AutoGuide News Blog
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.
Along with its announced plans for Formula One next season, British sports car maker Lotus is also looking at expanding its racing efforts to include IndyCar, GT and Le Mans racing. Newly appointed company CEO Dany Bahar made the announcement to employees, stating that Lotus is studying expanding its racing efforts under a new corporate outlook.
Bahar, who comes from working for Red Bull’s Formula 1 team and as the former head of marketing for Ferrari has ambitious plans to return Lotus to its former position as a motorsports leader, using motorsports as a way to brand the company’s road cars, while using technology gained from racing efforts to help improve those very cars and develop new ones.
Lotus has made known plans to field a two car Evora team at next years Nürburgring 24 Hour race but now it appears as though as more long term plan may be coming into place.
No official decision has been made but we expect to see Lotus cars racing in the European and American Le Mans series in the near future.
James Glickenhaus, the man behind the coachbuilt Pininfarina Ferrari P4/5, has commented that he is looking into building a race version of the car to compete in endurance racing.
The P4/5, which debuted at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, is a one-off rebodied Ferrari Enzo, built by the Pininfarina design house to look like the famous 1967 Ferrari P4 race car. It is reported to have cost Glickenhaus $4 million.
Now it appears as though Glickenhaus is planning a sibling for his custom creation. Posting under the the screen name Napoli on FerrariChat, the prolific poster writes “There may be an act 2 here. I am seriously investigating a proposal to make P4/5 Competizione and enter her in a major 24 hour race. There are a LOT of stars that would have to align for this to happen but it’s not impossible…”
If the project does go ahead, the Nürburgring 24 hour race is the most likely venue at which the car would race.
GALLERY: Ferrari P4/5 Competizione Renderings
Lotus displayed its Evora Type 124 endurance racer at the Frankfurt Auto Show.
The Type 124 (the 124 was the next number in line in Lotus’ naming sequence, but coincidentally, the 24 also represents 24 hour endurance racing) will make its racing debut at the 2010 Nürburgring 24 Hours in May.
Lotus engineers tuned the Toyota-produced V6 engine to produce up to 394hp. The car has been lightened to less than 2,646 lbs, though both power and weight may be subject to race regulations.
Other racing components on the car include a full roll cage, 18-inch wheels with Pirelli racing slicks, a new suspension setup as well as AP Racing brakes with six-piston calipers.
Gallery: Lotus Evora Type 124 Endurance Racer
Lotus is on a motorsports roll as of late, releasing racing versions of the Elise, Exige 260 and now this, the company’s flagship Evora model. Called the Type 124, this race-prepped Evora gets a 400hp version of the Toyota Camry’s V6 motor, mated to a six-speed sequential transmission.
The Lotus mantra is to build fast cars through the use of light-weight components and so the company’s road cars are already featherweights by comparison to most of the competition. Impressively, through the use of carbon fiber body parts and a fully striped out interior, Lotus engineers managed to drop an additional 440 lbs from the curb weight of the Evora, reducing it to just 2,600 lbs.
Other racing components on the car include a full roll cage, 18-inch wheels with Pirelli racing slicks, a new suspension setup as well as AP Racing brakes with six-piston calipers. The car meets FIA standards and will debut at next year’s Nürburgring 24 Hour race. Lotus says it will run a factory backed team in 2010 and 2011 and we would imagine the Evora Tye 124 will also be made available to private teams to compete in motorsports throughout the world.
“Every Lotus car is designed to be at home on the race track as well as the road, and the Evora is no different,” said Roger Becker, Vehicle Engineering Director for Group Lotus Plc. “Designed primarily as an everyday road car, the Evora’s lightweight and stiff structure, its aerodynamics and performance means that it is perfectly suited to taming race tracks around the world, and we are looking forward to seeing the new Lotus Evora Type 124 Endurance Racecar line up on the grid for the 2010 season.”
GALLERY: Lotus Evora Tye 124 Endurance Race Car
Official release after the jump:
Nissan is launching a limited Europe-only Nürburgring Edition of its 370Z. But don’t worry if you don’t live in Europe… it’s not as exciting as it sounds.
The cars are inspired by the bright yellow racers that competed at this year’s Nürburgring 24 Hour race and will share the same Premium Ultimate Yellow paint. They will also get special decals, a Cobra exhaust system, a numbered plaque and 19-inch OZ wheels with Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT tires, that measure 255/40/19 up front and 285/35/19 out back.
And… well… that’s it.
According to CarScoop, Nissan’s press release doesn’t say anything about suspension modifications and the Z will continue to be powered by the standard 331hp 3.7-liter V6.
Pricing is set at $50,400 Euros ($71,700) and buyers will also get a $215 gift card for the Nürburgring – which should buy at least a few laps.
Just 80 of the Nissan 370Z Nürburgring Edition models will be produced.
NOTE: Nissan has yet to release any photos of the 370Z Nürburgring Edition. The picture above is purely for illustrative purposes.
500hp racers set to take on Nürburgring 24 Hour race this weekend
Ahead of the world famous Nürburgring 24 Hour race this weekend, Lexus has released a set of photos of not one, but two LF-A models that will compete for the title.
Last year Lexus brought an LF-A test mule out to the race but announced that it wasn’t technically competing, which is a good thing considering the car didn’t make it far.
This year the automaker is back and have increased their odds with not one but two LF-A models, both running in the Division 2 SP8 class for close to production models. Lexus has also employed the expertise of Gazoo Racing, which runs Lexus cars in the Super GT series in Japan. One of the cars will be co-piloted by Toyota’s new CEO Akio Toyoda.
The LF-A features a 4.8-liter V8 with around 500 hp and uses a paddle-shift sequential gearbox.
The production version of the car is expected to debut at the Tokyo Auto Show this Fall.
Lexus may be looking for an outright win at the Nürburgring 24 but this year it may be even harder than in the past. Not only will there be the usual fleet of BMWs and Porsches, but Audi has announced plans to run four R8s.
The Nürburgring 24 Hour race starts this Saturday (May 23rd) and runs until Sunday.
GALLERY: Lexus LF-A N24 Racer
Audi has its sights set of the Nürburgring 24 Hour race and it intends to not only take home the top spot but perhaps the entire podium as it has announced plans to campaign a fleet of R8 LMS GT3 cars.
Teams ABT Sportsline and Phoenix Racing will bring two cars apiece with factory support from Audi. The 500hp cars are built for racing and Audi has stacked the deck with a long list of some of the greatest drivers in motorsports.
The No. 100 ABT Sportsline car will be piloted by reigning DTM Champion Timo Scheider, along with his DTM teammate Mattias Ekström and three-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner. The second ABT Sportsline car, No. 97, will be driven by Christian Abt, Jean-François Hemroulle, Pierre Kaffer and Lucas Luhr.
As for the two Phoenix Racing cars, the No. 98 R8 will be driven by Frank Stippler, Mike Rockenfeller and Marc Basseng, a man who has help the Nürburgring fastest lap record several times.
The No. 99 Phoenix Racing R8 will be piloted by Frank Biela, Marcel Fässler, Emanuele Pirro (an Audi Sport R8 and R10 TDI driver) and none other than Hans-Joachim Stuck, a man who has won the Nürburgring 24 Hour race three times.
“The 24 Hours is not only one of the biggest motorsport events in Germany,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “The Nürburgring-Nordschleife is considered one of the world’s toughest and most demanding race tracks. Similar to Sebring for the sports prototypes, it is superbly suited for revealing the final improvement potential of any new race car. This is exactly what we’re planning to do at the 24-hour race before delivering the R8 LMS to customers, starting this fall.”
The 37th running of the Nürburgring 24 Hour race will begin May 23rd and conclude May 24th.
Normally the Nürburgring 24 Hour race is a Porsche dominated affair, but we have a feeling this year might be a little different.
Official release after the jump:
After an embarrassingly dismal experience at last year’s Nürburgring 24 Hour race, Lexus is once again set to take on one of the world’s most challenging endurance races with it’s LF-A sports car.
The car will run in the Division 2 SP8 class, meaning that the race car will be close to the production car – which is expected to be officially introduced at the Tokyo Auto Show in the fall..
What we know about the car is that it is powered by a 500hp 4.8-liter V10 engine, with a rear-mounted transaxle that is actuated by a paddle-shift sequential manual gearbox.
For the race the LF-A race car will be equipped with a roll cage, fuel-cell, rear spoiler and additional aerodynamics. Otherwise the “engine, powertrain and frame specifications differ little from those of the base vehicle.”
Lexus intends to use the race to further develop and test the vehicle before it sees production and has hired on the experts at Gazoo Racing (which run Lexus teams in Japan’s Super GT series) to assist in the Nürburgring 24 Hour effort.
The Nürburgring 24 Hour race runs from May 23 to 24th.
Will Lexus have better luck this year?
Official release after the jump:
During the company’s press conference at the Geneva Auto Show, Aston Martin’s CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez announced that the British automaker intends to race its new V12 Vantage at the Nürburgring 24 Hour race in May.
The V12 Vantage, which was officially unveiled at the Geneva press conference along-side the new DBS Volante and One-77 supercar, is a combination of Aston’s smallest car with its largest engine. The coupe’s 6.0-liter V12 engine makes 510hp at 420 ft-lbs of torque for a 0-60 mph time of just 4.2 seconds.
Top speed is rated at 190 mph.
Dr. Bez did say that some modifications will obviously be necessary to outfit the vehicle for a race, although he did say they would be minor.
We expect to see a rather stripped-down interior, as well as the addition of a roll cage. Light weight racing wheels and slicks will also, no-doubt, be a part of the package, but don’t expect any crazy suspension changes or wild aerodynamics – although a good-sized spoiler isn’t out of the question.
There is also no word on if CEO Dr. Bez himself will help pilot the car. (He has been known to do such things in the past, including co-piloting a V8 Vantage N24 in the Nürburgring 24 Hours race in 2007.
The 2009 Nürburgring 24 Hour race runs from May 23rd to 24th. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the status of this race contender and its result.
GALLERY: Aston Martin V12 Vantage
More on the V12 Vantage after the jump:
Looking to continue its dominance in international motorsports, Porsche has released a new version of its GT3 RSR race car for the 2009 season.
Last year RSR’s took the top podium spot for their classes in both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Nürburgring 24 Hour Race. The cars are also a staple of the GT2 class in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).
The biggest change for 2009 is the introduce of an even larger displacement boxer engine, with an increase from 3.8-liters to 4.0-liters. Due to a reduction in the size of the air intake (the two restrictor pipes measuring just 29.5mm each), horsepower is actually down 15 pones to 450hp at 7800 rpm. Torque stays constant, however, at 317 ft-lbs at 7250 rpm. Porsche does claim that this new engine delivers a better torque curve with more power available at lower rpm – as one would expect with a larger displacement engine.
The aerodynamics of the RSR have received several tweaks for ’09 including large air outlets on the hood that allow air brought in through the front bumper to flow over the car, providing not only increased downforce but also increased airflow to the new radiator setup. The radiator design was changed for ’09 as Porsche made the decision to offer the RSR with an optional air conditioning system.
The rear of the car also features revised aerodynamics and the rear wing now features more adjustability.
Weight has been kept to a minimum thanks to a lighter brake setup and lighter wiring harness, although weight has increased slightly to 2,745 lbs.
Porsche has already built 20 2009 GT3 RSRs, which are currently being delivered to teams (like Farnbacher-Loles and Flying Lizard Motorsports) around the world.
Official release and more photos after the jump: