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his Impreza is special! It not only looks great and is a solid rally weapon, but it’s set to have a much bigger impact on the rally world. Matty Graham catches up with Eclipse Performance supremo, Chris Moore…

It’s very rare for one car to have so much potential influence, but the Impreza featured on these pages, which started life as a pretty standard N-registered example, looks set to blaze a trail, not only on the UK’s forest rally stages but also in the hands of computer gamers. It is fair to say that we want to find our more about Moore. “I started out as a rally co-driver back in 1993,” he explained, “and I’ve also followed rallying from a very young age. I think that my fascination stems from the sheer diversity of surfaces upon which rally cars compete. Unlike circuit racing, where door handling and grabbing the lead are all important, rallying is more about man and machine against the clock and it is the potential of falling off that makes the drivers some of the best out there.

“In fact,” he continued, “when you view the International Race of Champions, which is now a regular part of the motorsports’ diary and pitches drivers from all disciplines against each other competitively, it is the rally drivers’ speed of reactions and their innate abilities to squeeze the maximum performance from their cars that impresses most. I competed in the British Championships as a navigator and was quite successful. However, in 1998, I switched seats and started competitive driving.

“From that point, I won a few Championships and even competed in some international rounds, while also looking after some of my friend’s cars as well as my own. Eventually I’d outgrown my own garage, invested in a property and Eclipse Performance was born.” Recently relocated to Sunderland’s city centre, Chris and Eclipse have gone from strength to strength and quickly established themselves as hot favourites for the area’s top drivers, most especially the Subaru clan. “We cater for every car and we perform all tasks in-house,” Chris highlighted, “but people know our history in rallysport and we do have a lot of referred Subaru business as a result. After all, if we can change an Impreza gearbox in 20 minutes in the middle of a wet forest at the dead of night, we can be expected to handle almost any maintenance issues in a warm garage, surrounded by all the right tools.” When it comes to Subaru, if anybody else is as synonymous with the brand as Eclipse Performance, it has to be Codemasters, the electronic programming wizards behind the globally successful Dirt Rally computer games. Therefore, when one of the Codemaster team approached Chris, the stars seemed to align for a meeting of two corporate-aware minds. “One of our customers, who happens to be a rally driver, Jon Tucker, got in touch one day,” recalled Chris, “and informed us about a project that he was working on, which would include interest from the Dirt3 team. Jon needed an Impreza to be built and the head developer for Dirt3 wanted to come along for the ride and be the co-driver. Ironically, the Codemasters team had never been rallying before, even though the company has made subjectively the world’s best rally game so far. “Inevitably, I thought we might have a chance to build a great car and, in the process, engage with Codemasters rallying, so that the team might be able to head back to its lair and build an even better game. The build was self-financed by Jon, so there wasn’t exactly a bottomless pit, but I knew we were good to build a great looking car, with some high-end parts that would perform strongly. We hoped that Codemasters would become hooked in the project and that it might lead to bigger things.”

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