After exiting the world of Australian rallying at the end of 2005, Subaru Australia could be eyeing a return to the sport, with four-wheel-drive cars set to be reintroduced into the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) for the 2016 season.
Although it officially announced the withdrawal of its factory team – known then as Subaru Rally Team Australia (SRTA) – from the ARC in November 2005, Subaru Australia has indicated the 2016 regulations changes are something it is keeping an eye on.
Speaking with CarAdvice, Subaru Australia national corporate affairs manager David Rowley said while there are no immediate plans for a return, the local division is not ruling anything out.
“[There’s] nothing on the horizon,” Rowley said. “As with many things, we’d never say never, but there are no plans in the immediate future.
“We keep half an eye on many things…” Adding fuel to the fire are comments made previously by Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior, who last year said that if turbocharged all-wheel-drive cars were allowed to run, "we would be in there in a flash".
After first entering the category in 1996, Subaru Australia’s time in the ARC was highly successful.
Its factory efforts tallied up 10 consecutive Australian Rally driver's championships, with the late, great Possum Bourne winning seven championships straight from 1996 to 2002 and Cody Crocker claiming the team’s last three titles from 2003 to 2005.
For 2016, ARC is set to include two four-wheel-drive classes – an AP4 class and a new G4 class – with both turbocharged 1.6-litre engines and naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engines competing. The G4 class will also permit teams to convert current two-wheel-drive production cars into production rally car (PRC)-style four-wheel-drive cars using donor engines and transmissions.
Globally, Subaru – and its parent company Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) – pulled out of the World Rally Championship (WRC) at the end of 2008 with three constructors’ and three drivers’ championships under its belt.