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SUBARU Nürburgring 24H Race Challenge Highlights
The SUBARU WRX STI NBR 24H Challenge — Powered by “Enjoyment and Peace of Mind.”
The Nürburgring course is a beast. 25 km per lap. 300 metres of elevation change. 170 precarious corners. It’s the ultimate test of both driver and machinery. It’s also the proving ground for SUBARU brand value—“Enjoyment and Peace of Mind”—for 20 years and counting.
  • About the 24H Nürburgring Race
  • SUBARU and Nürburgring
  • SUBARU Nürburgring Racecars

About the 24 Hours Nürburgring Race

The 24 Hours Nürburgring is a legendary endurance race held in May or June every year on the Nürburgring, located in the Eifel mountain range in the west of Germany near the Belgian border. The name “Nürburgring” means “circuit of Nürburg Castle” because it sits on the grounds of the medieval Nürburg Castle.

The racecourse combines two circuits into one colossal, 25.378 km (15.769 mi) challenge—the world-famous 20.832 km (12.944 mi) “Nordschleife” course and the 5.148 km (3.199 mi) Grand Prix course built for high-profile open-wheel racing. Over 200 racecars will compete from teams of various experience and skill levels, from amateur to professional. The 24 Hours Nürburgring is a popular event that draws race fans from all over Europe.

The Nordschleife is considered to be one of the most demanding circuits for race machines and features the typical characteristics of almost every type of road around the world: a narrow mountainous course with rough surfaces coupled by blind corners and blind crests, no lighting and minimal safety features, and a multitude of sections where racecars jump clear off the track surface.

The dangers are not limited to the course itself. With so many different types of vehicles of varying performance characteristics, the drivers must be equally wary of their fellow competitors. The variety of racecars, from gasoline and diesel-powered, to natural gas, and hybrid electric, are entertaining to fans but precarious to drivers because the differences in speed can vary incredibly from one racecar to the next.

Every component of a racecar is subjected to immense pressures and loads when participating in the race at high speed over 24 hours, and the chassis themselves require outstanding balance, endurance and handling.

Close relationship between SUBARU and Nürburgring

Since 1992, the Nürburgring Nordschleife has been the proving ground for SUBARU. It’s the final test to make sure production models have the durability, performance, and most of all, the “Enjoyment and Peace of Mind” SUBARU vehicles are known for.

Though testing is important, SUBARU isn’t above going for the occasional speed run in order to push the limits of performance. SUBARU’s best-ever lap was 7 minutes and 55 seconds, completed in 2010 by WRC driver Tommi Mäkinen, besting many vehicles with more power and larger engines than the WRX STI. Technology that inspires confidence, rather than outright horsepower, enabled Tommi’s impressive lap.

SUBARU first took part in the 24 Hours Nürburgring in 2008 with the WRX STI and has participated with STI’s very own.

The Challenge

Subaru Tecnica International has always held the Nürburgring in high regard. It’s the symbolic place of worship for the ideals of the company, and the proving ground for STI technology. Central to this is the belief that if a vehicle can survive the challenge of the Nürburgring, it can handle anything. Whether competing in motorsports or developing mass-produced vehicles, using the Nürburgring as a barometer has taught STI engineering lessons that no textbook or computer simulation could have provided. The Nürburgring Nordschleife aligns perfectly with the ideals of SUBARU. It’s the standard to which all SUBARU vehicles—racing and production—are measured.

For taking on the Nürburgring in competition, STI prefers using mass-produced SUBARU cars as a starting point. Compared to purpose-built racecars made for sprints and specific circumstances, mass-produced cars are favored by STI for their manipulability, safety, comfort, durability, functionality, quietness and environment-friendliness. The result of enormous amounts of testing and development, these qualities are paramount for overcoming the challenges of Nürburgring, a circuit that features the characteristics of every type of road found around the world.

With sudden changes in elevation and more than 170 turns of varying difficulty, as well as the numerous blind crests and narrow sections of course bound only by guard rails and without any escape shoulders, the Nordschleife pushes the build quality of any car and the endurance of its driver to the very limit. The weather can change suddenly, and the course and its surroundings become pitch-black at night, with only headlights to guide the way. These tough conditions have challenged and inspired STI to keep pushing the envelope and developing parts and vehicles that inspire confidence, and embody the SUBARU mantra—“Enjoyment and Peace of Mind.”

Since 1992, the Nürburgring Nordschleife has been the proving ground for SUBARU. It’s the final test to make sure production models have the durability, performance, and most of all, the “Enjoyment and Peace of Mind” SUBARU vehicles are known for.


In October 1992, the new Impreza WRX conducted a time attack at the Nürburgring, recording a best lap time of 8:28 '93. This was an incredible result for a 2-litre car at that time. The driver was motor journalist Kazuo Shimizu. However, not satisfied with the result, and knowing there was a new model coming in four years, the Impreza went back to the Nürburgring with a view to improve the mechanics on the car. This time, racing driver Takayuki Kinoshita set a new record time in the Impreza WRX STI ver III, an 8:10'75.

2004 Impreza (GDB) time attack

This time around, the 2nd generation Impreza WRX STI Spartan Model spec C was brought to the Nürburgring. With Kazuo Shimizu driving again, it breached the 8 minute barrier, recording a 7:59'41 to enter a new stage in SUBARU's NBR challenge. With its light-weight body, ball-bearing turbo, the spec C went on to dominate the Production Car World Rally Championship. Machine development at the Nürburgring became routine for the development team at SUBARU, and a special garage was set up near the track.

GDB-type Impreza WRX STI completed its first race in 14th overall

GDB-type Impreza WRX STI (E-type) prepared by Prova Racing Division of Japan entered the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race on 7 and 8 May. As team drivers, the Japanese trio of Kazuo Shimizu, Kumi Sato and Toshihiro Yoshida were joined by Stephane Sarrazin from France, a tarmac rally specialist from the SUBARU World Rally Team.

The race machine had specifications based on the Group N car which was doing well in the Production Car World Rally Championship (P-WRC). The final race of the 24-hour race that year was supposed to start at 3:00pm on 7 May. However since heavy rain fell when a rolling start was about to begin, the race actually got underway at 3:20pm.

The first driver to go out was Kazuo Shimizu starting from 42nd overall, 10th in the A6 class. He passed 18 cars and climbed up to 24th after a chaotic first lap in the rain by taking advantage of the symmetrical AWD. He climbed to 21st position on Lap 5, and handed the car over to Stephane Sarrazin after 6 laps. Two hours into the race, at 5 pm, the Impreza was 22nd overall and 7th in the class. Then, after a trouble-free run for 12 hours at 3:00am, it reached 18th overall, and 3rd in the A6 class.

With less than 6 hours remaining at 9:30 in the morning, Kumi Sato took the wheel, and was running 4 minutes 10 seconds behind the class-leading car on the same lap. At about 10:30, however, large hailstones about 5mm in diameter hit the track and Sato managed to control the car and bring it back to the pit a lap earlier than planned, struggling with poor visibility before Shimizu could take over.

Final driver Yoshida crossed the finish line at 3:00 in the afternoon. The SUBARU Impreza WRX STI in its first outing at the Nürburgring, completed 124 laps, and finished 14th overall and 2nd in the class. It is well worth mentioning that despite its first race, the Impreza challenged Nürburgring regular competitors and completed the 24-hour race without any trouble on a circuit that is over 25km long.

Sarrazin said, "It was a good race. Despite being almost a standard car, our Impreza managed the 6th or 7th fastest time amongst over 200 cars. Of course, it would've been better to have a class win, but it was a good experience for me, the other drivers, and the team. We tried the new aero part (roof vane) to test during the race and it worked very well as the car was very stable at high speeds".

NBR 24 hour race Impreza (GDB) a fight to the bitter end in a toughbattle

English preparation specialists Autosportif entered the race with a modified racing car based on the SUBARU Impreza spec C. With 2 English drivers, one South African, and SUBARU World Rally Team member Chris Atkinson, the four drivers took turns at the wheel. There were problems mid-race and they were forced to spend time in the pit garage on repairs. However, at the 24hr mark, final runner Atkinson crossed the finish line. They were 46 laps behind the race leader, and finished 116th overall and 13th in the SP6 class.

In the inaugural year of the ‘SUBARU NBR CHALLENGE’, the GRB type Impreza WRX STI pulled through in 57th overall and 5th in its class

To pursue SUBARU’s theme of ‘Enjoyment & Peace of Mind’, Fuji Heavy Industries and STI decided to participate in the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race - the ultimate touring car race. The competition vehicle for the project was built based on the 3rd generation SUBARU Impreza WRX STI GRB type that was released in October 2007. With the minimum of equipment additions to meet the competition criteria, this racecar preserved the fundamental characters of its road-going version. The decision was made because the Nürburgring reflects all aspects of public roads around the world, and so, it is the most appropriate place for the SUBARU AWD car to demonstrate its innate abilities. The engineers who developed engines for the WRC tuned the EJ20 Boxer Turbo Engine, which was made for production vehicles, to utilize it in the racecar, while the engine setting still focused on drivability with an emphasis on torque rather than power in the high revolution area. Hideharu Tatsumi, the then General Manager of STI’s Vehicle Experiment Department, played a role as Team Manager of the SUBARU NBR CHALLENGE team and the driver lineup consisted of an experienced Toshihiro Yoshida, Hideshi Matsuda, Naoki Hattori and Kouji Matsuda. The Impreza WRX STI entered in the SP6 class for vehicles with an equivalent engine capacity of 3.0 - 3.5 liters, where many competitive European cars contended.

During a damp official qualifying, 4 drivers first ran 2 laps each to qualify, which took about 1 and a half hours. Due to the short permitted time to run the car, it was difficult to fully focus on time attack and on refining car setups for the final. This is the challenge of the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race. The quickest time of 10 minute 15 seconds 082 was set by Yoshida, a very experienced driver at the Nürburgring. During the final race, even with some rain early on, the track dried out later under an overcast sky. However, after 5 hours at about 7:55pm, Hideshi Matsuda reported to the team that the engine had stopped. The car was towed back to the pit by an official and surprisingly it turned out that it had run out of gas. Despite further time loss due to rising water temperature after that, the team subsequently managed to edge up the field taking advantage of the performance of the AWD in the rain at night, and completed the 24-hour race in 5th out of 18 in the SP6 class, and 57th out of the total 216 competitors. As in 2005, they ran 124 laps in all.

Hideshi Matsuda who joined the team for the first time that year said, “I was continuously nervous on the first stint after the start, but I was able to drive with good rhythm after dawn. I’m satisfied with being able to drive well and to have felt like I had become one with the car towards the end of race”.

GBR type SUBARU Impreza WRX STI finished 5th in the SP3T class

This was the first time STI itself ran in the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race program. Hideharu Tatsumi, the then General Manager of STI’s Vehicle Experiment Department, led the team including 4 drivers; Kazuo Shimizu, Toshihiro Yoshida, Naoki Hattori and Kouji Matsuda. They competed in the SP3T class for 2-liter turbo cars. For this year, some improvements were added to the previous year’s SUBARU Impreza WRX STI GRB type. Those modifications included a lightened weight with carbon bonnet and other components as well as enhanced motion performance by changed wheel size and new roll cage, contributing to greater safety and a lower center of gravity for the car. Also, the mechanics maintaining the car and operating the team were selected from STI, so that this opportunity could give STI employees hands-on experience.

Situated at a high altitude, and in a dense forest, the Nürburgring features the hilly Nordschleife (North Course), which has characteristically unstable surface conditions affected by weather changes. Nordschleife is known as ‘Green Hell’ and notoriously difficult to drive in at night, causing many retirements in the past. However, for the SUBARU AWD car that thrives in difficult conditions, this nature of the circuit could be a good opportunity to gain advantages. Nevertheless, with little rain that year, there weren’t any big accidents or long caution laps, leading to relatively trouble free race. Shimizu started the race at 4:00pm on the 23rd of May behind the wheel of the SUBARU Impreza WRX STI after finishing the qualifying in 74th overall and 8th in the ST3P class. Yoshida and then Hattori took over the car and the team moved up to 51st overall and 5th in the class after 4 hours at 8:00pm. Up until this point, the team had had no major trouble except losing a few minutes to fix a loose inlet pipe in the pit. After all drivers took their first drives, Shimizu on his 2nd stint, came back to the pit around midnight, as he had a spin and made contact with another car. It took the team about 25 minutes to repair the damaged bodywork and to replace a suspension arm, and as a result, they dropped to 8th in the class. Once the car was back on track, it made steady progress according to the team’s race plan with no major mechanical trouble, mistakes or accidents. Then on the 23rd hour, the SUBARU Impreza WRX STI closed in on the front-runner and almost passed it much to the excitement of the pit. However, the team was given a penalty towards the end of the race, which ruined their chance to turn the race around. After 24 hours, the last driver Hattori crossed the finish line at 4:00pm finishing 5th in the SP3T class and 33rd overall. The number of total laps was 133, 9 laps more than the previous year.

Tommi Mäkinen achieved a record time of 7 minutes 55 seconds 00 in a GVB type SUBARU WRX STI 4-door prototype

On 16 April 2010, just before the release of the GVB type SUBARU WRX STI 4-door later that July, the WRX STI development team of Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) took the prototype of the new car to Nürburgring’s Nordschleife (North Course) and started to prepare for testing. And because the WRX STI 4-door, which was to be added to the product lineup as a restyled model, had more aerodynamic advantages than the 5-door hatchback version, the team decided to specifically focus on time attacks to test the limitations of this car. This was the first in a long time for the team to try such an approach. The test driver was the 4-time World Rally Champion Tommi Mäkinen from Finland who was also an ex-SUBARU World Rally Team driver. This project was led by Hiroshi Mori, the Project General Manager of FHI SUBARU Product Planning Division. The exterior of the 4-door prototype WRX STI with a 6-gear manual transmission was almost identical to the production car to be released later that year, except for the addition of an undercover and front spoiler to the prototype. For time attacks, the EJ20 Horizontally-Opposed Engine of the test car was equipped with a large ball bearing turbo that was originally fitted to the STI Complete Car R205, and an aluminum bonnet for the spec C was introduced to save on weight. Even with those modifications, the maximum output remained at 320hp, which was still close enough to the actual production car version. Also the suspension unit used large capacity shock absorbers and strengthened coil springs. Furthermore, other components such as 6-pod Brembo break calipers, larger diameter rotors, reinforced bushes, a special specification stabilizer bar, a pillow ball press fit linkage, a safety roll cage and a one-piece racing bucket seat were all installed.

After being in the passenger seat for a lap in the car and driven by SUBARU’s German staff member who knew Nordschleife inside out, Tommi Mäkinen immediately started his fast lap. The weather at the Nürburgring is known to be very changeable, and stable conditions might not last long. So, after warming the tires and a few quick warm-up laps, Tommi Mäkinen easily broke the record of 7 minutes 59 seconds 41 marked by the GDB Impreza WRX STI E-type in 2004, and set a new record of 7 minutes 55 seconds 00 for the WRX STI.

“I’ve developed the skill to learn the characteristics of a course through my long time experience in rallying, so I don’t need to practice many laps”, said a smiling Mäkinen after setting the new record. “The car was very controllable thanks to its accurate and secure handling. Because the car behaves very predictably, it’s easy to know what action I should take next. Today’s record proves not only that SUBARU produces a fast car, but also that the driver can trust the performance of SUBARU cars.”

SUBARU Impreza WRX STI finished 4th in the class in the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race

The STI NBR CHALLENGE team entered the SUBARU Impreza WRX STI in the 38th Nürburgring 24-Hour Race held from 13 to 16 May. Four drivers formed the driver lineup of the team: motor journalist Kazuo Shimizu with a lot of experience in driving on the Nürburgring, Toshihiro Yoshida who had been driving a SUBARU for a long time in Super Taikyu, Marcel Engels from Germany and Carlo van Dam from the Netherlands. With these drivers, STI itself led the team in the 24-hour race for the second time.

Their competition vehicle - the GRB type SUBARU Impreza WRX STI 5-door incorporated sports parts that STI had developed for road cars. Along the lines of an STI complete car, this car included unique chassis-stiffening parts such as the Flexible Tower Bar. Taking the experience from the previous year in consideration, this car was brought onto the Nürburgring with a lighter chassis, a much lower center of gravity, enhanced turning performance, improved drivability, and higher engine power as well as an optimized transmission gear ratio.

On Saturday the 15th, the SUBARU Impreza WRX STI driven by Shimizu started the final race from 13th on the grid in the SP3T class. It moved up to 12th in the class in the first hour, then to 8th, and to 6th after a few hours. The SP3T class for 2-liter turbo cars had the largest number of entrants, and was thought to be the most competitive class. The SUBARU Impreza WRX STI climbed up to 4th in the early morning and maintained position until the end without any problems or incidents while many other cars retired due to crashes or problems. It completed 139 laps -about 3,527.5km in 24 hours to come out in 24th overall and 4th in the class. This time round, while temperatures ranged from 4 to 12 ℃, track surfaces remained dry for the 24 hours. The race was smoothly carried out without any suspension even with some fog on Nordschleife in the early morning. However, there was not enough time during the race week and the time attack in the qualifying was the first time for STI to properly run the entire track. Consequently the team could not afford to make progress with car setups, which was brought to the fore as a problem to be solved. In fact, the team's best lap time that year was recorded at around Sunday noon when 3/4 of the race had already finished.

STI Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi commented, "We started this year's project with the concept 'for SUBARU fans around the world', and we wouldn't have been able to get this result just by ourselves. I deeply appreciate the support from many people and also help from our partners. Had it not been for them, we wouldn't have achieved such a wonderful result. Thank you very much".

SUBARU WRX STI clinched a much sought-after win in the SP3T class

The Nürburgring 24-Hour Race took place from 23 to 26 June 2011 with STI entering the GVB type SUBARU WRX STI 4-door model in the SP3T class, in which 23 strong competitors fought against each other. Four drivers got behind the wheel of the car for the team: Toshihiro Yoshida with his abundant experience in the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race, Carlo van Dam from the Netherlands who had joined the team in 2010, Marcel Engels from Germany and Kota Sasaki who was driving the Legacy B4 GT300 in Japan's SUPER GT. Until 2010, the team's competition vehicle had been based on the 5-door Impreza WRX STI, but now the 4-door model was chosen as a base car to create a competition vehicle which could beat great European cars and aim for a win. This is because the 4-door model had good weight balance and allowed effective use of aerodynamic devices.

With over 200 cars starting together, the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race is known to be the hardest touring car race in the world with the tricky narrow track Nordschleife featuring a number of blind corners as well as the changeable weather. As there was not enough time to finalize car settings during the race week, the STI NBR CHALLENGE team had participated in a 6-hour VLN endurance race held on the same circuit in May for the first time in 2011 to prepare their car and drivers for the 24-hour race.

The 24-hour race kicked off at 4:00pm on the 25th in wet conditions. Starting from 6th position in the class as a result of the qualifying, chief driver Yoshida took advantage of the exceptional balance of the AWD of the SUBARU WRX STI to take over the lead in the class by the 1-hour mark. As the condition turned dry later on, competitors fiercely chased the SUBARU WRX STI but it held on to top position. Then the team repeated driver changes in the order of van Dam, Engels and back to Yoshida until Sasaki, who avoided night stints as a rookie, rejoined the cycle early in the morning to earn laps. During all that time, the SUBARU WRX STI maintained its position and made it through to the end after 24 hours in 21st overall, gaining a long-awaited first win in the SP3T class. It ran a total of 142 laps, which was around 3,603.7km through day and night. After the perfect race without any accidents including contact with other cars or mechanical issues, STI Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi said, "This time, the purpose was to fight against the world's best cars with a car that STI developed and to win. I am very pleased we achieved this goal. We've been able to prove here that STI's direction in creating cars is not wrong. I hope that we've been able to convey our message -that STI cars provide pleasure, to as many SUBARU owners as possible".

SUBARU WRX STI repeated their victory in the SP3T class

STI entered the 2012 Nürburgring 24-Hour Race with an 'NBR CHALLENGE' car based on the GVB type 4-door SUBARU WRX STI just as the previous year. Experienced Toshihiro Yoshida, SUPER GT regular Kota Sasaki, Carlo van Dam from the Netherlands and Marcel Engels from Germany formed the driver lineup of the team. Without changing the team structure so much from their first SP3T class win, they used a car which had been improved based on the performance of the previous year. The team mainly spent time on thorough weight reduction.

The final race got underway shortly after 4:00pm on 19 May. Sasaki started the SUBARU WRX STI from 3rd spot in the SP3T class and completed the opening lap, finishing 2nd after a car in front dropped out just before the start. After this, drivers took turns every 9 laps in the order of van Dam, Engels and then Yoshida, with the SUBARU WRX STI passing a VW Scirocco to take the class lead on Lap 33. As the race moved into the night section, a series of crashes and accidents occurred along the course, but the WRX STI increased its lead over the 2nd place car in the class.

However, a loose front left hub was found when the car returned to the pit at around 1:00am. The WRX STI lost time, which was worth nearly a lap, before going back onto the course with the problem fixed and the brake rotor and caliper replaced as a precaution. Nevertheless, it had built up a big enough lead over the 2nd-placed car in the SP3T class, and so held onto its top spot. Although the rain, which started after 6:00am, caused some chaos with many cars sustaining damage when going off the track, the SUBARU WRX STI was able to continue on its consistent run by taking advantage of stability of its AWD.

At around 9:30am Yoshida noticed an unusual smell coming from the car and returned to the pit. The car was checked, and an oil leak was found. The atmosphere inside the STI pit became tense because the leak had occurred in the engine room, but a temporary repair solved the problem. Even though the SUBARU WRX STI lost about 30 minutes at that time, it wasn't caught by trailing cars and returned to the race as the class leader. After this, it completed the rest of the race without any problems or accidents, and received the checkered flag after 4:00pm. The SUBARU WRX STI completed 136 laps (3451.4km) in 24 hours to achieve a consecutive win in the SP3T class following 2011.

STI NBR CHALLENGE Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi said, "I wanted to show everyone a perfect race this year, but once it started, the race proved to be very tough, and problems hit our car one after another. I feel sorry that I had to force the drivers to do some frustrating driving such as keeping engine rotations lower. However, I think it means a lot to win the class again by getting past our problems".

With the race at the mercy of bad weather for 24 hours, the SUBARU WRX STI performed a remarkable catch-up to finish 2nd in the SP3T class

The Nürburgring 24-Hour Race 2013 took place in an irregular schedule from Sunday 19 to Monday 20 May due to the 3rd weekend of the month falling on a national holiday in Germany.

STI registered 4 drivers to get behind the wheel of their SUBARU WRX STI: Toshihiro Yoshida, in his 7th attempt in the 24-hour race, Kota Sasaki in his 3rd, Carlo van Dam from the Netherlands in his 4th, and Marcel Lasée from Germany - replacing his late friend, Marcel Engels who was killed in a freak accident after the 24-hour race the previous year. The team finished the official qualifying on the 17th and 18th in 2nd in the SP3T class. Local German teams were desperate to prevent SUBARU from taking a 3rd victory in a row in the class. As the 24-hour race got underway at 5:00pm on Sunday, the mild weather deteriorated rapidly and the race was then suspended due to heavy rain and thick fog at 11:00pm. With some continuously adverse weather conditions, the race couldn’t resume until the next morning at 8:00am. The rain continued, however, and so teams struggled with the situation including the right tire choices.

Starting the race from 2nd position in its class, the SUBARU WRX STI was involved in a tough head to head battle with an Audi TT RS - the winner of the qualifying. But when conditions turned very wet, the SUBARU WRX STI couldn’t pick up the pace and allowed its rival with local advantages to steal away. After the race restarted, SUBARU drivers pushed on to close the gap and in the last half of the race, took a chance when almost the entire Nordschleife had dried while the Grand Prix track was still wet. While its 2WD rival was on tires with a shallow tread, the STI team made the decision to run on slicks to reduce the gap, counting on the exceptional stability of AWD. As a result, the 7-minute gap at 2 hours remaining was dramatically reduced to 54 seconds by the final lap. However, by then, there was not enough time left to catch the front runner and the team had to settle in 26th overall and 2nd in class.

STI General Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi commented, “I would say we made a mistake in the settings of tire tuning and fell far behind our rival on wet surfaces where our AWD was supposed to come into its own. In the last half of the race, we were finally able to get some good performance out of the tires and the car. It was also good that the drivers fought back, recording great times under very difficult conditions. I am rather disappointed that we couldn’t win the race and live up to the expectations of SUBARU fans. We would like to come back to Nürburgring with a stronger team and car.”

Race recap — VLN (VLN2) Endurance Series, 12 April 2014. Nürburgring, Germany.

SUBARU Nürburgring Racecars

The new ‘SUBARU WRX STI NBR CHALLENGE 2014’, that will challenge the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race has The ‘SUBARU WRX STI-NBR CHALLENGE 2014’ appeared in Round 2 of the VLN (VLN2) endurance series, a 4-hour race at Nürburgring in Germany on Saturday 12 April.

Subaru Tecnica International Inc. (STI) has planned to enter in two VNL races with the purpose of setting up their competition vehicle for the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race (NBR) to be held in June. In this first race of the two, the team aimed to check the parts and modifications incorporated in the new SUBARU WRX STI racecar, based on experience gained through their 6-time participation in the 24-hour race. And then they could compare the performance between theirs and the competitors' cars in order to go forward with their setup. They will reconfirm the result of this and if necessary, make modifications in Round 4 of the VLN in May. The team registered two drivers for Round 2 of the VLN -Toshihiro Yoshida and Marcel Lasée from Germany.

In the morning of the 12th, the SUBARU WRX STI finished the qualifying in 6th out of 9 in the SP3T class. The track surfaces were dry and the atmospheric temperature was around 10Ž - an average for the year. As a result of the qualifying, the team confirmed that the car as a whole was highly stable without losing balance when landing at the unique jumping spot on the old course. They also established that the drivers felt as they had expected in the car. However, the race from noon on the same day didn't go as planned. Yoshida started the race from 6th and moved up to 4th when there was an accident between a couple of SP3T cars, which led to the red flag being raised to suspend the race. After a 1.5-hour break, the race restarted in a shortened format with only 2 hours left to go. Lasée had planned to drive two stints in a row in this last half of the race, but he came back to the pit when he was running 5th on the final lap, complaining of illness. Then, the race finished, while the SUBARU WRX STI was still in the pit, which meant it didn't record any result.

STI General Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi said, “It was disappointing that we couldn't finish the race, but this time, our goal wasn't that, so I'm not too worried. Our car was very stable and as fast as we'd expected. However, our competitors in the same class were faster than we had expected. In saying that, there was not such a big gap in the race, and the maximum speed of the WRX STI was comparable. We still have some room to improve our times by increasing speeds at corners, so to realise this in the next VLN race, we would like to use the coming month effectively. I came back from the race with a sense of confidence that we are in good stead”. The next VLN race for the team will take place on 17 May.

Setup of the new 'SUBARU WRX STI-NBR CHALLENGE 2014' begins in VLN races

WR-Blue and Cherry Red – More Than Just Colors

There’s more meaning to the new STI racing livery than meets the eye. “WR-Blue” represents Subaru and their storied history of competition in motorsports, and “Cherry Red,” is emblematic of STI and our insatiable thirst for success racing.

Motorsports has taught us a valuable lesson: the technology required to build a high-quality production car is synonymous to the technology needed for racing success. The “Enjoyment and Peace of Mind” experienced by an ordinary person driving a Subaru production vehicle can also carry a professional race driver to the finish line. Our dedication to fielding Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and the SUBARU BOXER engine in competition is explained by our mantra,“attaining ultimate in driving will attain ultimate in safety.” If our technology improves results in competition, it will certainly improve lives on the road.

We have chosen the Nürburgring as our symbolic proving ground for a reason. The Nürburgring Nordschleife is one of the most challenging, unpredictable circuits in the world, and it’s a place where our technologies and philosophy can shine. Whether competing for lap records, or challenging the competition in the Nürburgring 24-Hour race, our dedication to this precarious track is resolute.


A collaborative development by Subaru and STI, the Nürburgring Challenge racecar is “Enjoyment and Peace of Mind” in motion. Its strengths – communicative, confident handling – are supremely evident in the production model it’s based on, the 2015 WRX STI. Preparing a car to compete in this grueling 24-hour race is the ultimate engineering test. The lessons learned and knowledge gained will be applied to every STI vehicle and performance part we make. This is the STI tradition.

From the Production Line to the Racetrack

It’s a common scenario – a racecar with unlimited horsepower, tremendous grip, slippery aerodynamics, space-age materials, and powerful brakes struggles to finish in the top 10. Why is this? Their engineers failed to address the most important ingredient – drivability.

To STI, maximizing drivability is paramount to racing success. It’s an indispensible quality, assuring consistency and confidence in the driver. A confident driver can push through adversity to victory against more powerful, faster foes, no matter the conditions.

Drivability is a constant in every racecar we’ve ever built. A racecar that can be driven confidently can also be driven competitively. This is our engineering mindset, and that’s why “Enjoyment and Peace of Mind” can be experienced in all the production vehicles our racecars are based on.


On the left arm of every WRX STI NBR Challenge team member, you’ll see the Japanese Kanji character “心” which means spirit. In the heat of battle, the STI team unites together as one to fight for victory. STI applies this spirit to all challenges, whether racing, or building a vehicle, or designing new performance parts.

Description: Explore the 2015 Subaru WRX STI. The best-handling, best-performing WRX STI. Ever.






Similaries between the SUBARU NBR race car and new WRX STI
Ever since the glorious days in the WRC, SUBARU race cars have been engineered on the concept of "Enjoyment and Peace of Mind", with the same philosophy and components applied to production models. This level of commitment is immediately evident from the design of any SUBARU.
  • Identical twins
  • Aural satisfaction
  • Eco-friendly race car

Tackling race tracks with a production model design!?

The design of the 2014 NBR race car came from the team led by chief designer Atsushi Kochi of SUBARU Product & Portfolio Planning EXT Division, which mainly oversees advanced prototypes used for concept and production models.

“The key design challenge behind the NBR race model was how much performance could be extracted while retaining the image of the EXT WRX STI. Naturally, the main goal of race cars is to win races, but they still need to resemble their production model counterpart,” says Kochi.

With this in mind, the front grille and headlights of the NBR race model adopt the same shape as the WRX STI. The opening in the front bumper and the area surrounding the left and right fog lamps has been slightly increased in height to create a larger opening for better air flow and cooling.

The front and rear fenders have been flared to enable wider tires to be fitted, however there have been no changes made to the car’s base profile – it has been designed to be instantly recognizable as a WRX STI. This was the key factor that the design team set out to achieve.

A sports car's surprising secret, hidden under the covers

Kochi thinks back on what he was told to build by STI general director Eiji Tatsumi: “Increase downforce at the front of the car.” The solution lay with the wider fenders at both ends of the car.

“The 2014 NBR race model has a lip at the top of the fender, which generates more downforce as the lip gets longer when wind passes over it. Good airflow over the fender makes it easy to discharge stagnant air pockets around the fender. We tested so many different duct shapes for the rear in particular.”

Yet there is another reason this shape fender was used – to improve comfort, which may come as a surprise considering that this was a race car. “While there was no discernable difference in figures obtained in wind tunnel testing, wind noise heard by the driver was completely different. Drivers remarked that ‘This year’s model is definitely a lot quieter. I can focus more on driving and should be able to post a better time.’”

Improving comfort, which may seem like it has no direct result on lap times in the racing world, is just one part of SUBARU’s commitment to vehicle

The WRX STI's exceptional environmental design lives on while racing

The NBR race model is a track-tuned version of the production model. And the potential of the production model has a direct effect on race results. According to Kochi, “The base of the WRX STI A-pillar was moved forward by about 200 mm over the previous design to bring the angle of the front window down. This has made a major impact on aerodynamic performance, and STI general director Eiji Tatsumi has told me that it has increased the top speed by some 10 km/h.”

Power output remains unchanged from the 2013 model, so this result can be attributed to the car’s aerodynamics. Fuel efficiency has also been improved with this design.

This is beneficial in a race like the 24 Hours Nürburgring, where, as the name implies, drivers race continuously for 24 hours straight. Refueling one time less than other competitors can mean an advantage of more than 10 minutes. Making up this 10-minute lead on the track would probably take around 20 laps, or around 3 hours, if each lap was completed 30 seconds quicker than other cars.

It is clear that the improvements made to the performance of the base model new WRX STI also provides major advantages on the race track.

  • Technology
  • 2014 WRX STI NBR MACHINE Photo Gallery


Subaru firmly believes that the Horizontally-Opposed Engine is the optimum design for driving enjoyment. The pistons face away from each other in a 180º symmetrical layout around the crankshaft and work to balance out each other’s vibrations, delivering a smooth, shudder-free feel. This is because the engine can rotate freely at any given speed, delivering heart-gripping response to the driver. The length and height of this engine layout can be kept shorter than a traditional in-line engine, and it is also lighter. The engine can be mounted lower in the vehicle than other engines, and weight balance on the left and right can be made almost exactly the same. In this design, the low centre of gravity engine lowers the centre of gravity of the entire car. Similarly, a symmetrically balanced engine increases the symmetrical balance of the entire car. Both of these aspects combine to deliver a safer, more stable, and ultimately, more enjoyable experience on the road.


The new generation BOXER engine, FA20, now comes mounted with Subaru’s first direct injection turbo. This helps raise the anti-knock limit and provides more precise fuel injection control, resulting in a higher compression ratio and greater efficiency that could not be attained with previous turbo engines. The 2.0-litre delivers power rivalling that of much larger capacity turbo engines for truly exceptional sports performance, yet comes with unbelievably low fuel consumption and exhaust gas emissions. True onroad performance befitting of a sporty, next-generation power unit.


With the new-generation BOXER engine used as the basis for design, engineers focused on developing a new NA engine with the aim of delivering high power output and environmentally-friendly performance, combined with the benefits of a low centre of gravity. A square bore and stroke layout has been combined with D-4S next-generation direct injection technology to deliver an impressive 100PS per litre power output, all with lower fuel consumption and exhaust gas emissions. The classic BOXER sound can still be felt in all its glory from within the cockpit, in a design that has been engineered to maximise the fun that the BOXER delivers.


To meet the constantly changing needs, a completely new BOXER engine was engineered from the ground up, with new enhancements across the board being implemented. A longer stroke and more compact combustion chamber combine with a dual AVCS for better intake and exhaust efficiency, lighter pistons and reduced friction throughout the engine, bringing exceptional efficiency and impressive performance. Mountains of low-speed torque mean exciting acceleration response, making the engine easier to handle in day-to-day driving. It’s an engine designed for both environmental responsibility and fun, in what can only be called a new-generation powerhouse.


The world's first commercial Horizontally-Opposed Diesel Engine developed for passenger vehicles is the SUBARU BOXER DIESEL. When petrol engines are converted to diesel, strengthening of the engine block usually makes the engine bigger and heavier. The SUBARU BOXER, however, was originally designed with rigidity in mind, allowing the 92.0 mm x 75.0 mm bore and stroke of the 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine to be changed to a square 86.0 mm x 86.0 mm design. The result is a more compact combustion chamber and greater fuel efficiency, and combined with a higher pressure common rail fuel injection, an improved oxidizing catalyst with closed Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), a variable nozzle turbo and electric power steering, these all help to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Ceramic glow plugs also quicken starting in cold weather. And whilst meeting the ultra-clean EURO5 emission standards, the engine delivers even more torque compared to previous models. A prodigious 350-Nm of peak torque is delivered at a lower 1,600 rpm – providing smooth, free-breathing performance at any speed. These advantages are evidence of the vision that Subaru has in using the Horizontally-Opposed Engine.

Symmetrical AWD

Symmetrical AWD, comprising of a longitudinally mounted Horizontally-Opposed SUBARU BOXER engine and a symmetrically designed 4WD drivetrain, is the system that Subaru has focused on for the best stability, safety and on-road performance. This unique drivetrain has been at the core of Subaru development ever since the world’s first 4WD passenger car was released more than five decades ago. The entire drive system, from the longitudinally mounted Horizontally-Opposed Engine to the rear differential, is mounted in a straight, symmetrical line. The characteristics of the longitudinally mounted Horizontally-Opposed Engine, which can be positioned low in the vehicle, have been maximised to bring the centre of gravity as low as possible, and towards the centre of the vehicle itself. The extreme performance that this superior weight balance provides works with the outstanding traction of 4WD to limit the chassis rolling and pitching, which occur driving around corners or braking, for maximum stability at all times. The resulting chassis rocks less and ride comfort is increased, making the journey enjoyable for all passengers.

Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD comes in a variety of different systems depending on the vehicle type and the transmission used.

Effects of the drivetrain on drivability

In FWD and RWD drivetrains that do not power all four wheels in the way that AWD does, excessive loads can be applied to the driving wheels. Lateral forces then come into play when cornering, and a lack of traction can cause the vehicle to abruptly change direction towards the outer side of the driving wheels. On the other hand, AWD systems distribute power between all four tyres in a balanced manner. This creates the most neutral handling possible, as there is no loss of grip in the direction that the vehicle is travelling, even if the vehicle is cornering. If one wheel starts to lose traction on slippery road surfaces, the other three driving wheels can provide the required traction to compensate. Compared to FWD and RWD systems, there is a much greater level of traction, and therefore safety. At the same power levels, acceleration is also so much better when there are four drive wheels rather than two.
Complementing this is the Symmetrical AWD that is only available from Subaru, allowing the entire system to be mounted lower in the vehicle. A low centre of gravity is directly related to more stable vehicle behaviour when cornering. These Symmetrical AWD characteristics ensure more stable driving under a range of different driving conditions, letting the driver drive with greater peace of mind. This unique layout is simply miles ahead of others in terms of on-road stability, whether that be on local streets or the expressway, or varying levels of rough terrain. “The driver no longer needs to worry too much about driving, and does not become tired so easily”. This is also an important safety aspect for preventing accidents before they happen.

Active torque split AWD

An AWD system developed exclusively for 4-speed automatic transmission, E-4AT (with manual mode) and Lineartronic models to maximise the reliable driving performance of AWD models under any driving conditions. The Lineartronic CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission) uses a chain instead of a belt—allowing a greater span of overall ratios for improved performance and efficiency as well as a faster response to throttle input. The active torque-split AWD system usually distributes torque 60:40 front and rear, however sensors constantly monitor the vehicle's condition in areas such as changes in grip of the front and rear tyres or vehicle speed. The electronically controlled MP-T (Multi Plate Transfer) adjusts torque distribution to the front and rear tyres in real-time to suit driving conditions, as well as the transmission and driver inputs. This further increases the stability of the AWD system to deliver a safe and agile driving experience.

Variable torque distribution AWD

An AWD system designed exclusively for 5-speed automatic transmission, E-5AT (with manual mode) models to provide aggressive, sporty driving with increased turning abilities all while retaining the fundamental driving stability offered by the Symmetrical AWD. An uneven 45:55 front and rear torque distribution has been set for the front and rear tyres. Sending greater torque to the rear wheels can reduce understeer, a trait that plagues 4WD vehicles, when cornering for smooth and agile handling. Torque distribution is controlled automatically up to an equal 50:50 front and rear to suit road surface conditions for both sporty driving and stability.

Viscous centre differential AWD

An AWD system for manual transmissions with a simple layout consisting of a centre differential and viscous LSD. A 50:50 front and rear torque distribution is set under normal conditions. This maximises traction and provides driving backed with stability. When the front or rear wheels slip and traction is lost, or the wheel speed differs between the front and rear axles, the viscous LSD maintains optimum torque distribution between the front and rear and distributes power to the wheels with the most traction. It links the flexible gear shifting of the manual transmission to deliver sporty driving that always maximises the available traction.

SUBARU VS. THE WORLD — An epic battle at the 24 Hours Nürburgring race.
The SUBARU WRX STI NBR 24h Challenge starts 20th June. Everything Subaru knows about racing, engineering, and competition will be put to the test, for 24 hours straight. Watch it live via SUBARU-USTREAM, and show your support. #stinbr24e