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Subaru Rally Team USA to Debut 2008 STI Rally Car This Weekend at STPR

Subaru Rally team USA will enter their all-new 2008 Subaru WRX STI Open Class Rally Car at this weekend’s Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (STPR), round five of the 2008 Rally America National Championship.  The team’s two new 2008 Subaru STI rally cars will make their competitive debut in the capable hands of two-time defending Rally America Champion Travis Pastrana and his teammate  Ken Block.  The high-speed, tree-lined dirt roads of STPR, based around Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, will provide a fitting challenge for the duo and their new rides.

The 2008 STI, the third generation of the legendary Subaru WRX STI model line, features a new 5-door hatchback design making it strikingly different visually compared to the outgoing 2007 model.  Some key differences from the 2007 model include a longer wheelbase for improved high-speed stability, a wider track for increased maneuverability, and the addition of a double wishbone rear suspension for even better road-holding capabilities. Add to this better front-to-rear weight distribution plus an even lower center of gravity and the all-new 2008 Subaru WRX STI Open Class rally car is expected to perform even better than  the outgoing 2007 model it replaces.

“Basing our new rally cars on the 2008 STI platform provides distinctive advantages that are obvious on paper and proven in rigorous testing,” mentioned James Han, Motorsports Marketing Manager for Subaru of America, Inc.  “The team has simply built upon and enhanced the STI’s inherent performance abilities for the rigors of rally.”

“We are all really excited about the new car and it looks amazing,” said Pastrana. “It has a few things that carry over from the 2007 car but also a lot of new improvements as well. We’ll be cautious here at STPR as we develop the car and get used to driving it more.”  Pastrana and his co-driver Derek Ringer currently sit in 2nd Overall in the Rally America National Championship standings after winning the Oregon Trail Rally last month.

Ken Block meanwhile was able to get comfortable with the new 2008 STI Open Class Rally car at a recent test session. “The new 2008 STI is definitely a step up from the 2007 model, I could feel the handling difference immediately, its easier to drive fast and I think a lot of it has to do with the weight distribution and center of gravity being optimized over the 2007 car,” explained Block.  “STPR is a tough rally, the roads are very fast but they are lined with trees, so there is no margin for error. We’ll play it safe at first with the new car and increase our pace from there.”  Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino have had a strong start to the 2008 season with two wins from four events.

Now in its 32nd running, STPR is a high-speed classic taking place in north central Pennsylvania on smooth, flowing gravel and clay-based roads. STPR is one of the fastest Rally America events, but the roads are narrow and lined with trees, making the event notoriously dangerous.  The action begins Friday afternoon at the Tioga Fairgrounds east of Wellsboro, PA.  The bulk of the competition stages will take place the following day with an early evening finish.   Fans can follow the rally with live updates from www.rally-america.com, and live video streams from www.drivingsports.com.  Daily photo galleries and Subaru Rally Team USA reports can be found at www.subaru.com/rally .

Subaru Rally Team USA is proudly supported by Subaru of America, Subaru Tecnica International (STI), Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT), DC Shoes, BFGoodrich Tires, Boost Mobile, Recaro, Alpinestars, Motul, Exedy, Greddy, PIAA and Vermont SportsCar.





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Photography: Lars Gange - rally.subaru.com