Subaru’s new performance arm boss eyes a return to world rally – report - SUV VEHICLE

Subaru’s new performance arm boss eyes a return to world rally – report


With a new captain at the helm of Subaru Tecnica International, the time could be ripe for Subaru to mount a return to the World Rally Championship – but could it be with an electric car?

The new head of Subaru’s performance division is planning a return to the World Rally Championship – if he can get the company’s board of directors over the line.

In an interview with Subaru Motorsport Magazine, the new president of Subaru Tecnica International (STI) Hiromi Tamou said he wanted to contribute to improving the Subaru brand through rallying.

“It is a great possibility,” he said when asked about a possible return of Subaru to the World Rally Championship.

“[In my mind it is part of] my future plans for STI brand. It is very important to Subaru and fans around the world,” Mr Tamou said in a translated interview.

Subaru shocked the motorsport world when it announced it was withdrawing from the World Rally Championship (WRC) in late 2008, having won the constructors’ title three times over two decades – blaming the Global Financial Crisis at the time.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the head of the global motorsports organisation, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), told media in September 2023 that Subaru’s return to WRC was on the cards.

“It’s not a secret I had a good meeting with [Toyota Chairman] Mr Akio Toyoda, and I ask him what we can do to attract manufacturers to the WRC and I listened to someone who is passionate – and he mentioned Subaru,” Mr Ben Sulayem said at the time.

MORE: Subaru could return to World Rally Championship, thanks to Toyota

“They own a percentage of Subaru and they are going to support an initiative of Subaru entering. And I feel someone like him, when he speaks, he speaks with confidence.”

However, the new president of STI admitted there were hurdles to overcome first.

“We will see with the board of directors about the future in the coming months, and we will make a decision,” Mr Tamou said.

Mr Tamou, who began working for Subaru in 1982, replaced Yasuo Hiraoka in the top job on 1 April 2024.

It’s understood Mr Tamou previously worked in the technology and development department at Subaru, creating lightweight body panels for the company’s world rally team in the mid-2000s, before moving into executive roles at the Japanese car maker.

“The three pillars of STI’s business are racing, specially-equipped vehicles, and spare parts,” he said.

“When you compete, you have to win, and the key is how much you can do to achieve it. In addition, the intangible and tangible knowledge gained through the feedback of our products at the races.

MORE: 2024 Subaru Solterra STI electric SUV coming with more power

“Also, we believe that STI’s special vehicles and sports parts should provide customers with an exciting experience. By focusing on these in a balanced way, we will contribute to improving the Subaru brand. I want to do that.”

But Mr Tamou also eluded to a potential future for Subaru by competing with electric rally cars.

“The automotive industry will change little by little in the future, and I think motorsports will embrace the change as well.”

In October 2023, the brand unveiled an electric two-door coupe concept at the Tokyo motor show, with echoes of arguably the most iconic Subaru ever made – the Impreza WRX STI 22B.

The FIA has also said it plans to introduce an electric category to WRC “at the earliest opportunity”.

“However, no matter what the power is, once you have a car as a tool in your hands, you want to compete. It’s a human instinct. In other words, motorsports will forever exist,” Mr Tamou said.

“As long as that is the case, STI will continue to generate enthusiasm,” he added.

The post Subaru’s new performance arm boss eyes a return to world rally – report appeared first on Drive.


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