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Origins: Subaru in American Rallying – Part 2

2002 Season

 

In preparation for the 2002 season, SOA sent a handful of U.S. rally drivers to the United Kingdom for a shoot-out to choose the driver for the second car alongside Lovell. SOA's intent was to groom a young U.S. driver for future stardom, including entering in some WRC events. Ramana Lagemann, a 22-year-old student from Boston, earned the coveted seat. He had been rallying for a few years, and he finished 2nd in the Group N championship, driving a VSC-prepared Subaru in 2001.

 

For 2002, Prodrive elected to run SRT USA solely on its own from its shop in Michigan. That left VSC to field a WRX STi for Karl Scheible as a private team.

 

First-year sales of the WRX in the United States had gone extremely well. As part of SOA's marketing effort, every WRX owner was given free membership in the SCCA. As a result, hundreds of WRX owners showed up to cheer on the team at rally events across the country.

 

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Ramana Lagemann almost went over a 2,000-foot drop-off while practicing at the 2002 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Co-driver Michael Kidd jumped out and quickly asked photographers and others nearby to hold the car so Lagemann could crawl out and wait for a tow truck to arrive.

Photos: Nick Rettie

   

 

Also, SOA invited members of the media to rallies and gave them rides in team cars on special test stages the day before events. In May 2002, Subaru flew in SWRT driver Petter Solberg to open the course at the popular Rim of the World Rally, based in Palmdale, California.

 

SRT USA had niggling troubles with its two cars during the first few events, and the Rim rally was no exception. Lovell rolled his Subaru on the fourth stage during the first night. Fortunately, the crew was able to repair the car, and he finished 4th. Lagemann had engine problems and did not finish. British driver David Higgins saved the day for Subaru by winning the event in a WRX prepared by AV Sport, a private rally team from Arizona.

 

Lovell's first win of the season came at the 80th running of the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (see Online Exclusives below). By the end of the year, Lovell had only won two rounds. David Higgins was crowned champion with his Subaru WRX. Privateer Ralph Kosmides, also driving a WRX, won the Group N championship.

 

Ramana Lagemann almost went over a 2,000-foot drop-off while practicing at the 2002 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Co-driver Michael Kidd jumped out and quickly asked photographers and others nearby to hold the car so Lagemann could crawl out and wait for a tow truck to arrive.

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