The LEGACY B4 GT300 made its racing debut at Fuji Speedway a few weeks back in Round 7 of the 2009 SUPER GT series, marking a new direction for STi with their first fully-backed GT programme getting underway at the legendary circuit.
Subaru is, of course, no stranger to SUPER GT, having given factory support, in particular during the 2008 season, to the CUSCO-backed Impreza that had been campaigned for many years in Japan’s top motorsport category.
It hardly needs to be said, but Subaru is a brand that enjoys mythical status in Japan. The return of the make at the previous round in Suzuka was heralded as historic by many, and immediately brought a wave of fans out to see the car. That event didn’t go quite as planned however, the machine suffering a major component failure during qualifying, meaning it was unable to race.
And while that’s disappointing to any die-hard fan, considering the car went from drawing board to Shakedown in under 14 weeks, the pace of development has been spectacularly quick.
Since Suzuka, there hasn’t been any additional testing (not allowed), though one respite was the fact that the car’s initial Shakedown had also been at Fuji – but just how much data can you get from a dozen or so laps? Therefore, the focus in the three intervening weeks (between Rds. 6 and 7) was of course on maximizing the strength of the component that had failed (gearbox) and making sure the car was ready to run the distance the second time out.
Well that it did.
Not only did LEGACY B4 make it through a sodden qualifying, the car ran the race distance (about 200 miles) with metronomic stability.
The silver SUBARU eventually crossed the line 18th in class.
Although a couple of laps down on the leaders, the wealth of data the team acquired was invaluable – and will be put to good use in their first ‘hard’ season, 2010 – for which this (and the two final rounds of this year’s competition) are a preparation.
As we’ve seen with so many other SUBARU forays, it’s only a matter of time before this effort is standing atop the centre step of the podium.