If you already know who this ride belongs to, you may skip this paragraph. Unfamiliar? He has harnessed over 20 years of racing experience in Gymkhana, Autotest, SuperSprint, Sprint and Rally to lay his stake to the podium throne at every motorsports event. He has been appointed as a driving instructor for many driving events as well.
Coming from a front-wheel drive background, moving to the world of force-fed turbo is truly a steep learning curve, especially when the next step up is an all-wheel drive monster as well. His previous car, a Swift Sport, was a much easier car to drive to the limits and displays more consistent behaviour.
We have followed this car from the very first day he took the keys – and we’re certain he has found the sweet spot to turn a rally champion into the autocross brute. That being said thou, the skill needed to go fast in a front-wheel drive car isn’t that much different from an all-wheel drive option, as evident from his stream of trophies after he got used to the new ride.
With the car relatively stock, it has transformed slowly into the full-fledged daily driven race-ready car. The first modifications to this ‘Rex were to its suspension and brakes. Fitting the hydraulic rear brake was the first major modification which was added. Commonly found in rally cars, it does allow skilled drivers to continue operating the front brakes even when the rear brakes are locked up. On the plus side, this setup saved him the trouble of fitting extra brake calipers.
The rear brakes, as good as they were, was still insufficient to lock the sticky tyres that he uses during competitions. Fortunately for WRX owners, salvation could be easily obtained from the same factory, under the guise of STI. Only having to deal with a WRX hub, the STI brakes added much needed bite to lock up the rear and rotate the nose-heavy ‘Rex around cones easily. The front brakes did get their upgrades too, to six-pot models with enlarged rotors.
On the top of the drivetrain work list was the stronger six-speed gearbox – and with it came the addition of a 1.5 way rear differential. With a strong affinity to autocross style events, the centre differential was kept stock for the front-biased power delivery. Still, that didn’t stop him from enjoying several fun traditional track days. Besides, laying the power down had a uniquely satisfying effect of the front end pulling away, until understeer happens and the power gets shoved to the back and the rear starts pushing instead.
Every time we think of a highly modified ‘Rex, we think of an entire suspension made adjustable everything. Surprisingly, we didn’t find that assortment here. Starting from the must-have modification of coilovers and strut/roll bars, there was an unique addition to the original setup: The positive caster kit.
“Running extra caster for more camber” helped this naturally understeering car achieve a much more eager turn-in response, rather than using toe and camber adjustments – both of which will mean additional wear on the tyres. Mind you, he drives to work daily, chewing up tyres isn’t a price he was willing to pay.
Handling sorted, that was when the heavy modifications started happening. With his know-how of ECU tinkering, he managed to program more power from the stock engine, with supporting modifications in the form of a turbo, fuel regulator and a free-flowing catback exhaust.
Sitting inside, one will never get the idea that this is a race-prepared car with only the bare minimum racing gear With the biggest HUD display we have come across, and one lone boost gauge, the only other hint that this car actively participates in races are the seats and the harness mounting points.
As the world embraces the new VA (which is the fourth generation), it’s always nice to look back to the early 2000’s, a time when MRTs ran like clockwork, taxes were low and cars were about more oomph and less tech. There is much respect for the old guard keeping the petrolhead spirit alive and reminding the strawberry generation that humans still rule the world, not computers.
Subaru Impreza WRX
ECUflash –self tuning
Aftermarket Fuel Regulator
Fujitsubo Legalise R exhaust
STi 6-speed gearbox
Cusco 1.5-way LSD
Cusco front and rear adjustable anti-roll bar
Front XYZ 4-pot with 2-pc 330mm rotor
Rear STi Brembo
Gizzmo Boost Controller