This summer, Subaru of America was busy setting a new record in their WRX STI Type RA Time Attack car.
It’s the same purpose-built racer that set a Nürburgring lap record in 2017, covering the north loop in 6 minutes and 57.5 seconds. That made it the fastest four-door sedan ever to lap the Green Hell, and its record still stands. However, you can’t buy one, although Subaru will sell you a WRX STI Type RA limited edition car loosely inspired by the record-setting machine.
Prodrive built the one-off super STI specifically to demolish lap records around the world. After setting records on Isle of Man TT course (2016) and the Nürburgring (2017), the car needed a new challenge. The carmaker found it this summer in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. Subaru of America and British rally expert Prodrive set their sights on a new record on the scenic, and very dangerous, Transfăgărășan Pass.
It wasn’t that long ago that timed trials started to become a thing on the most dangerous section of the mountain road. The 84.34 km (52.4 miles) course includes 688 turns and a maximum 6,699 feet (2,041 meters) of elevation.
Driving the Subaru WRX STI Type RA Time Attack car was three-time British Rally Champion Mark Higgins — the same man who set the Isle of Man TT lap record. He called the Transfăgărășan run the “ultimate challenge” for the 600-hp AWD racer, and the footage clearly shows why.
The Transfăgărășan has it all: steep ravines, tricky corners, a less-than-perfect road surface, and changing weather conditions. The smallest mistake could have been the last for Higgins and his co-driver, Darren Garrod. Fortunately, on their final run, they managed to set a new record of 40 minutes and 58.08 seconds with an average speed of 122.7 km/h (76.2 mph). Those are frightening figures for anyone with the slightest instinct of self-preservation.
To put that into perspective, covering the same course at legal speeds normally takes about three hours. We’ll leave the video to tell the rest of the story in the hope that Subaru will also release full onboard footage of the run.