Toshi Arai has said that Subaru’s R4-specification Impreza can only get better following its first appearance on gravel on last week’s Sata Rallye Acores, round six of the 11-event Intercontinental Rally Challenge season.

Although Arai dropped out of the running when his Yokohama-supported car suffered an electrical failure on day two, team-mate Fumio Nutahara claimed the final IRC drivers’ championship point in his Impreza STI R4.

“It was quite a difficult rally with the weather and with some small problems but generally we didn’t have any big problems,” said Arai. “I think we can make more improvements before my next rally in Hungary where I will try even harder.”

Arai’s fellow Japanese Nutahara said: “I like the car a lot. It feels more lightweight than the Mitsubishi [I used to drive] with very good handling and fast cornering speed.”

Subaru Technica International chief engineer Makoto Shimanura said the car’s development was ahead of schedule, adding: “The target is to make the R4 closer to Super 2000 but not as expensive. We do this through weight reduction, suspension design and cooling performance. We want to make the car 50 kilograms lighter and within 1.0s per kilometre closer to the Super 2000 cars. We are achieving this.”

Nutahara will back in action on Barum Czech Rally Zlin at the end of August. Arai’s next event is the Mecesk Rallye in Hungary in mid-September.

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