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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.
Red Bull isn’t wasting time in finding Mark Webber’s replacement.
Coverage of the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans will begin on Saturday, June 22 at 8:30 AM EDT on Speed. But for those who don’t have a television nearby (or who refused to pay for the NASCAR network), we have you covered with some live streams.
Originally designed to be an innovative replacement for the IZOD Indy Car race series, this futuristic race car seems to have a found some new life. Originally, it was rejected by the Indy Car series, who opted to go with the tried and tested (boring) choice of the old Dallara chassis, but Nissan Europe has given us new hope.
Thankfully, Ben Bowlby, the designer of the DeltaWing racer found new interest from the American LeMans Series, and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, who have granted it a spot in the popular 24-Hours of LeMans Endurance Race.
The question everyone has been asking though is, who and what will power the DeltaWing racer?
Nissan of Europe today posted a shadowy image of the DeltaWing, with “Nissan” written prominently on its nose, an obvious tip as to who will power the car.
The DeltaWing racer was using a four-cylinder, twin-turbo motor in its initial testing at Buttonwillow race track in California, and was believed to be the engine that was going to power this vehicle at the Sebring 24-Hour race, but only for exhibition. This car’s first official race outing with be at LeMans in June.
We will keep a keen eye on this project, as it is one of the radical race cars ever made. We hope to see it in the winners circle very soon.
Aston Martin will return this year to the FIA World Endurance Championship to compete in the eight round series, kicking off with the 60th anniversary edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring, on March 17.
The company confirmed today that it will enter an updated version of the Vantage GT2, calling it the Vantage GTE. That car will be based off the Vantage road car, getting the same bonded aluminum structure with and aerospace specification steel roll cage. All but the roof will be made from carbon fiber to shed weight. A 4.5-litre V8 with an aluminum block and will keep the street-legal Vantage’s double-wishbone suspension, but with purpose-built components.
The driver line-up has also been confirmed: Darren Turner, Stefan Mücke and Adrian Fernandez will compose the team.
“I’m excited about this program as it’s our opportunity to take Aston Martin back to the top of the world of GT racing. The Vantage GTE is a great car; she’s coming along nicely now and we’re ready to take on what we expect will be tough competition,” Turner said.
“The FIA World Endurance Championship calendar looks good to me, especially as I’ve already won in an Aston Martin at half of the tracks: Sebring, Silverstone, Interlagos and of course at Le Mans. We are going to Sebring next month with a brand new car, but that’s exactly what we did with the DBR9 back in 2005 and we won that race. I’m not promising we can repeat that but we’ll certainly try.”
GALLERY: 2012 Aston Martin Vantage GTE
The rally started back in 1978 and was originally called the Paris-Dakar rally due to its geographic location. However, due to safety concerns, the event was moved to South America in 2009, where it has remained to this day. The event is now simply called the Dakar rally, and for the 2012 event will cover 8000-kilometers (4968-miles). The route for the 2012 event will start from the Atlantic coast in Argentina to across South America and ending the event in Peru.
Each contestant will be required to cover 10% of the distance each day, and since the route will include vast desert landscapes, craggy canyons, impassable pebble plains and the Andes mountain, it will not be an easy trek. While only 50% of the competitors complete this grueling rally, it still attracts a vast array of trucks, bikes, quads and cars to this annual event.
One of the cars making its debut at the Dakar will be the Mini ALL4 Racing by the X-Raid team. They are entering five of these new rally cars which feature a 315-hp, 3.0-liter diesel engine. The all-wheel drive ALL4 is based on the new Mini Countryman.
Only time will tell if the Mini will prove victorious at the Dakar. The event starts on January 1, 2012.
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.
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.
Audi beat out BMW and Mercedes-Benz at the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium, running the legendary Spa-Francorchamps course in an R8 LMS.
The V10-engined R8 beat out 57 teams in the GT3 category, leading 22 out of the 24 hours. Audi Sport Team WRT took the lead as well as 4th place in cars #33 and #32, respectively. Its drivers consisted of two DTM champions Mattias Ekström and Timo Scheider, as well as endurance racing veteran Greg Franchi.
By midnight, the top three cars were all Audis. But an hour later, the #99 R8 fielded by Marc Basseng, Christopher Haase and Frank Stippler slid off from a wet patch and retired. Its #98 teammate lost second gear in an accident and spent an hour getting a new transmission, but managed to claw its way back up from 36th to 14th—and with Mike Rockenfeller behind the wheel, it even managed the fastest race lap at 2m 20.286s.
The #32 car driven by Stéphane Ortelli made a spectacular comeback: after qualifying down in 41st, she drove to 2nd place within the first 90 minutes. After a penalty and a suspension swap sent it back to 42nd place, but skilled driving allowed it to finish fourth.
“This is without doubt the most important victory for the Audi R8 LMS and our still relatively young customer racing program,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, the man in charge of Audi’s motorsport program. “After just a few hours we only had one iron still in the fire – but we won with this car. This shows our strong nerves and team spirit because everybody helped to take the win with the only remaining car.”
The venerable MINI Cooper has served in almost every form of motorsport possible—rallying, Dakar, racetrack underdog, drag racing, tractor pulls, and setting land speed records. Now, it gets a chance to prove itself at the Nürburgring at its legendary 24-hour endurance race.
On June 25th, MINI Motorsports and three privateer MINI teams will tackle 24 hours’ worth of the Nürburgring with 200 other competitors. MINI has never entered an endurance event prior to this, and as if surviving the ‘Ring’s 14+ miles wasn’t hard enough, teams will have to contend with changing weather, exhaustion, insomnia-induced hallucination, and other racing foibles and mishaps guaranteed to put hair on any race car’s chest.
No idea what car MINI plans to enter in the event—the photo shows the faint outline of a Cooper. And in typical MINI stiff-upper-lip fashion, the entire thing is known as “The Green Hell Adventure.” Good luck, MINI. May they fare better against the Germans than they did at Arnhem.
It’s not every day that you get to see a bespoke Ferrari emerge through the design process, but 2011′s Baller Of The Year James Glickenhaus (we just awarded him that title on the spot) has been kind enough to share photos of his custom made Ferrari race car with the interior, in what might be the most expensive “build thread” ever.
The latest batch of pictures show the car’s carbon fiber structure essentially complete, with some chassis components sitting in boxes, although the front brake rotors appear to be attached. With many of the car’s components coming from a cannibalized F430 Scuderia, this one-off should be a fearsome competitor when it takes on the 24 Hours of Nurburgring sometime next year.
Gallery: P 4/5 Competizione
NISMO’s VK45DE powerplant, which has had huge success in the SuperGT series powering the Nissan GT-R to a championship in 2008, will be installed in LMP2 class race cars from 2011 and on. NISMO has partnered up with Zytek Motorsport, a noted Formula 1 engine builder, with Zytek taking responsibility for servicing and maintaining all the engines.
“Zytek Motorsport is delighted to enter into this partnership with Nissan Motorsports International. We firmly believe that this collaboration between these two excellent brands is going to produce competitive and reliable products. It is an honour to work with a manufacturer of the standing and reputation of Nismo and we look forward to a long and successful partnership,” said John Manchester, Zytek Motorsport’s Operations Director.
Official press release available after the break.
American-owned, UK-based United Autosports will contest the prestigious Spa 24 Hour race later this month (July 31-August 1) with an all-star lineup of drivers including former Grand Prix pilots Mark Blundell and Stefan Johansson along with Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever.
In preparation for the race, United Autosports will be testing its fleet of Audi R8 LMS racecars at the world famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit (Belgium) on Wednesday (July 7). Just three days earlier the UA Audi R8s were at another of Europe’s most eye-catching circuits for the latest round of the FIA GT3 Championship, the Paul Ricard high speed track near Marseille, France and its blue, black and red painted run-off areas (which make for some pretty amazing photographs, like the one above).
Powered by a 5.2-liter V10 engine (series limited to approximately 500-hp), the Audi R8 LMS is rear-wheel-drive and is equipped with a sophisticated traction control system, sequential 6-speed gearbox, carbon fiber composite/aluminum bodywork, and Michelin racing slicks. Developed by Audi Sport with cooperation from quattro GmbH, the R8 LMS won the FIA GT3 European Championship, ADAC-GT Masters and Belgian GT Championship plus Nürburgring 24 Hours and Spa 24 Hours class victories in its debut season last year, scoring a total 23 victories.
It should be interesting to see if the United Autosports team can make it back-to-back Spa 24 Hours class victories for Audi or if the balance of power within GT3 has shifted in favor of the Chevrolet Corvettes, Porsches, BMWs, Lamborghinis or Ferraris.
[Source: United Autosports]
In a truly heroic display of automotive badassery, Roger Green, a writer for England’s own Evo magazine, jumped from his burning Lotus Exige race car during the 24 Hour race at the Nurburgring, Germany’s famed race course affectionately known as “The Green Hell.”
If the inferno wasn’t enough, Green’s brakes also failed, forcing him to find a way to slow the car. He was able to do so, brining the car to a crawl near a barrier, at which point he lept from the vehicle and let the marshals handle the rest. If you’ve ever driven a car with a fixed bucket seat, a five-point racing harness and a quick release steering wheel, you’ll know that getting in and out while stationary is a task for Cirque De Soliel acrobats, and doing it while you’re high on adrenalin, rolling down a Nurburgring and on fire is no easy feat. Fortunately, Green walked away from the accident unharmed, and while he didn’t finish the race, his legendary bail will be enshrined in the hallowed halls of Youtube for all eternity.
Video after the jump
Having failed to complete the grueling Nürburgring 24 Hour endurance race last year, Gazoo Racing took home the SP8 class victory (18th overall) at this year’s around-the-clock race at the 12.9-mile Nordschleife in the #50 Lexus LFA.
In a field of over 200 cars including privateers and full-on factory efforts and with some very stiff competition from Aston Martin, the Gazoo Racing LFA’s battled heavy traffic and the constantly changing weather conditions the Nürburgring is famous for on their way to taking the checkered flag and the SP8 class win. Based in Japan and with a driver’s lineup drawing from the Japanese Super GT series, Gazoo Racing has certainly done Toyota and the Lexus brand proud with their performance at the Green Hell this past weekend, which leads us to wonder if/when we’ll start to see the LFA popping up in other racing series. We’d love to see Lexus enter the fray in the FIA GT1 World Championship, a series Nissan seems to be getting some very good value from with their GT-R entries.
Coming in second in the SP8 class was the Aston Martin Rapide, which even topped the V12 Vantage in 3rd.
For a full photo gallery go to Gazoo Racing, but in the meantime enjoy a few photos of the LF-A at the Ring after the jump.
[Source: Gazoo Racing]