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New Subaru taking shape for Brooks’ 2019 campaign

Preparation of Brooks' new Subaru WRX STi is well on track in his Tasmanian workshop.

Tasmanian team owner, Craig Brooks, is charging ahead with a brand new PRC-spec Subaru WRX STi that will be on the start line for the opening round of the 2019 Australian Rally Championship.

Brooks’ driver, Steve Glenney, finished second in the 2018 series, and ended the year just 13 points shy of title winner Eli Evans.

It’s a result that hasn’t been lost on Brooks, who believes the Subaru still has what it takes to win another ARC crown.

“We had a couple of off-road incidents this year (Tasmania and South Australia),” Brooks told RallySport Magazine.

“Remove one of those and we win the championship!

“We really think we have the team and the car to get similar results next year.”

Glenney crashed the day-glo orange Subaru heavily in South Australia, and a donor car has since been purchased and is currently undergoing full rally preparation.

Craig Brooks believes a Subaru WRX can still win the Australian Rally Championship. Photo: Cori Mitchell

“It will be a PRC car again, and we’ll continue to develop the car, as we did in 2018,” Brooks added.

“A lot of man hours went into the car this year to get it to where it was, and down to somewhere near the minimum weight level that was required to at least compete with the R5 and AP4 cars.

“It’s hard work, and it requires smart engineering, and on that count we have two of the best guys in Pete Nunn and Jason White.

“With a good team of guys around to support them, they’ve proven what can be done.”

Brooks is not yet certain, however, on whether his program will involve the full ARC, a lot of which depends on funding.

Steve Glenney has matched, and often bettered, the times of the factory Subaru WRX. Photo: Luke Whitten

Steve Glenney matched, and often bettered, the times of the factory Subaru WRX in 2018. Photo: Luke Whitten

“We’re building the car to a high standard to do the job, but there’s a few sponsorship negotiations that are on-going and probably won’t come to full fruition until the end of January.

“We’re still dead keen though!

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“There’s some good rumours about tweaks that will be made to the PRC rules that may allow us some geometry freedoms and enable more handling efficiencies with the car.

“We’ll work within those freedoms to develop the car even further, and more than likely spend some time and effort on the engine performance as well.”

The Contel Communications team spent most of 2018 focusing on the Subaru’s weight reduction program and suspension tweaks, with the engine performance the next thing on the agenda.

“I’m realistic in saying that we probably can’t beat the AP4 and R5 cars on outright speed, but we can be fast enough to keep enough pressure on them to still get good results, and score good points.”

Steve Glenney finished the season in a Skoda Fabia R5 at Rally Australia. Photo: Peter Whitten

He admitted that the Subaru does have its challenges, although as a former ARC winner in 2016, the car does have a winning pedigree.

“The size of the car is definitely a challenge, but I don’t necessarily think that it’s the car’s achilles heel.

“For sure, I’d love the Subaru to be 200mm shorter, but that’s just not the case.

“But from a manufacturer’s perspective I think it (the 2018 results) still shows what can be done with an off-the-shelf Subaru in PRC spec.”

Brooks added that the new Asia Pacific Rally Championship format appealed to him and he wouldn’t rule that out, although it was too early to make any decisions.

“At this stage the plan is to be ready and raring to go for the Forest Rally in April, most likely with Steve (Glenney) and Andy (Sarandis) in the car,” he concluded.

Related news:

Four-warned: ARC tally could end at four for Eli Evans

Taylor’s Subaru set for rebuild after Rally Australia crash

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

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