Video: Wrestling With An 880-HP Subaru WRX At The Leadfoot Festival!

Every year, Rod Millen opens his one-mile driveway to a selection of hand-picked racers who want to prove themselves in the eyes of the rally legend. Named the Leadfoot Festival, this event at Millen’s 150-acre estate in Hahei, New Zealand attracts some outrageous vehicles—some of which end up in the trees after their drivers bite off more than they can chew. Considering the narrowness of the course, its uneven surface, and the trees which line it, it’s not hard to imagine why.

Millen invites racing celebrities like Scott Dixon, grassroots racers of serious talent, and those in between to his prestigious event. One who fits into the last category is Alister McRae, brother of Colin and total ace in his own right. Few people can wrestle with an 880-horsepower Subaru Impreza like this man, who’s millimetres from a nasty accident several times on this spectacular sprint. As fast as it is spectacular, this run helped him win the event for the fourth time in a row.

The bumpy, hay-coated track can put this powerful car into some dramatic attitudes.

The talent behind the wheel is just as impressive as the machinery involved. This 2,650-pound Impreza started off as a genuine WRC machine, but as it’s changed hands over the years, it’s been slowly modified; no longer having to adhere to stringent regulations of the series it was designed for.

The two-liter engine benefits from bigger heads, bigger valves, and a hefty Borg Warner twin-scroll turbo—either an EFR 8374 or a smaller EFR 7670 depending on the powerband desired. On E85 fuel, the flat-four revs to 9,000 rpm and makes 880 horsepower—most of which arrives in a surprisingly controllable fashion.

In fact, the power is savage but the drivetrain makes it manageable. The Prodrive-made Hewland six-speed H-pattern, hydraulic center and front differentials, and Hewland spool at the rear are the only diffs which aren’t destroyed by the power. With titanium swaybars and three-way Reiger Racing suspension to absorb bumps as best it can, it dances in McRae’s hands in a way that’s hard to fathom.

Even when hopping over curbs, the Subaru only rotates as much as necessary.

With body control that few racing cars enjoy, this Subaru can hop curbs and settle neatly without losing time. As it skips over bumps, it never gets too unsettled to hinder McRae’s progress, and as it slides, it points gently in the right direction. Of course, McRae’s skill makes it all possible—and he does it all with sheer elan. He even navigates hairpins with one hand. Clearly, the aggression, coordination, and style his brother was famous for are inherited traits—they both come from the same gifted stock.

 

 

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About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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