A sudden fire sees the SUBARU WRX STI miss out on a podium
SP3T -｜ Overall -
Carlo van Dam
Carlo van Dam
Subaru Tecnica International Inc. (STI) entered their SUBARU WRX STI driven by Carlo van Dam, Marcel Lasée, Tim Schrick and Hideki Yamauchi, in the “ADAC Zurich 24H” - the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race, which was held from Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 May in Germany. They began the race from a qualified 3rd place in the SP3T class (for turbocharged cars of 2.0 liters or less). At around 6 hours into the race, the team climbed up to second and closed the gap to the lead car in the class. Although the WRX STI was hit by another car on the side in the early morning on 28th, and slipped down to 3rd place after a quick fix, it continued chasing the leaders. However, at around 12:30pm on the same day, the engine room suddenly caught fire while it was running on the Grand Prix course, which forced them to retire from the race.
The SP3T class is fiercely competed in by 12 cars including eminent European 2-liter turbo cars, but SUBARU took victory in this category in 2015 and 2016. The 2017 spec SUBARU WRX STI aimed to further enhance its competitiveness through the adoption of a paddle shift, amongst other additions, and the car was fully prepared as it went on to take part in the race beginning from May 25th. The time of the year in which the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race is held is during a change of season in Germany and the weather in preceding years had always been unsettled. However, this year, fine weather continued right from the beginning of race week with maximum temperatures reaching as high as 27°C. The good weather continued even when the race started and it felt like midsummer. After a few stints from the start of the race and into the night, the WRX STI jumped into 2nd place when a rival car fell behind the pack.
Aiming to continue on and catch up with the class leader, the WRX STI increased its pace and continued to chalk off the remaining laps. However, at around 6:00am when the clock was about to pass the 14 hours and 30-minute mark, it was hit hard by a same class machine on its side in the Grand Prix course and the team lost the margin they had built to repair the damage.
Although the left side of the body was damaged, engine performance and steering stability were in fact intact and the WRX STI was able to continue on after a quick fix. However, at 12:30pm, approximately 6 and a half hours later, while Carlo van Dam was behind the wheel, a fire suddenly broke out in the engine room. He stopped the car on the side of the course and it was at this point that the WRX STI was forced to retire. Van Dam stated, "When I was going around the first corner and tried to shift from 2nd to 3rd gear, a fire suddenly broke out. There were no warning signs. As there was damage to the left door, it was hard to open so I escaped from the right side. Thank you all for the concern, but I wasn’t injured."
STI Team Principal, Shigeo Sugaya stated, "Last year we weren't able to achieve the goal that we had set for ourselves, so we went into this year's NBR Challenge with a new arrangement which would allow us to achieve the goal including car and dealer mechanics. We managed to head into this race week with a certain degree of confidence in our new challenge. However, we ended up having to retire. Still, we were able to verify the performance of the car to a certain degree and we've definitely made progress. That being said, this end result must have been brought about by an oversight on certain issues or lofty expectations. If we get the chance to try again I would like to make a plan which allows us to achieve the goals we could not today and come back here."
SUBARU WRX STI (VAB)
Overall Length/Width/Height/Wheel Base
5,120mm / 1,860mm / 1,395mm / 2,700mm
EJ20 horizontally-opposed twin-scroll turbo engine
250kw(340PS) / 5,500rpm
461Nm(47kgf-m) / 3,000rpm
6-speed sequential gearbox