Overcoming a setback, the STI NBR team is determined to work as one for back-to-back victory
Subaru Tecnica International (STI) ran a shakedown at Fuji Speedway on Tuesday 22 March in preparation for the 44th ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen (Nürburgring 24-Hour Race: NBR) taking place in Germany from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 May.
As reported on the SUBARU/Fuji Heavy Industry official Facebook page on the day, the SUBARU WRX STI Nürburgring Challenge 2016 car was involved in a single-car crash while running flat out at the first corner of the track during the shakedown. The impact of accident was so significant that the car sustained considerable damages. Fortunately though, Driver Yamauchi walked away with just a bruised right shoulder, and he was still able to attend the official test of SUPER GT on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 March at Fuji Speedway.
Fixing the car in just 2 months before the 24-hour race will be a tall order for the team and participation in the race this year had been in doubt. However, STI strongly believes that the Nürburgring 24-hour race is an opportunity to prove the ‘Enjoyment & Peace of Mind’ that SUBARU and STI provide, so they have decided to push on in their quest for a second consecutive victory.
Another major reason for this decision was that the high potential of the 2016 car was confirmed during the shakedown. Based on last year’s car, the 2016 model has been developed further and seen various improvements. Particularly, reduced inertial moment, lighter vehicle weight and better aerodynamic balance are all areas that will enhance the controllability of the car for the twisty Nürburgring track.
The engine will lose power by about 20hp because the diameter of the air restrictor has been reduced by 1 mm according to regulations. However, It was confirmed during the shakedown at Fuji Speedway that the above improvements would still provide the car with potential that can offset the power loss.
At the time of decision to continue participation, General Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi apologized for making supporters worried. He added that, “In the wake of the crash, we have been discussing whether to continue our challenge this year, and we concluded that we would like to run this car in the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race to claim a victory once again for all our supporters. Having said that, the way ahead will not be easy. However, the whole team, STI employees and partner companies will unite our hearts and cooperate with each other for a second consecutive win at Nürburgring. I would like to ask our fans and supporters for their continued support ”.
The team will now repair the car, test it in Japan by the end of April before transferring it by air to Germany. They will then perform final adjustments during a VLN race on 14 May before competing in the 24-hour race from 26 May.
Meanwhile, six dealer mechanics from across Japan will also join the team this year too. This tradition started in the WRC period with more than 300 dealer mechanics to date having participated in actual competitions. For this year’s 24-hour race, the following members will come on board as service mechanics:
Takashi Sato, Niigata SUBARU “I will do my best to assist the team with a victory. Please cheer for us.”
Nobuaki Hirosawa, Hokuriku SUBARU
Hitoshi Hanaya, Kanagawa SUBARU “Having this opportunity is a ‘dream come true’, so I will give all my strength.”
Tomonori Sakuma, Tokyo SUBARU “I will try my best with the opportunity I’ve always dreamt of and try hard to contribute to the team. Please cheer for us.”
Kazuki Sakai, Nagoya SUBARU “Six of us will join forces and work hard to support the team as much as possible.”
Satoshi Wakabayashi, Shiga SUBARU ‘I joined the team yesterday and after living under the same roof, I think it is the best team. I will use all my strength to help the team to a victory. Please cheer for us.’