Subaru will debut in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship as a full manufacturer entry this season after announcing a new collaboration with established front runners BMR.
The Japanese manufacturer will enter a pair of its Levorg estates, with former champions Jason Plato and Colin Turkington staying on board with BMR as part of its bold assault on the 2016 title.
Subaru's arrival will see it swell the number of manufacturer supported entries to three, alongside Team Dynamics Honda and Triple Eight MG, and represents the latest step in BMR's sharp rise from minnows to title contenders over just four years with privateer VW CC machinery.
“I am extremely delighted that Team BMR are to become a Manufacturer team in only our fourth year of competing in the BTCC,” team manager Warren Scott said. “I have had aspirations of becoming a race-winning team with factory support from the very beginning and I am immensely proud of the team for giving Subaru the confidence to partner with BMR.”
Having taken Team BMR to second and fourth in last year's championship, Plato and Turkington – who have four BTCC titles and 100 race wins between them – will once again establish a formidable driver line-up for the team.
Interestingly, though Subaru has formed its reputation on offering only all-wheel drive road car models, the Levorg will be adapted into a rear-wheel drive format, but will retain is distinctive boxer-engine format.
We're very excited to have teamed up with BMR from the 2016 Championship – the first time a Subaru has competed in BTCC,” said Paul Tunnicliffe, Managing Director for Subaru UK & Ireland. Although the Levorg features the Subaru famed all-wheel drive system, the car can be easily developed to compete with rear-wheel drive in order to comply with the BTCC regulations… so we can't wait to see how it goes against very established competition.”
“It's an honour to be leading not only Team BMR's first 'clean-sheet' car design and build, but to be able to do this with Subaru's new Levorg model is a real privilege,” added BMR chief designer Carl Faux. “Engineering challenges is what the project presents – a new car, new engine and all the new generation TOCA components require a methodical approach. Establishing a three-year programme means we can focus on getting the basics right early before developing the package further over the following years.”
Though it is a return on a domestic level only, this announcement still marks Subaru's first foray into motorsport with manufacturer support since it competed in the World Rally Championship. During its 1990s heyday, Subaru's endeavours on the rally stages – particularly the Impreza WRX the hands of Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg – transformed it from a little-known Japanese firm into a globally recognised brand, though it hasn't competed since withdrawing in 2008.