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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Jun 05 2012, 10:02 AM

Another video of the head-turning Nissan Delta Wing emerged online, this time giving us a look at the car’s initial testing.

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 |  Jun 04 2012, 9:15 AM

Ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in two weeks time, Toyota debuted its duo of TS030 Hybrid race cars at the famous Circuit de la Sarthe for the first test day, finishing with solid times, but still short of the Audis that have dominated the sport for a decade.

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 |  May 31 2012, 9:31 AM

A glowing performance for the performance credentials of Nissan, the Japanese automaker’s engines will power one-quarter of all entries in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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 |  May 29 2012, 1:29 PM

Despite setbacks, Toyota Racing has finally filled the seats of its TS030 hybrid race cars, which will debut next month at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 

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 |  May 24 2012, 3:32 PM

A new advantage will be granted to Audi’s drivers next month in the 24 Hours of Le Mans: a rear-view mirror. It wasn’t possible to see behind the R18 race car until now, thanks to a tiny rear-mounted camera.

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 |  May 22 2012, 3:00 PM

A few weeks ago, a trailer for Audi‘s Truth in 24 II: Every Second Counts documentary was unleashed onto the Internet packed with plenty of high-speed action at arguably the world’s most famous race. Now you can grab your favorite Apple device and download the film for free on iTunes.

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 |  May 03 2012, 10:02 AM

It’s been nearly a decade since Bentley captured the overall win at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2003, and now the British automaker is in the preparation stages to possibly make a return to racing.

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 |  Apr 30 2012, 8:15 PM

Audi is jumping back into the documentary film making game with its Truth in 24 II documentary, the first of which was released three years ago.

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 |  Mar 29 2012, 9:02 PM

It’s been three years since Audi’s first Truth in 24 aired to document the team’s 2008 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A sequel is now in the works, which will be a film on Audi’s 2011 Le Mans victory.

Packed with drama, the 2011 Le Mans victory was a fantastic choice to showcase the race. Two-time champ Allan McNish had his Audi demolished only just an hour into the race and at the eighth hour, the Number 1 Audi racecar careened into a guardrail, splitting it into two pieces.

It took the next 16 hours of meticulous driving by the No. 2 Audi racecar to claim the checkered flag in the fourth closest Le Mans race in 79 years.

According to a forum member on ten-tenths.com, the film should be finalized in the next eight weeks. We’ll anxiously await its debut.

[Source: Ten-Tenths.com via Autoblog]

 |  Mar 13 2012, 8:32 AM

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Nissan has just announced its official partnership with the bizarre yet impressive DeltaWing project, with plans to take the fighter-jet styled race car to this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.

Using a unique layout with the two forward wheels located next to each other in a center section, rather than at the outer corners, the driver sits almost over the rear axle with a rear-mounted engine. That engine, developed by Nissan is a turbocharged and direct-injection 1.6-liter 4-cylidner that produces around 300 hp. While half the weight of a typical Le Mans prototype, it’s expected to have lap times roughly between those of the LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes due to its light weight and aerodynamics.

“As motor racing rulebooks have become tighter over time, racing cars look more and more similar and the technology used has had less and less relevance to road car development. Nissan DeltaWing aims to change that…” said Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. “Nissan DeltaWing embodies a vast number of highly-innovative ideas that we can learn from. At the same time, our engineering resources and commitment to fuel efficiency leadership via our PureDrive strategy will help develop DeltaWing into a testbed of innovation for Nissan”.

Designed by Ben Bowlby, other contributors to the project include Don Panoz, Dan Gurney, Michelin Tyres North America and Highcroft Racing.

Set to take to the race track at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16-17, the DeltaWing will be piloted by British driver Marino Franchitti and current FIA GT1 World Champion, and Nissan driver, Michael Krumm. The car won’t be competing for points, or the overall title, however, and will race as an experimental prototype wearing the number O.

Until then, the nagging question of the DeltaWing has been: can it turn? A valid point considering its lop-sided looks; for the answer, watch the video below.

GALLERY: Nissan DeltaWing

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 |  Mar 09 2012, 9:45 AM

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Nissan executive vice president of engineering Andy Palmer has announced no plans of fielding an LMP1 race car for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in the foreseeable future. For now, Nissan will remain committed to its production-based LMP2 entries, jumping into battle starting next week at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Expect its main LMP2 class competitors to include Honda, Lotus, and Judd-engined entries throughout the season. What’s more, Nissan is prepared to field 11 of the registered 18 LMP2 racing cars to make it on the grid of the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In evaluating the endurance racing landscape, Palmer explained, “We’ve no plans to do LMP1. The hybrid moves in that class are interesting, but there’s no link back for us to a diesel hybrid. The rules would have to open up to make petrol hybrid competitive and relevant to make it really interesting.”

Andy Palmer’s assessment seems quite accurate. Toyota initially announced two innovative TS030 petrol hybrid LMP1 entries for Le Mans this year, but the Japanese automaker was quickly answered with the unveiling of the diesel-hybrid R18 e-tron Quattro from Audi, the reigning Le Mans champions. The governing body of Le Mans, Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), are working to further modify regulations to make petrol engines more relevant and competitive.

Andy Palmer also hinted to other innovative racing projects for Nissan in the near future. In regards to questions about Nissan’s future projects, Palmer answered, “Something crazy. Whatever we decide to do, we like to win. Look at LMP2, GT3 and Super GT. The issue is linking that winning back to the brand, which is why we’ve starting our NISMO road car project.”

In terms of alternative energy motorsports, Palmer finds electric-powered competition more relevant than hybrid racing. “We think the possibilities are very interesting. Zero emission racing could take place indoors or in the heart of a city, so we’re looking at that.” Madison Square Garden Grand Prix, anyone?

GALLERY: Nissan LMP2

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[Source: Auto Car]

 |  Mar 08 2012, 7:45 PM

audimotorsport-120229-6579.jpgIf there’s an age old adage in motorsports, then it has got to be “racing improves the breed.” This idea is particularly close to Audi‘s heart, as the German automaker has participated in decades of racing and development for its Quattro all-wheel-drive technology.

This year, Audi will field a pair of R18 e-tron Quattro cars which will compete in a series of endurance races including the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans. The added e-tron designation on the new R18 refers to an all-new hybrid system for Audi’s LMP1 racer. Featuring a V6 TDI diesel powerplant sending 510-hp to the rear wheels and an additional pair of electric motors to motivate the front, the R18 e-tron Quattro is, without a doubt, one of the most technologically advanced racing cars in the world.

Watch the video below to  experience Audi’s racing success through the ages as it introduces the new R18 e-tron Quattro.
 |  Feb 12 2012, 2:00 PM

Recently named the world’s best sporting event by National Geographic, this year the 24 Hours of Le Mans celebrates 80 years.

The racing season may seem a long way off now, but to help set the mood the event’s organizing body, the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) has prepared a montage video of highlights throughout the decades. Enjoy it for now and look forward to the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16th and 17th. This year’s event promises to be an exciting and an important one as hybrid engine cars (from both Toyota and Audi) are set to compete for the first time.

Watch the video below:

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 |  Feb 10 2012, 8:31 PM

National Geographic rated the 24 hours at Le Mans race the greatest sporting event in the world, beating the Olympics, Superbowl and the World Cup for the top spot. Who ever said driving wasn’t a “real sport”?

The race at Le Mans started in May of 1923 and has been an annual event ever since. The idea behind starting the race was to push manufacturers and race teams to put a car together with not just the fastest engine, but also a reliable engine capable of running for a full 24 hours. Each car has a team of at least three drivers who run parts of the race, with stints of two hours of more. But the race at Le Mans is about more than just three pilots and is truly a team sport when you consider the mechanics, the manufactures, the crew chief and everyone else who works on creating a winning race car.

While it seems that the easy choice would be the Olympics or the World Cup, National Geographic took the road less traveled and decided to back a truly grueling contest that tests man and machine. Bravo National Geographic, Bravo.

 |  Feb 02 2012, 8:32 PM

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Toyota racing announced today that the TS030 hybrid powered race car will compete in the World Endurance Championship races.

Originally Toyota racing had planned on entering selected races on the World Endurance Championship circuit, but citing unexpected changes faced by the championship has now announced they will be a full-time entrant. This means that the debut of the TS030 will be on May 5th at the Six Hours of Spa Francorchamps.

For the 24 hours of Le Mans race, the regular driver line-up of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazui Nakajima has been confirmed, but the second set of drivers has yet to be determined.

“The circumstances for the championship changed suddenly in recent weeks and Toyota Racing considers it important to work together with the FIA and ACO to establish a successful future for endurance racing. We have done everything we can to show our support and we look forward to an exciting season, including the opportunity to race two cars at Le Mans,” said Toyota racing team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita.

See video of the Toyota Hybrid race car below:

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 |  Feb 02 2012, 2:02 PM

Audi is out to steal Toyota‘s thunder in the World Endurance Championship this year.

The German automaker announced today that it will run two hybrid LMP1 cars for the first time in their team of four during the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Details were scarce in the release, but we know that the cars will be officially released at the end of the month. Their first race debut will follow on May 5 at the 6 hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

Despite running the hybrid cars, Audi isn’t relying on them. Instead the R18 TDI that raced last year will remain the staple.

“The first test results are very encouraging and we are intrigued to see just how this technology performs in combination with our ultra lightweight technology on the race track at Le Mans. As before, we still, however, see potential with the conventional drive – just as our colleagues do in production development,” head of Audi Motorsport Wolfgang Ullrich said.

It seems that the engineers at Audi are putting some stock in Toyota’s strategy because developing and running those cars is no small feat.

“To develop the hybrid technology for Le Mans is at least as ambitious and challenging as our diesel project was in its early stages,” Ullrich said.

Audi won 10 of the total Le Mans races since 2000, so the fact that they’re putting money into a hybrid LMP1 means there’s probably something significant to be gained.

 |  Jan 25 2012, 3:30 PM

You might be familiar with the sound a Le Mans car makes while whipping around the track, but this year Toyota is going to change all that.

For the first time in more than a decade, the Japanese giant is entering in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, set to start this June. Yesterday we reported a story revealing some of the mechanical details behind the TS030 hybrid, Toyota’s strategic play to work back into the Le Mans good books.

The hybrid, they hope, will trump the diesel competition this year. Their car will feature a 3.4-liter naturally-aspirated V8 paired with Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain, which will take advantage of a capacitor system instead of the lithium ion batteries found in production cars.

Until today we had only seen still photos and ready specs, but thanks to a fresh post on YouTube, we get a chance to hear what the car sounds like on the road. You don’t see or hear anything interesting for the first 30 seconds of the video, but it ends with the TS030 Hybrid turning onto the track and launching. As you probably imagine, the difference between the electric motors and the V8 is striking. You can watch the video below.

GALLERY: Toyota TS030 Hybrid

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 |  Jan 24 2012, 6:00 PM

Toyota spilled more details on Tuesday of its plan to run a hybrid at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Last week we reported that the Japanese automaker would be entering such a vehicle, but there were no details on the powertrain or the plan surrounding the car itself. That changed when the company issued a release detailing their plans to run not one, but two of their hybrid contenders in the Le Mans for the first time in more than a decade.

The first of the two cars will make its race debut at the Six Hours of Spa race in May. Perhaps the most interesting information to come from Toyota today are the details behind their hybrid LMP1 entry.

It will sport a 3.4-liter normally-aspirated V8, paired with a capacitor system instead of batteries, which will store energy through the car’s regenerative braking system. Essentially, that means the hybrid will store power while slowing down and use it for a significant acceleration boost while returning to speed.

The car will also benefit from a new carbon fiber LMP1 chassis that was developed and assembled at Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, Germany.

Toyota will not, however, compete in all the FIA races. Instead, they want to use those they participate in to build up a strong racing platform for the future.

“Of course we would love to win Le Mans; that is the dream for all competitors in this race. But we are realistic and we know we need to develop and to learn in order to compete with some very strong competition. Our target this year is to show the performance level of our car and particularly the THS-R powertrain,” Yoshiaki Kinoshita, racing team president, said.

The decision hasn’t been made about who will man the second car, but we do know that the first car’s team includes 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Alex Wurz, last year’s 12 Hour of Sebring winner Nicolas Lapierre and former F1 driver Kazuki Nakajima.

GALLERY: TS030 Hybrid

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 |  Jan 18 2012, 7:28 AM

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The dominating diesels will have a fuel economy foe at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, thanks to a new hybrid race car from Toyota. Set to compete in the top-tier LMP1 class later this year, the first photos of the hybrid electric drive prototype have hit the net, thanks to a tweet by Toyota UK PR boss Scott Brownlee.

No details have yet been provided on the powertrain, but it’s expected the car will utilize a generous hybrid drivetrain that will not only add power but also supplement power through regenerative braking, allowing the car to drive further with fewer pit stops – the strategy that has allowed diesels from Audi and Peugeot to block out all the top podium spots in endurance racing.

Running the racing operation for Toyota will be ORECA Racing, a team that has been racing at Le Mans for 35 years and which has achieved a first place finish in every category it has ever competed in.

Toyota’s three-man team scheduled to pilot the new hybrid racer at this year’s endurance classic includes 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Alex Wurz, last year’s 12 Hour of Sebring winner Nicolas Lapierre and former F1 pilot Kazuki Nakajima.

GALLERY: Toyota Hybrid Le Mans Race Car

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[Source: Autohebdo]

 |  Jan 15 2012, 5:30 PM

The publication Race Engine Technology has given Audi Motorsport the “Race Engine of the Year” award for their 3.7L V6 TDI powerplant. The engine, which was vital to Audi capturing its 10th title at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year, produces more than 540-hp through the use of a single turbocharger.

Compared to its V10 TDI predecessor, the 120-degree, extremely compact V6 TDI is 25-percent lighter and uses a single turbo rather than the twin-turbo the V10 TDI used. The single turbocharger sits above the engine and draws its air directly through the roof-mounted air scoop. The setup was the result of a collaboration with Garrett, one of the leading manufacturers of turbochargers.

“Audi invented the TDI engine and is convinced that this technology remains one of the most efficient and modern forms to power a car – especially at Le Mans where engines with high specific power, low fuel consumption and low emissions are a necessity,” explained Audi Motorsport’s Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

 |  Dec 07 2011, 12:00 PM

One of the darkest days in motorsports is arguably June 11, 1955. On this day, at the Le Mans 24-hour race, on lap 35, Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR hit the back of Lance Macklin’s Austin-Healey 100 Special, and was sent flying into the crowds.

When all the smoke and dust cleared, 83 spectators had died and an additional 120 people were injured. Levegh had also lost his life in this tragic accident.

The damaged Austin-Healey was kept by the French authorities for 18-months, but was eventually returned to the Donald Healey Motor Company for repairs. Miraculously, this car returned to racing and it competed well into the 1960′s.

And now this infamous race car has found a new home. Bonhams Auction House has just sold this race car at their Weybridge Auction in Southern England, and despite the cars condition being described as a “barn find,” it still managed to fetch $1-million.

According to Bonhams, its last owner had bought the car in 1969, and it remained untouched until now.

[Source: Reuters]

 |  Nov 08 2011, 1:00 PM

Toyota has announced its three-man tea of pro racers, who will pilot the brand’s hybrid LMP1 car in the 2012 Le Mans and other races. The list includes former F1 driver and winner of the 2009 24 Hours of Le mans (under Peugeot) Alex Wurz, Team Oreca pilot and last year’s 12 Hours of Sebring winner Nicolas Lapierra and former F1 racer Kaxuki Nakakima.

“I can’t wait to get started and I am fascinated by the new challenge of competing with a hybrid car. It is the future of racing so I am very excited that Toyota comes in with this technology,” said Alex Wurz, one of Toyota’s new drivers.

He, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakakima will start training early in the new year, though it already sounds like their team spirit is coming together.

“Alex is a two-time Le Mans winner so he is a great benchmark for us, but he is also able to build a strong team spirit. I believe the choice of drivers is very good and I am looking forward to working together as a team,” Lapierre said in a press release.

While Wurz brings Le Mans experience to the table, all three drivers are familiar with World Endurance Championship racing.

“Le Mans will be a new experience for me but it is one that I am very much looking forward to. The challenge of Le Mans is famous throughout motorspot so  I can’t wait to race there for the first time. Obviously it is a new experience but I am familiar with endurance racing thanks to my time in Japanese Super GT and this will help me to adjust,” Nakajima said.

Today’s announcement comes after Toyota telling the press late last month that they plan to partner with ORECA Racing Group in developing their new hybrid LMP1 class car.

The decision came after Toyota’s previous solo endeavor at Le Mans failed. Toyota hopes for more success after pairing with championship-winning ORECA. Toyota will contribute the hybrid powertrain while ORECA plans to develop the chassis for their 2012 entrant.

 |  Oct 27 2011, 10:45 AM

In the world of motorsports, it’s nearly impossible for a new team to come out of the box and be competitive. So what is a novice group that is looking for success to do? Simple, partner with one of the most successful teams in the sport.

That is exactly what Toyota is doing by partnering up with ORECA Racing Group to take victory at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Toyota has attempted a win at Le Mans before, but that very expensive effort bared no fruit. Having learned that they need help, the Japanese automaker has gone on to recruit the French team ORECA Racing, which has been competing at Le Mans for the past 35-years and have achieved the top podium step in each form of racing it has ever competed in.

At the announcement of this partnership, ORECA Racing’s President Hugues de Chaunac said; “It’s a very big day for ORECA. To be chosen by Toyota Motorsport GmbH is a huge reward for the work we’ve done in recent years. ORECA has proven its worth at the highest level of endurance racing, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2011 and finishing three straight times in the top 5 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Thanks to its know-how, ORECA now has the opportunity to work with the biggest automobile manufacturer, and on a project that’s particularly interesting. We are proud to support Toyota Motorsport GmbH in this challenge and we’re looking forward to an exciting future.”

Toyota will provide the new hybrid-racing powertrain, while ORECA develops a new chassis to compete in the LMP1 class. Next year’s Le Mans will be the 80th installment of this race and will be held on June 16-17.

 |  Oct 18 2011, 10:00 PM

The only Japanese manufacturer to ever win the prestigious 24-Hours of Le Mans so far has been Mazda with its 787B. Toyota has been wanting to change that for nearly two decades now. Their last effort in the LMP1 class failed, but next year they’ll be back with a vengeance, using a hybrid racer.

Not that the French will make it any easier on the Japanese, as Peugeot has just put some testing miles on their new race car, the 908 HYbrid4. First shown at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show in March, this new race car just completed its first test at the Estoril circuit in Portugal on October 11th. The car went through 300 km of testing in the hands of Nicolas Minassian, Stephane Sarrazin and former Formula 1 driver Alex Wurz.

Peugeot Sports technical director Bruno Famin said, “Our aim wasn’t to put a lot of kilometres on the clock, but to verify that all the chief functions performed.” He added, “It was important to analyse the data of each run to be sure we understood the results before moving on to the next step. The system functioned well and responded as predicted, which was very satisfying. At the same time, we started to make a few adjustments to the car’s basic set-up. It worked well, so that’s very positive.”

Peugeot has been working on the 908 HYbrid since 2008 and the car is only now coming close to becoming a reality. However, Peugeot is not the only European car company trying to compete with a hybrid racer, as Porsche is also aiming to enter with not only their 911 GT3 R Hybrid, but also the 918 Hybrid race car.