While having four driven wheels makes putting massive power to the pavement a little easier, it doesn’t mean driving at the limit requires any less talent. The tendency of this layout to encourage understeer on the throttle is evident in this footage of the SJ1000, a Subaru WRX made for time attack and sporting (you guessed it) 1,000 horsepower. With a little too much commitment to a tightening corner and a rushed combination of one too many inputs, this frighteningly fast run results in a high-speed roll through the weeds.
The traction off of the line is predictable, but the way driver Dan Day runs through the Pfitzer Performance sequential gearbox is surprising. The 2.7-liter engine spools its Precision 68/70 turbocharger quickly — thanks in part to a fully reworked head — and with those close ratios, it likely outruns most cars to 100 miles per hour wherever it goes. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine even formula cars leaving the line as quickly and efficiently.
At the Willunga Hillclimb in Adelaide, South Australia, the car is obviously at home. The SJ1000’s Supertech coilovers absorb the bumps well, and the Whiteline swaybars offer a level platform and impressive turn-in. Those qualities, matched with a little aero, make this machine confidence-inspiring. In fact, there aren’t any instances of opposite-lock, save for one graceful slide at (0:31). Watching Day’s relaxed inputs makes this car, using roughly 850 horsepower here, appear amenable. It’s hard to believe, but the right setup can make such a powerful machine manageable.
Perhaps that reassurance and effortless speed work against him. A variety of corners, some of which are tightening, is something that appears to catch him out. Forty seconds into his run, Day suddenly finds himself in a tricky series of lefts requiring more balance than the point-and-squirt corners he dealt with up until this point.
The front begins to wash out (0:39) when turning in to the first left, though that doesn’t exactly contribute to the upcoming crash. The problem is Day maintains the same amount of steering lock and squeezes in a minor squirt of the throttle between the two corners. He’s obviously searching for all the speed he can find, but with no runoff, drivers seeking the last few tenths occasionally pay big for their boldness.
After seeing the way the front end gives up in the previous corner, a more cautious driver might’ve backed off slightly. Carrying so much speed into the second left with that much steering lock, then prodding the brake pedal, unbalances the car. Also, watching the footage, it’s clear the car begins to slide when Day hurriedly downshifts. Perhaps the Subaru — not the stiffest car in the world — hasn’t been given enough time to load the nose properly. The front gives up in a big way, and soon the rear rotates on the gravelly shoulder. Soon the world begins to spin around Day.
Obviously, the man at the wheel is supremely talented, but pushing this hard with no room for error can catch out even the most skilled drivers. In trying to find every last bit of speed, Day makes a mistake that might’ve cost him a second on a course with some runoff, but at a Hillclimb, a little caution is necessary.