This year, Pike’s Peak rookie Belgian driver David Sterckx and his 500-horsepower Subaru competed in the Race to the Clouds to show that a wagon isn’t a bad platform for hillclimbing. This 2011 Impreza WRX was once a rally car, but has been extensively modified for the specific challenge of racing to the Coloradoan peak’s 14,114-foot summit—thin air claims many of the participants.
Though it might resemble a series rally car from the outside, it’s been tweaked so thoroughly that it would be too costly to return it to its former state of tune. A big diffuser, a set of tasty Volk TE37 wheels, a side-exit exhaust, and a massive wing are the real visual cues to this Subaru’s potential. High-speed stability and plenty of power are obvious from the footage above, and that exhaust is quite distinctive and intimidating—enjoy the flames and clouds of ominous smoke discharged in the lower gears.
Though Sterckx’s practice runs looked very promising, 2017 wasn’t his year. Though strong sector times indicated a possible sub-10 minute run on race day, the engine failed as he climbed the last third of the mountain. Undeterred, Sterckx is planning to return to Pike’s Peak next year for a second stab at the challenge, and considering his motto is “Always Evolving,” it’s fair to assume he’ll bring a little more firepower. Hopefully, he’ll have the reliability to match.