• Dec 7th 2009 at 10:00AM
  • 21

Subary Impreza WRC 2008 – Click above for high-res image gallery

After only a one-year hiatus, Subaru is preparing to get back into the rally game next season. And when it does, it won't be back into the World Rally Championship, but rather the rival Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

The Japanese automaker has competed in the IRC since its inception – and even won the very first IRC stage in 2007 – but was not previously registered as an official manufacturer in the series. Rather than field its own works team, however, Subaru will supply cars to privateers, but will be eligible to score points in the manufacturers' standings for 2010.

With the addition of Subaru, that makes eight automakers signed up to compete in the series next year, along with Fiat/Abarth, Honda, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Proton, Skoda and Volkswagen. Follow the jump for the full press release.

[Source: Subaru] PRESS RELEASE:

FHI registered for the 2010 series of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. has announced that it will register as a manufacturer for the 2010 series of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC).

The IRC is a series of international rally challenges that began in 2007, and consists of existing rally events that are held across four continents. With well known races nominated for the 2009 season, including the Rally Monte-Carlo and the Safari Rally that played host to the WRC, the IRC is growing in size with every new year. The Group N class, where the Impreza WRX STI belongs, and the S2000 are the main types of vehicles used to race in the event.

The series is organised by Eurosport - Europe's largest TV channel - and all teams that race in a vehicle produced by an officially registered manufacturer are featured in extensive coverage broadcast by Eurosport. Manufacturer's points are allocated with the results of every race and announced on official IRC records.

By registering as a manufacturer with the IRC, Fuji Heavy Industries will be able to provide various types of media, including race footage and results, to Subaru motorsport customers around the world.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can you spam a 3rd time just to be safe?
      Then die?
      • 5 Years Ago
      FIA = shafted. Top job Subaru, now just get Lancia, Toyota & Ford to sign up and throw the disaster that is WRC today out the F'ing door.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I agree with everyone here. Forcing transverse inline is insane. And Subaru would have to be doubly insane to follow along. I have no idea what WRC is was thinking.

      There are a ton of ways to save money that don't involve dictating the engine orientation or configuration. Subaru sells a 300HP rally-config car to the public, thousands a year and they couldn't even run that as-is!

      When you exclude one of only two companies that actually follow the spirit of homologation instead of skirting it, you screwed up badly.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have been a fan of rallying since the early 1960s. It has gone through many ups and downs, but since 2000 WRC has lost viability for manufacturers. Just 9 years ago WRC had Peugeot, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Subaru, Ford, Skoda, and some privateer year old Toyotas competing for points. Factory teams frequently brought as many as 4 cars to an event.

      While I marvel at Seb Loeb's ability and think he is most likely the greatest rally driver ever, he hasn't done that much against really stiff competition over the past few years due to one after another manufacturer pulling out. Look at Suzuki and the money they spent (wasted) in just trying WRC for 1 year.

      Subaru was absolutely right to go to IRC. IRC has a more level playing field and manufacturer's can see this and the intrinsic ad value. Look at Ford running their S2000 Fiesta at Monte Carlo in 2010 with Hirvonen as proof.

      The FIA wants Moseley's "world engine" concept (inline 4 cylinder) to power WRC, Touring Cars and F1 in closely related variants eventually. That's why Subaru didn't fit into their plans and why they left Subaru out to dry with the rules changes.

      Now if we could just get TV coverage of IRC in the states I'd ben a happy camper!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bring back Group B! But of course, that would be insane. Awesome but insane.

      It's ironic that the WRC "rules" that were supposed to foster improved competition and bring in more entries is having the opposite effect.

      Here's what the new rules should state:
      • Engine Displacement or HP limits
      • Body based on factory shell with seam welding and additional supports allowed.

      And that's it.

      People may say that one manufacturer will drop millions into the sport and that will be unfair to everyone else. To that I say, how many hundreds of millions (if not a billion) dollars dis Toyota spend in F1? And how many championships do they have under their belt?

      If there's one motor sport where the driver makes the difference, it's rally. The last 5 years or so it's been the Loeb Show. I think you could put him on a lawn mower and he'd be competitive.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Regardless, I'm happy to hear it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They support teams in the Rally America series, right? Travis Pastrana, Ken Block, etc.?
      • 5 Years Ago
      That THAT, WRC!

      Serves you right for being tyrannical with the rules.

      Subaru is right for picking up, and going to a more fairly played game.

      What were they supposed to do when the rules were set directly against them, buy excluding their signature drivetrain engineering. Thankfully, Subaru didn't cave. I'd never buy a transverse inline Subaru. I bought Subarus because they are NOT transverse inline.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Subaru's sales have been up while others have been declining. That doesn't mean they have tons of cash... but the finances could be worse.

        IRC might be cheaper, anyway, and as mentioned, it isn't a factory team, it is providing cars for privateers, which is also cheaper.

        Subaru have been winning WRC titles for a long time... the explanation I've heard isthat the rules have been changed gradually against them, handicapping their technical advantage, and S2000 finally nailed that coffin closed by putting their boxer/longitudinal AWD systems completely out of eligibility.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I thought Subaru pulled out of WRC because the company didn't have extra money and their cars weren't competitive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This news is very VERY twisted. You put WRC cars in the pictures, but IRC is only for Gr.N and S2000's. And this only means PRIVATEERS can score championship points. Nothing else.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @Chris: I think it's the cost of WRC...but whatever it is, it needs to be fixed. Just two manufacturers in WRC is no where near enough. Still fun as hell to watch though.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well, they've made WRC a formula in the name of cost cutting. So there is no room for engineering innovation and manufacturers have to use the specified engine/gearbox formula or get out.

        Subaru don't so in-line 4cyl engines or transverse layouts so they opted to quit. Now there are only 2 manufacturers in the WRC. Just like open-wheel racing in the USA and what Max Mosely tried to do with F1 over the last year or so...make it formulaic and the engineeing-driven teams quit. So you are left with no teams that get the blood stirring...and the series is dead!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Brilliant! Just as we finally get decent WRC tv coverage here in the states everybody goes to IRC.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So are the rules in WRC prohibitive, the cost too expensive, or what? Why are so many manufacturers going to this no-name start-up series?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thanks, Neil and John. That sucks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        WRC is going to become a spec series, like NASCRAP or F1.

        For Subaru, that means:
        - no Subaru boxer engines
        - no Subaru symmetrical AWD

        If WRC doesn't allow Suby to highlight their differentiating technology, then they won't waste their time on it.

        I look forward to the Impreza "IRX" in the coming years...
        • 5 Years Ago
        And? What does that mean? What are you saying? Didn't really answer my question...
        • 5 Years Ago
        next season WRC moves to S2000 spec.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't know, but I'll follow Subaru wherever I can see them.

        Now if you'll excuse me...
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