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A Works Subaru World Rally Team entrant in the 1999 and 2000 World Rally Championships
Finished second overall at both the 1999 Network Q Rally of Great Britain and the 2000 Safari Rally
Raced by the four-time World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen
Hill-climbed by Great Britain’s only World Rally Champion Richard Burns at the 1999 Goodwood Festival of Speed
Still retaining its period Works UK registration ‘S10 SRT’
Chassis no. PRO GC8-99.007
The Subaru Impreza WRC99
The legacy Colin McRae and his gung-ho, no-holds-barred, seat-of-the-pants driving style forged cannot be downplayed. Virtually single-handedly, he made rallying a household sports in 1990s, inspiring an entire generation. And he did so thrashing a blue and yellow Subaru Impreza.
While Subaru’s exquisite rollcall of drivers over the years led the marque to three Drivers’ and three Constructors’ World Championships, it’s the period from 1997 onwards, when the new era of ‘World’ cars were introduced, that remains closest to our hearts.
When the World Rally Championship regulations drastically changed ahead of the 1997 season putting an end to the Group A era, Subaru and Prodrive, its trusted technical partner, introduced the two-door WRC87, which was styled by the acclaimed automotive designer Peter Stevens and built using the latest GC8 bodyshell.
The car proved to be a tour de force, clinching eight victories from 14 events to dominate the 1997 World Rally Championship and win the constructors’ title by a whopping 24 points.
For the 1998 season, Subaru and Prodrive developed the already reliable and competent Impreza, unveiling the WRC98 at the opening round in Monte-Carlo. Nineteen ninety-nine saw further development and refinement, which was now fitted with a paddle-actuated semi-automatic gearbox, a new active Hewland rear differential and a larger IHI RX6 turbocharger with adjustable anti-lag.
After 14 rounds of the World Rally Championship, Subaru and Prodrive claimed victory in five of them, missing out on the Constructors’ title by an agonising four points. Over the course of its Works 555 Subaru World Rally Team competition career, the Impreza scored an incredible 46 victories and 122 podium finishes, claiming six World Rally Championships in the process.
This Subaru Impreza WRC99
As a Works entrant, this Subaru Impreza – chassis number PRO GC8-99-007 – is most commonly known by its period registration number ‘S10 SRT’.
The car’s maiden competitive outing came in April at the Catalonia Rally in Spain, where it was earmarked to be driven by the four-time World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen and his navigator Juha Repo. The Finnish duo drove a mature rally to finish sixth overall.
Ahead of the 1999 Goodwood Festival of Speed – which, despite being in its relative infancy, had already established itself as one of the world’s biggest motorsport events – its founder the Duke of Richmond planned a very special showdown.
Great Britain’s rallying superstars Colin McRae and Richard Burns were poised to take their fight from the World Rally Championship special stages to the world-famous West Sussex hill climb. McRae was armed with his current Ford Focus WRC while Burns took to the Goodwood start line with S10 SRT, this very Subaru Impreza WRC99.
Rather amusingly, behind the scenes Burns and his Prodrive-run Subaru outfit had been taking Goodwood a little more seriously than his Scottish opponent. According to Burns’ then-codriver Robert Reid, great lengths were taken to ensure this Impreza was optimised for the hill climb – reportedly the car was right on the minimum weight limit and was riding as low as possible, for example. Subaru had even conducted a test at the MIRA proving ground in advance of the Festival of Speed.
Suffice to say, the preparation paid off – Burns smoked McRae, crossing the line in 51.08 seconds, an astonishing five seconds quicker than his rival. Prodrive chairman David Richards maintains that this victory, albeit a minor one, was a turning point in Richard Burns’ career – a pivotal moment at which the World Rally Champion-to-be ‘broke through’ and showed the world he meant business.
“Where there’s a hairpin, there’s a crowd.” That’s how the annual Rallycourse annual described Rallye Sanremo in October of 1999, S10 SRT’s next WRC outing. Once again, Kankkunen piloted the car and once again, he and Repo finished sixth overall. This time around the result was far more impressive, however – Kankkunen suffered clutch issues on the first leg and drove masterfully to claw his way back from way down in 17th position.
The services of S10 SRT were not required again until November and the Network Q Rally of Great Britain – the final round of the 1999 World Rally Championship. Kankkunen and Repo quickly found their groove, clinching the outright lead after victories in special stages two, three and four, the latter held on a somewhat Micky Mouse course around the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit and its infield sections.
The Finnish duo retained control of the rally until the end of special stage seven, after which point Kankkunen’s Subaru teammate, the Brit Richard Burns, used his local knowledge to assume a lead he would not relinquish. Kankkunen added two further special stage victories on the Welsh legs of the rally to finish a commanding second overall.
The season had concluded, but by no means were S10 SRT’s Works duties over. In fact, its fourth and final Subaru World Rally Team showing was reserved for arguably the most punishing rally of them all: the Safari Rally in Kenya. In the initial absence of the new Christian Loriaux-designed WRC 2000, Prodrive’s squadron of WRC99s were pressed into action for the first three rounds of the 2000 season.
The year might have clocked over into the new millennium, but it was Messrs Kankkunen and Repo who were once again assigned to S10 SRT. Held in the blistering African heat and on over 650 miles of rugged and stiflingly dusty special stages, the 48th Sameer Safari Rally Kenya was yet another textbook performance for the Prodrive-run Subaru World Rally Team.
Richard Burns tore to a dominant victory winning all but one of the 12 special stages in the sister Subaru Impreza, while Kankkunen and Repo enjoyed a mature and, more crucially, trouble-free drive to finish second overall at the finish ramp. In June of 2000, Prodrive loaned S10 SRT to the Oman Arab World Rally Team for Hamed Al-Wahaibi and Tony Sircombe to use in the Acropolis Rally – round seven of the season. It was to be S10 SRT’s final World Rally Championship appearance.
Like most of its Subaru contemporaries, S10 SRT was sold and subsequently used as a privateer entry in domestic and international rallies across Europe, including the SATA Rallye Acores, a round of the 2001 European Rally Championship which was Juha Kankkunen and Juha Repo return to the car’s cockpit one final time. And they finished on a high, wiping the floor with everyone else on the event.
In 2018, having passed through the hands of a number of UK-based owners, this Subaru was acquired by the renowned rally car specialist BGMsport, which promptly set about a comprehensive bare-metal restoration back to its former glory.
Resplendent once again in its signature blue and yellow Works Subaru World Rally Team livery, S10 SRT made a number of public appearances including at Race Retro at Stoneleigh Park, Shelsley Walsh Classic Nostalgia and a Subaru gathering at Prodrive’s Oxfordshire headquarters. We acquired this Impreza earlier this year and returned it to BGMsport for a thorough service and a professional detail.
Retaining its period Works UK registration, S10 SRT is a double podium-finishing top-flight rally car which was raced on multiple occasions by one of the sport’s true greats, the four-time World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen.
This Subaru Impreza WRC99 is the perfect avenue into the fast-appreciating world of ‘World Rally’ car, whether you want to enjoy it on the road or at any one of the number of prestigious events for which it’s eligible, including Rally Legend and the Goodwood Festival of Speed/Members’ Meeting.
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