For a three-year period starting from 2012, Belgian team Symtech Racing, with the co-operation of WRC promoter North One Sport and Subaru / STI, will support and manage a new formula within the World Rally Championship, the Rally Class, it was confirmed this week.

This competition will cover six WRC rounds, getting underway in Portugal before moving onto Greece, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. All crews taking part in the Rally Class category will drive identical Subaru Impreza STR12 cars.

The winner will be rewarded with a fully-paid five-rally programme for the following season in which he will compete at the wheel of a Symtech Subaru Impreza R4.

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"The Production World Rally Championship (PWRC) that we won this year with Hayden Paddon has already reached high levels of budgets, especially at the very top end. After speaking with many drivers last year, we found that for many of them it was not at all easy to find the budget to cover the whole season. That's why we came up with the idea of promoting an alternative solution," explained Dirk Van der Sluys of Symtech Racing.

"Rally Class has a fixed price for the whole season, equivalent to about half of the budget normally required to drive in the PWRC. In addition there will be some interesting prizes for the top three finishers: a five-rally programme with a Subaru Impreza R4 for the winner; two rallies with a Group N Subaru Impreza for the runner-up and a complete test session with an Impreza R4 for whoever is third.

"The car we will provide for the Rally Class will be a slightly cheaper version of the new Group N Subaru Impreza STR12 but still comparable to the full-spec version. It will be equipped with a dogbox gearbox, big brakes, Reiger adjustable suspension and DMACK tyres, with race fuel. I'm sure it will be a good way to discover the World Rally Championship with four wheel drive and a turbo."

"We welcome this initiative, promoted by the winning PWRC team," added North One Sport's Marc de Jong. "The Rally Class is an excellent way to take part in the WRC with an affordable programme and the legendary Subaru Impreza. I sincerely hope that many drivers will join the series in the 2012 PWRC which is the ideal springboard for a future career in the WRC."

Participants for the 2012 Rally Class season will have to enrol by December 15, 2011. The first event, the Rally of Portugal, is scheduled for the end March 2012.

The Rally Class scheme aims to provide a level playing field for the participants. All cars will be prepared and managed by the Symtech Racing team and the all-inclusive price is 260,000 Euro.