Subaru has got it all going on at the 2018 Leadfoot Festival
Subaru of New Zealand will return to the Leadfoot Festival, held in the Coromandel Peninsula this Waitangi Weekend, as one of the most established partners of this iconic motorsport event.
Subaru have now been on board for five years, with the brand involved once again in 2018, with what has become a huge celebration of inspirational drivers and their incredible cars, bikes, and even trucks.
Shelly Millen, who founded the Leadfoot Festival with her husband Rod says: "We have had an incredible long-standing relationship with Subaru dating back to our very first Leadfoot Festival in 2012. Wal and his team have been our number one supporters. We appreciate their continued support and it is great to see the brand back again this year with a bigger and better stand and Subaru driver Alister McRae returning as the event's defending champion in the Vantage Subaru.”
Subaru have added a new stand this year, offering arguably the best seats in the house for Subaru drivers to watch the action. The popular blue tent, complete with comfortable beanbags, will also be available to provide some shade.
The full eight-model Subaru All-Wheel Drive range will be on display, including the 2018 Subaru Outback and Legacy models, which will be the first time these all-new vehicles have been shown in public, in New Zealand, ahead of the official launch later in the month.
Subaru of New Zealand’s Managing Director Wallis Dumper is looking forward to heading to the Leadfoot Festival this weekend.
“This amazing motorsport event is the ultimate family weekend away at Hahei, which is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful beaches on the Coromandel. There is something for everyone to enjoy from viewing the action on Rod’s immaculate driveway from all the scenic spectator points, to meeting the drivers and checking out their cars and bikes in the pits. The fact that every member of the public has access to watching the mechanics working on the vehicles and can hear the teams fire up their racers ready for another run is what makes Leadfoot a truly special festival.”
“For the Subaru team it is also a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with Subaru owners at our stand. Hopefully we will all have something to celebrate on Sunday when Alister McRae defends his title in the ex-Possum Bourne Subaru,” Mr Dumper says.
Festival-goers will see Subaru’s performance cars, the WRX and Levorg playing an important role for the Leadfoot competitors over the weekend - as the lead and safety cars - up and down Millen’s mountain.
Scottish rally star McRae will return as the defending champion and will again be piloting the poignant-for-Subaru-fans Vantage Motorsport Subaru WRX STi, which is an ex-Prodrive Subaru 1998 WRC car, driven by the late Possum Bourne.
Rocketing up the 1.6km (mile-long) driveway in 49.43 secs, last year, Perth-based McRae beat Rotorua’s Sloan Cox in his 2004 Hill Climb Special Evo 8 and was the only driver to go under 50secs.
It was the first time the winner’s trophy had gone to anybody other than a Millen family member and McRae is looking forward to ensuring his name is engraved in the 2018 victor’s section on the silverware.
“It’s a tremendous event and is getting bigger each year, so to come back as last year’s winner makes it all the better,” McRae says.
“It’s great to be getting back behind the wheel of the Vantage Subaru. The car has a very special place in New Zealand motorsport and it's awesome to drive. Keeping the 800hp under control can be exciting at times!’ McRae adds.
Can he go any faster up the hill climb and if so how?
“The boys have a few ideas with the engine of the Vantage Subaru for this year. Hopefully it makes the car even more driveable out of the corners and allows me to go that bit quicker,” McRae answers.
He rates Cox as one of his main rivals this year and with Rod Millen back driving his monstrously-powerful Celica, which didn’t run last year, “it’s going to be a big fight,” McRae says.
Vantage Motorsport Principal Craig Vincent says the Vantage team is very excited to have Alister back at Leadfoot 2018 to defend the title.
“It was fantastic to take out the title last year after a very close second place in 2016. Alister and the iconic ex-Possum Bourne, Vantage Subaru WRC rally car have become very popular with the fans and we look forward to presenting the duo once again.”
“The car has gone through a small development programme for this year - mainly involving the turbo and engine management plus some extra good Pirelli tyres,” Vincent says.
Subaru Brand Ambassador Ben Hunt is also competing at the Leadfoot Festival again but this year he will be swapping out the 600hp Subaru coupe that he has driven for the past two years, for his Subaru WRX STi rally car. It will be run in the same set-up, in which it finished third in the 2017 New Zealand Rally Championship.
“I’m looking forward to going back to such a fantastic, well-recognised motorsport event, this time in my own Subaru. Subarus are such great cars out of the box, so I’m sure the STi will love flying up Rod’s hill climb,” Hunt says.
Also driving a Subaru WRX STi on the Saturday of the Leadfoot Festival is Colorado-based Pikes Peak International Hill climb legend Paul Dallenbach. He is is normally wrestling with the wheel of his wickedly-fast open wheeler - the 2006 Dallenbach Special - at this event. However, he will also take on a different beast for demonstration run in Subaru’s definitive performance model.
“I am looking forward to driving the STi at Leadfoot. I think the Subaru has great balance and power and with the All-Wheel Drive it should be great up Rod’s road. The forecast looks like rain, so having the AWD is a help,” Dallenbach says.
“The Subaru WRX STi is much different than my 800hp open wheeler in every way! I know the Subaru will be more comfortable,” he adds.
Dallenbach is a three-time overall Pikes Peak winner - with five category victories to his name as well – and he also works with Subaru of America about four times each year producing footage for commercials.
Check out this film where he is the driver for Subaru of America, driving the Subaru WRX STi. It was shot last year, at an abandoned mine near Palm Springs, California, just after he got back from the 2017 Leadfoot Festival:
Make sure you tune into Subaru New Zealand’s new Facebook page over the weekend to see any on-event updates from the Subaru team.
If you haven’t already done so, buy your Leadfoot Festival tickets at www.leadfootfestival.com and come visit us at the Subaru stand over the weekend.
Subaru of New Zealand
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