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.
Racing driver Walter Rohrl, Group B monster Audi Sport quattro S1, and the treacherous Pikes Peak Hill Climb are iconic in and of themselves, but when combined, it marks a legendary moment in the history of motorsports.
25 years ago, when the 4,301 meter hill climb was pure gravel, Rohrl threw his Audi around 156 cliff-side corners, four-wheel drifting his way to the summit to set a record breaking time of 10 minutes, 47.85 seconds.
Since then, Rohrl has been dethroned by the likes of Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima and the Unlimited class Suzuki SX4 Hill Climb Special, climbing the modern Pikes Peak in 9 minutes 51.278 seconds. However, the hill climb course itself is now completely paved with tarmac and while that provides better grip for the cars to climb faster, this dampens the sheer danger and spectacle of its gravel past.
This year, Walter Rohrl and his record-setting Audi Sport quattro S1 will return to Pikes Peak for an exhibition drive. Although Rohrl will not be competing on the main event, race fans will certainly be excited to see their childhood heroes back together again.
Check out footage of Walter Rohrl’s 1987 Climb in his Audi Sport quattro S1 after the jump: Continue Reading…
Another video of the highly anticipated Toyota GT 86 has emerged, showing off the process behind turning the rear-wheel drive sports coupe into a competitive rally car.
The 49 second clip doesn’t detail too much about the rally car, simply teasing us about the looks. However, the Toyota 86 looks like a superb specimen for rally racing. The video mainly gives us a perspective into the focused engineers prepping their new rally car. Hopefully more clips will follow this one that will further explain how the Toyota 86 rally car came to be.
The vehicle will be entered in the Tour de Kyushu Rally Race. Check out the full video below.
Lotus Racing has formally announced its motorsports program for the 2012 season, where we’ll see the highly anticipated Exige R-GT make its race debut in the FIA European Rally Championship. In addition, the British automaker will enter this year’s European Le Mans Series in an Evora GTE and will also be supporting drivers in the CIK-FIA Under-18 Kart World Championship.
The Exige R-GT (pictured above) will sport Lotus’ iconic black and gold color scheme and will be piloted by former Portuguese champion and SWRC driver Bernardo Sousa. The Exige R-GT is expected to go through its final testing runs next week before its submission to the FIA for homologation. Lotus will build a total of 10 cars this year, with seven of them going to the official team and European drivers.
Johnny Mowlem will be one of three drivers in the Evora GTE that will be racing in the European Le Mans Series’ GTE class. The other two drivers will be announced shortly. The team will be ran by Gianni Giudici, who ran an Evora GT4 in the European Blancpain Series last year with a runner-up finish.
“Gianni Giudici has long been one of Lotus Racing’s most important customers, and creating this official partnership makes perfect sense. He has been very successful in endurance racing, and has the capability to run the car at a very high level. With Lotus’ technical support this will be a good combination for the European platform,” said Claudio Berro, Director of Lotus Racing.
Lastly, the Lotus Racing Karts team are preparing for the 2012 CIK-FIA Under-18 Karting World Championship that will begin on July 8th. The Lotus Racing Kart is built in Italy and “is arguably the most fun, raw and inspirational Lotus ever to hit the race track,” according to Lotus Racing. The top three drivers in Lotus Racing Karts will be rewarded with a fully-sponsored Formula Monza test with the Lotus Formula Juniors team. They will also be afforded a go in Lotus’ F1-inspired Type 125 customer car, plus a two-day test with the Lotus Racing Karts team and a tour of the Group Lotus factory and facilities in Hethel, England.
Rallycross is clearly catching on in America, as the Team O’Neil Rally School will now be offering a trio of two-day Rallycross classes in 2012. Located in northern New Hampshire, the rally school consists of a 6.5-mile forest road course, separate skid pad & braking zone, obstacle avoidance area and a slalom course.
The Rallycross classes will take place on January 19-20, February 2-3 and March 1-2. Students will be able to choose their type of vehicle they want to be instructed on: rear-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive and can also bring their own vehicle to autocross or rallycross with. Their personal vehicles can only be used on the second day however, as Team O’Neil will require them to learn on their own vehicles for day one.
The timing will be perfect, with plenty of snow and ice on their course. Class sizes are limited as Team O’Neil wants to maintain a 2:1 student to instructor ratio. The two-day course is priced at $1,897, but if you want to bring your own vehicle for day two it’ll be $300 cheaper – $1,597.
[Source: Team O'Neil]
Dacia has taken quite a different approach in revealing its latest minivan, Lodgy. Rather than traveling the usual auto show circuit and looking pretty on rotating pedestals, a unique, race-prepped Dacia Lodgy has been made to compete in France’s ice rally series, the Trophée Andros, months before any information on the production model is available.
While the race-prepped Dacia Lodgy’s general proportions are likely very similar to the production version, the rally car is built upon a tubular chassis with a profile that sits lower and wider than its production variant. Power comes through a mid-mounted V6 engine good for 355-hp to all four wheels.
Expect the production Dacia Lodgy to debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. No technical information yet, but a selection of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines will be offered, including the 1.5 dCi. Sources have also claimed that the people mover will offer both five passenger and seven passenger trims.
GALLERY: Dacia Lodgy
[Source: Left Lane News]
Ford presented a concept model showing what a future Fiesta ST might look like when it joins the Focus ST in the company’s high-performance small car offerings.
The Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch has a silhouette inspired by Ford’s rally racing Fiesta RS WRC. The lowered stance with 17-inch alloy wheels and full ST body kit are all based on the Ford Fiesta WRC race car while the trapezoidal front grille with honeycomb mesh design is similar to that found on the Focus ST.
Like the rally car, the Fiesta ST Concept is powered by Ford’s 1.6 liter EcoBoost engine. Combining turbocharging and direct injection, the 1.6 l engine also features Twin-independent Variable Camshaft Timing to improve power and torque, just as in the upcoming Ford Focus ST. Ford claims an output of 180 hp and 177 ft-lb. of torque and a 0-100 kph (0-62) time of under 7 seconds.
GALLERY: Ford Fiesta ST Concept
Targa Newfoundland, the ultimate North American tarmac rally, is organized every September for seven days and travels across 2,200 kilometers, or 1,200 miles, of amazing central Newfoundland road.
South Korean automaker Kia‘s Canadian operations are set to participate in the 2011 Targa Newfoundland Rally, which will be their second consecutive year at the event. This time, Kia Canada will be partnering with MADD and readying a #99 race-prepped Forte Koup for the occasion. The Forte Koup will be driven by Autonet.ca pro-driver Jacques Deshaies and co-pilot Shaun Keenan – a contributor to AutoGuide.com.
Kia Canada’s partnership with MADD is especially meaningful as the two organizations will sponsor Canada’s school assembly program and assist in educating the dangers of drunk driving and the importance of driving responsibly amongst youth. To make sure the message gets sent loud and clear, Kia will also launch their “I pledge to drive safe and sober” campaign at every stop of the Rally, encouraging local young adults to sign their pledges on the Koup race car.
And that’s not all, Kia Canada plans to further support the program by donating eight cars to MADD Canada. Four cars will be used by MADD field representatives to drive school to school promoting their cause and the remaining four will be used as lawn displays to increase awareness at local venues across Canada.
Targa Newfoundland kicks off September 10th.
GALLERY: 2010 and 2011 Targa Newfoundland Rally Kia Forte Koup
Subaru recently captured the 2011 Rally America National title, and to show off its road to success the automaker has released a short film titled “Gunning for Gold”.
The film debuted in Los Angeles and shows off Subaru Rally Team USA’s two talented drivers, David Higgins and Dave Mirra. The film features various rally racing clips and behind the scenes look as the team prepares for each competition with their Subarus.
Subaru is currently competing at X Games 17 looking to extend its success in the Rally Car and Rallycross events. Higgins has already captured a bronze medel at his first ever X Games in the Rally Car event. In the film, both drivers are seen behind the wheel of a 550-hp Subaru Impreza WRX STi.
Check out the video after the break.
The world’s greenest race car has been banned from racing—for being too fast.
God forbid. Like the great race cars of history, kneecapped for being too dominant, the Oaktec Honda Insight joins the Porsche 917 and Brabham BT46 as one of the quick yet misunderstood motorsport legends.
Developed for Formula 1000 rallying, the hybrid Insight race car was tuned to get 100mpg when pushed slowly, and 82mpg at a quicker pace. Formula 1000 emphasizes mileage as well as speed, and the Insight was regularly beating the next-best car, a diesel, by over 17mpg. Overall, it has dominated the current 2011 series with two wins and a second place in just the first three rounds. This, competitors whined, was an unfair advantage.
“It was a bit of a shock when I got the call as after six years of hard work we finally had our chance for a bit of glory,” said Paul Andrews, Oaktec boss. “But I fully understand the perspective of the organisers and their wish not to spoil the sport for the other drivers. It’s a shame it had to happen mid-season but it’s the risk you face in going against the grain and trying something radical. If it fails, no one notices; if it’s successful, you have an unfair advantage.”
The team is now looking to race in a class above, where the competition hopefully won’t be so quick to cry foul.
Subaru has announced a multi-year sponsorship agreement of the Isle of Man TT Races and rather than just sit idly by, the AWD turbo 4-banger brand is looking to participate, running a WRX STI on several timed laps of the famous TT motorcycle course.
The iconic motorcycle course is infamously known as one of the harshest test of man and machine. Professional British Rally driver Mark Higgins will drive a 305-hp Subaru WRX STI on the closed course run of the Snaefell Mountain Course. The Rally Champion and World Rally stage winner, will look to set the fastest time for a 4-cylinder engine production vehicle. The previous lap record of the same course was set in 1990, and the former test driver for Subaru is eager to beat it.
“I’m really excited at the opportunity,” said Higgins. “I know it will be hard work, but it’s a great challenge and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The US-spec Subaru WRX STI will race the 37 mile course with only minor modifications including a roll care, racing seats and harness as well as upgraded brake pads, Pirelli racing tires and a louder exhaust to alert fans of the on-coming car.
Subaru’s version of the Toyota FT-86 front-engine, rear-wheel drive sports coupe will finally debut at this December’s Tokyo Auto Show. Toyota will sell its version as a Scion in the U.S. As for the Subaru model, well, according to the latest reports, there won’t be a powerful, turbocharged STI version.
Subaru has planned to produce a version of the STI, but it won’t be like previous high-powered STI’s that typically offer massive turbos. The issue with turbocharging the engine is that it goes against the vehicles original plan to be naturally aspirated, according to Subaru.
Power will be supplied by Subaru’s new generation 2.0-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine. The same powerplant will be used in the redesigned Subaru Impreza arriving this fall. The engine will be positioned 5-inches lower than in the Impreza to keep weight and handling as low and as balanced as possible. Both a manual and automatic transmission will be available.
No official price has been announced, however the sporty coupe will likely sell in the mid $20,000 range.
[Source: Automotive News]
With the Gumball 3000 already underway (it started May 26), the folks in charge of the international parade of shenanigans has released a video showing the rally’s start in Covent Garden, London. The 19 minute video shows over 100 of the most magnificent and rare supercars in the world. Even the rain couldn’t stop the massive crowd that gathered to watch the beginning of the world’s most fun and most glamorous rally.
The 3000 mile rally will start in London and end in Istanbul over a seven day period across 10 countries, via Paris, Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Milan, Venice, Zagreb, Belgrade and Sofia. It was also revealed that the 2011 rally would cost £25,000 to take part in.
Participants include the “who’s who” of the international social scene, Sheikhs, entrepreneurs, oil tycoons, and dot com billionaires.
The incredible line up includes Pagani Zondas, Bugatti Veyrons, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Aston Martins, Jaguars, Porsches, Morgans and several Lotus’, and this year, over 20 eco and concept electric cars are taking part as Gumball enters a new decade of green motoring!
Check out the video after the jump!
The president of Mitsubishi, Osamu Masuko, is “very interested” in producing electric Formula 1 cars, with an eye to mutually compatible technology with their road cars. The governing body of Formula 1, the Federation Internationale de lÀutomobile, announced this month that it is working with representatives of the European Commission to develop a racing series for electric vehicles.
Mitsubishi has a long motorsports heritage predominantly in rallying but it withdrew from its main focus, the Dakar Rally in 2009. ”I’m said to be unenthusiastic about motor sports,” Masuko added, “but with electric vehicles, I want to promote them.”
Mitsubishi introduced its i MiEV (Mitshubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) in 2009 and will be sold in the United States. Masuko explained that “The development costs for electric vehicles seem much lower than for gasoline cars and it would also contribute to the technological development of cars that are already on the market.”
Mitsubishi is developing a post 2013 successor to its highly regarded Lancer Evolution, and is considering a high-performance plug in hybrid build on the next generation Lancer platform coming out in 2013. The new model would utilize technology previewed on Mitsubishi`s PX-MiEV concept from 2009.
[Source: Inside Line]
It’s been 40-some odd years, but Mini is finally returning to the world rally stage.
The Mini WRC Team will be competing in the 2011 World Rally Championship with the John Cooper Works Countryman, as modified by legendary performance company Prodrive. The team was recently launched in its factory in Oxford in a nostalgia-laden gala that saw Paddy Hopkirk and Rauno Aaltonen show up in the Mini Cooper S that won them three rally championships in 1964, 1965, and 1967.
“On the one hand, MINI can look back on a unique success story,” said Ian Robertson, a member of BMW’s board of management. “On the other hand, MINI is the epitome of excitement for millions of fans around the world and thrills them with its energy. This is precisely what we are able to authentically represent through our motorsport involvement in the World Rally Championship.”
This year’s drivers and navigators in the Countryman will be Kris Meeke of England and Paul Nagle of Ireland, and Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio, from Spain. Their first race will be at Rally d’Italia Sardegna from May 5th to the 8th, and they will enter five more races in the season.
While it wasn’t the MINI Countryman WRC that did it, the brand still captured their first ever rally victory, with an S2000-class MINI John Cooper Works finishing first in the Rally dell’Adriatico.
The privateer team, known as Grifone, is campaigning the car in a regional rally series that adheres to the rules of the S2000 class. These are much closer to what one can drive on the street, and are also eligible for road racing series in Europe. The win will certainly give the brand a boost ahead of the Countryman WRC’s debut next week, and its first race in Sardinia in May.
In Finland, rally champion Juha Kankkunen has cracked the 200-mph barrier on ice in a Bentley Supersports, setting a new world speed record on ice.
Atop the frozen Baltic Sea at temperatures of minus 30 degrees, he drove the AWD, W12-engined, biofuel-powered Bentley Continental Supersports convertible to a record 205.48 mph, which bested his own previous world record of 199.83 mph set at the same location in 2007.
“The last time, I narrowly missed the magical 200 mph mark in a Continental GT,” he said. “When I heard about the Supersports I was determined to go record breaking again with the Bentley Boys.”
One of the goals of the British/Finnish team was to keep the car as stock as possible: modifications included a roll cage, low-resistance Pirelli winter tires, front and rear spoilers, and a bumper-mounted parachute. Juha Kankkunen fought crosswinds and sudden blizzards on the 10-mile track, atop 27 inches of ice, to complete two runs in opposite directions. The speed was verified by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Of course, Kankkunen is no stranger to racing in extreme conditions. Since he started rallying in 1978, he has over 23 World Rally victories under his belt, been crowned World Champion four times, and won the Dakar Rally outright in 1988. Finland breeds rally champions, so the saying goes, and off the coast of Finland Kankkunen seemed within his element.
Bentley is planning a limited edition 100-car run of the Supersports to reflect this achievement, in case well-heeled buyers want to tackle the record on their own.
Hit the jump to read the official press release.
Ken Block’s Gymkhana videos are a lot of sound and fury but ultimately signify nothing. A combination of great editing, a specially prepared car and an unrivaled hype machine has propelled Block to the top of the Youtube heap. But his newest video, barely 2 minutes in length, is genuinely awesome.
Piloting a 1978 Ford Escort through an upstate New York rally course, the video is unfortunately brief but manages to dose you with just enough vintage rally goodness to keep you satiated. Check it out below, after the jump.
German firm X-Raid is already preparing a MINI Countryman, a vehicle that’s been on sale for less than a month, for competition in the upcoming Dakar rally.
While most of the photos show a finished product, the vehicle prep shots show a pretty thorough re-working of the biggest MINI, as well as a gorgeous custom made rollcage. Sadly, specifications aren’t part of the article, and we’re left guessing on how much power the thing makes. A long travel suspension and skid plates are also visible to the naked eye.
Gallery: MINI Countryman Dakar
We all know Ken Block is a cool guy and a self-made millionaire, but what nobody seems willing to admit is that the guy can’t drive. Well, maybe he has some talent, but not nearly as much as Ford and Monster Energy Drink’s PR machine would have us believe.
Although he has some of the most successful viral videos to his credit, Block has only scored a total of two points in WRC over three whole seasons. It seems like without a purpose built, hydraulic-handbrake equipped car and some quality video editing, Block can’t pull it together. Hit the jump and decide for yourself.
Video after the jump
It’s not unheard of for tuner-type wannabes to refer to their modified sport compact as a “race car” – but what if you really could buy a suite of parts that would turn your econobox into a real, full blown rally racer?
Ford is doing just that with their new R2 rally kit for their Fiesta subcompact. With the Fiesta getting a ton of press for its exploits in X-Games rally (we use the term loosely, of course), Ford is eager to capitalize on the buzz by offering a crapload of parts that will make the Fiesta eligible for real, WRC-style rally events, not the X Games showboating that Monster Energy Drink bros are accustomed to.
A whole host of upgrades to the engine internals helps bump power 168 horses and 134 lb-ft of torque, while a five-speed sequential gearbox renders the car deafeningly loud and unstreetable. Adjustable dampers, Eibach springs, bucket seats with harnesses and a rollcage all render the car unstreetable, so there will be no gymkhana like exploits for civilian Fiesta drivers.
The flipside is that the R2 kit will allow you to enter in RallyAmerica sanctioned events, with the future possibility of working with the BP Ford World Rally team.
Gallery: Ford Fiesta R2
Hit the jump for the official press release