Rally Legends: Richard Burns' Subaru WRC99
The history behind one of the most iconic and recognizable rally cars of all time that was owned by a true rally legend.
If you’ve followed the sport of rally over the last twenty years, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the name Richard Burns. He is by far one of the most notable and successful World Rally drivers of the 90’s and 2000’s. From 1999 through 2001, Burns was competing in the World Rally Championship under the Prodrive-run, Subaru World Rally Team, where he piloted the Impreza WRC to an overall victory in the 2001 Championship. Known to be one of the smoothest and most methodical drivers of his time, he continued to compete in WRC under the Peugeot flag, however he was one of few people to drive in one of the most iconic rally cars ever.
The name “Subaru” has been synonymous with rally around the world for many years and is probably one of the most iconic names, not only in American rally, but rallies around the world as well. Nearly every rally championship worldwide has Subarus competing (and dominating) the classes they run in.
DirtFish owner and rally fan, Steve Rimmer, has acquired one amazing collection of legendary rally cars over the years. One of which is a beautiful “World Rally blue” 1999 Subaru Impreza WRC99 adorned with one of the most classic and memorable liveries to ever be on the side of a Subaru. Built by Prodrive in the UK and never actually raced, the car was a gift to Burns as a “congrats and thanks” for winning the 2001 World Rally Championship driver’s title. Sadly, he only owned the car for about two years before a brave battle with brain cancer took his life.
After the Burns’ passing in 2005, the car became a part of his estate. The ownership of the estate was then transferred to the Richard Burns Foundation, which was setup by some of Burns’ closest friends and colleagues with the goal of helping people who are affected by serious illnesses and injuries. Rimmer purchased the car from the foundation, giving them liquidity, which helped fund and establish grants that are awarded by them; it also allowed them to hire staff to raise further funds.
This meticulously prepared 22B was built to the same specifications as the car Burns piloted in the WRC and is very well equipped, even by today’s standards. The engine that helps propel the car’s 2700 lbs is the quintessential EJ20 boxer engine still found in Subarus today. The engine block and heads are milled from aluminum, each cylinder has 4 valves and the cars is equipped with an IHI turbo charger, producing 300 BHP at 5500 rpm and a massive 480 lbs/ft of torque at 4000 rpm. In laymen’s terms; this is one quick car with phenomenal acceleration.
The drivetrain is very similar to what would be found in today’s top-level rally cars: it has a Prodrive 6-speed sequential gearbox with computer-controlled hydraulic front, rear and center differentials. The Prodrive XTC McPherson struts and shock absorbers, at the time, were the best that money could buy and helped spawn the technology you see in not only rally cars today, but everyday road-going cars as well. With the speed and cornering covered, Prodrive didn’t skimp on the braking system either and equipped it with 4-pot AP Racing calipers and vented rotors.
Although this car has never actually competed on a rally stage, it is an important car in rally today and a testament to three rally icons; Richard Burns, Subaru and Prodrive. Through the years it has aided in continuing Burns’ legacy through the foundation created in his name by helping people afflicted with serious illnesses and injuries.
Article by: Trevor Wert