Great racing cars: 1998 Subaru WRC981st March 2016
A series taken from the 164-page Motor Sport special Great Racing Cars, which is available to buy here
From the editor Damien Smith
How would you define a ‘great’ racing car? Race wins and championship titles are an obvious place to start – and admittedly, when we began the process of rounding up the ‘voices’ to fill this special magazine, published by the team behind Motor Sport, we had in mind the likes of the Lotus 72, Ferrari F2004, Porsche 917, Audi R10 and so on.
But as the interviews of familiar racing figures began, we realised greatness is often a very personal thing. Naturally, most – but not all – would pick cars they had experienced first-hand, as a driver, designer, engineer or team boss. And on occasion the cars that stood out in their minds as ‘great’ weren’t necessarily so in the grand scheme of history. That’s why you’ll find a Minardi here among Formula 1 cars from Lotus, Williams and McLaren.
Unexpected? Certainly. Wrong? Not to the man who chose it.
As the interviews accumulated, our magazine took on a life of its own, full of personal anecdotes about the myriad cars that made careers. Some of those we spoke to, such as Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney, couldn’t be tied to a single choice from multi-faceted lives at the wheel. Such heroes have earned the right to choose an F1, sports and Indycar, so we allowed them more than one bite.
Others refused to be confined by category. Hence the short ‘Odd ’n Sods’ chapter on cars that, by and large, are mere footnotes in lower divisions of racing lore.
Thus there is nothing definitive about the selection listed herein. Then again, there’s no claim that this compilation offers the ‘Greatest Racing Cars’ of history. It’s much more personal than that, much more quirky – and all the better for it.
Winner of one WRC event, works Citroën driver
During my professional career I’ve driven some Subarus, the Ford Fiesta and now the Citroën DS3, which was designed for Sébastien Loeb and is a really amazing car.
But I’m quite a straightforward guy so I would say my favourite car of all time, just by looking at it and driving it, is the Subaru Impreza WRC of 1998, the first World Rally Car I drove.
OK, I’ve never competed in it – but my dad let me drive it when I was 13! I was not flat out, but I was allowed to drive it on a test on snow in Norway.
I’d learned how to drive a car very quickly when I was young. My dad was sitting next to me and I was allowed to do some drifts and it was a fantastic feeling. After I was a bit older and knew how to drive a WRC car, I tested it again. We sold it to another Norwegian guy and he asked me test the car with him, so I did one test day in the car. I got lucky again.
From the Archive: "McRae of sunshine" by Gerry Phillips (Janurary 1995).
As threat of a controversial stages finish evaporated, Britain's rising star completed a deserved victory - the first such home success since 1976
Eighteen years: a long time for a premier British sporting event to be without a British winner. But that is as long as it has taken for a Briton to repeat the feat of Roger Clark, The 1994 Network Q RAC Rally was won in fine style by Scotsmen Colin McRae and Derek Ringer, who took their Subaru Impreza to a superb victory, more than three and a half minutes ahead of Juha Kankkunen and Nicky Grist's Toyota Celica GT-Four.
The forces of the World Championship brigades were out in strength, but the only teams nominated for World Championship for Makes points were those of Ford, Toyota, Subaru and Skoda. The battle was going to be between the first three, although in the 2wd Formula Two category there promised to be a splendid fight between the Skodas, the Escorts, the Vauxhall/Opel Astras and the Nissan Sunnys.
Two situations arose during the rally, both of which threatened to change the outcome of the event. Fortunately, depending on the way you look at it, neither threat materialised.