SUBARU WRX STI repeated their victory in the SP3T class
STI entered the 2012 Nürburgring 24-Hour Race with an 'NBR CHALLENGE' car based on the GVB type 4-door SUBARU WRX STI just as the previous year. Experienced Toshihiro Yoshida, SUPER GT regular Kota Sasaki, Carlo van Dam from the Netherlands and Marcel Engels from Germany formed the driver lineup of the team. Without changing the team structure so much from their first SP3T class win, they used a car which had been improved based on the performance of the previous year. The team mainly spent time on thorough weight reduction.
The final race got underway shortly after 4:00pm on 19 May. Sasaki started the SUBARU WRX STI from 3rd spot in the SP3T class and completed the opening lap, finishing 2nd after a car in front dropped out just before the start. After this, drivers took turns every 9 laps in the order of van Dam, Engels and then Yoshida, with the SUBARU WRX STI passing a VW Scirocco to take the class lead on Lap 33. As the race moved into the night section, a series of crashes and accidents occurred along the course, but the WRX STI increased its lead over the 2nd place car in the class.
However, a loose front left hub was found when the car returned to the pit at around 1:00am. The WRX STI lost time, which was worth nearly a lap, before going back onto the course with the problem fixed and the brake rotor and caliper replaced as a precaution. Nevertheless, it had built up a big enough lead over the 2nd-placed car in the SP3T class, and so held onto its top spot. Although the rain, which started after 6:00am, caused some chaos with many cars sustaining damage when going off the track, the SUBARU WRX STI was able to continue on its consistent run by taking advantage of stability of its AWD.
At around 9:30am Yoshida noticed an unusual smell coming from the car and returned to the pit. The car was checked, and an oil leak was found. The atmosphere inside the STI pit became tense because the leak had occurred in the engine room, but a temporary repair solved the problem. Even though the SUBARU WRX STI lost about 30 minutes at that time, it wasn't caught by trailing cars and returned to the race as the class leader. After this, it completed the rest of the race without any problems or accidents, and received the checkered flag after 4:00pm. The SUBARU WRX STI completed 136 laps (3451.4km) in 24 hours to achieve a consecutive win in the SP3T class following 2011.
STI NBR CHALLENGE Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi said, "I wanted to show everyone a perfect race this year, but once it started, the race proved to be very tough, and problems hit our car one after another. I feel sorry that I had to force the drivers to do some frustrating driving such as keeping engine rotations lower. However, I think it means a lot to win the class again by getting past our problems".