The SUBARU WRX STI won the SP3T class, the fifth victory in this class
Carlo van Dam
Dam Carlo van
Subaru Tecnica International Inc. (STI) entered their SUBARU WRX STI (Driver: Carlo van Dam / Tim Schrick / Hideki Yamauchi / Takuto Iguchi) in the 46th Nürburgring 24-Hour Race, which was held from Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 May in Germany, and came out on top in the SP3T class (for turbocharged cars of 2.0 liters or less). It was the team’s first class title since 2016 and their fifth in total. The 2018 spec SUBARU WRX STI revealed improvements such as a widened front tread-width, enhanced engine and braking performance, and updated aerodynamic parts. Ever since performing a shakedown at Japan’s Fuji Speedway in February, the team ensured the condition of the car by participating in domestic tests, and competing in the qualification race and test day held at Nürburgring.
In the official qualifying held on May 10th, the WRX STI recorded the top time in its class, and started from the front row of the third group in the race which kicked off at 3:30pm on the 12th with over 150 cars including FIA GT3 vehicles. Although the WRX STI was expected to dominate the race in the SP3T class early on, an hour after the start, oil began leaking from the car’s power steering hydraulic system. This forced it to come back to the pit for repair and caused the team to lose three laps and 48 minutes against the competition. However, the WRX STI showed a pace exceeding its rivals and successfully recovered the class lead by midnight. Then, as rain began to fall in the morning, the WRX increased its pace with the aim of climbing even further up the overall ranking. Taking full advantage of its SUBARU AWD, it ticked off laps at an amazing pace, marking down times that even overwhelmed the upper-class competitors with their larger engines. As a result, despite dropping to 141st position at the beginning, it climbed up to 50th overall by the morning of the second day.
With 4 hours remaining, dense fog interrupted the race with the red flag stopping the action. When the race resumed after approximately 2 hours, the WRX STI developed another problem. While pushing at a high pace following the restart, sudden engine issues forced the car to pull off to the side of the course. Fortunately, the car was able to get back to the pit, and was fixed and returned to the track. It turned out to be a problem in the electrical system, but after prompt action to find the cause, the car could be fixed quickly. Although they lost their overall position in the race, their SP3T class victory was still secure and they recorded their fifth victory in this class.
Comment from General Team Manager, Hideharu Tatsumi.
“This class win was made possible through luck and resilience of our team, but we still have a lot to learn, and I wish to run a perfect race someday. Each individual staff member worked to the best of their ability, but Nürburgring is a race where you need to be ready for anything. The local teams are well aware of this fact and this must be why they rarely get caught up in silly errors or accidents. I think this is nothing but a lack of experience. Through the race, I realized the importance of making a long-term commitment as a company in the development of race cars and staff training in a systemized way, in order to make the most of the true value of Nürburgring. I would like to thank all the fans who cheered for us along the way. Thank you all so much!”
SUBARU WRX STI (VAB)
Overall Length/Width/Height/Wheel Base
5,120mm / 1,930mm / 1,395mm / 2,650mm
EJ20 horizontally-opposed single-scroll turbo engine
250kw(340PS) / 5,500rpm
461Nm(47kgf･m) / 3,000rpm
6-speed sequential gearbox with paddle shifter