Gymkhana unveiled: Subaru’s wildest WRX STI

Taking the Gymkhana torch, Travis Pastrana pilots Subaru/Vermont SportsCar WRX STI and picks his tires

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2020 Subaru Gymkhana WRX STI with custom-built tire destroyer set.

You may remember back in 2008 when a Gymkhana video of Ken Block driving a 2-year-old Subaru Impreza WRX STI through a series of obstacles and a variety of stunts on an empty airfield went viral.

Earlier this year, Subaru and Hoonigan announced that Block would pass the torch to rallycross racer Travis Pastrana. This week, Subaru Motorsports USA and Hoonigan debuted a new video (below) featuring Pastrana’s first drive in the new Gymkhana Subaru.

Pastrana brings with him a reputation for starring in rally, rallycross, supercross, freestyle motorcross, stunt-driving and even NASCAR racing experience, but this would be his first outing in the gymkhana-series.

Like Block’s earlier video, Pastrana met the radical new car, built by Vermont SportsCar, at an airfield, this one in Montana.

“When we brought Subaru back to Gymkhana, we knew we had to build something outrageous,” said William Stokes, Subaru of America motorsports manager. “Travis always wants to push the limits, so we knew from the outset we weren’t going to do this with a rally or rallycross car. This was an opportunity for us to redefine what an STI could be, and the results speak for themselves.”

Custom-made Gymkhana Subaru Boxer engine in 2020 Subaru WRX STI.
Custom-made Subaru Boxer engine.

Though production-based, the new Gymkhana car features a raw carbon body, wind tunnel-developed aero package, custom-made Subaru boxer engine, long-travel suspension, and a race-ready interior.

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“This STI is unbelievable,” Pastrana said. “We’ve never had the opportunity to do this before, to build a car with no restrictions.

“Engine, suspension, aero — everything is unlimited, clean sheet. It’s crazy fast, easy to control and get sideways and it was perfect out of the box in testing. Gymkhana is a new challenge for me but I want to raise the bar, and this is the car to do it.”

So, apparently, will the Yokohama tires on which the car rides.

Perhaps surprisingly, Pastrana and Brian Scotto, chief creative officer for Hoonigan Industries, had similar opinions on tire preference. On the Montana airstrip, Pastrana tried three types of Yokohama Advan tires — Sport AS+, Apex and A052.

AS+ is an all-season performance tire designed for long wear. Apex is an ultra-high performance “summer” tire designed for daily driven sports and sporty cars. Advan A052 is street legal but designed for the extreme grip and high speeds needed on the race track.

Gymkhana Subaru with Apex Yokohama tires.
High performance Apex tires from Yokohama.

For higher speeds and extreme control, Pastrana and Scotto opted for the Avan A052. However, they also realized that for lower-speed runs with the visual appeal of tire smoke, the Apex was the right tire for photography and video.

Speaking of which, you can see the test session — and the tire smoke — in the video.

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An experienced automotive motorsports photographer and enthusiast of all things with wheels, Rebecca Nguyen is the Marketing Manager of ClassicCars.com. Former Marketing and Project Coordinator for several aftermarket brands, Rebecca has a unique perspective developed from being on several different sides of the automotive world. From developing innovative automotive products to doing her own DIY modifications on her 2003 Subaru WRX and 2014 Ducati Monster, Rebecca’s passion for the hobby brings fresh ideas to The Journal. In addition, she has spent many years publishing event coverage for events like SEMA, Formula Drift, and Global RallyCross while coordinating the annual Future Collector Car Show in Scottsdale Arizona.

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