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Archive for the ‘race cars’ Category

PostHeaderIcon 2017 6 Hours of Silverstone – Race Report

Under a firm layer of heavy dark clouds, over 25 cars flashed down through Abbey to officially begin the 2017 season of the FIA World Endurance Championship with the traditional Tourist Trophy. Toyota was viewed as the favorite by many but it proved to be a much closer contest at the sharp end, a situation that was echoed all the way down the grid in what can only be described as an exciting six hours of racing.

In the preview I laid down late last week I decided to keep my wits about me regarding Toyota’s advantage against Porsche coming to Silverstone. As I mentioned in that piece, Toyota opted to debut its high-downforce aero package while Porsche brought its Le Mans-ready, low-downforce package. With Silverstone not being anymore the super fast airfield track it once was, Toyota’s added downforce should have given the Japanese-German outfit the upper hand by a clear margin over the reigning World Champions. Qualifying showed that this could be the case but the race was a different kettle of fish.

Toyota Gazoo Racing was coming into qualifying off the heels of dominating all the way through free practice. This was to be the norm in qualifying as well, Kamui Kobayashi managing a a personal best of 1:36.793 to put the No. 7 TS050 in pole. After debutant Jose-Maria Lopez’s turn at the wheel, the car dropped to fourth, but Mike Conway brought it back to P1 thanks to a sturdy 1:37.800 that put the trio’s average at an unbeatable 1:37.304. The other TS050 was close behind, Buemi, Nakajima and Davidson sharing front row with their average of 1:37.593 that surpassed Porsche’s best average by over a second. That time was managed by the No. 1 crew while the No. 2 919 was almost half-a-second behind. If the gap between Porsche and Toyota was to be expected, less so was the huge leap down the order to find the ByKolles – the only non-hybrid P1. Yes, the Nissan-engined car was never thought to be a threat to the front-runners, but it was even beating four P2 ORECAs!

Pierre Thiriet and 2017 Sebring 12 Hours winner Alex Lynn got pole in LMP2 for G-Drive racing, their 1:44.387 average being less than a tenth quicker than that of Nicolas Liperre and Matt Rao who put Alpine on the front-row in the virtually spec secondary prototype divison. Jackie Chan DC Racing’s No. 38 ORECA was third via a 1:44:591 that was below the best that any of the two Vaillante-sponsored Rebellion crews could do.

Ford dominated GTE-Pro qualifying with Priaulx and Tincknell pleasing the home crowd with an unrivalled 1:56:202 average time between the two of them. Sam Bird and Davide Rigon were roughly eight-tenths-of-a-second behind for AF Corse in their No. 71 488 GTE. Third was the venerable Vantage of Thiim and Sorensen who partnered for a 1:57:117 average that would have been slower than that of the No. 66 Ford if Stefan Mucke wouldn’t have had his best lap deleted for exceeding track limits. As it was, Mucke and Co. started fourth in the other GT run by Chip Ganassi Racing UK. It was Porsche who found themselves lacking pace, the new mid-engined 991 GTE qualifying seventh and eight.

Portugal’s Pedro Lamy teamed up with Paul Dalla-Lana for yet another pole position in GTE-Am. This time, the No. 98 Vantage beat the Spirit of Race Ferrari and the No. 77 Proton Racing Porsche.

With the starting order now set in stone or, rather, set on the time sheets, it was all about the race. Under the watchful eyes of FIA President Jean Todt – probably reminiscing of his Peugeot days in the early ‘90s – all cars lined up for the flying start on Easter Sunday; It was an important moment for Toyota.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon 2017 World Endurance Championship Season Preview

This weekend, at Silverstone, will mark the beginning of a new era for the World Endurance Championship. An era without Audi in the top-tier LMP1 category and an era with a brand-new fleet of LMP2 machinery to further compound the mix. Porsche will also debut their new mid-engined 911 in GTE-Pro – that will never see series production. If those aren’t strong enough reasons to make you want to follow the WEC in 2017, I don’t know which are.

Established in 2012 as the natural evolution of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the World Endurance Championship in its current form is an attempt by the FIA to bring endurance racing back to the position it once occupied – right behind Formula 1, of course.

The sixth season of the World Championship is set to kick off without one of its core teams on the grid – Audi Sport Team Joest. The German manufacturer, heavily hit by the Dieselgate scandal that shook the Volkswagen Group to its core, pulled the plug on its LMP1 program after a staggering 18-year-long stint at the sharp end in sportscar racing. This leaves only Porsche and Toyota to battle it out for overall honors while the whole grid will be made up by no more than 27 cars across the four categories: LMP1, LMP2, GTE-Pro and GTE-Am.

Beyond Silverstone, we have eight other rounds to look forward to, one of which being the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans. The blue riband event is the only one to last more than six hours and is also the one that gathers the biggest crowd and the biggest grid. This weekend’s stop in the UK will be followed by the Spa-Francorchamps Six-hour race on May 6-7, then by Le Mans on June 17-18. The Six Hours of the Nurburgring is next after a month-long hiatus on July 16. An even longer break stands between the German round at the trip across the pond for the American races. First off is the Six Hours of Mexico on September 3. This is then followed by the popular Six Hours of COTA on 16 of the same month. Mid-October brings us the Japanese six-hour race at Fuji on the 15 as the final two races are slated for November. Second to last are the Six Hours of Shanghai on November 5 followed by the season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain on the 18th.

While it seems, looking over the grid size and car count per classes, that the WEC’s growth has stopped, things aren’t as bad as they seem and the future still looks bright for the world’s premier sports car endurance racing championship.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Audi R8 LMS GT4

Audi made a bunch of wise marketing decisions in recent years, one of them being the R8, essentially a Lamborghini with different body work and a more affordable sticker. But, while the road-going R8 is somewhat successful, its race-spec counterpart has already achieved iconic status with several wins in just about every racing series out there. The R8 LMS has been incredibly popular among private teams in recent years and it’s not surprising that Audi is looking to expand the lineup as much as possible. The latest version to join the family is the LMS GT4 and made its debut at the 2017 New York Motor Show.

As the name suggests, the LMS GT4 was developed for production-based racing and derived from the road-legal R8 V10. It’s more affordable than the world-beating GT3 and it’s eligible for every racing category under GT4 regulations. The GT4 European Series is arguably the most important competition under these regulations and brings together a massive number of cars. Vehicles that the R8 will compete against include GT4-spec versions of the Chevrolet Camaro, Aston Martin Vantage, BMW M4, KTM X-Bow, and Porsche Cayman, just to name a few.

The new race car will make its on-track debut at the Nurburgring 24 Hours on May 25. The R8 LMS GT4 will also compete in North America, Asia, and Australia throughout 2017. Production will begin in the second half of the year with first deliveries to be made by the end of 2017.

“Audi Sport GmbH is one of the leading manufacturers offering cars in the GT3 and TCR customer sport categories. Now we’re targeting the GT4 class at exactly the right time. These fast-growing business segments and the DNA shared by our race cars and production vehicles underscore our ambition to become a true global player in the high-performance league,” said Stephan Winkelmann, managing director of Audi Sport.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi R8 LMS GT4.


PostHeaderIcon Audi R8 LMS GT4

Audi made a bunch of wise marketing decisions in recent years, one of them being the R8, essentially a Lamborghini with different body work and a more affordable sticker. But, while the road-going R8 is somewhat successful, its race-spec counterpart has already achieved iconic status with several wins in just about every racing series out there. The R8 LMS has been incredibly popular among private teams in recent years and it’s not surprising that Audi is looking to expand the lineup as much as possible. The latest version to join the family is the LMS GT4 and made its debut at the 2017 New York Motor Show.

As the name suggests, the LMS GT4 was developed for production-based racing and derived from the road-legal R8 V10. It’s more affordable than the world-beating GT3 and it’s eligible for every racing category under GT4 regulations. The GT4 European Series is arguably the most important competition under these regulations and brings together a massive number of cars. Vehicles that the R8 will compete against include GT4-spec versions of the Chevrolet Camaro, Aston Martin Vantage, BMW M4, KTM X-Bow, and Porsche Cayman, just to name a few.

The new race car will make its on-track debut at the Nurburgring 24 Hours on May 25. The R8 LMS GT4 will also compete in North America, Asia, and Australia throughout 2017. Production will begin in the second half of the year with first deliveries to be made by the end of 2017.

“Audi Sport GmbH is one of the leading manufacturers offering cars in the GT3 and TCR customer sport categories. Now we’re targeting the GT4 class at exactly the right time. These fast-growing business segments and the DNA shared by our race cars and production vehicles underscore our ambition to become a true global player in the high-performance league,” said Stephan Winkelmann, managing director of Audi Sport.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi R8 LMS GT4.


PostHeaderIcon Audi R8 LMS GT4

Audi made a bunch of wise marketing decisions in recent years, one of them being the R8, essentially a Lamborghini with different body work and a more affordable sticker. But, while the road-going R8 is somewhat successful, its race-spec counterpart has already achieved iconic status with several wins in just about every racing series out there. The R8 LMS has been incredibly popular among private teams in recent years and it’s not surprising that Audi is looking to expand the lineup as much as possible. The latest version to join the family is the LMS GT4 and made its debut at the 2017 New York Motor Show.

As the name suggests, the LMS GT4 was developed for production-based racing and derived from the road-legal R8 V10. It’s more affordable than the world-beating GT3 and it’s eligible for every racing category under GT4 regulations. The GT4 European Series is arguably the most important competition under these regulations and brings together a massive number of cars. Vehicles that the R8 will compete against include GT4-spec versions of the Chevrolet Camaro, Aston Martin Vantage, BMW M4, KTM X-Bow, and Porsche Cayman, just to name a few.

The new race car will make its on-track debut at the Nurburgring 24 Hours on May 25. The R8 LMS GT4 will also compete in North America, Asia, and Australia throughout 2017. Production will begin in the second half of the year with first deliveries to be made by the end of 2017.

“Audi Sport GmbH is one of the leading manufacturers offering cars in the GT3 and TCR customer sport categories. Now we’re targeting the GT4 class at exactly the right time. These fast-growing business segments and the DNA shared by our race cars and production vehicles underscore our ambition to become a true global player in the high-performance league,” said Stephan Winkelmann, managing director of Audi Sport.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi R8 LMS GT4.


PostHeaderIcon 2017 IMSA Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach – Race Report

From the long and wide stretches of Sebring Raceway, the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship motley gang went to the winding streets of Long Beach, California. The shortest race of the season proved to be every bit as exciting as the first two, mixing controversy, drama and some great on-track battles in a space of just 100 minutes between the waving of the first green flag, to the appearance of the white flag.

The streets of Long Beach were as packed as ever come the end of last week as teams from a number of series were preparing for the Long Beach Grand Prix. Indycars were on site, as well as the IMSA crews, the Pirelli World Challenge folks and, last but not least, a group of Can-Am cars. These were slated to run for the first time ever at Long Beach in what was a true spectacle for both the eyes and ears. Such cars as the Shadow DN4, the McLaren M8F or the Lola T70 made their way through the 1.9-mile-long street course for a couple of demo races that got everyone in the mood for the races of the modern cars – maybe not as dramatic but surely not forgettable.

Ricky Taylor proved to be the quickest in qualifying with his 1:13.549 being a lap record for the Prototype class. It was also the second podium in the last three editions of the Long Beach Grand Prix for Wayne Taylor Racing’s driver who was 0.2 seconds quicker than Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 10 Action Express Racing Cadillac. Tristan Nunez was third for Speedsource Mazda, but his 1:14.393 was almost a second off the pole time. It was JDC/Miller Motorsport on the fourth spot of the grid while the third Cadillac of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran qualified fifth. One car did not take part in the Prototype qualifying, precisely the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Racing Riley LMP2 which was crashed in practice by Renger van der Zande, the Dutch going straight into T1 after he lost front brake pressure, the cause of the failure yet unknown.

Corvette Racing scored the pole in GT-LM thanks to Jan Magnussen’s 1:16.609 which was less than tenth of a second quicker than Joey Hand’s best lap in the No. 66 Ford. Hand was on an even quicker lap with three minutes left to go when his team-mate, Richard Westbrook, spun and crashed his No. 67 Ford GT which caused a session-ending red flag that denied Hand a chance to get pole. Also denied of a chance was Risi’s Toni Vilander whose starting position, third, could have been better as the Finn was quicker on his last flyer on which he spun out. Fourth was the best that Porsche’s No. 912 could do. The other 991 GTE did not take part in qualifying after Patrick Pilet’s shunt in practice that called for a partial rebuild of the mid-engined car. Bill Auberlen could do no better than fifth for BMW Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – thus missing out on the chance to score three consecutive poles at Long Beach in three years.

GT-D pole went the way of Bryan Sellers and Paul Miller Racing. The Lamborghini driver reeled off a 1:19.243 to beat Jack Hawksworth whose bid for Lexus’ first pole fell short by just 0.033 of a second. Daniel Morad was third for Alegra Motorsport while Corey Lewis put Change Racing’s Huracan on fourth, right ahead of Lawson Aschenbach’s R8 entered by Stevenson Motorsport. 3GT Racing’s other Lexus did not take part in qualifying after Scott Pruett damaged the No. 14 quite badly in a practice crash.

With qualifying done, everyone was ready for the race which promised to be more busy than ever as never before had the GT-D cars taken part in the Long Beach round which was, in the past, welcoming only the Prototypes and the GT-LM teams. 34 cars were entered and 33 would take the start on Saturday afternoon.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon 2017 12 Hours of Sebring – Race Report

The 65th Annual Sebring 12hrs race proved to be one of high attrition in the Prototype ranks that produced a result that most of us could’ve predicted to a certain extent and, on top of that, amazing battles towards the very end in both GT-LM and GT-D. Weather was fine throughout and, as a contrast to Daytona, there was a clear lack of caution which made it possible for strategies to play out as time went by.

The almighty Cadillacs received a hit in qualifying as Porsche works driver and 2016 WEC Drivers’ Champion Neel Jani slipped past to claim pole for Rebellion Racing and their ORECA 07 P2. The Swiss managed a 1:48.178 which was a record lap time in itself and was also better than Christian Fittipaldi’s fastest lap by only 0.095-seconds. Fittipaldi might’ve bettered Jani’s time with his last flyer but the No. 5 Action Express Racing Dallara-built Cadillac ran out of fuel while out on the track.

However, Fittipaldi still beat team-mate Dane Cameron who started third in the No. 31 Cadillac, ahead of Jose Gutierrez in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Ligier JS P2-17. Fifth sat the highest of the Extreme Speed Motorspot Nissan, specifically No. 22, while Wayne Taylor’s car was sixth. The other Nissan’s times were erased as the team pitted during the 15-minute-long session to fix some boost-related issues which is against the rules.

Gustavo Yacaman of BAR1 Motorsports was the fastest of the four-car Prototype Challenge field, his last lap attempt, a 1:53.506, besting James French’s quickest run on the famed road course. Buddy Rice was third in the sister BAR1 Motorsports entry, but his lap was some 2.5 seconds off pace.

Down the order in GT-LM, Ford set the pace, with two of its three GTs claiming first and second. Ryan Briscoe was the benchmark, his 1:55.939 in the No. 67 Ford also being a new track record in his class. Bill Auberlen held the previous record, his time being nearly 2.5 seconds slower. Tommy Milner was third, beaten also by Dirk Mueller’s Ford. Next to Milner sat Kevin Estre’s No. 911 works Porsche. It was again very close in GT-LM as the top six were separated by just 0.5-seconds.

Mercedes-Benz claimed its first ever Sebring podium as Tristan Vautier stormed to pole in the SunEnergy1 AMG GT GT3 posting the only lap in the 1:59 bracket. The lap time was another record and it was almost 0.8 seconds quicker than the best that Connor de Philippi could do in the Land Motorsport Audi. Corey Lewis was third in the quickest Lamborghini Huracan.

Looking at qualifying, it seemed like it was all to play for, although Cadillac in Prototype and Ford in GT-LM respectively seemed to have a certain advantage over their in-class rivals.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Lexus RC F GT3

Lexus debuted the RC F coupe, and it took no time at all for the brands racing division to come up with the RC F GT500, a car that’s been around since late 2014 and was actually quite successful last season. It dominated the Super GT series in Japan and earned Team SARD team and drivers’ championship titles in the GT500 category. Now, as the 2017 racing season kicks off, Lexus is at it again with another RC F-based racecar, this time called the RC F GT 3.

Slated to competing in the U.S. GTD class of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, and the GT300 class of the Super GT Series in Japan. It’s powered by a 5.4-liter V-8 (0.4-liters larger than that of the road-going RC F) and is said to deliver 500+ horsepower through a six-speed sequential racing transmission. If the success of the GT500 is any indication, Lexus likely has another winner on its hands, but we’ll see more of that in the coming months.

For now, we know that 3GT Racing team here in the U.S. will put the GT3 to the test at the WeatherTech Championship while the LM Corsa team will be fielding two examples of the car in the Super GT Series. But, will the new GT3 car have what it takes to be dominating like the GT500 was last year? Well, let’s take a closer look at it and see what it brings to the table.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Lexus RC F GT3.


PostHeaderIcon Drivetribe Takes A Spin In The Audi R18 LMP1: Video

Prototype racers are on another level. The technology and engineering that goes into these machines is simply baffling, making them not only unbelievably fast, but incredibly reliable as well. These aren’t some point-and-squirt drag racers that need a complete engine overhaul every 1,320 feet. Don’t get me wrong – I have massive respect for Top Fuel cars, but compared to an endurance prototype, you could call them a little… delicate. After all, competitors in the top class of the World Endurance Championship are expected to run at 200 mph for hours on end, all while dodging traffic through variable track conditions. Audi knows all about that kind of action, as evidenced by its dominating performance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in which the Four Rings has collected a record-setting 13 wins in the past 17 years. But now, Audi has decided to exit the WEC to instead focus on Formula E, leaving us with this – the R18 LMP1. Drivetribe recently had a go behind the wheel, and documented the experience with this 8-minute, 11-second video.

After a little history and background, Drivetribe’s Jethro Bovingdon gives us a break down of the specs, from the diesel hybrid powerplant and AWD system, to the materials and suspension under the skin. Bovingdon then straps into the fighter jet-like cockpit, fires it up, and puts it around Audi’s test track in Neuburg, Germany.

Understandably, Bovingdon doesn’t go 10/10’s, but getting an insider’s perspective and hearing about the experience is a treat nonetheless. “Even on a freezing day on treaded tires, it beats a GT3 car on slicks for braking and cornering, and accelerates in the lower gears like a P1 GTR running nitrous,” Bovingdon explains enthusiastically. “It’s simply the purest, most exciting driving experience I’ve ever had.”


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Unveils New Livery, Battle Damage To Follow

If you like watching 600-horsepower rally cars going wheel to wheel on loose-surface racetracks with huge jumps and lots of contact, then odds are you’re excited for the upcoming 2017 season of the Red Bull Global Rallycross championship. Carrying the momentum after a dominant performance in 2016 is the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team, which just revealed a duo of race-ready Beetles decked out in fresh racing liveries at the Chicago Auto Show. Once again taking the helm will be two-time title winner Tanner Foust, as well as defending champ Scott Speed.

“We’ve been working really hard to improve our cars over the off-season,” said Speed, “and I can’t wait to get to racing so we can defend our title again.” Speed managed to secure an impressive back-to-back championship win last year, and will once again pilot the No. 41 Beetle. No. 41 is covered in green, red, and white, and features prominent branding from sponsors Oberto All Natural Beef Jerky and Circle K, both of which appeared on the car previously, but now enjoy a more permanent spot on the Beetle’s body panels.

Meanwhile, former Top Gear USA co-host and Scott’s current teammate Tanner Foust will once again pilot the No. 34 Beetle, which is draped in long-time sponsor Rockstar Energy Drink’s black and yellow livery. Foust managed a record-breaking 25 consecutive Heat wins last year, as well as a second-place championship finish. This will be his 12th consecutive year with backing from Rockstar.

“It feels like the 2016 season ended a long time ago,” Foust said, “so I’m really eager to get back behind the wheel of this ferocious machine. Last year we had a lot of great results, and I’m confident that with all our hard off-season effort we can be up at the front of the field again in 2017.”

The 2017 season of the Red Bull Global Rallycross championship will feature 12 events taking place at venues across the U.S. Look for the season opener on April 29th in Memphis, Tennessee.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona – Race Report

This year’s Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona was akin to a waterslide which picked up speed in the last couple of hours, with the big splash being in the very last minutes that decided the twice-around-the-clock race in three of the four classes. While at times lackluster due to the extended periods of rain that put proceedings under lengthy safety car periods, the longest race in IMSA’s Weathertech Sportscar Championship did not fail to deliver at the end in both excitement, drama, and controversy.

Daytona is where we’ve seen many formulas stage their debut. It was where the then-new 3.0-liter open-top prototypes kicked off, as well as the World Sportscar prototypes that replaced the GTPs in 1994. Then, in 2003, the Daytona Prototypes also had their first start at the 24-hour-long race. We were all looking back at the positive debuts and the not so positive ones trying to figure out how 2017’s edition will look. But, if anything, it was very hard to read into these 12 new prototypes. Seven of them were US-bound DPis while five were FIA/ACO-spec LMP2s and, after the December Test and the Roar, it was hard to pick a clear favorite. Certainly, the Cadillacs would be a feature but returning Swiss squad Rebellion Racing were also serious bidders for Victory Lane.

The GT classes were no pool of certainty either, new machinery also featuring in both GT-LM and GT-D. Porsche came with their first ever (or first since 1998, if you wish) mid-engined 911 while, further down, it was Lexus and Acura that debuted new cars. Mercedes-Benz was also on its IMSA debut, facing its first ever 24-hour race at Daytona. Perhaps the only certainty was that the Prototype Challenge was going to start in its last season of IMSA competition and a diminished grid of just five ORECA FLM-09s proved it.

Last but not least, weather was potentially preparing to throw a curve ball to add to the race’s equation in the form of rain between Saturday and Sunday. So, how was it all going to play out? We’d all find out in the course of 24 long hours.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Dakar Rally 2017 – Day 1 On The Books!

The latest edition of the Dakar Rally is now officially underway, with over 500 adventurous souls taking the helm of their chosen chariot to see if they have what it takes to conquer this monster of an event. And while there’s still quite a bit of ground to cover, the results from Stage 1 are in. Leading the cars is Nasser Al-Attiyah, while Xavier de Soultrait heads the bike class. Meanwhile, Marcelo Medeiros takes the lead in the quad class, Martin Kolomy leads in the truck class, and Tim Coronel leads in UTV’s.

For those of you who are unaware, the Dakar Rally is an annual “rally raid” event whereby competitors race off-road, from point to point. The event pits drivers and their vehicles against some of the most challenging terrain Mother Earth can muster, including nearly 5,600 miles of dirt, sand, boulders, grit, and grime. Just finishing the event is considered a major accomplishment.

Established in the late ‘70s, the name of the event stems from the original route, which started in Paris, France, and ended in Dakar, Senegal. In 2009, the event was moved to South America, but make no mistake – it’s still every bit as treacherous as the original rally.

Stay tuned, because we’ll be bringing you updates as the event progresses towards its conclusion January 14th.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Nissan GT-R Nismo GT500

The current Nissan GT-R, also known as the R35, was introduced in 2007 as a successor to the popular R34. Redesigned from the ground up, the R35 set many new benchmarks for the GT-R nameplate. It’s the first to no longer feature the Skyline name and the first GT-R to use a V-6 engine (previous generations have used inline-six units). More importantly, it’s the first GT-R offered globally, being exported to the U.S. and giving Nissan unprecedented popularity in the sports car market. Finally, it is also the longest-running GT-R model. While previous versions were produced for three to five years, the R35 is ten years old as of 2017. Although a bit long in the tooth, the current GT-R is still making headlines on both the road and the track, the latter fueled by numerous versions prepped by Nismo. One of them is the GT500 and it just received an update for the 2017 racing season.

Used by Nissan in Japan’s top-spec Super GT racing division since 2008, the GT-R has brought the company five championship triumphs in nine years. However, after winning the series in 2014 and 2015, the GT-R was defeated by Lexus and its RC F-based GT500 race car in 2016. Nissan wants to fix that in 2017, which brought significant modifications to the GT500 rule book, with a revised version of its Nismo-built, race-ready GT-R.

“We will make further development improvements during off-season tests and aim to create a race car that will shine brilliantly within the history of motorsports,” said president and CEO of Nismo, Takao Katagiri. “We hope to thrill fans with a fast, more appealing GT-R that will excite fans as it lines up on the grid for the opening round competing against the new Lexus and Honda machines.”

The new GT-R GT500 was unveiled at the Twin Ring Motegi along with entries for rival companies Lexus and Honda, and was showcased once again at the Nismo Festival at Fuji Speedway in December. The 2017 Super GT Series is scheduled to begin in April.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Nissan GT-R GT500.


PostHeaderIcon Alfa Romeo Eyeing Return To Formula 1

After a spectacular comeback to the market with vehicles such as the 4C sports car, Giulia Quadrifoglio sedan, and the Stelvio SUV, Alfa Romeo could return to high-profile racing after a very long hiatus. According to Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne, an Alfa Romeo Formula One project could be used to help up-and-coming Italian drivers join the sport. No Italian has started an F1 race since 2011 and Ferrari hasn’t fielded an Italian pilot since 2009 (but it has hired GP2 rookie Antonio Giovinazzi as its reserve driver for 2017).

“Alfa Romeo in F1 could become a fine breeding ground for young Italian drivers. The best one, Giovinazzi, is already with us, but there are others besides him, and they are struggling to find room. Alfa Romeo, more than our customer teams, could offer them that space,” Marchionne told Italian media, according to Motorsport.com.

There’s no specific deadline as to when Alfa Romeo might join F1, but Marchionne said that the project would have to wait due to the several road cars launched that are underway.

“The problem is that, at the moment, because of the launch of road cars that will come out soon, there already numerous commitments from a financial point of view. With the launch of the Giulia and the Stelvio we have to wait for a bit, but I hope to be able to bring it back,” he added.

I wouldn’t get my hopes up to see the Alfa Romeo badge in Formula One before 2019.

The Italian brand has been an important figure in motorsport since the early days, fielding several cars in pre-WWII Grand Prix events. After joining sports car racing and winning three back-to-back 24 Hours of Le Mans races in the 1930s, Alfa Romeo joined Formula One in its maiden season in 1950. The Italians dominated the series in 1950 and 1951, but withdrew after that and didn’t return as a construction to this day. However, Alfa Romeo supplied several F1 teams with engines, including McLaren, March, and Brabham. Alfa’s last appearance in F1 as an engine supplier was in 1988 alongside the small Italian team Osella. In 1987, Alfa Romeo made a deal to supply engines to Ligier, but all was cancelled when Fiat took control of the brand.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Ford Fiesta WRC

Ford ushered in a new generation of the Fiesta for 2017, with a focus on new looks, lots of interior amenities, new drivetrain options, and a desire to be the absolute best hatchback out there. As is the usual case with sporty little hatchbacks that go through a generational change, the new model is also making its way into sporting events, and in this case, we’re talking about WRC. The model you see here is M-Sports fighter for the 2017 FIA WRC season, and it comes complete with all of the goodies afforded by new FIA regulations that allow more power, better performance, new technology, and a unique look for each car.

According to the accompanying press release, 95 percent of this WRC racer has been designed from scratch and, while it’s based on the road-going Fiesta, there is little about this car that is stock. It’s got 380 horsepower on tap, new fully adjustable suspension, and at least 35 liters or 1.23 cubic feet of energy-absorbing foam over the current model. M-Sport’s Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, Said, “Entering a new era in the FIA World Rally Championship, there is a real sense of excitement throughout the team, and rightly so as I believe we have created something extremely special in the new Ford Fiesta WRC. Having driven the car myself, I can honestly say that it is one of the most impressive we have ever produced. It’s exciting to drive; it sounds fantastic, and it looks absolutely sensational.”

With that said, M-Sport has clearly put a lot of work into its WRC racer for the 2017 season, so let’s dive on in a take a better look at it.


PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-AMG GT4

Unveiled in 2014, the Mercedes-AMG GT is the company’s latest halo sports car and replaces the SLS AMG in the lineup. However, the AMG GT is smaller than its predecessor and aimed at a slightly different market niche, having been developed as a competitor for the Porsche 911. The sports car was also used to introduce AMG’s brand-new engine, a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8. Launched in GT and GT S variations, the two-door gained higher performance GT R (coupe) and GT C (roadster) models, as well as a GT3-spec race car version in 2016.

For 2017, Mercedes-Benz is preparing a second race car based on the AMG GT, this time around in GT4 specification. Although the brand has yet to say when this car will be ready to hit the track, it will be eligible for various GT4 racing series in the FIA calendar, including the GT4 European Series and the British GT Championship. If you’re not familiar with the GT4 class, it’s a less powerful, more affordable version of GT3 and it’s mostly dedicated to amateur drivers. The cars are also equalized in order to allow driving skill to become key.

“The development of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 is another important step in the continuing expansion of our Mercedes-AMG motorsport program. The excellent feedback of our Customer Sports teams concerning the AMG GT3 and the increasing interest for GT4 race cars strengthened us in our decision. We are delighted to address an even larger target group of amateur and professional drivers and teams in the future with it,” said Tobias Moers, chairman of Mercedes-AMG.

Most details are still under wraps and we have just a couple of photos to run buy, but I’ll be back with an update as soon as Mercedes-AMG spills the beans. Meanwhile, check out my speculative review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes-AMG GT4.


PostHeaderIcon Ferrari 488 Challenge

Unveiled in 2015, the Ferrari 488 GTB replaced the successful and still very potent 458 Italia in the lineup. Although the new sports car isn’t radically different than its predecessor, it created a small revolution in Maranello’s lineage of entry-level supercars by introducing the turbocharged engine. Arguably the most important upgrade, the force-fed, 3.9-liter V-8, replaced the iconic, naturally aspirated 4.5-liter V-12. Like its predecessor, the 488 received a convertible version (Spider), as well as two racing variants for international motorsport series, GTE and GT3. For 2017, the 488 also replaced the 458 Challenge in the company’s one-make racing series.

Unveiled at the Ferrari World Finals event in Daytona in December 2016, the 488 Challenge is the sixth model to participate in the one-make series. Set to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2017, the Ferrari Challenge was established in 1992 and has so far, used Challenge-spec versions of the 348, F355, 360, F430, and 458. Having hosted over 1,000 races, with over 1,000 drivers taking part in up to three series organised on three continents, the Ferrari Challenge series has proved to be an ideal starting point for drivers looking to compete in international GT and prototype championships. Needless to say, it’s not surprising that Ferrari was so quick to replace the 458 Italia with the faster and more aerodynamic 488 GTB in the one-make racing series.

The new Ferrari 488 Challenge will make its North American track debut in January 2017 at the Daytona International Speedway. The Ferrari Challenge North America season will also include races at Sonoma Raceway, Circuit of the Americas, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Lime Rock Park, and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ferrari 488 Challenge.


PostHeaderIcon Cadillac DPi-V.R

Cadillac’s much rumored return to prototype racing has become reality in late 2016, when the American luxury brand unveiled its new race car for the IMSA series. Dubbed DPi-V.R, it’s Cadillac’s first prototype race car in 14 years and will compete in IMSA’s new DPi class starting early 2017.

The new category replaces last year’s Prototype class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and brings revised regulations to the series. One of the most important changes is that the IMSA now allows automakers to produce their own designs, meaning prototypes can have their own identities instead of sharing almost identical body shells. Mazda has already taken advantage of this with the RT24-P, which uses the company’s Kodo styling language, but Cadillac has also used cues seen on its road cars for the DPi racer.

“The DPi-V.R race car was an exciting new canvas for the Cadillac design and sculpting team,” said Andrew Smith, Global Cadillac Design executive director. “The studio embraced the opportunity to interpret the Cadillac form language, line work and graphic signature for this premier prototype racing application. Every detail of the final design was selected to support the car’s on-track performance and unmistakable Cadillac presence.”

Cadillac will join the 2017 IMSA series with three cars, two run by Action Express Racing and one by Wayne Taylor Racing. The No. 5 car of Action Express will be driven by Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, while the No. 31 vehicle will be handled by Dane Cameron and Eric Curran. Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 will be driven by Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor, and Max Angelelli, but former NASCAR star Jeff Gordon will join in for the first race of the season.

The 2017 IMSA is set to commence on January 28 at Daytona and will include events at Sebring, Long Beach, Circuit of the Americas, Watkins Glen, Road America, and Laguna Seca. The final race will take place on October 7 at Road Atlanta with the 10-hour Petit Le Mans.

Continue reading to find out more about the Cadillac DP1-V.R.


PostHeaderIcon Mazda RT24-P

After a few seasons of racing gasoline-powered prototypes in North America, Mazda switched to a diesel engine based on the 2.2-liter SkyActiv-D unit found in its production cars. That didn’t go very well, so the automaker returned to the 2.0-liter gasoline four-pot in 2016, when it continued with the same Lola chassis. With IMSA Prototype class rules revised for 2017, Mazda ditched the old Lola underpinnings in favor of a Riley chassis and redesigned the bodywork of its race car. With rules now more permissive as far as designs go, Mazda came up with a race car that uses many of the Kodo styling cues seen on the company’s production cars.

The new race car will compete in the new DPi class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The category replaces last year’s Prototype class and introduces revised regulations to the series. The new Riley chassis was designed and built by Multimatic, while the engine was carried over from last year’s race car.

“This is a huge moment for Mazda Motorsports and the entire Mazda family,” said John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports North America. “To have a car which features Mazda design language at the top level of our motorsports program is meaningful for us as a brand. We believe we have the right team, the right drivers and the right chassis to win races and championships.”

Mazda Motorsports will tackle the 2017 season with two vehicles. Car No. 55 will be driven by Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nunez, while car No. 77 will be piloted by Joel Miller and Tom Long. The season will commence in Daytona on January 28, while the final race will take place in Georgia on October 7.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mazda RT24-P.


PostHeaderIcon Renault Sport Trophy Series Scrapped After Only Two Seasons

The Renault Sport Trophy racing series made its debut in 2015 to much fanfare. One year later, the series will only finish out the 2016 season before it’s officially cancelled. The decision to cut the cord on the series comes at a point in time wherein Renault, considered as one of the most engaged and actively involved automakers in motor racing, is in the middle of reconfiguring its racing programs.

The French automaker has already exited the Formula Renault 3.5 series and with the abrupt closure of the Renault Sport Trophy, it’s once thriving Renault Sport Series program is down to Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup. That said, the series departures doesn’t mean Renault is giving up motor racing entirely. Far from it, actually, because the automaker has increased its involvement in Formula E and has even jumped back into the Formula One fray as an actual team instead of just an engine supplier for the first time in six years.

Clearly, Renault is as involved in motor racing as it has always been; it’s just shifting its priorities from running its own make-series to heading back to the glamour and prestige of Formula One while also doubling down on its commitment to Formula E.

While it’s hard to make sense of the rationale in starting a hyped racing series like the Renault Sport Trophy and then cutting the cord before it can even get off the ground, it’s just as hard to argue against that decision when Renault is boosting its involvement in Formula E and Formula One.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


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