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The Story Behind the P2 WRC Impreza

Shakedown for a British Built, Japanese Icon

The Moroney family have owned this Prodrive Subaru Impreza S5 WRC since 2004. Although it’s a vehicle of historic interest in the rallying world it has been used in anger at various events up until last year, not tucked away in a collection like many cars from this era are today due to their ever-increasing value and of course the costs of running them. At Bont Rally stage we are seeing more and more drivers tuck their old Group A and WRC cars away to compete in R5 and similar spec cars.

The Moroney family brought the car up to Bont stage June last year to give it a good shakedown and it was an honour to watch the car being driven as intended on the tight tarmac Welsh stage. The 1998 spec car has competed in a number of stage rallies in their ownership in Ireland, the UK and Europe but you may have also seen it at RallyDay in 2018 or Race Retro in 2020.

Despite its not so successful start in the WRC, many of us still see the 2 door Subaru as one of WRC’s legends, after all it was piloted by some of the best crews on the planet in that iconic Subaru blue whilst being managed by one of the best motorsport outfits of all time. Delving into the Absolute Rally podcast archive you will find a couple of episodes of recordings of an interview between Jon Desborough and Richard Burns as part of the research gathered to help write Richards book and there were clearly frustrations in the early parts of development of the 2 door car. It’s a hard listen due to old recording quality but it’s very interesting.

P2 WRC was a reg originally mounted to chassis #3 97’ driven by Colin McRae & Nicky Grist on Rally Monte-Carlo where it suffered so much damage in an accident it had to be re-shelled. There was some debate as to if the current guise of the car could be considered an ex-McRae car or not but a BGM sport mechanic recently reminded me how many ex-works cars or machines driven by famous crews have had re-shells since they were driven as a works car or with that famous crew. He did not think that the fact a car is re-shelled really detracts much from its history, and I tend to agree. The rally world is very lucky to have a system like eWRC where you can track the history of each and every car that has competed. The circuit world has nothing like this and as a result it can be very hard to differentiate between a genuine car and a possible replica.

P2 WRC was then mated to Prodrive Chassis #21 and was campaigned in Europe for 99 and 00 with a number of overall and class wins. The ownership then moved from Austria to the UK with Mark Slater and Steven Fleck in 01 and 02 for just a few events before it then saw competition in Ireland in 03 with Noel Redmond. Gerard Moroney acquired the car late 2004 and then campaigned it for a number of rallies in 05,06 and 07. The 98’ car taking the battle to newer machinery on several rallies in white with Lea Guard Homes LTD livery.

Between 2007 and 2015 the car was stashed away but then Niall got the bug of the flat four and used the car in competition and for show events up until 2020. Over 15 years on from its first release as a WRC car, the some what long and wide S5 was still seeing success with a talented driver behind the wheel including 1st overall for the 2016 & 2017 Wethersfield Stages.

We rarely accept a passenger ride in cars testing at Bont Rally Stage but when Niall offered to give us a lift round for a few laps in one of our favourite rally cars of all time and having worked for Prodrive in the past we had to jump in. the first thing I notice as we power out of the paddock at full tilt with no warm up is that these cars were still running a fully manual box, although the way Niall ran through it from the outside you might mistake it for a sequential. I am lucky to have driven and been a passenger in some very fast machinery over the years but nothing quite prepares you for the grip and stopping power of an ex-WRC car with a decent pilot.

We asked Niall having driven a number of miles in the car what his favourite part of this vehicle was. "The steering on that cars incredible as its fully rose jointed, so precise, very little lock and goes where you point it, very easy to place and surprisingly forgiving"

Although Bont Rally Stages 2.2 miles of tarmac is usually graced by current club and top-level crews pre-event testing its always a great pleasure when clubs and teams bring along legendary machinery to shakedown at the stunning venue. If you are part of a club that is focused around iconic rally cars you too can privately hire the stage as a group or join us for one of our public days instead. We recently had a Focus WRC testing too which you can check out here.

We managed to gather some in car footage from our Go-Pro whilst Niall was testing so check that out below for a wild ride around Bont Dolebolion Rally Stage.

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