Subaru is finally back where it belongs – rallying on the world stage. For so many of us, the default mental image of Subaru is of a blue rally Impreza with the famous yellow stars on its side, probably with McRae or Solberg kicking up some dirt. It was sad news when Subaru announced in 2008 that it would be leaving the World Rally Championship, but they are now back, not in the WRC but in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC). Parent company Fuji Heavy Industries has announced that it will register as a manufacturer for the 2010 IRC season. There won’t be a works team, but Subaru will provide customer cars and is eligible to collect points.

Organised by sports channel Eurosport, IRC seems to be gaining momentum to unseat WRC as the premier rally series, and it already has eight automakers signed up to compete next year – the Group N Impreza will be joining rivals from Abarth (Fiat), Honda, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Skoda, Volkswagen and our very own Proton to race in legendary events such as the Safari Rally and Rally Monte-Carlo, which is the season’s curtain raiser. Be sure to mark down 19 January 2010 on your calendar!