2005 Swedish Rally Winner with World Rally Champion Petter Solberg
Works Subaru World Rally Team 2005 World Rally Championship competitor
First registered to Prodrive – WT53 SRT, One of only 9 ex-factory Subaru Impreza WRC 2004 sold by Prodrive
Single private ownership after Subaru World Rally Team and Subaru Norway
Only driven in competition by World Rally Champion, Petter Solberg and Anders Grøndall
Chassis no. PROGDA04014
The Subaru World Rally Team and Petter Solberg
The Subaru World Rally Team, with its distinctive blue and yellow colour scheme, is one of the most successful and iconic marques in World Rally history, having claimed three World Constructors’ Championships, and three World Drivers’ Championships, alongside forty-seven World Rally victories!
Petter Solberg joined the Subaru World Rally Team from the Ford team, driving alongside 2001 World Rally Champion Richard Burns, and four-time World Rally Champion, Juha Kankkunen. Victories followed, and with a new team-mate, four-time World Rally Champion, Tommi Makinen in 2003, Petter Solberg claimed the World Drivers’ Championship, even beating the works Citroen driver, Sebastien Loeb. Solberg is the only Norwegian to win the World Rally Championship.
Once his World Rally career was finished, Petter Solberg competed in the World Rallycross Championship, and in 2014 and 2015 was crowned World Rallycross Champion, also winning the 2014 Race of Champions Nations’ Cup with endurance racing legend, Tom Kristensen.
This World Rally-winning Subaru Impreza WRC
The Subaru World Rally car offered here, chassis PROGDA0414 was built by Prodrive in late 2004, being first UK-registered in December 2004, being assigned the registration ‘WT53 SRT’. This Impreza WRC is often referred to as a ‘S10’ model, which featured many developments over the 2003 Championship-winning S9 Impreza WRC. These enhancements included a new state of the art TAG Electronic Control Unit with increased processing power and reliability. The 1,994 cc, four-cylinder Subaru EJ20 engine featured new boost packs with better response and packaging, a new Inconel exhaust manifold and revised crankshafts resulting in more power. The IHI Turbocharger was accompanied by the most advanced “Rocket” anti-lag system in the World Rally Championship, again leading to increased engine power, whilst also increasing efficiency. The six-speed semi-automatic, paddle-actuated Prodrive gearbox had new ratios with increased life. The Xtrac rear differential featured a fully active epicyclic mechanism with increased service life. Aerodynamically, the S10 featured improved cooling with more downforce and stability for high-speed performance. The S10 bodyshell was 15% stiffer with a lower centre of gravity and increased durability. The centre of gravity was improved thanks to an aluminium boot lid, lightweight roof and rear wing, aluminium front fenders and carbon fibre switch panels. The S10 sat on the proven four-way adjustable SACHS suspension, Alcon brake calipers and discs with O.Z. Racing wheels finished in gold, naturally!
WT53 SRT made its competition debut at the 2005 Monte Carlo Rally, round one of the 2005 World Rally Championship. Entered by the 555 Subaru World Rally Team, this car was driven by 2003 World Rally Champion, Petter Solberg, with Phil Mills as co-driver. Wearing race number 5, this Subaru entered the final day of the rally in fourth place over, before setting the fastest time in stage ten and eleven to move into third place overall. Unfortunately, Solberg retired on stage twelve with suspension damage.
The second event for this Impreza WRC was round two of the 2005 World Rally Championship, the snowy and icy, Swedish Rally in February. Once again, Petter Solberg, Phil Mills and WT53 SRT competed together over the 20 stages, covering 336 competitive kilometres, with the rally based in Karlstad, 300 kms west of the Swedish capital, Stockholm.
In 2005, the event was made all the more unpredictable after unseasonably mild conditions made tyre wear more of a gamble. Thankfully there was a snowfall on Wednesday evening before the rally started, but event that wasn’t enough to cover the gravel exposed on certain stages.
The opening stage of the most northern rally in the World Rally Championship saw Solberg and this Impreza dominate, beating Sebastien Loeb by an impressive five seconds. For this stage, Solberg had carefully selected tyres with longer Tungsten studs, to dig into the ice below the latest snow fall. Solberg backed this performance up with victory in stage two also. For stage three, the longer studs didn’t work, and despite a suspension change, Solberg lost time to Marcus Gronholm, now three tenths of a second behind the rally lead. By Friday night, Gronholm led the rally by only two tenths of a second from Solberg, with Loeb a further ten seconds behind. This was one of the tightest rallies in history, with drivers trading tenths of a second to take the overall rally lead.
Day two saw Solberg and this Subaru return to the rally lead on stage nine, and by the end of one of the tightest days in rallying, he was leading the event by more than twelve seconds ahead of two-time World Rally Champion, Marcus Gronholm. The final day of the Swedish rally saw Petter Solberg maintain his rally-leading pace, continuing to beat Gronholm, with Loeb dropping further behind. Finally, Gronholm cracked whilst attempting to chase Solberg, leading to his retirement.
Solberg continued to push, remaining focussed to cross the finish line more than two minutes ahead of the chasing field. After crossing the finish line to claim his first victory on snow, Solberg jumped from the cockpit to cheer from the bonnet of this Impreza WRC. This was Solberg’s eleventh of thirteen victories in the World Rally Championship.
This was the first win for Pirelli and Subaru in Sweden since 1997 and is also the last victory for Subaru in Sweden. At the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed, we discussed this car with Petter Solberg, who said this was the ultimate Subaru and the best World Rally Car he ever drove. Importantly, this car is also accompanied by copies of the original Prodrive event summaries, and car set-up sheets, making for some fascinating reading.
After victory at the 2005 Swedish Rally, WT53 SRT was retired from factory duties and return to Prodrive in England where it was one of only nine S10 cars fully rebuilt and offered for sale. Chassis PROGDA0414 was purchased through Subaru Norway by Norwegian rising star, and third-generation rally driver, Anders Grondal. The history file contains images of the car being rebuilt by Prodrive prior to sale, along with copies of the original Prodrive sales brochure and support documentation. The Prodrive documentation accompanying this S10 documents the price of this car to be £450,000 at the time of sale!
Upon arrival in Norway, this car was registered with the license ‘KF81148’ and maintained by Bilbutikken AS, Anders Grondal’s rally team. The first event for Grondal and this Impreza WRC was the 2006 Sigdalsrally where they finished 2nd overall, before winning on the next event, the Mountain Rally of Norway. Over the 2006 season, Grondal entered nine rounds of the Norwegian Rally Championship, finishing third overall. Grondal also competed in the World Rally Championship with this car, in the 2006 Swedish Rally, and the 2007 Norwegian Rally.
Throughout the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Norwegian Rally Championships, Anders Grondal competed with this Impreza WRC, taking thirty-nine podium finishes and eighteen rally victories in the process of winning the Norwegian Rally Championship in 2010 and 2011.
Once his competition days were over with this Subaru Impreza WRC, Grondal had the car fully stripped and rebuilt. The engine and gearbox were rebuilt by Subaru specialists, Autosportif in England with invoices on file documenting the works. Images on file show the body being completely stipped and repainted by DK Skade in Norway.
Now with the car fully rebuilt and having played such an important role in his rally career, Anders Grondal chose to use it as his wedding car, with his wife and fellow rally enthusiast, Molly, fully approving. Since its rebuild, this World Rally-winning Subaru Impreza WRC has covered less than fifty kilometres, and in October 2019 was taken on a shakedown in England by Prodrive themselves.
Today, this Subaru Impreza WRC offers you a very rare and important opportunity. Unlike Grand Prix or endurance racing cars, this World Rally car can be driven on the road with ease. You strap yourself in, albeit a little more securely than your usual VW Golf, flick on the master switch and fuel, then hit the start button. It really is that simple. Now with the car running, you depress the clutch pedal, select road mode (unless you are feeling brave, then you select race mode) and the Impreza automatically selects first gear for you, release the clutch and away you go, just as any other road car. But, there is another way to pull away from the lights, and that involves launch control, and that really is something you must experience, and the only way to do that? Call Girardo & Co and own this piece of WRC history.
As well as driving on the public roads, there are a host of events for you to enjoy your World Rally Car at in todays world. Everything from a competitive stage at Rallylegend in Italy, to a demonstration event at Rallyday in England, or a drive at your own pace at the Eifel Rallye Festival in Germany. The Goodwood Festival of Speed also has a rally stage for you to demonstrate your car at, along with many other events around Europe and America.
To own a car driven by a Champion is special, but to own a World Rally car built by World Rally Champions, Subaru, and driven to victory at the 2006 Swedish World Rally by World Rally Champion Petter Solberg in beyond special. This is an opportunity not to be missed.
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