SUBARU Impreza WRX STI finished 4th in the class in the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race
The STI NBR CHALLENGE team entered the SUBARU Impreza WRX STI in the 38th Nürburgring 24-Hour Race held from 13 to 16 May. Four drivers formed the driver lineup of the team: motor journalist Kazuo Shimizu with a lot of experience in driving on the Nürburgring, Toshihiro Yoshida who had been driving a SUBARU for a long time in Super Taikyu, Marcel Engels from Germany and Carlo van Dam from the Netherlands. With these drivers, STI itself led the team in the 24-hour race for the second time.
Their competition vehicle - the GRB type SUBARU Impreza WRX STI 5-door incorporated sports parts that STI had developed for road cars. Along the lines of an STI complete car, this car included unique chassis-stiffening parts such as the Flexible Tower Bar. Taking the experience from the previous year in consideration, this car was brought onto the Nürburgring with a lighter chassis, a much lower center of gravity, enhanced turning performance, improved drivability, and higher engine power as well as an optimized transmission gear ratio.
On Saturday the 15th, the SUBARU Impreza WRX STI driven by Shimizu started the final race from 13th on the grid in the SP3T class. It moved up to 12th in the class in the first hour, then to 8th, and to 6th after a few hours. The SP3T class for 2-liter turbo cars had the largest number of entrants, and was thought to be the most competitive class. The SUBARU Impreza WRX STI climbed up to 4th in the early morning and maintained position until the end without any problems or incidents while many other cars retired due to crashes or problems. It completed 139 laps -about 3,527.5km in 24 hours to come out in 24th overall and 4th in the class. This time round, while temperatures ranged from 4 to 12 ℃, track surfaces remained dry for the 24 hours. The race was smoothly carried out without any suspension even with some fog on Nordschleife in the early morning. However, there was not enough time during the race week and the time attack in the qualifying was the first time for STI to properly run the entire track. Consequently the team could not afford to make progress with car setups, which was brought to the fore as a problem to be solved. In fact, the team's best lap time that year was recorded at around Sunday noon when 3/4 of the race had already finished.
STI Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi commented, "We started this year's project with the concept 'for SUBARU fans around the world', and we wouldn't have been able to get this result just by ourselves. I deeply appreciate the support from many people and also help from our partners. Had it not been for them, we wouldn't have achieved such a wonderful result. Thank you very much".