Subaru will return to the Australian Rally Championship this year, more than 10 years after it pulled the plug on its local rally aspirations.
Subaru will enter a WRX STI NR4 into the five round championship, with the single-car entry piloted by the world’s top-ranked female rally driver, 27-year-old Australian Molly Taylor.
Taylor, who finished 2nd in the ARC last year, will have her car prepared by Les Walkden rallying in Tasmania. She will also take on active duties as Subaru Australia’s latest brand ambassador.
Subaru Australia Managing Director, Nick Senior, said the association with rallying and a young talented female driver is crucial to building and maintaining the brand’s sporty credentials while also attracting a younger and newer audience.
“It’s fantastic to be able to secure Molly as our driver and Subaru Ambassador,” Senior said.
“She’s got a wonderful attitude, has worked really hard for the opportunity and she’s a glass half-full person, never the victim. Then, of course, her performances both here and internationally have been very strong, reinforced by the fact she is the world’s top-ranked female rally driver.”
The ARC regulations are relatively loose, meaning the NR4 will compete against highly modified cars, a point that Senior says means Subaru Australia will be very realistic about its chances this year. He expects though that the company’s return to motorsport should help sell more cars.
“We really want our motorsport philosophy to be ‘run on Sunday, sell on Monday.’
Subaru left the ARC in 2005, while it pulled out of the global World Rally Championship in 2008. On the local front, the brand won eight of the last ten championships, including six in a row, while its involvement in the WRC since the 1990s led to three constructor and driver championships.