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Subaru Might Be Planning a Return to WRC With New Hot Hatch

Subaru Might Be Planning a Return to WRC With New Hot Hatch

And Mitsubishi could return to the fray as well after Subaru

Subaru is one of the most revered names in rallying history and, along with archrival Mitsubishi, has been absent from top-level WRC competition for a decade. Now, however, Japanese sources point to a possible resurgence of the Subaru WRC program.

Subaru built its reputation in rallying over a relatively short period of time. the Subaru World Rally Team was formed in 1989 and was active for less than two decades from that point on. But, in those two decades, Subaru put forth some of the most amazing machines ever seen on the WRC scene and promoted some of the sport’s most beloved drivers with names like Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg immediately springing to mind.

Sadly, Subaru isn’t part of the WRC anymore, although a no-limit rally car based on the Impreza has been seen competing to this day, however, it’s mainly racing in Asia and the Rally U.S.A. series, not in Europe. This is all about to change if rumors regarding a return of the Subaru World Rally Team in 2020 turn out to be legitimate.

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Colin McRae's 1997 Subaru WRC Imprezza For Sale

Colin McRae’s 1997 Subaru WRC Imprezza For Sale

The partnership between car and driver is something that sticks in our mind for life, and a prime example of such a partnership is Colin McRae and the Subaru World Rally Team. McRae may be gone, leaving this existence far too early, but his spirit will forever live on in WRC. But, there’s another way his spirit lives on, and you could own a piece of McRae’s amazing WRC history with the Subaru Impreza that you see here.

This car is a 1997 Subaru WRC Impreza that was driven by none other than Calin McRae during the 1997 FIA World Rally Championship. It’s currently in stock in Mohr Klassik’s showroom in Boblingen, Germany with a price tag of €280,000. That translates to about $313,000 at exchange rates as of September 2016. This car saw four World Cup race heats in 1998, then from 1999 to 2008, the car saw use in several World and European Championship rallies under private ownership. Its last run was in the Rally Legend in San Marino in 2008, after which it was fully restored to the condition you see here.

After undergoing a full restoration, the car has been in the hands of various collectors ever since, seeing very little time on the road, primarily for short testing. According to Mohr Klassik and the images, the car is in perfect condition and ready for use. For the record, this beauty is powered by a 2.0-liter that delivers some 300 horsepower and nearly as many pound-feet in torque. It weighs right around 2,500 pounds.

Keep reading for the rest of the story

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2016 Hyundai i20 WRC

2016 Hyundai i20 WRC

Korean automaker Hyundai has evolved dramatically over the past few years, to the extent that it also announced plans to launch a series of high-performance models under its new N division. Although road-going vehicles wearing the N badge have yet to arrive, Hyundai did launch the division with the 2014 hyundai i20 WRC, which marked the brand’s return to rallying after an 11-year hiatus. Having already completed two full WRC seasons in 2014 and 2015, the i20 WRC has been updated for 2016 and showcased at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Launched alongside the 2015 Hyundai N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo concept car, the new i20 WRC has been developed at the company’s facility at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany. With the 2016 WRC season set to debut with the Monte Carlo event in January, the Korean brand unveiled the race-ready model at the team’s headquarters in Alzenau.

Hyundai Motorsport will field three cars in every round of the 2016 championship, with Dani Sordo, Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville behind the steering wheel. The team will begin its third WRC season with two new i20 WRC cars and one previous model at Rallye Monte Carlo before increasing to three 2016 cars from Rally Sweden.

Hyundai also announced it is already working on a new rally car for the 2017 season. Dubbed R5, it is also based on the second-generation i20 and will be developed with help from Dutch driver Kevin Abbring throughout 2016. Development of the R5 will commence in the first half of the year with homologation to be completed in mid-2016. Privateers will be able to place orders for the new race car in the second half of the year.

Updated 12/10/2015: Hyundai confirmed that it will enter three cars in every round of the 2016 championship. The company also confirmed it is already working on a new rally car for the 2017 season and that it should be completed in mid-2016.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Hyundai i20 WRC.

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WRC 2015 – Rally Finland

WRC 2015 – Rally Finland

The “Finnish Grand Prix” is always good for exciting sideways gravel action, and this year, the big crests and even bigger speeds once again favored a local for the coveted top spot. Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala claimed his 14th career victory on Sunday, marking his second win for the 2015 season and his third win at his home event. Latvala also set a new record for fastest event in WRC history, posting an average velocity of 125.44 kph (77.94 mph), besting the previous record of 122.89 kph (76.36 mph) set by Sebastien Loeb at the same event in 2012.

Trailing Latvala in second place was fellow Volkswagen driver and defending world champion Sebastien Ogier, who finished the weekend 13.7 seconds down on the Finn.

It was a slugfest between Latvala and Ogier for the majority of the weekend. Ogier was first out front with stage wins Thursday night and Friday morning, which placed him five seconds ahead of the Finn. However, Latvala fought back Friday afternoon, eventually eclipsing the Frenchman on SS8.

Saturday morning saw the two trade stage wins back and forth, with the gap between the frontrunners fluctuating by just a few seconds. But by the afternoon, Latvala had begun to pull ahead. Ogier finally settled behind Latvala on SS16, fearing a puncture after clipping a rock.

“This was one of the greatest drives of my life,” Latvala said at the end of the final stage, celebrating the win with his father. “I’m proud to be a Finn today. I’ve had a tough season but winning my home event is like winning half a world championship.”

While a disappointing finish at Rally Poland last month dashed Latvala’s hopes for a title, he devoted his attention to a strong showing in Finland, and clearly, the work paid off.

Meanwhile, Ogier seemed satisfied with second, saying, “An amazing battle and an amazing weekend – it has been a fantastic rally, I really loved it. Jari-Matti was so strong – well done to him. I have no problem to be beaten by such a Jari-Matti.”

Continue reading for the full story.

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WRC Announces Updates For 2017 Season

WRC Announces Updates For 2017 Season

Cars competing in the 2017 World Rally Championship will be wider, lighter and more powerful, and have an all-around more aggressive appearance than the current cars. Sounds pretty good to us. While some specifics are still being hammered out between the FIA’s technical department and WRC manufacturers, the FIA World Motor Sports council made the decision to move forward with the new regulations on Friday in Mexico.

According to Autosport, the new regulations will allow the cars to produce 380 horsepower, up from the current 300 horsepower, thanks in part to a larger turbo restrictor, up from 34 mm to 36 mm. Boost pressure, meanwhile, will be limited to 2.5 bar. Other changes to the drivetrain will include the reintroduction of electronically controlled center differentials.

The increase in horsepower also comes with a sizable reduction in weight. The current cars have a minimum weight of 1,200 kg (a little over 2,654 pounds), but at 1,175 kg (about 2,590 pounds) the new ones will be 25 kg lighter.

On the outside, the new cars will be wider (from a current maximum of 1,820 mm to 1,875 mm), with more freedom for aerodynamic enhancements around the production-car body shell. Expect to see new aero devices on the front bumpers, including larger front splitters and dive planes, and larger rear wings. The wider fenders will also be allowed to have holes to reduce pressure within the wheel wells.

“There were three main objectives with these regulations; make the car spectacular, be mindful of costs, and maintain, if not increase safety,” said FIA Technical Director Bernard Niclot in a WRC press release. “The cars will be striking, there is no doubt about that, and there are small but always significant improvements in relation to safety.

Continue reading for the full story.

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WRC 2015 – Rally Poland

WRC 2015 – Rally Poland

The seventh round of the 2015 WRC season played out over the weekend, with the world’s best rally drivers heading to Poland to take on nearly 200 high-speed miles of dirt and gravel. Conditions were sunny and hot, with the thermometer topping out at over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Lining the roadway was tall grass that not only hampered visibility, but also masked rocks and other hazards, making corner-cutting a dicey proposition.

Rally Poland is one of the oldest rallies on the calendar, first seeing competition in 1921 and playing a part in the inaugural 1973 WRC season. Roughly 90 percent of the route was new this year, but that didn’t stop Sebastien Ogier from clinching a back-to-back win, his fifth victory of 2015.

The defending world champion led the rally after the first stage Thursday night, but dropped back to third in Friday’s early stages. However, Ogier managed to retake the lead Friday afternoon and held off teammate Andreas Mikkelsen throughout the weekend, ending the rally almost 12 seconds ahead. Breaking up the VW podium was Ford’s Ott Tanak, who managed to match his career-best finish in third place, sliding ahead of VW’s Jari Matti Latvala after the Finn crashed out towards the end of the rally.

Ogier took home three bonus points with a win in the final Power Stage, while Tanak secured two and Mikkelsen got one.

Continue reading for the full story.

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WRC 2015 – Rally Italia Sardegna

WRC 2015 – Rally Italia Sardegna

Defending world champion Sebastien Ogier has secured his fourth victory of the 2015 WRC season, finishing this past weekend’s dusty four-day event more than three minutes ahead of the second place finisher, New Zealander Hayden Paddon. In third was Belgian driver Thierry Neuville, who completed the event almost four-and-a-half minutes behind the Frenchman.

Despite seeing a comfortable lead by the end of Sunday’s stages, Paddon gave the world champion a solid two-day fight, leading the rally outright in his 2014 Hyundai i20 for 15 stages. However, Ogier managed to overcome his appointed gravel-sweeping duties, eventually overtaking Paddon when the Kiwi had a spin that resulted in damage to his gearbox.

However, Paddon’s second place finish was undoubtedly the story of the rally, as the weekend saw him become the first New Zealander to lead a WRC event outside his home country. What’s more, the result is Paddon’s best career finish, with 2015 being his first full season at the top echelon of rally racing.

Further back, Neuville managed to claw his way onto the podium Sunday morning when Citroen-driver Mads Ostberg had an off that damaged the brakes on his 2013 Citroen DS 3. Ostberg eventually settled for fifth behind Ford’s Elfyn Evans, while Jari-Matti Latvala came sixth in his 2015 Volkswagen Polo R, just 16.6 seconds shy of Ostberg. You can check out the rally’s highlights on the WRC official YouTube channel here.

Ogier currently leads the championship by 66 points over Ostberg, while Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen sits three points down from Ostberg in third. Latvala and Evans complete the top five positions. In the manufacturer’s chase, Volkswagen leads with 179 points, Citroen is in second with 115 points, and Hyundai is in third with 113 points.

Seven of 13 rounds remain in the 2015 WRC season. Up next, the championship heads to the fast, grass-lined gravel roads of Rally Poland, July 2nd through 5th.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Ken Block Launches M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5

Ken Block Launches M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5

A variety of blue ovals will descend on New England next month as the perpetually sideways Ken Block and his Hoonigan Racing Division help launch the new M-Sport Fiesta R5. The rally car will see action for the first time in the mostly-wooded New England Forest Rally.

Taking the helm of the R5 will be American driver Ramana Lagemann, supported by Canadian co-driver Nathalie Richard. “I have followed the Fiesta R5 since its inception, and I have been impressed with how successful the platform has proven to be,” Lagemann said in a press release. “Now, with this 2000 cc version, M-Sport has developed a car that is well suited to North American stages. I had the opportunity to test it recently, and aside from the awesome chassis capability and balance inherent in all R5 Fiestas, I was amazed by the engine’s responsiveness and torque.”

A former factory driver for Subaru, Lagemann recently opted out of regular participation in the Rally America series, but maintains a quick pace, as is evident by his appearance in the 2WD class at the Olympus Rally last month, where he took a win in a BMW M3 with co-driver Chrissie Beavis. 

“It’s been a few years since I competed in a proper AWD rally car, and I’m well aware of the time it will take to get fully up to speed,” Lagemann said. “My goal is to take everything step by step in a measured approach, and produce a solid result for the team.”

Meanwhile, Block will also participate in his “Hybrid Function Hoon Vehicle,” which is designed to be adapted for either stage rally, rallycross, or the ever popular Gymkhana events. "I’m excited about partnering with M-Sport at NEFR this year," said Block. "I absolutely love my Ford Fiesta HFHV that we’ve built, but the idea of a car like the R5 that’s potentially just as quick, isn’t made up of one-off parts and features a lower operating cost is definitely an appealing prospect!”

Continue reading for the full story.

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WRC 2015 – Rally Portugal

WRC 2015 – Rally Portugal

Volkswagen enjoyed another dominating run in the latest round of the 2015 WRC season, taking every position on the podium in Portugal. Standing at top honors was Jari-Matti Latvala, who managed to stave off a hard charge from defending world champion Sebastien Ogier, ending the weekend only 8.2 seconds ahead of his teammate. At third was Andreas Mikkelsen, who finished 20.4 seconds behind the rally leader.

Latvala managed to capitalize on his back marker starting position by shooting to the top position Friday afternoon, taking full advantage of the cleaner road conditions offered by the swept gravel stages. It was the 13th career victory for the 30-year-old driver, who had not seen a win since October of 2014.

“After the last three rallies some people were doubting if I would come back,” Latvala told WRC.com. “It was one of the worst situations in my rally career so to come and win here is unique. I really appreciate this victory feeling.”

With a fresh infusion of points, Latvala climbs from ninth to fifth in the driver’s championship. Meanwhile, Ogier increased his championship lead to a 42-point margin.

Northern Irishman Kris Meeke, who clinched victory in the previous round at Argentina, was the only challenger to VW’s dominance, becoming embroiled in a fight with Mikkelsen for third. Unfortunately for Meeke, a broken anti-roll bar on his Citroen DS3 allowed Mikkelsen to slip by, knocking him back to fourth place.

Meanwhile, Ott Tanak came in fifth in his Ford Fiesta RS, besting Dani Sordo in his Hyundai i20.

Next, the WRC heads to Italy for more gravel at the Rally Italia Sardegna June 11th through 14th.

Continue reading for the full story.

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How To Race Your Car: Part 1

How To Race Your Car: Part 1

Well, well… you got the itch, do you? You know what I’m talking about – every time you get behind the wheel, all you want to do is push the throttle a little further, brake a little later, and take that turn a little harder. I get it. You want to go racing.

And who can blame you? Motorsport is one of the most intense hobbies on the face of the planet. It takes an incredible amount of mental and physical prowess to put a car on the limit and keep it there. It’s also astoundingly fun.

So what’s an adrenaline junkie to do? Take a risk on the street? That’s definitely the dumbest option out there, and the truth is, once you get a taste for the track, exploring a car’s limits on public roads is simply not as interesting.

But a lot of aspiring hot shoes just don’t know where to begin. Well don’t you worry, because TopSpeed is here to help. In this article, we’ll give you the quick and dirty on what it takes to get up and running at 10/10s. We’ll look at different types of entry-level motorsport, some of the more prominent race organizations operating in the U.S., what to bring with you, what to expect, and a few other helpful hints along the way.

Think you can’t go racing for real? Think again.

Continue reading to learn more about how to go racing.

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Chip Ganassi Racing Joins GRC

Chip Ganassi Racing Joins GRC

Fans of Red Bull Global Rallycross (GRC) still have a couple more months until the 2015 season kicks off, but there is already some surprisingly big news coming from this action-packed racing series. That news comes courtesy of Chip Ganassi Racing, which announced that it will be fielding two Ford Fiesta ST racecars in GRC’s flagship Supercars series.

Chip Ganassi Racing brings a new level of racing experience to GRC, as it already competes in three of the most prominent racing series in the U.S.: IndyCar, NASCAR and IMSA. In its brief but successful history, CGR teams have won at prestigious races such as the Daytona 500, 12 Hours of Sebring, Indianapolis 500 (four times) and the Rolex 24 at Daytona (six times). Both GRC race teams will be based out of the same shop in Concord, NC that houses Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR teams.

The Chip Ganassi Racing GRC teams will have solid drivers, with Canadian Steve Arpin running the full 12-race schedule and motocross star and X Games Champion Brian Deegan competing in seven events. Arpin has been a strong contender in GRC since his rookie season in 2013, and he will pilot the No. 00 racecar sponsored by ENEOS. Deegan will continue to drive his No. 38 car sponsored by RockStar energy drink (shown above). Arpin and Deegan shared the podium in last year’s season-opening race in Barbados.

The 2015 GRC season will commence on May 31 in Tampa, FL, and it will include two events in Detroit, LA and Barbados.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chip Ganassi Racing.

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Inside Rally Racing

Inside Rally Racing

So there you are, deep in the woods of some European country, huddled around a crackling fire, cradling a warm beverage to stave off the frostbite in your fingertips. Spots of ice keep you from wandering too far, as does the cheery atmosphere of the locals. Murmurs of several different dialects mix with the floating wood smoke, while a collection of colorful flags flit among the branches.

Then you hear it – the rising crescendo of an un-muffled turbo four-cylinder at full song, popping through the gears with shocking alacrity, each upshift accompanied by a heady tailpipe explosion. The crowd around you is hushed, and all attention turns to a narrow dirt road slithering its way through the trees.

The sound builds, until finally, it bursts over the crest – a brightly stickered race car takes flight, giving you a clear view of the battered skid plate underneath. The suspension droops like landing gear as the winged hatchback sails past you, and for a brief moment, you see two helmets brace for impact in the cockpit. Momentum carries the car well over a hundred feet until it reconnects with the ground, and you watch as the rear squirms under braking before disappearing around the following bend in a sideways spray of frozen mud, covering nearby trees and spectators alike. The exhaust note fades, replaced by the cheers of all around you.

This is rally racing. It’s a contest characterized by ruthless conditions, unyielding machinery, outrageous talent, and gut-wrenching crashes. In this article, we’ll delve into some of the finer points of what makes this one of the most exciting sports in the world.

Click Continue Reading to learn more about rally.

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WRC 2015 – Rally Sweden

WRC 2015 – Rally Sweden

The first race of the 2015 WRC season ended in overwhelming victory for the Volkswagen team, particularly for the defending world champion Sebastien Ogier. VW controlled every position on the podium last month, while Citroen’s Mads Ostberg managed to clinch fourth. Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville squeaked by his teammate Dani Sordo for a fifth-place finish.

The frigid woods of Sweden formed the backdrop for round two, with tall snow banks, icy surfaces, long power slides between the trees, breathtaking jumps, and authentic Scandinavian flicks. Thanks to studded rubber, thicker ice equates to more bite, making Rally Sweden one of the fastest events of the year. Incredibly, grip levels with this tire/surface combination approach those of slicks on clean tarmac.

In the 62-event history of Rally Sweden, only two non-Scandinavians have managed to secure the top spot. Sebastien Loeb is one of those individuals, winning in 2004, while Sebastien Ogier is the second, with a victory in 2013.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Rally Sweden.

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