The SUBARU WRX STI won the SP3T class for the second year in a row
Carlo van Dam
Carlo van Dam
Subaru Tecnica International Inc. (STI) entered their SUBARU WRX STI Nürburgring Challenge 2016 car in the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race which was held from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 May in Germany. The car is based on its road-going version and completed 121 laps (about 3,070km) in 24 hours to come out on top in the SP3T class for sub 2-litre turbo-charged vehicles.
Based on the 2014 SUBARU WRX STI, the racecar has been changed to left-hand drive while its competitiveness has been strengthened by the know-how and technology built through the development of STI complete cars and performance parts. The power unit is the same as in its production model -the EJ20, which is a 2-litre horizontally-opposed turbo engine and its setting has been changed due to the reduced diameter of the air restrictor following revisions of the regulations. In pursuit of seeing improvement in cornering speed for the twisty Nürburgring track, the body weight was reduced mainly in the overhangs to reduce the car’s moment of inertia, and the aerodynamic performance of the car was also optimized for better balance of down force between the front and rear.
Once again, the 4 drivers who won the class last year got behind the wheel for the team; Hideki Yamauchi from Japan, Marcel Lasée from Germany, Carlo van Dam from Holland and Tim Schrick from Germany. The 1st official qualifier took place on Thursday the 26th, though the session was initially hit by sudden torrential rain as it kicked off. Despite such conditions, the team recorded their best time of 9 minutes 14.714 seconds, which was 55th overall and 2nd fastest in the SP3T class. In the 2nd qualifier, held the next day on Friday the 27th, Van Dam waited for the track surface conditions to recover and then raced against the clock 10 minutes before the end of the session. He broke the class best time only to be beaten again by a rival - #104 Audi and so the team had to start the race from 2nd in the class.
Van Dam started the race from the 2nd row of the 2nd group. At about 45 minutes into the race, several cars spun and went off the track at the infamous Aremberg corner as the deep side of Nordschleife was struck by some heavy rain and hail. The WRX STI also went off the track but the Dutch driver wove his way through the stranded cars to get back on course. Even after that, those cars on slick tires spun out one after another, and because so many drivers were stuck on and off the track, the red flag was raised to stop the race.
The race restarted 3 hours later at 7:20pm, and Yamauchi, who had taken over, then took the lead of the class. After the Japanese driver, Lasée and then Schrick remained on top all night and into daytime. Finally, the car was handed back to local driver Lasée at a regular pit stop instead of Yamauchi who was initially planned to run for the final hour. The SUBARU WRX STI driven by Lasée then clinched a class win after 3:30pm on the 29th.
At Nürburgring, the weather can change rapidly on each lap. Despite such a situation, the team finished 20th overall in front of some cars in higher classes. The result exhibited excellence of the basic performance of the car with a low center of gravity of its horizontally-opposed engine, good balance and symmetrical AWD, proving to the world the “Enjoyment and Peace of Mind” which SUBARU and STI provide. This marked their 2nd back-to-back win in the SP3T class following 2011 and 2012.
SUBARU/STI General Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi commented after the race, “By bringing together all the strength of the SUBARU group in the team and with the support from the SUBARU fans, we have been able to achieve this result. However, Nürburgring has reminded me that it is not easy to conquer. I hope that our fans are happy with us coming out on top of the SP3T class. I am truly grateful for their support”.
SUBARU WRX STI (VAB)
Overall Length/Width/Height/Wheel Base
5,120mm / 1,860mm / 1,395mm / 2,650mm
EJ20 horizontally-opposed twin-scroll turbo engine
250kw(340PS) / 5,500rpm
461Nm(47kgf-m) / 3,000rpm
6-speed sequential gearbox