Subaru set to 'do' the Leadfoot Festival
The annual Leadfoot Festival is all set for this Waitangi weekend and Subaru is committed in many aspects of the unique motorsport event, held in Hahei, on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula.
Subaru of New Zealand’s new brand positioning Subaru ‘do’, is the simple, flexible manifestation of the Kiwi spirit of giving things a go and that is certainly the case over the two-day Leadfoot Festival at Rod and Shelly Millen’s oceanfront ranch.
There will be the Subaru WRX STi and Subaru Levorg involved as the official pace cars, keeping the 130-plus racers from all around the world in check; Subaru will be displaying New Zealand’s best 25 WRXs; there will be some incredible Subaru drivers striving to clock the fastest time up the 1.6km spectator-friendly driveway, which was designed to be the perfect hill climb; and the Subaru tent will be there for Subaru owners to do some relaxing in the shade, as the action unfolds in front of them.
Subaru of New Zealand has a partnership with the Leadfoot Festival and has been proudly supporting the event since 2013. The venue was also used to launch the new generation WRX in 2014.
Three years on and the quintessentially-Kiwi car brand is celebrating 25 years of the WRX in 2017 and has found the best WRXs in the country to commemorate this iconic performance model’s anniversary. The 25 winners will receive special treatment with VIP hospitality at the Leadfoot Festival, as well as the opportunity to display their WRX with the other winners alongside the Subaru tent. Five lucky owners will also be chosen on the day to parade their WRX up the driveway.
There will be two well-known drivers piloting Subaru WRXs over the weekend and no doubt Subaru Brand Ambassador Ben Hunt and Scottish rally star Alister McRae will be crowd favourites once again.
McRae is back behind the wheel of the historically-significant 1998 Vantage Motorsport Subaru that he drove to second place at last year’s Leadfoot Festival and won the 2015 Race to the Sky in. This car holds a special place in Subaru fans’ hearts as it was an ex-Prodrive Subaru 1998 WRC car, driven by the late Possum Bourne.
This year it has been updated with some further improvements, which McRae says should generate “hopefully a bit more performance” from its already monstrous horsepower output.
Vantage Motorsport Principal Craig Vincent says: “Vantage Motorsport are looking forward to seeing Alister and our Subaru teamed together again for this year's Leadfoot Festival. The car has a new engine and tarmac specification for this year's event and the team will be trying hard to go one place better than last year.
“However the main focus for the weekend is to have fun and provide entertainment to all the spectators who arrive at this special speed event put on by Rod and Shelly at their wonderful property in Hahei. Alister is certainly capable of providing lots of that,” Vincent says.
Hunt, the 2015 NZ Rally Champion competes in the New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) in the latest model Subaru WRX STi but he will drive a more hill climb-suited choice for the weekend - a 1999 Subaru STi Coupe, owned and built by his mate Dan Kane.
Free from the restrictions required by cars entered in the NZRC, this Subaru produces a massive 450kW and has a 6-speed Modena dog-box (special transmission) behind it. Hunt drove the Coupe at Leadfoot last year and managed sixth overall with a time of 52 seconds. He describes its power as “unreal.”
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to the Leadfoot Festival for the third year in a row. It’s a unique event that brings all forms of motorsport together and it is fantastic to meet so many competitors, as with rally events, you don’t get a chance to chat to all your fellow racers,” Hunt says.
“This event is also special for me as Subaru is celebrating 25 years of WRX and I’m excited to see all the top 25 WRXs on display alongside my NZRC Subaru WRX STi.”
Hunt will be available for an autograph signing session at the Subaru tent between 12pm and 12.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. Head along for a chat with one of New Zealand’s fastest men on gravel and take away a signed Hunt Motorsport poster.
Hunt’s fellow Subaru driver Carl Ruiterman will drive a 2009 Subaru WRX STi that was built by E & Motors. An impressive national drift champion, off-road racer and tarmac rally driver, Ruiterman has resurrected his WRX out of retirement to have a crack at the Leadfoot Festival.
Danniverke father and son duo Donald and Michael McLean are bringing a pair of Subarus to race up the hill. McLean senior is driving a 2001 Subaru WRX STi RA Spec C, while McLean junior is on-board a version 7, 2001 Subaru WRX STi. They are self-confessed Subaru enthusiasts and have got a shed full of them back home.
Tarmac-favouring Subaru drivers are relishing the chance to pit their sealed road specialist machines against Millen’s driveway. Nic de Waal is bringing his 2003 Subaru WRX targa car, which delivers more than 450hp, providing “super fun” on the twisty sealed roads and Targa New Zealand regular Leigh Hopper has entered his 2004 Subaru STi C Spec RA.
Subaru will also display the latest line up of vehicles under the Subaru tent, including the all-new Impreza 2.0 Sport which will go on sale mid-February in New Zealand. There will be giveaways and prime position seats for some lucky Subaru drivers.
Tickets are available from www.leadfootfestival.com or head along over Waitangi weekend and purchase a ticket at the gate.
Alister McRae pilots the Vantage Motorsport Subaru to second place in the 2016 Leadfoot Festival
Subaru Brand Ambassador Ben Hunt will be driving his friend’s 1999 Subaru STi Coupe again at the 2017 Leadfoot Festival.
The Subaru tent is the place to see the latest model range and for Subaru drivers to relax in the shade.
The Subaru pace cars will keep the racers in check on Rod Millen’s ultimate driveway.
PHOTOS ARE FREE FOR EDITORIAL USE. PLEASE CREDIT GEOFF RIDDER
Subaru Public Relations
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