The Subaru Impreza WRC 2001
For the 2001 World Rally Championship, Subaru nominated Petter Solberg and Richard Burns as their driver lineup, with Marko Martin and Toshi Arai competing in selected events. The WRC 2001 featured an all-new look, based on the new Impreza WRX GD chassis, also known as the ‘bugeye’. Along with the new body, the car featured revised aerodynamics, improved weight distribution and importantly, a lower centre of gravity, with the engine, suspension and drivetrain also receiving refinements over the winter. These World Rally cars were built, prepared and run by British motorsport team, Prodrive.
The 2001 World Rally Championship was held over fourteen rounds, covering ever corner of the globe from the famed Monte Carlo, to Australia, Argentina, Sweden and the Safari rally in Africa. Over the season, the WRC 2001 secured seven podium finishes, with Richard Burns claiming the World Rally Drivers Championship, beating four-time champion Tommi Makinen, double champion Marcus Gronholm, and 1995 champion Colin McRae! 2001 was the 29th season of the FIA World Rally Championship, and one of the closest, with the top three drivers separated by only three points!
This Subaru Impreza WRC 2001 - X16 SRT
This Subaru Impreza WRC 2001, chassis 022, made it competition debut at the Propecia Rally New Zealand in September with Petter Solberg and Phil Mills. Chassis 022 was assigned the UK registration ‘X16 SRT’. After shakedown for the event, Petter Solberg said: "I've got a good feeling here. The car felt excellent at shakedown and the stages are really enjoyable to drive - lots of flowing corners, tricky camber and with the loose gravel it can be slippery too. I'm keeping the same approach as recent events - I'm just intending to drive at my own pace and not get drawn into thinking too much about the other guys.
Wearing race number 6, Solberg made his intensions clear by taking two stage victories on the opening morning in New Zealand, round ten of the World Rally Championship. Solberg was reigning champion, Marcus Gronholm’s nearest competitor on the time sheets, however before the start of special stage 5 and 6 the Subaru overheated as a result of the fans failing. The electronic systems put the car into ‘safe mode’ so the Norwegian had to complete several stages without the all-important anti-lag, dropping X16 SRT from second overall, to tenth.
However, all was not lost, and over the next two days of competition, Solberg continued to push, claiming a total of six stage victories to climb back to seventh overall. Only the sister car of Richard Burns won as many stages, six each
At the end of day three, Solberg commented, "Today's been great. I'm still learning more about the car and I don't have complete confidence or a perfect feeling with it in the narrow bits of road, but we had a chance to go after Tommi and we did. Not many people can say they've hunted down Tommi Mäkinen over a day, but we managed it! There were a few interesting moments because we were pushing right at the maximum, but I'm glad we did. It's also good to get another manufacturers' point for Subaru - that gave me extra motivation."
Two months after the New Zealand Rally, X16 SRT returned to action, this time piloted by Hamed Al-Wahaibi, in the Telstra Rally Australia, round thirteen of the 2001 World Rally Championship. Wearing race number 24, X16 SRT finished thirteenth overall.
After its works Subaru World Rally Team days were over, X16 SRT was sold to Leszek Kuzaj in Poland, where it claimed three victories, finishing third in the 2003 Polish championship. The car then returned to western Europe with Jean-Marie Cuoq, where it finished second in the 2004 French gravel championship, claiming victory in five of the eight rallies!
The car has continued to compete regularly, before being sent to rally specialists, BGM Sport in the UK in late 2018 for a thorough inspection and shakedown, including a gearbox strip, with the invoice totalling nearly £20,000.
Today, this car presents a fabulous opportunity to own a rare example of a hugely iconic World Rally car, driven by future World Rally Champion, Petter Solberg, and let’s not forget that the 2001 World Rally Champion, Richard Burns, was also driving a Subaru WRC 2001!
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