The new SUBARU WRX STI finished its maiden race 4th in class
The 2014 Nürburgring 24-Hour Race was the first time in 3 years to be held in June. The early summer weather was still unstable with fluctuating temperatures of between 6 and 20℃ with the addition of some rain during the practice and qualifying sessions. However, the 24-hour race itself was run in dry conditions from start to finish.
STI's competition vehicle was the new SUBARU WRX STI, which had made its global debut at Auto Salon in Japan earlier in the year. While the basic components were built around proven parts, aerodynamic performance and engine output had been improved. Furthermore, the performance of the vehicle was significantly enhanced by the introduction of sequential transmission for racing.
In the qualifying, the SUBARU WRX STI recorded a time that was more than 6 seconds faster than its previous year’s record. And with its rival demoted on the grid because of a violation, the SUBARU WRX STI started its 24-hour race from pole position in the SP3T class. As the race got under way, the SUBARU was passed by 2 cars while stuck in traffic and moved down to 3rd, but after 11 hours from the start, it climbed back to take the lead when the 2 leading cars lost places. However, two hours later, in the middle of the night, the SUBARU failed to avoid a slow car on the track and made contact. While repairing the damage, the team lost about 30 minutes and the lap lead they’d had. After going back to the race 3rd in class, they showed some aggressive driving, chasing the 2 front-runners but could not recover the loss so easily. Then, after sunrise at 8:00 am, the SUBARU came back to the pit with a problem with its drive-train which seemed to have been caused by the previous collision. Repairs were done in about 25 minutes thanks to some speedy work by the dealer mechanics, but the gap to the top was further widened as the team was penalized for overtaking when yellow flags had been up earlier during the night, and so they had to remain in the pit for 3 minutes 32 seconds. The SUBARU drivers did not give up even after this and continued driving at a high pace and recording their best lap time. However, that was not enough to turn the race around. The team completed 138 laps to finish the race 32nd overall and 4th in the SP3T class.
STI General Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi later said, “We came to the 24-hour race with a new SUBARU WRX STI which was equipped with all the know-how we had acquired through our challenges in Nürburgring in the past. We thoroughly developed the car, and ran it in 2 races of the VLN endurance series at the Nürburgring to prepare for this 24-hour race. We were able to confirm the expected performance of this car in the qualifying and other occasions, but in the actual race, we did not stand a chance against our rivals who have abundant experience. We’ve had some bad luck and accidents, but I can not deny that we lack ability because we could not come through with a win at the end, even though we have completed the race for 7 consecutive years now. I am very disappointed but we would like to use this experience as a steppingstone for the next stage”.