Influenced strongly by the WRC97, this fire-breather tears up the Alpe del Nevegal hillclimb in Belluno, Italy. The course climbs 1,725 feet over the course of 3.1 miles, and encourages drivers to tempt fate with long sweepers and a total lack of runoff area. Despite these challenges, Mike Jelinek and his 700-horsepower GC Impreza put down a stunningly-smooth run through the daunting course.
The built, 2.0-liter engine makes a usable 675 horsepower and 520 pound-feet of torque, all with remarkable response. Not a typical high-boost, small-displacement build; this motor makes power quickly and seamlessly, and its surprisingly-wide powerband is harnessed through a sequential gearbox, as is standard these days among top-flight hillclimbers such as this.
That power gets put to the ground via KW coilovers and Michelin slicks, and predictably, traction is incredible. As seen from one of Mike Jelinek’s onboard videos, albeit one shot at a different venue, the car surges forward quite effortlessly whenever the loud pedal is matted and never snaps sideways.
It also appears remarkably balanced at high speed, thanks in part to the massive front air dam and a rear wing picked off of a Subaru WRC car. It’s a complete package that puts him in league with the modified Lancia Delta Integrales and former Group B rally machines which dominate these sorts of events.
While it might not be the quickest machine on the Italian hillclimb scene, it’s certainly one of the more attractive – those Lancias always looked a bit too much like station wagons to be real beauties.