17 May 2018NBR

The SUBARU WRX STI takes its fifth class win at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring

The 46th 24 Hours of Nürburgring was held over May 10th (Thur) to 13th (Sun) at Nürburgring, Germany, where the SUBARU WRX STI entered by Subaru Technica International (drivers: Carlo Van Dam, Tim Schrick, Hideki Yamauchi and Takuto Iguchi) took victory in the SP3T class (for turbo vehicles with a displacement under 2-liters). This is the fifth time since 2011 that the STI has taken victory in this class.

The specifications for this year’s SUBARU WRX STI were brimming with improvements such as widened front treads, improved engine and braking performance, and updated aerodynamic components. These were steadily improved upon through several tests within Japan and at Nürburgring, beginning with the first shakedown that occurred at Fuji Speedway in February.

Official qualifying was held on May 10th, where the WRX STI recorded the top time in its class. This meant that they would start from the front row of the third group in this race where over 150 cars would compete led by FIA GT3 machines. Although the WRX STI was expected to run alone in the class lead, an hour after the start of the race, oil began leaking from the power steering’s hydraulic system and so the team was forced to bring it into the pits for repairs. This saw it fall three laps and 48 minutes behind its rivals. However, from that point on the WRX STI gradually recovered its lost ground and successfully retook the class lead when the date changed at midnight. Furthermore, when rain began to fall in the morning, the WRX increased its pace with an aim of pushing even further up the overall order. Taking full advantage of its SUBARU AWD, it ticked off laps at an amazing pace, marking down times that overwhelmed the competition. As a result, although they had temporarily dropped as far down as overall 141st in the beginning, by the morning of the second day, it had climbed as far up as overall 50th.

With four hours remaining in the race, a mist began to hang over the circuit and, in the end, this turned into a thick fog that resulted in a red flag cessation for safety. The race was restarted after approximately 2 hours of waiting and it was at this point that the WRX STI encountered some trouble. Although it continued to run at a high pace following the restart, suddenly the engine malfunctioned and it was forced to stop on the side of the course. Fortunately, the team was able to bring the car back to the pit box where the qualified mechanics focused on carrying out repairs and ultimately returned it back to the course. Although they lost some positions in their overall standing, thanks to the tremendous effort and professional skills of the mechanics, their SP3T class victory was not threatened and they recorded their fifth victory in this class.

Comment from Team Principal, Eiji Tatsumi
“This class win was possible due to a few lucky coincidences and so we still have a lot of areas that we need to reflect on. Although each section head worked to the best of their ability, Nürburgring is a track where you need to expect the unexpected. The local teams really understand that and are careful not to get caught up in silly errors or accidents. That truly shows a gap in experience. In order to really make the most of the true value of Nürburgring, it’s necessary to systemize the development of the machine, the training of members, and so on, over the long term. This fact was really made clear to me with this race. I really want to thank all the fans who cheered us on. Thank you all so much!”