Subaru has had a longstanding involvement in rally racing, dating back to the early 1990s and continuing on for almost two decades. The company has produced some of the most iconic rally cars in the world, including the Subaru Impreza. Today, many people still associate Subaru with racing and rally championships. But does the company still do rally? Let’s find out.
Subaru Rally History
Subaru’s involvement in rally began in 1980 when they launched the Subaru Leone, a compact car that was a popular choice for rally drivers. However, the company’s rise to prominence in rally racing really began in the early 1990s with the Subaru Legacy RS and its successor, the Subaru Impreza.
In 1993, Colin McRae and Derek Ringer won their first World Rally Championship (WRC) title in a Subaru Impreza. This was the start of a period of domination by the Japanese carmaker, which would win three consecutive manufacturer championships from 1995-1997 and three driver championships from 1995-1997 (with drivers Colin McRae and Tommi Makinen).
Subaru’s success went beyond the WRC, however. The company also won the Rally America championship six times and the coveted Pikes Peak International Hill Climb nine times.
Why Did Subaru Stop Competing in Rally?
Despite their success, Subaru stopped competing in the WRC in 2008, citing the global financial crisis as the main reason. The company made a strategic decision to stop investing in rally and instead focus on building more fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly cars. This was a decision that would greatly affect the rallying world, as Subaru had a strong following in the sport.
Does Subaru Still Do Rally?
While Subaru no longer competes in the WRC, they still have a presence in rally racing. The company continues to support privateers and grassroots teams entering regional and national rally championships around the world with technical assistance and parts supply for their Subaru WRX and Impreza rally cars. These regional events are limited compared to the WRC, but they provide an opportunity for Subaru fans to connect with the sport at a local level.
In addition to supporting grassroots teams, Subaru has also recently launched their own Subaru Motorsports USA team, which competes in the American Rally Association championship. The team is led by famed rally driver and Gymkhana star, Travis Pastrana.
What Was the Impact of Rally on Subaru?
Subaru’s success in rally racing had a significant impact on the company’s branding and marketing. The Impreza rally car became synonymous with the brand and helped to promote Subaru as a manufacturer of exciting and high-performance cars. The rally pedigree also attracted a cult following of car racing enthusiasts who revered the Impreza as one of the greatest rally cars of all time.
The rallying success also helped to fuel Subaru’s off-road and all-wheel drive capabilities, which have become a trademark of the brand and a key selling point for many of their models.
Q: Who was Subaru’s most successful driver in the WRC?
A: Colin McRae and Tommi Makinen tied for the title of Subaru’s most successful driver in the WRC, with each winning three driver championships.
Q: What is the Subaru Impreza’s legacy in rally racing?
A: The Subaru Impreza is widely regarded as one of the greatest rally cars of all time. Its success in the WRC helped to cement Subaru’s place as a leading manufacturer in the sport and contributed significantly to the brand’s overall success.
Q: Does Subaru have plans to return to the WRC?
A: Currently, Subaru has no official plans to make a return to the WRC. However, the company has stated that the door is not completely closed and that they may consider returning to the sport in the future.
While Subaru’s involvement in rally racing has changed over the years, the brand’s connection to the sport remains strong. Although they no longer compete in the WRC, Subaru still supports privateers and has recently launched their own Subaru Motorsports USA team to compete in regional championships. The impact of rally on Subaru’s branding and marketing cannot be understated, as the Impreza rally car became synonymous with the brand and helped to promote their all-wheel drive capabilities. Despite not being at the forefront of rally anymore, Subaru’s rally legacy lives on.