Stéphane Sarrazin Tests Subaru
Not exactly shock news, you may argue, since the Frenchman is one of Subaru’s factory drivers in the World Rally Championship. This time, however, he got behind the wheel of Subaru’s new road racing contender, in the Japanese SuperGT Championship.

Cusco Racing has been campaigning Subaru Imprezas in the JTGC and now in SuperGT since 1997, with mixed success. While the 2 litre turbocharged boxer engine is derived from the WRC unit, and prepared by Subaru Tecnica International, the chassis, code-named E-GD, comes from tuner Cusco’s parent company, Carrosser. While previous GT300 Imprezas were rear-wheel driven, the new car introduces a combination of symmetrical all-wheel drive and a transaxle layout. This is the first all-wheel driven car in the Japanese series since the Nissan Skylines of 1996, and the transaxle configuration adds some complexity, and ideally better balance and weight distribution, to the design. As a unique feature, the exhaust is placed in front of the left front wheel.

In its first outing in the championship on July 23 at Sugo, the car showed its potential in the rainy first qualifying session; its time would have have made the team eligible for the Super Lap qualifying extravaganza, but rear diff. trouble sidelined the car for the rest of the day.

From Sugo, the SuperGT moved to Suzuka for an official two day test session; this was where Sarrazin joined regular drivers Katsuo Kobayashi and Tatsuya Tanigawa, who have been with the team since 1999.

His first impression of the Impreza: “The car is really very stable, and overall it's a good package. The all-wheel drive system shows its strength not only in the wet, but also running in dry conditions. However, there is still a lot to be done to the set up. It might take a little more time, but this is a car with the clear potential to win.”

Katsuo Kobayashi added at the end of day 1: “It was a pleasure to have Stéphane working with us in this test. His feedback and input on the car's behaviour, while changing each element of the chassis little by little, allowed us to find a good set-up on the car. It was much the same as our usual programme for the car, and we were able to reach our objective in a short amount of time. The car's handling is now very good indeed."

After some new-car “issues” on this first day, Sarrazin had the car to himself for the majority day 2. This is how he sums up his experience: "The GT300-class Impreza is a race car. However, the DNA is the same as a World Rally car. I was able to gain a lot of hints in the understanding of the rally car set-up in this test. Within the Subaru family, I would, without a doubt, love to have the opportunity to once again cooperate on the development of the race car." – and this is where the rumour mill is starting to spin. Next up on the 2006 SuperGT calendar is a prestigious race where Cusco Racing will need a third driver alongside its regular crew, coincidentally also at Suzuka. Will we see Stéphane Sarrazin wearing Subaru blue instead of Aston Martin green in a road race, behind the wheel of the new Impreza in the Pokka 1000 on August 18/19?
Johannes Gauglica

CUSCO SUBARU ADVAN IMPREZA GT '06 Specification
Design & Development Carrosser Co., Ltd.(CUSCO is the brand of Carrosser Co., Ltd.)
Chassis code E-GD
Length 4465mm
Width 1840mm
Wheel base 2540mm
Tread Front: 1530mm Rear : 1530mm
Weight 1150kg
Engine code EJ20
Engine type Horizontal 4cylinder DOHC16Valve w/Single turbine
Horse Power 300ps +
Torque 40kgf/m +
Turbo charger IHI Single turbine
Restrictor 36mm
Fuel system Subaru Technica International (STi)
Engine tuning Subaru Technica International (STi)
Engine maintenance Subaru Technica International (STi)
Chassis maintenance Carrosser Co., Ltd.
Heat exchange system CUSCO (Radiator, Oil cooler, Inter-cooler)
Roll Cage SAFETY21
Transmission CUSCO Sequential 6speed Transaxle AWD gearbox
Clutch EXEDY Carbon 5.5inch
Suspension type Front/Rear: Double wishbone (Push-rod inboard type)
Spring Front/Rear: CUSCO
Suspension arm Front/Rear: CUSCO Pillow ball suspension arms
Shock Absorber Front/Rear: SHOWA
LSD Fr:1wayRS Ctr:1wayRS Rr:1wayRS (CUSCO)
Brake Front/Rear: ALCON water-cooled 6pod caliper / Ferode pad
Tire YOKOHAMA ADVAN 280-680-R18
Wheel Racing Hart, CP-035MAG, 11.0J-18
Body kit CUSCO
Oil BP
Seat Bride GARDIS III (CFRP)
Seat Harness TAKATA MPH-350R

 

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