Markko Martin has signed a deal that will see him become the official test driver for the Subaru World Rally Team in 2008, as the Banbury-based outfit steps up its testing programme in preparation for the launch of its all new Impreza WRC car.
The Estonian, who won the Bettega Memorial Rally at the end of last year driving an SWRT-entered Impreza WRC2007, has agreed an agreement that will see him take on responsibility for 'the ongoing testing and development' of Subaru's new WRC contender throughout '08.
Martin, who 'retired' from the WRC at the end of 2005, following the tragic accident on the Rally GB, which claimed the life of his co-driver, Michael Park, has a wealth of experience in the sport, having competed with several top teams.
The 32-year-old is excited about his new role with Subaru, the team he competed with back in 2001. He knows though that the pressure is on, especially as the outfit hasn't won now since 2005.
"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," he stated. "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."
Subaru's managing director Richard Taylor meanwhile is convinced that Martin will help the team bounce back. Furthermore while the deal is currently only for one-year he hinted it could lead onto something else.
"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," he added.
"We look forward to working with Markko again and hope that this will be the beginning of a long term relationship."