Here’s one to make you feel old: the first Impreza rally car competed in the WRC 30 years ago. Back in 1993, it replaced the Legacy as Subaru’s Group A machine, the logic being that a smaller, lighter, nimbler saloon might work better on the world’s stages. And that worked out alright.
While for some fans the days of Subarus competing at the top really do seem like aeons ago, that’s not the case everywhere. The four-door, flat-four Subaru is still a big deal in the USA, and so for 2024 there’s this, the Subaru Motorsports WRX Rally car. It will compete in the American Rally Association Championship as part of the Open 4WD class, it has matt WR Blue paint, the Subaru stars down the side, gold wheels, a towering spoiler… it’s a new Subaru rally car rather like the old ones that are loved so dearly.
Power comes from a 2.0-litre boxer four turbo, producing 320hp and 380lb ft; as for sound - such a huge part of a Subaru rally car’s appeal - we can’t be sure just yet. A short video with the release gives us a couple of fly-bys that hint at some boxer burble, but it’s hard to say with any conviction at the moment. Power will reach all four wheels (just 15-inch in gravel spec) via a six-speed Sadev sequential.
Subaru Motorsports USA and Vermont SportsCar have been responsible for making a WRX into an all-conquering rally car over the past 18 months; a new set of regulations for the ARA aimed at fostering greater competition meant a ground-up redesign. New rules for aerodynamics meant a rethink of the widebody and the spoilers, for example. There are the usual upgrades for competition you’d expect - T45 steel roll cage, Kevlar fuel cell, proper seats, rally suspension - as well as bespoke parts from VSC like crossmembers, links and hubs to help eke out any possible advantage. Subaru has actually documented the build in a six-part mini-series, from stripping down a road car to testing the finished thing; the first episode of ‘Next Stage’ will go live on YouTube next week.
The first outing for the new WRX will be the Ojibwe Forests Rally later in August with Brandon Semenuk driving and Brit Keaton Williams on the pace notes. For 2024, a second car will join the Subaru Motorsports USA team, with Travis Pastrana behind the wheel. He said: “The new Subaru platform is amazing and the chance to battle again with two-time and defending champion Brandon Semenuk is going to be so much fun. When Brandon joined the team, I was the veteran. But the tables have turned and I’m looking forward to learning a lot and hopefully getting back to the top.”
What could possibly go wrong with a four-time Rally America champ taking on the current top dog in the same car? Should make for some great rallying, at least.
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