By Richard Bosselman
RISING Kiwi racer takes on world-famous circuit in famous Japanese sports sedan and sets stunning new record – all in all a derring-do storyline too good to ignore.
Subaru New Zealand boss Wal Dumper agrees.
He’s dead keen to leverage astounding video footage of Tauranga-born Richie Stanaway’s incredible sub-seven minute lap on the famous Nurburgring Norschleife track in a Subaru WRX STi.
The only reason mind-blowing footage that has been pulling hundreds of thousands of hits since it released in August is not already part of promotional material associated with the STi and WRX already is that negotiations with the rights-holder, Subaru America, have not yet been wrapped up.
“We’re keen to use it (the footage) … it’s truly awesome. The guy is awesome.
“But until we sort this (the commercial usage rights) out, we cannot,” Dumper said today at a media event providing a first look at the latest MY2018 editions of the cars.
“He did that drive through Subaru USA so we are trying, now, to sort out whether we have to buy the rights through them.”
The full hot lap – which has just been followed up with a must-see backgrounder, below, about how the effort came about – is of course free to view on line.
Dumper’s plan is to use the movie for a viral campaign associated with the updated road cars that have landed here with numerous specification changes, some mechanical and some safety- and comfort related, with some models not changing in price and others going up by between $1000 and $2000.
“It’s just be through some social or digital campaign … that’s the power, to me, of really good viral.
“We’re already getting good feedback on it. We’re winning anyway, but we want to be able to leverage it.”
As well as showing off Subaru performance, the videos also inevitably – and quite fittingly – also highlights the impressive skillset of a fast-rising Kiwi star.
Having earned his chops as a kid in karting and then quick-flicking through national motorsport, where he won a Formula Ford championship, Stanaway has now become an international name.
He gained significant profile as an Aston Martin works driver but is now in Australia seeking to break into V8 SuperTourers, a pitch that will be hugely enhanced with his win of one of that category’s top events, yesterday’s Sandown 500.
Dumper isn’t sure about the circumstances that led to Stanaway driving the Subaru.
“I don’t really know how they got him but they obviously made a good choice,” says Dumper. “He did a great lap.”
The car that set an astounding 6:57.2 time around the famous 20.6 kilometre track is based on an STi limited for sale to North America that is even more feral than the NZ-spec car. The model is known as the RA, which stands for 'record attempt.'
Stanaway’s ride was specifically built for time attack feats by Prodrive, the famous British preparer that ran the incredibly successful world rally championship campaign that did so much to lift Subaru’s international standing through the 1990s and first decade of this century and made household heroes of Possum Bourne and Colin McRae.
The RA NBR Special is owned by Subaru America and had already established itself as a very special entity by having set, with other drivers, lap records at the Isle of Man TT and the Goodwood Festival of Speed hill climb.
The 2.0-litre engine uses a 75mm intake, and the turbo runs at 25 psi of boost to produce more than 447kW at 8500rpm – a startling 226kW more than the NZ market car produces - and 570Nm torque.
The extra punch was unrestricted so as to allow the NBR Special to reach a top speed of 288kmh at 8500rpm in top gear at the “Ring.
The Ring car also features nine-inch wide slick tyres all around, uses a WRC gearbox with an automatic clutch, modified with hydraulics for paddle-shift operation, which enabled shift times of 20-25 milliseconds.
A redesigned aero-package was also developed. Subaru US says at top speed the whole package produces about 294kg of downforce.
The design includes a Drag Reduction System rear wing, similar to the technology found in Formula 1 cars. With its combined electric and hydraulic operation, the wing can deploy for full downforce/drag under braking or in fast turns and then open for less downforce/drag on long straights.
Stanaway could alter the DRS via a steering wheel mounted control taking less than 20 milliseconds to change position fully.