Finding Richard and Colin – part 3: WRX STi’s Final Stage
The final part of our search for the wheeltracks of Richard Burns and Colin McRae
It was all coming to an end very quickly, quick just seems to be the theme around a Subaru WRX STi.
Our final day had dawned on our trip through Snowdonia in the blue beast, and as we’d come to expect of North Wales, conditions were wet and chilly. The scenery remained just as beautiful as ever though, and as for the roads, well, there aren’t many routes that can compare to those found in North Wales. On our final day we had a plan to head down just south of Snowdonia to aimlessly explore and enjoy ourselves, after all that’s pretty much what this car is for.
Now, please prepare yourselves because I’m issuing a cliché alert here – over time, you come to realise that the destination isn’t really all that important. Behind the wheel of this car you’re just too busy concentrating and enjoying the moment – in other words, it becomes about the journey. You end up neglecting your planned route in favour of exploration or to turn around and head back to take that corner again. Of course, you often end up not caring what speed you’re going a lot of the time as well, and if you fail to drive with a degree of discipline, it would be very easy to get yourself into a lot of trouble.
Speaking of speed, it doesn’t really matter how you drive the WRX STi – it will always hold onto a corner, and it will always do exactly the same fuel economy. Drive flat out? Mid-twenties of mpg. Drive like you’re carrying a sleeping bear in the back seat? Mid-twenties mpg. It is impossible to be efficient in this car, and that is so incredibly refreshing. Sure, you can see what fuel you’re using, but it’s such a joy to be able to drive and not have your current fuel economy figures held up in front of your face by some sort of judgemental software. This is a 300bhp all-wheel drive road thrasher, and it sticks one mighty middle finger up at anybody who wants it to be something else.
On the undulating tarmac roads of North Wales, you can really get an idea of how mighty the WRX STi is. It is a car you can drive flat-out, Colin would have really approved of that. While it’s the tarmac that shows its potential for speed and agility, the dirty wet gravel and mud tracks well off the beaten path show its stability and usability – and that is where our drive ended up taking us.
Late afternoon with the drizzle falling, and with a deserted muddy gravel track to ourselves – we saw what the WRX STi could do on a real World Rally Championship stage. The car becomes looser, more adjustable with the lack of grip, but it never feels unstable and encourages you to find extra speed through the corners, just like it does on the road. It feels safe, and it actually feels quite natural. It might not be a WRC car any more, but it sure as hell hasn’t forgotten where it came from. As I looked out from behind the windscreen at the muddy route ahead, knowing a real WRC stage that the greats had once focused on was ahead, I felt I’d come to the end of my search. It was this track, behind the badge of this car that Richard and Colin chased their dreams.
For a very, very brief moment – I was them. Foot to the floor, the dirt went backwards, and me and the WRX STi flew forwards.
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