the drivers who competed for the team 10 years ago when the Subaru Impreza made its rally debut in Finland 1993..
What do you put the Impreza's success down to?
Lots of hard work, not changing direction when developing the car, and working to maintain and build both the image and the brand. All the effort throughout the last ten years has paid dividends.
You've competed in one hundred rallies - can you talk us through your first?
This is my one hundred and first rally I believe, my hundredth was the last event that I did in Great Britain. My first rally was in Finland 1974 - I remember it as if it was yesterday. I competed in my very own Skoda and made it into the top ten, which was very good. I started the event on Friday evening, and when we came back on Saturday morning I saw from the leaderboard that I was in the top ten. I could not believe it, it was a total surprise as I had no idea where I was placed. One of the works Skoda drivers at that time was just one place in front of me - it was incredible. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the end of the rally. I stayed on the road, but a wheel came off and I had no spare. For me, that was the end of the event.
What's more difficult, competing in a round of the WRC or carrying out your duties as a Member of the European Parliament?
I think rallying is definitely fairer because you're judged only by a stop-watch. Rallying can be cruel and there can be bad luck but it's fair - you don't get hit below the belt.
You and Markku are already rally legends here in Finland, but who do you think will be the next big thing to come out of Finland?
I think in F1, ites Raikkonen. In the WRC, there are a few - Latvala is certainly one to watch and a driver with the same surname as me, Vatanen. He's not a relation of mine, but I think he's going to be very, very quick.
Does it feel like 10 years ago that you were here with the Impreza?
No, not at all - why do I look ten years older?