The ultimate Subaru Impreza? Now that’s a bold claim, I hear you say, especially for one of the most tuned, raced and rallied cars ever to bark its big-bore exhaust. But, I think you’ll agree, after watching this 2-minute video full of 900bhp 4-wheel drifts and the kind of acceleration that would have an F1 car crying into its carbon hankie, the Roger Clark Motorsport ‘Gobstopper’, built around the original and most desirable 3-door Impreza is, as far as insane performance goes, very much up there with the world’s ultimate Imprezas.
The Gobstopper, called so because it’s very hard to talk when your jaw is on the floor, is built and campaigned by the famous British racing family, the Clarks, with the company name of Roger Clark Motorsport in honour of their famous dad, a successful campaigner in his own right in the 1950s.
Roger Clark Motorsport are famously fast Subaru Impreza tuners up Leicester way, and they decided a couple of years ago that the best way to show their potential customers that they know their way around a big-bhp Subaru Boxer engine was to build a top-spec car and race it.
And so they entered the Time Attack racing series that pits cars and drivers not against each other, but against the clock in sprint-style races on some of the UK’s most famous tracks. The Clark team competes in the Time Attack Pro class were power is unlimited, but stricter regulations control chassis modification, active suspension etc. The basic idea is that you take a road car and tune it to win, but it must retain much of what makes that road car recognisable. Hence this Gobstopper 1 looks much like a road-going Scooby of that era. But, if you look closer you’ll see monster brakes, a full rollcage, a mega engine, some carbon and some cheeky aerodynamic touches. It might not look like a 900bhp racecar, but it sure goes like one! And it’s one of the winningest cars the series has ever seen.
The Time Attack win is simple – just go faster over one lap than anyone else in the allotted time for your class final (usually 15 minutes) and you’ll be on the top step. You can do as many laps as you can cram in, but only a fast and reliable car and a dialled-in driver can go fastest of all. It’s like qualifying on every lap.
Japanese cars, like Scoobies and EVOs lend themselves to Time Attack nicely. Made pretty light and nimble from the factory – thanks to rally breeding – and with built in four-wheel drive, it’s the Subarus and Mitsubishis that most of the Time Attack racers use. Add to this natural ability an aftermarket industry that’s geared to tuning them with pukka R&D go-fast-parts and you’ve got the perfect base for a pretty serious tin-top racecar. And when you get it right – with the best balance of sheer power and handling – like the Gobstopper – you can see for yourself just how devastating they can be. I love this Gobstopper video. For me, it’s everything that’s great about tuning street cars. The noise, the theatre, and in theory, something we could all aspire to drive; budget, skills and cojones permitting, of course.
The man manhandling the Gobstopper in our super-video is Olly Clark, and racing is clearly in his blood. While he may rip this thing around the track like a dab-handed devil on a track day in hell, he’s actually a very nice chap, a gentleman racer and a major part in the continued success of Roger Clark Motorsport. And, if you can get to a Time Attack round, you will not be disappointed by the sheer performance on show.
Indeed, as the Time Attack season approaches its last few rounds of 2013, there’ll be another turbocharged treat in store for us all. Gobstopper 2. That’s right, there’s a new Roger Clark Motorsport Subaru on the horizon; based on a modern Impreza model and boasting the kind of uber-aerodynamics to make a Pikes Peak racecar feel bashful.
You see, while Olly and his team can dial incredible and reliable power from their Boxer engines, times have changed. Our video shows the GS1 drifting all four wheels in a fury of tyre smoke and engine power, but GS2 is cut from a different performance blueprint. Aerodynamics equal grip, and GS2 will tear round the corners like it’s on magnetic rails, rather than fully sideways in a blaze of glory, like GS1.
This will mean less lairy power-slides, but more corner speed, and ultimately a faster racing lap. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this. Sure, I want Olly and the team to go faster and faster and their thirst for development and engineering prowess never fails to impress, but I’m sure going to miss GS1’s insane appetite for those tyre-slaying power-drifts and it’s rowdy apex out-of-shapeness. Catch it while you can!
Words By Dan Anslow
Pics by Rich Sams