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Slid'n around 'n havin a ball
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Service park chatter has been rife for weeks, as drivers and teams have debated at length the announcement of the 2006 Subaru Cup UK. "It's a standard road car with a roll cage", "it's hasn't got anti-lag", and "there's no hydraulic handbrake!" were just some of the 'expert' comments being aired.

So, during the past two weeks the CMC/Prodrive team invited a number of key players in the sport to sample the car for themselves.

A dedicated test day on asphalt at MIRA was then followed by a full two-day back-to-back evaluation of the Cup car against a new IMPREZA WRX STI spec C international model on gravel. And the results not only surprised the test drivers but also some of the senior engineers within Prodrive.

First up for the Cup drive was Justin Dale, who took the car straight out of the box onto the high-speed Dunlop handling track used by Top Gear at MIRA.

"I was truly surprised by the smooth delivery of power from the car and just how well it handled," said Justin. "Having spent many hours using this circuit I have been able to consistently keep the car within half a second per kilometer of a full international car, and that's without any proper set-up time in the car. I think the car and the whole concept of the Subaru Cup will be a real winner for the sport," he added.

The Subaru Cup using four wheel drive, turbo charged cars is a set-up from the one make series of the past, a one-make, tightly controlled championship for probably the best-known rally brand in the world provides an amazing opportunity for drivers on a sensible budget.

Taking a SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI spec C 2006 base car and the purpose-designed kit supplied by Prodrive, a clubman competitor or professional team can build a car for £31,500 plus VAT.

David Campion Prodrive's Special Projects Manager said: "the SUBARU Cup provides aspiring drivers with a genuine chance to shine in the UK's premier rally championship. Prodrive has worked closely with CMC to develop a package that is tremendous value and delivers a car with the performance to showcase drivers' talent. The SUBARU experience has never been more accessible with the winner taking part in a full test and evaluation day with the Subaru World Rally Team.

Geoff Jones, probably one of the sports most respected drivers, said: "I have been lucky enough to be chosen to carry out the gravel tests for this car and it is without doubt far better than I expected. The power curve is strong, the differentials work extremely well, and I'm sure the unique package will help a competitive driver to shine."

"Having spent two days back-to-back testing a Group the new IMPREZA WRX STI spec C against the Cup car I think the car is extremely good value for money, using current state of the art technology, and I have been able to set stage times within point eight of a second per kilometre of the new IMPREZA WRX STI spec C."

"This car is a true stage rally car, it may not have anti-lag or a hydraulic hand-brake, but so what, the car is capable of winning events and will be an ideal stepping stone for someone wishing to move up from two-wheel drive, or a driver who is looking to impress sponsors by turning up with a brand new state of the art piece of kit."

"Everyone was so pleased with the tests we have carried out over the past two days that a decision has been taken now to enter the Sunseeker Rallye this weekend just to see how the car works in a true competitive environment," said Geoff.

The SUBARU Cup will run within the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship with the first round being the Pirelli International Rally followed by the cars' first tarmac outing on the Rally of the Midlands in June. "

$55K is more than I've got, but its a start.
It'll be interesting to follow the progress of this series.
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