Subaru and the World Rally Championship
Subaru is one of the most successful and iconic brands to have competed in the World Rally Championship, winning three consecutive Constructors’ World Championships from 1995 through to 1997, along with the 1995, 2001 and 2003 Drivers World Championships. Forty-seven World Rally Victories were scored by the Subaru World Rally Team, with drivers including World Rally Champions Colin McRae, Tommi Makkinen, Juha Kankkunen, Carlos Sainz, Petter Solberg, Markku Alen and Richard Burns.
World Rally regulations changed in 1997, with a new era of cars being introduced. Subaru and Prodrive entered the Impreza, now in two-door specification using the latest GC8 body shell. The 555 Subaru World Rally Team dominated the 1997 World Rally Championship, claiming eight World Rally victories from fourteen events, and winning the Constructors’ Championship by twenty-four points over the Ford Motor Co, and Team Mitsubishi Ralliart.
For the 1998 World Rally Championship, Subaru and Prodrive developed the already reliable and competent Impreza, unveiling the WRC98 at the opening round, the Monte Carlo Rally in January. Over the season, Colin McRae claimed three victories in his Impreza WRC98 to finish third overall in the Drivers Championship, with the 555 Subaru World Rally Team finishing third in the Constructors’ Championship.
1999 saw further development and refinement of the Impreza, now fitted with a new active Hewland rear differential and new, larger IHI RX6 turbo charger with anti-lag. Over the fourteen-round World Rally Championship, Subaru and Prodrive claimed victory in five rounds, missing out on the Constructors’ World Rally Championship by four points!
Over the course of its life in the World Rally Championship with the works 555 Subaru World Rally Team, the Impreza scored an impressive forty-six victories and one hundred and twenty-two podium finishes in one hundred and ninety-three World Rallies, claiming six World Rally Championships in the process!
This Subaru Impreza World Rally Car
The 1999 Subaru Impreza WRC99 being offered here, chassis PRO GC8-99.014 was built in late 1999 by Prodrive. Frederic Dor was a wealthy and enthusiastic rally driver, having previously competed in Prodrive-built BMW M3 E30’s, before getting behind the wheel of several Prodrive-built Subaru Impreza’s in the World Rally Championship. Dor was a very successful businessman, allowing him to finance competing with the very latest works-specification World Rally Cars, being maintained and run by the Prodrive Subaru World Rally Team. Dors passion was competition, even paying a higher price to compete in a completely plain white works specification Subaru WRC99! For Dor, there was no financial restriction to his World Rallying.
Prodrive built this Subaru Impreza WRC99 alongside its blue works cars at its Banbury headquarters in late 1999, with this car being first registered in December 1999 to Prodrive. The car was assigned English registration number ‘V863 TWL’, which it retains to this day.
The first event this Impreza entered was the 2000 TAP Rally de Portugal, round four of the 2000 World Rally Championship, being driven by Frederic Dor, with Didier Breton as co-driver. Wearing race number 24, the pair completed the twenty-three gravel stages to finish 19th overall.
The second World Rally this car entered was the 2000 Rally Argentina in May, with Dor accompanied by Englishman Kevin Gormley. After nearly four-hundred kilometres of gravel stages, Dor and Gormley finished 14th overall.
A month later and Dor was reunited with Breton to compete in the Acropolis Rally, round seven of the 2000 World Rally Championship. This was to be the best result in the World Rally Championship for this Subaru Impreza WRC99, with a sixth-place finish on stage fifteen, Dor finished in 8th position overall, even beating the works-entered Peugeot 206 WRC of Francois Delecour.
In August 2000, the World Rally Championship headed to Finland for round nine of the championship, with Frederic Dor again partnered by Didier Breton in this Impreza WRC99. The pair finished 34th overall. Round ten of the 2000 World Rally Championship was the Cyprus Rally, with Dor and this WRC99 retiring on stage ten with mechanical issues.
Dor also used this car in six rounds of the 2000 French Gravel Championship, where he finished on the podium every time, claiming second overall in the championship! In 2001, Frederic Dor entered this Impreza WRC99 in the Rim of the World Rally in California, before retiring it from competition.
Once its competition days were over, this WRC99 was stored by Frederic Dor, alongside several of his other World Rally Cars, where it remained unused and unmolested for nearly fifteen years. Regularly, once rally cars end their competition life with a works factory team they are sold to amateurs or lower-tier teams and drivers, often resulting in poor or incorrect maintenance, and even damage. This is the most important detail with this WRC99, it has remained in the custody of one man until 2015, having been cared for and maintained only by the works Subaru team, Prodrive.
In December 2015, Frederic Dor was convinced, after years of pleading, to sell the car to Steve Rimmer, a huge rally car enthusiast and collector. During this ownership, the car has been maintained by rally and competition car specialists, BGMsport in England. Over these following four years, the car has been maintained in fully operational condition, and stored alongside Rimmers expansive and diverse collection of historically significant rally cars.
Today, the originality of this Impreza WRC99 is unmatched, with Ian Gwynne of BGMsport commenting “This is without doubt the most original, and unmolested 1999 Subaru Impreza World Rally car I have ever seen, there is nothing else like it.” This car even retains its original radio marked ‘Frederic Dor’, seat cushions marked ‘FD 99 CAR’, 2001 UK tax disc attached to the front roll bar, co-drivers tool kit notes attached to the inside of the roof, USA paperwork from the 2001 rally in California wrapped around the rear roll bar, spare wheel, warning triangle, ratchet and socket, first aid kit and even its original tow rope!
Maintained without financial limitation throughout its competition and all subsequent years, this Subaru Impreza WRC99 offers the next custodian the most original and correct experience of what a Prodrive-built 1999 Subaru World Rally Car actually was. If originality is important to you, this is the World Rally Car you’ve always been looking for!
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