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GP Week : Issue 13
THE last completely new World Rally Car expected to be homologated under the FIA’S current World Rally Car rules (which end at the end of 2010), Subaru’s new Impreza WRC 2008, was launched at the Acropolis Rally. Subaru’s original World Rally Car, which won on its debut appearance at Monte Carlo in 1997, was stunning in its futuristic appearance. Skilful artwork has now turned the latest Subaru World Rally Car, which in testing looked hideous, into a most attractive design. Back in 1997 Subaru was the first company to produce a state-of-the-art World Rally Car, the previous Impreza having been the longest running World Rally Car model. During that time it has undergone constant upgrades and technical revamping, and for the first time since 1997 will have a completely new base. The new car is a hatchback rather than a three-volume model, which has already been seen in production form, nationally and internationally, in Group N competition. The WRC 2008 is new in every aspect of the design, except for the well- proven and unique flat-four format engine (which remains the shortest stroke unit in the championship). The chassis is longer than before which permits a wheelbase of over 10cm greater than previous Imprezas and marginally shorter than the Ford Focus cars, the longest in the current line-up. Bodywise the car is the longest in the championship. Other features of the car include bigger brake discs from AP Racing, thanks to the shape of the design of the latest BBS competition wheels. These are bigger than those on the Fords and almost as large as those on the Citroens. Bos continues to supply the shock absorbers, although they have been extensively revised. The aerodynamics of the new car, which was designed by Christophe Chapelain, have been focussed on increased downforce and, hopefully, enhanced cornering speeds. The project got off the ground in May 2007 and since the car first ran in December prototypes have been subjected to 4500km of testing. Most pressing debate at Subaru was choosing the optimum timing for the introduction of the car. Subaru World Rally Team Technical Director David Lapworth summed it up: “The sooner we got the car into competition the sooner we will be on track to achieve our objective to be back competitive with the Citroens and the Ford – so here we are.” Impressive Impreza 28