Subaru is hoping to reclaim its position at the top of world rallying with the Impreza WRC2008. And such is the Japanese brand’s desperation for success that it is launching the new machine two months earlier than originally planned.The WRC2008 is the first Impreza rally car to be a hatchback since the model first competed in 1993. It had been expected to make its debut on Rally Finland in August, but encouraging early tests have persuaded Subaru’s rally partner Prodrive to run the car out on the Acropolis Rally in Greece at the end of this month instead. It will be a stern test for the car; the 29 May - 1 June event is widely recognised as the roughest in the WRC.The new Impreza retains Subaru’s horizontally opposed, flat-four engine, but Prodrive is rumoured to have worked hard on weight distribution and a new transmission. Differential set-up problems are said to have been the main cause of the team’s slump in form over the past few seasons.“We are very excited to be able to launch the all-new Impreza WRC2008 ahead of schedule” said David Richards, Subaru World Rally Team principal. “It is testament to the dedication and commitment of the team behind the scenes in the UK and at STi in Japan. Just as the latest Impreza road car represents a new era for Subaru so the WRC2008 represents a new era for all of us at the Subaru World Rally Team and I am confident that we will arrive in Greece able to fight competitively.”Subaru’s drivers, Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson, lie eighth and third respectively in the WRC drivers’ standings and Solberg, the 2003 champion, has not won a rally since 2005. Much of the new Impreza’s development work has been carried out by former Ford and Peugeot driver Markko Märtin.The WRC2008 is the first hatchback Impreza rally car, but it is not the first hatchback that Subaru has used in competition. One Colin McRae made his Safari debut in a humble 658cc Vivio keicar as long ago as 1993.