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Subaru Confirms Interest in Prototype Program

“I cannot hide the fact that we are interested,” says STI’s Yoshio Hirakawa…

Photo: Pierre-Laurent Ribault

Photo: Pierre-Laurent Ribault

While primarily known for its success in rallying, Subaru could be one of the latest manufacturers to jump into the prototype ranks, joining the likes of Audi, Porsche and rivals Toyota and Nissan with a potential LMP1 factory effort in the not-too-distant future. (En Français)

The Japanese automaker, through its high-performance STI (Subaru Tecnica International) division, has revealed interest in a prototype effort, that would see Subaru build on its existing sports car racing programs currently being showcased in Super GT and at the Nurburgring 24.

Speaking to Endurance-Info during last weekend’s Suzuka 1000km, STI President Yoshio Hirakawa confirmed the company’s desire to compete on the world’s stage, particularly in order to showcase cutting-edge technology.

“Subaru has two goals in competition,” Hirakawa told Endurance-Info. “Our role is to build cars for racing and motorsport is the field to prove the quality of our products.

“In terms of a LMP program, we can neither say yes or no. What I can say is that it will not happen in 2015. We still have a lot of things to do before we [commit]. I cannot hide [the fact] that we are interested.”

While Hirakawa would not go into further detail, it’s understood Subaru is evaluating a foray into LMP1 with hybrid technology.

As reported by British automotive publication Auto Express, the manufacturer is set to introduce a new line of hybrid models beginning in 2018, which could coincide with an increased involvement in motorsports.

While a return to the World Rally Championship is also apparently an option, its WRX STi would have to be heavily revised to confirm to the championship’s new subcompact regulations.

“For us, auto racing is a test bed for our road models,” Hirakawa added. “The advantage of LMP is that we can put forward a very specific technology. This is also the case in GT300, where manufacturers can use their own technology.”

Subaru currently fields a BRZ in the production-based GT300 class of Super GT, with the common technical regulations in GT500 not of interest to the manufacturer, according to Hirakawa.

While not ruling out a FIA GT3-spec version of the car in the future, he admitted that it would be unlikely to see the Subaru BRZ compete outside of Super GT.

In addition to its Super GT commitments, Subaru also has a long-term factory involvement in the Nurburgring 24 with its WRX STI, which has scored class wins in the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic.

No word has been given on a timeframe for a potential prototype effort. The current LMP1 regulations are locked in through the end of the 2016 season.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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