Subaru STI Boss: Rallying Return Is A ‘Great Possibility’

The new boss of Subaru’s performance arm is keen to return to the WRC, but has to get any decisions past the board of directors
Image via Prodrive/Newspress
Image via Prodrive/Newspress

The World Rally Championship is far from at its peak right now in terms of viewership and manufacturer participation, with just three constructors currently competing. Recent rumours hint that a renaissance could be on the horizon, though, with two of the most successful, storied names in the sport’s history talking up a return.

Already, Lancia has hinted at a new rallying programme, and now further fuel has been added to the rumours that Subaru could make a comeback, thanks to comments from Hiromi Tamou, the newly-appointed boss of the firm’s STI performance division.

Tamou was interviewed by Japanese publication Subaru Motorsport Magazine and was asked about a potential return to rallying. As reported by Drive, he said it was “a great possibility.”

Image via Prodrive/Newspress
Image via Prodrive/Newspress

“[Rallying] is very important to Subaru and fans around the world,” continued Tamou, in an interview translated from Japanese. He did, however, clarify that any potential motorsport endeavours would need to be approved by Subaru’s board.

Subaru was active in rallying from the 1970s, and from 1990, entered the WRC full-time with the Prodrive-run Subaru World Rally Team. It won the Manufacturers’ WRC title with the Impreza three times between 1995 and 1997, and continued in the sport until withdrawing at the end of 2008, citing the global financial crisis at the time.

Since then, Subaru’s North American division has returned to rallying in US national championships, but a fully-fledged WRC return has never happened. Rumours were spurred last year, however, when FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem confirmed he’d held productive talks with Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda about Subaru’s return to the sport (Toyota owns a percentage of Subaru).  

Image via Subaru
Image via Subaru

What form could a Subaru rally return take? One possibility – and likely not a very popular one – is in the WRC’s proposed electric class, which could debut as early as 2027. Quizzed about the future of motorsport, Tamou said: “The future of the automobile industry will gradually change, and I think that motorsports will also accept changes. However the power… it's human nature to want to compete when you have a car in your hands.”

Subaru also doesn’t currently build anything that would slot neatly alongside the WRC’s current cars, but should the sport’s proposed new regulations be finalised, then from 2026 it seems likely there’ll be less requirement for cars to closely resemble their production versions.

The best-case, if probably least likely, scenario, is that Subaru leverages its Toyota partnership to rebadge a GR Yaris, and puts it on sale too. We can dream, right? Right?


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