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In the inaugural year of the ‘SUBARU NBR CHALLENGE’, the GRB type Impreza WRX STI pulled through in 57th overall and 5th in its class

To pursue SUBARU’s theme of ‘Enjoyment & Peace of Mind’, Fuji Heavy Industries and STI decided to participate in the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race - the ultimate touring car race. The competition vehicle for the project was built based on the 3rd generation SUBARU Impreza WRX STI GRB type that was released in October 2007. With the minimum of equipment additions to meet the competition criteria, this racecar preserved the fundamental characters of its road-going version. The decision was made because the Nürburgring reflects all aspects of public roads around the world, and so, it is the most appropriate place for the SUBARU AWD car to demonstrate its innate abilities. The engineers who developed engines for the WRC tuned the EJ20 Boxer Turbo Engine, which was made for production vehicles, to utilize it in the racecar, while the engine setting still focused on drivability with an emphasis on torque rather than power in the high revolution area. Hideharu Tatsumi, the then General Manager of STI’s Vehicle Experiment Department, played a role as Team Manager of the SUBARU NBR CHALLENGE team and the driver lineup consisted of an experienced Toshihiro Yoshida, Hideshi Matsuda, Naoki Hattori and Kouji Matsuda. The Impreza WRX STI entered in the SP6 class for vehicles with an equivalent engine capacity of 3.0 - 3.5 liters, where many competitive European cars contended.
During a damp official qualifying, 4 drivers first ran 2 laps each to qualify, which took about 1 and a half hours. Due to the short permitted time to run the car, it was difficult to fully focus on time attack and on refining car setups for the final. This is the challenge of the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race. The quickest time of 10 minute 15 seconds 082 was set by Yoshida, a very experienced driver at the Nürburgring. During the final race, even with some rain early on, the track dried out later under an overcast sky. However, after 5 hours at about 7:55pm, Hideshi Matsuda reported to the team that the engine had stopped. The car was towed back to the pit by an official and surprisingly it turned out that it had run out of gas. Despite further time loss due to rising water temperature after that, the team subsequently managed to edge up the field taking advantage of the performance of the AWD in the rain at night, and completed the 24-hour race in 5th out of 18 in the SP6 class, and 57th out of the total 216 competitors. As in 2005, they ran 124 laps in all.
Hideshi Matsuda who joined the team for the first time that year said, “I was continuously nervous on the first stint after the start, but I was able to drive with good rhythm after dawn. I’m satisfied with being able to drive well and to have felt like I had become one with the car towards the end of race”.