Subaru will enter a brace of Impreza WRX STIs, conforming to the new R4 technical regulations, on selected rounds of this year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge for respected Japanese drivers Toshi Arai and Fumio Nutahara, it was announced this week.

Arai will begin his programme on next month's Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc before entering July's Sata Rallye Acores, the Mecsek Rally in Hungary in mid-September, October's RACMSA Rally of Scotland and the IRC season-closing Cyprus Rally in November.

Nutahara, meanwhile, will contest three events: Azores, Barum Czech Rally Zlin and Scotland. Both drivers will use Yokohama tyres.

The R4 regulations have been developed by the FIA, motorsport's world governing body, to increase the competitiveness of Group N cars against the pacesetting Super 2000 machines. This has been made possible by allowing weight saving, improved cooling, enhanced engine performance and modified suspension.

Subaru's participation in the IRC dates back to 2010 when it registered as an official manufacturer for the first time. As part of its involvement in the series, the company launched the Subaru Individual Award to support Subaru customers contesting the IRC.

Arai made his IRC debut on last June's Geko Ypres Rally in an Impreza, while Nutahara tackled his first IRC event on Barum Czech Rally Zlin last August in a Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer.