Subaru made to change turbos by ARA rule check

A competitive advantage has been taken away in ARA National


Subaru Motorsports USA has been forced to modify the turbochargers on its WRX STIs for Travis Pastrana and Brandon Semenuk ahead of the Ojibwe Forests Rally.

American Rally Association organizers have clarified a rule regarding the kind of blow-off valve that is legally allowed to be fitted to turbochargers, with Subaru among the outfits found to be using an incorrect part.

However DirtFish understands that other teams and drivers have also used a fresh air valve on their cars, which dumps fresh air into the exhaust stream to help propel the turbo and keep it spooled up when the driver is off the throttle.

There will be no further penalty handed out, meaning Semenuk’s third place finish on the Southern Ohio Forest Rally still stands.

One competitor told DirtFish: “It’s a big advantage to run it because you can run an ALS system but it has to go through the engine cycle which I have been running but it’s worse on the motor, so I typically don’t run it.

“So it’s a big advantage to run bigger turbos, keep them spooled up better with an ALS valve but the rule reads only exhaust gas may propel the turbo. Exhaust gas is defined by going through the combustion chamber, not being combusted in the exhaust with a fresh air valve.


Credit: Matt Stryker/Subaru Motorsports USA

“I was going to install it in my car going to Open class but then I was called out on an online thread and then cc’d in an email to the ARA tech director and the tech director said no, so then I was questioning why it was allowed for so many years in the ARA when it’s been in the rulebook for at least four years to my knowledge in ARA.

“So I was pushing the ARA to define the rule and make people either be compliant or define the rule better so subsequently Subaru Rally Team, and there’s other teams that have been running it, they’ve been talked to and forced to be compliant with the rule and take the valves off so it makes it more fair for everybody that now everybody’s compliant with the way the rule’s written.

“I didn’t want to be the bad guy to have to protest so that’s why we discussed it with the ARA and made them handle it. I didn’t make a protest at any other rallies.”

Subaru Motorsports USA nor the ARA have commented on the situation.

ARA National points leader Barry McKenna has also been in strife in Minnesota however, suffering a “slow roll” on the event’s test stage on Wednesday.

Despite initially intending to show up in his Ford Fiesta WRC, McKenna will give the Škoda Fabia Rally2 its second start on US soil. The Irishman still managed to do 50 miles of testing after the roll, so is in perfect shape to start the Ojibwe Forests Rally which begins later today (Friday).

Words:Mason Runkel and Luke Barry

Images:Matt Stryker, David Seaver, Subaru Motorsports USA