All posts in “Motorsports”

Lotus Evija shown in John Player Special livery at Goodwood SpeedWeek

Goodwood SpeedWeek is here, and Lotus is using the event to highlight the upcoming Evija electric hypercar. Lotus is calling this the car’s “public dynamic debut,” which is relatively true, though the lack of a public audience at Goodwood does put a bit of a damper on the idea.

Regardless, the livery used to wrap the Evija is what truly caught our attention. For those familiar with Lotus racing liveries of the past, you’ll immediately recognize it as a modern take on the John Player Special livery. Lotus even photographed the Evija in this livery sitting next to a few old Formula 1 cars wearing the original John Player Special digs.

Black and gold just looks proper on a Lotus racecar, and it looks absolutely superb on the Evija, too. Since this is technically a dynamic debut, Lotus also gave us a short video that you can check out below.

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The most intriguing part is the audio. Those electric motors are loud. It can’t come close to matching the yowl of a high output gasoline engine, but the Evija is clearly going to make its own dramatic, electric noise. That’s all well and proper, because extra theater is what electric cars typically lack.

In an adjacent news brief, Lotus detailed some of the things it did to save weight. Lotus believes that “Colin Chapman would agree the Evija is 100% a true Lotus.” To make it so, Lotus says the carbon fiber monocoque is extremely light, weighing in at just 284 pounds, contributing to making it the lightest electric hypercar when it comes out (not as though there’s much competition). 

Using holes and free space contributed to the lightweighting efforts, too. The venturi tunnels through each rear haunch both save weight and produce downforce. The center console design and floating dashboard leave tons of empty space behind where weight would accumulate otherwise. Lotus’ crossbeam design for the dash helps it serve as a structural member and also houses the interior ventilation system, combining two elements into one and saving weight.

Lotus says you’ll be able to see the Evija attack the Supercar Run on SpeedWeek, where it will attempt to set a fast lap time against many other new supercars and hypercars.

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Toyota GR Super Sport hypercar previewed at 24 Hours of Le Mans

Here’s your yearly reminder that Toyota is building a hypercar. Just like it did in last year’s running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota has provided us a preview of the GR Super Sport. 

This car will run in the hypercar class in the World Endurance Championship, but the regulations require that anyone who enters will also need to produce a minimum of 20 road cars based on the race car. Toyota says the car we’re looking at in photos here is a GR Super Sport development car that is customized as a convertible and wearing the now-recognizable GR camouflage. Remember the same camo on the GR Supra a couple years ago?

Details are scarce on the ground concerning the road car version headed our way, but here’s what Toyota said about it: “The GR Super Sport epitomizes Toyota Gazoo Racing’s commitment to use motorsport to make ever-better road cars for the enjoyment of customers, and it symbolizes the ever-closer relationship between Toyota Gazoo Racing race and road car products.”

From what we’ve witnessed so far, more GR in Toyota road car products is a very good thing. The GR Yaris (that isn’t coming here) is a great example of what Toyota is capable of doing when it harnesses its engineering might. As for this car, it’s likely going to have near (or over) four-digit horsepower and a price tag that’ll buy you many lifetimes of Camrys. Its relation to the now three-time-Le-Mans-winning TS050 Hybrid should help it immensely. And in case you missed it, Toyota just happened to win Le Mans again last weekend.

McLaren Senna GTR LM cars created by MSO to honor the F1 GTR’s Le Mans success

The McLaren Special Operations division has outdone themselves again. Today, we get to present to you five McLaren Senna GTRs that were commissioned in a group. Their design and liveries are meant to re-create the five McLaren G1 GTRs that raced in the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans. McLaren took first place in that race, with the remaining four cars finishing third, fourth, fifth and 13th. 

These five Senna GTRs are much more than just Senna GTRs with stickers on them, too. The (faithfully re-created) liveries were hand-painted on every one of the cars. McLaren says each car took approximately 800 hours to paint, with some taking far more than that. All five are kept as close to the originals as possible, as McLaren coordinated with the Le Mans organizer to get permission to re-create every last detail of the logos and trademarks on the cars. The only sticker you’ll find on the exterior is a replica of the scrutineering sticker.

It isn’t just the appearance that received all the attention, though. McLaren has found a way to give the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 a small power boost. It went from making 814 horsepower to 833 horsepower. The rev limit has also increased from 8,250 rpm to nearly 9,000 rpm. This is accomplished through metal matrix composite valve spring retainers (65% lighter), higher grade steel for the valve springs and CNC ported cylinder heads. A recalibration of the whole powertrain takes advantage of these new parts, leading to the increase in power.

Small changes abound elsewhere in the car, too. OZ Racing designed a bespoke set of wheels for these cars; the suspension wishbones are made in an anodized version of their previous selves, and the brake calipers are finished in satin gold. New exit pipes are bent for the Inconel exhaust (for a new look), and the interior gets a small work over, too.

There’s a new racing steering wheel with anodized gold paddles and control buttons, titanium nitride pedals, carbon fiber racing seats with a bespoke headrest embroidery, leather door pull straps and an MSO six-point racing harness. We’re afraid to know the prices for these five cars, but we won’t know anyway, because McLaren hasn’t released that information.

All five owners will be allowed to take a lap of Circuit de la Sarthe on the day of the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans, which only seems right given their Le Mans re-creation provenance. 

Lewis Hamilton’s supercar collection sits undriven

Six-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has a collection of supercars worth millions of dollars but he no longer drives any of them.

The Mercedes driver, announced this week as the new owner of a team in the electric off-road Extreme E series starting up next year, told reporters he was doing his best to be environmentally friendly.

“It’s difficult because there are people (who say) like ‘yeah, but you race a Formula One car around every weekend’,” the 35-year-old Briton said on Thursday at the Tuscan Grand Prix at Italy’s Mugello circuit.

“Some of it’s education because not everyone knows the footprint that our sport currently has and what we’re doing in terms of trying to improve that. But I’m making a lot of changes in my personal life.

“I don’t drive any of the cars that I own anymore. I only drive my (electric Mercedes) EQC.”

Formula One issued a sustainability plan last year with the aim of achieving a net zero-carbon footprint for the sport by 2030. It has also promised that all Formula One events would be sustainable by 2025.

Hamilton, a vegan, said he also drove a Smart car and requested to be collected from airports in electric vehicles. He has sold his private jet.

According to media reports, he owns a Ferrari LaFerrari, Pagani Zonda, McLaren P1 and 1960s Shelby Cobra among other cars.

The championship leader said he was impressed by Extreme E’s aims and goals, with each team crew having a mandatory female driver.

The races will be held in some of the most remote and harsh environments including the Brazilian rain forest, Greenland, Saudi Arabian deserts and mountains of Nepal to highlight global warming.

There will be no spectators but races will be broadcast on TV and social media, with cars transported around the world on a boat that doubles as a floating paddock.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

2021 Ford GT Heritage Edition celebrates 1966 Daytona victory

Ford pulled the covers off the 2021 Ford GT Heritage Edition this weekend, inspired by the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona-winning GT40 Mk. II driven by Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby. Even casual motorsports fans likely remember that Ford’s GT program defeated the almighty Ferrari at Le Mans that year, but the 24-hour Daytona race was just as important of a milestone in the car’s history.

The 2021 Heritage Edition is a tribute to the race-winning car, painted in Frozen White with asymmetrical black (in this modern case, exposed carbon fiber) and red accents. The number 98 is emblazoned across the doors, and one-piece Heritage Gold 20-inch forged-aluminum wheels let red Brembo monoblock brake calipers peek through. Red and black Alcantara fabric covers much of the interior, including the seats and steering wheel. A Heritage Upgrade Package adds carbon fiber wheels with gloss red inner accent barrel and carbon fiber door panels.

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Past Heritage Edition Ford GT’s honored the black-and-silver GT40 Mark II that won at Le Mans in 1966 driven by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, the Le Mans-winning #1 Ford GT40 Mark IV from 1967 driven by Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt, and the iconic Gulf livery of the 1968 Le Mans winner from the JW Automotive Engineering team.

In addition to the Heritage Edition, Ford also announced a customizable Studio Collection graphics package for the 2021 GT. “The combination of the stripes and accents invokes the emotion of speed and draws your eye to some of the most prominent features of the GT,” says Garen Nicoghosian, design head at Multimatic, the company that assembles the GT for Ford. “The fuselage, buttresses and signature features on the headlights provide visual anchors for the graphics, guiding your eye across the vehicle.”

Only 40 Studio Collection GTs are planned for the 2021 and 2022 model years. See the Heritage Edition in the gallery up above, and various possible Studio Collection schemes just below.

Brabham Automotive BT62 Competition delivered to first U.K. customer

Despite the difficult circumstances created by the spread of the coronavirus and the resulting COVID-19 pandemic, Brabham Automotive has continued production of its BT62 throughout the past few months. Staying on schedule, Brabham plans to produce 70 units of the supercar, some for the road and some specifically for racing on the track. The first of the motorsport bunch, a BT62 Competition, has just been completed and delivered to Horsepower Racing in the United Kingdom.

Unlike major manufacturers that produce vehicles in large quantities in large facilities using a large number of people, Brabham is a small operation. Each car is hand-built, allowing for individual attention to various parts of the vehicle. Because of this, Brabham has been able to carry on while using precautionary measures.

There are technically three variants of the BT62: Ultimate Track, Competition Spec, and Road Compliant. Because it has been stripped of pieces such as a passenger seat, the BT62 Competition is the lightest of the three cars, but it has all the performance of the Ultimate Track version.

Under the hood, the Competition features a 5.4-liter naturally aspirated V8 that pairs with a six-speed sequential gearbox and makes a claimed 700 horsepower. In addition to an FIA-compliant carbon-chromoly safety cell with an integrated roll cage, the Competition model also has center-locking wheels, a pneumatic jacking system, a competition-ready gauge display and lightweight, removable, multi-function steering wheel, carbon-on-carbon brakes, motorsport ABS, and motorsport traction control. In part due to its massive rear wing, the BT62 Competition is expected to put down about 2,646 pounds of downforce

This particular example is headed to Horsepower Racing, a motorsport team based in the U.K. It will be driven in the Britcar Endurance Championship (when it happens) by owner/racer Paul Bailey, as well as Ross Wylie. The Brabham BT62 is priced at approximately $914,000 by current conversion rates.

SCG 007 hypercar to swap twin-turbo V6 for twin-turbo V8

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus began the long tease to its SCG 007 LMP1 hypercar with a set of sketches in June 2018 that clearly incorporated cues from the SCG 003. Refining that original sketch for 18 months produced a longer, smoother design with pontoon-like front fenders and a rear wing seamlessly integrated into a more tapered rear end. The first powertrain mentioned for the 007 was a twin-turbo V6 with 800 horsepower and a 200-hp hybrid component. In the WEC’s Hypercar class where SCG will try to win Le Mans outright, regulations cap maximum combined output at 740 horsepower, and electric assistance can only power the front wheels above 80 miles per hour. Late last year, Jim Glickenhaus told us SCG decided to shed the hybrid portion, since “We can make max allowed HP from our ICE, and our powerplant will be lighter and less complex.” A new announcement last week means the end of the V6, too, SCG partnering with French engine developer Pipo Moteurs on a “whole new custom V8 twin-turbo engine.” 

Pipo Moteurs opened for business in 1973, and has a track record of wins mainly in World Rally Championship with teams like Peugeot and Ford, and European hillclimbing with BMW. We expect the 007 to mark the first time SCG takes a V8 into top-level racing; the SCG 003 road car was powered by BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, but the road car housed a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 from Honda

SCG plans to get the 007 down near the WEC’s minimum weight of 1,100 kilograms (2,425 pounds). Evo reports that the first wind tunnel tests are finished, the engineering program scheduled to continue through to summer 2020. Subsystems should enter production in August 2020, the first shakedown runs happening a month later. The math so far shows the hypercar regulations enabling laps times of three minutes and 30 second around the Circuit de la Sarthe, about 15 seconds off the best qualifying lap for the pole-sitting Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid at Le Mans last year, 13 seconds adrift of the fastest lap set during the race by the second-place Toyota.

Next year’s a long way away, though. The hypercar class only has three entries for the moment, Toyota, SCG, and ByKolles scheduled to run after Aston Martin dropped out, and many wonder if that will be enough to keep a top-level worth running. The ACO and IMSA announced a new class to integrate the former’s LMP1 with the latter’s DPi into a new category possibly called LMDh, the first race the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Lamborghini had been examining a hypercar entry and Peugeot had committed, but Peugeot pulled out after the LMDh announcement. Being able to race internationally and run Daytona, Sebring, and Le Mans with one car is a huge lure to automakers. It’s not clear yet if the hypercar rules can be shoehorned into the new category, of if ACO will want to try. 

Assuming the 007 makes it to Le Mans at some point, SCG will produce at least 20 roadgoing versions to satisfy homologation rules, priced around $2.1 million, roughly the same price as the SCG 003. 

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McLaren releases new Senna GTR footage and explains that giant wing

McLaren launched the McLaren Tech Club last week with a brief episode about the aerodynamic magic of the open-top McLaren Elva. In part two of the video series, McLaren continues to explain how air and wind affect a car’s design, but this time it’s in a very different way. McLaren Principal Designer Esteban Palazzo dives into how the massive wing on the McLaren Senna GTR came to be and what purpose it serves. Three extra videos also show new footage of the Senna GTR testing in Bahrain.

Like the McLaren F1 GTR and McLaren P1 GTR that preceded it, the Senna GTR’s most prominent feature is its multi-tiered, multi-layered, carbon fiber pedestal wing. Palazzo says it was not only inspired by high-performance cars of the past and aircraft design, but also by the likes and tastes of the intended customers. In the case of the Senna GTR, Palazzo mentions science fiction and architecture.

The wing, which creates about 2,204 pounds of downforce and aids vehicle stabilization, has a few features that might not be immediately noticeable from photos or video. The shape takes design cues such as the endplates from LMP1 cars. In addition to connecting to the posts, the wing is further integrated into the car’s shape with attachments to the rear diffuser. The last piece mentioned is the automatic drag reduction system (DRS), a new piece of moving technology that helps with, well, minimizing drag.

After releasing episode two of the McLaren Tech Club, the Brits followed up with three videos of the Senna GTR testing on the Bahrain International Circuit, on which the Senna GTR holds the fastest race lap in the circuit’s current configurations. The first video offers an interactive 360-degree interior view, the second video shows the driver’s point of view, and the third video is shot from the Senna’s front splitter. McLaren does not say who is in the driver’s seat.

Episode three of the McLaren Tech Club should arrive at a similar time next week.

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Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Omologato preparing for debut

Lamborghini’s Squadra Corse motorsports division will soon be showing two takes on two of Lamborghini’s marquee products. At the deep end, we have the Aventador-based, 830-horsepower track car recently flogged on a dyno. At the other deep end we have this, which Motor1 caught wind of: Instagram user “allanlambo” uploaded pics of a camouflaged Huracán said to be called the Huracán STO, for Super Trofeo Omologato. If you’ve seen the automaker’s one-make and customer race car, the Huracán Super Trofeo Evo, the camouflaged coupe should look real familiar. From what we can tell, everything from the B-pillar back could have come straight from the competition car — the roof scoop, shark fin, bodacious wing, deep-dish spoiler, and center-lock wheels are all looking for the checkered flag. The rear even copies the overall design and negative spaces from the race car, as well as the diffuser, the only major change being the rear lights from the road car. The STO, according to Internet rumor and forum postings, will be a limited-edition road-going version of the race car.

Automobile mentioned this very creature late last year but only in passing, as a side dish to the possibility of a production Sterrato off-road sports car. According to a PistonHeads forum, word is the Huracán STO is about making the most of the Huracán Evo’s already potent package, so the naturally-aspirated 5.2-liter V10 with 632 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque goes unchanged. The engine will have less weight to shift, thanks to a diet expected to shed around 330 pounds. All power will go to the rear wheels, and as a Squadra Corse production, the Lamborghini Talk forum claims that the coupe won’t get the ALA system that improves handling. Backroom chatter has it that the STO was designed for superior hotshoes who carry their personal ALA systems somewhere between their solar plexii and their gall bladders, not for the merely average hotshoes who praise technology for keeping them out of gravel traps. Other add-ons like a racing clutch, a mechanical differential, and bigger brakes have been mentioned as potential upgrades.

Both forums peg a debut during Monterey Car Week in August, before the car goes on sale late this year as a 2021 model. The automaker supposedly intended the STO to be a small-batch special for dealer-backed race teams and Squadra Corse clients, akin to the Ferrari 488 Pista Piloti, but has opened sales to a wider audience. That doesn’t mean the opening is large, however; Lamborghini’s apparently spiffed up a customer grading system, so dealers can submit willing buyers and the factory will choose which applicants win. Owners have heard build numbers of between 400 and 700 units, dealers said to be lobbying for that lower number or even fewer. Applicants who lose out shouldn’t despair, there’s rumor of a Huracán Superleggera arriving before the model gives way to the next generation sometime around 2023. 

Glickenhaus SCG 004C gets its first track shakedown in Italy

It can be hard to keep track of the various Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus vehicles on the way because we read about them for years before seeing them. No matter, when they do show, they are welcome sights. The SCG 004C, hardcore racer that’s successor to the Nürburgring pole-sitting 003C, is the next to make the transition from text coverage to track footage. Developed to ultimately serve as a platform for GTE, GTLM, GT3, and GT4 categories as well as Germany’s NLS series, SCG put the first example to test on Italy’s Cremona Circuit. Years ago, SCG’s plan was to have Nissan’s 3.8-liter twin turbo VR38DETT V6 from GT-R placed amidships. That plan morphed into using a 6.2-liter naturally-aspirated pushrod V8 based on GM’s LT4 block, developed by Autotechnica Motori.

Fellow Italian company Podium Advanced Technologies is helping with overall vehicle engineering, SCG saying the 004 chassis — which will get an 004S road version, 004CS road/track version, and the 004C track-specific car — has already been through 35,000 hours of development work. As to the engine, James Glickenhaus told Sportscar365, “It can’t rev very high, but GT3 engines can’t rev very high anyway with the restrictors. You get a very low center of gravity and it’s a very compact engine, so there’s a tremendous amount of space around it to blow air around and keep it cool.” The 003C used a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged Honda HR35TT V6 built for IMSA’s Daytona Prototype category. Glickenhaus said the change in philosophy with the 004C meant that “with the low-end torque, we’re going to be able to be faster coming out of the turns than we were with the 003C.”

On the first shakedown and improvements compared to the 003C, the owner explained that two more inches of suspension travel in the 004C would translate into softer landings on the high-flying Nordschleife, and the new nose results in improved downforce and better aero balance. The 004C is also about 220 pounds lighter than its 2,976-pound forebear.

The 004C will of course be restricted to series power limits. Since the road-going cars won’t be limited, customers will get about 680 hp out of the V8 in the 004S, and around 850 hp out of the 004CS with the help of a supercharger bolted to that V8. Estimated price for the hand-built, carbon-fiber bodied 004S is $485,000, the 004CS will start around $650,000. As with the racer, all versions will employ a three-seater cockpit with a central driver’s seat, the choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission; the race car fits an Xtrac sequential transmission.

After its first test at Cremona, the 004C heads to Aragon, Spain, for a 30-hour endurance test. Its first race comes next month in the Experimental Class in the NLS series, before racing again in April, and a tilt at the Nürburgring 24 in May. Check out the sound from the outside in the clip above, and the on-board views below.

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Aston Martin spars with WEC over Valkyrie’s exit from racing

Confirming an earlier rumor, Aston Martin announced it has stopped developing the track-going version of the Valkyrie it planned to enter in the World Endurance Championship’s (WEC) new Hypercar category. It blamed its decision on a recent change in the regulations, but the sanctioning body responded that’s not the full story.

The British company explained it’s unhappy with the WEC’s decision to harmonize the Hypercar class with the LMDh category and the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship during the early 2020s. Without providing additional details, it declared the Valkyrie will not make its racing debut at the Silverstone track in August 2020 and it will not challenge Glickenhaus, Toyota, Peugeot and others in the 2021 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It added it’s considering canceling the program altogether, meaning the Valkyrie would never race.

Aston Martin isn’t quitting racing; far from it. It will continue to enter the Vantage GTE in WEC events around the world, and the Racing Point Formula One team will be rebranded Aston Martin after the 2020 season. The sudden and unexpected entry into Formula One led by investor Lawrence Stroll may have played a role in convincing executives to cancel the Hypercar program. Racing is expensive, and Aston isn’t doing well.

The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) that regulates the WEC doused cold water on Aston’s explanation. It opined the harmonization doesn’t impact the category, and it pledged to prove this claim when it releases additional technical specifications in March 2020. It instead blamed the decision to withdraw the Valkyrie from racing on the highly-publicized financial issues that have plagued Aston since 2019.

“The decision announced by Aston Martin is very regrettable but perhaps not unexpected in light of the persistent rumors over the last six months concerning the fragility of the brand’s exposure in the rapidly-evolving automotive market,” it wrote. As of writing, executives haven’t responded to these allegations.

Aston Martin and the FIA both noted they’re open to working with each other to find a solution, but the carmaker’s statement is highly ambiguous. It affirms Aston’s future presence in the racing world will be “defined by its activities at the highest level of both single-seater competition and endurance GT racing” and glaringly leaves the Hypercar category behind. To us, it sounds like the program has already been consigned to the attic.

The 2020-2021 WEC season begins in August 2020, so Aston Martin and the WEC need to quickly find a common ground if they want to salvage the Valkyrie’s racing career. Even if the car doesn’t race, the street-legal version remains on track for production, and the first deliveries are tentatively scheduled for late 2020.

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Lamborghini’s 830-hp V12 hypercar speaks out for the first time

Although the future of the brand includes electrification and hybrid technology, Lamborghini is still here in 2020 displaying the wonder of its brash V12 engine. Following the release of its first solo project called the SC18 Alston, Lamborghini Squadra Corse (LSC) is preparing to debut a limited-edition naturally aspirated track car with a hearty amount of power. A new teaser video gives fans a first listen as to what the car will sound like.

LSC first teased this car in October, 2019, and it unveiled a surprising amount of the design (seen below). Sporting a shape that fits the bill of a rumored entry into the Le Mans Hypercar arena, the new Lambo has a carbon fiber monocoque with an aluminum front frame, an airscoop on the roof, a motorsport-focused hood with dual air intakes, and a massive fixed carbon fiber wing. It will be powered by an 830-horsepower version of the 6.5-liter V12 engine, it’ll be stopped by big Brembo brakes, and it will have an “innovative self-locking type differential.”

Like the Alston, the Sián, and the V12 Vision GT that came before it, the upcoming hypercar wears the number 63. Additional style comes from White Peacock wheels wrapped in Pirelli color edition tires. As mentioned, the video below gives multiple views of the car and it appears the rear features a spine similar to that seen on the Sián, and it will wear tri-point graphics that seem to be inspired by the Sián’s headlights.

Get a glimpse of the internals in the new teaser video above, and listen to its exhaust, as it works the dyno. The car will debut “before the end of the year.” 

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JRM GT23 a limited-edition, road-legal Nissan GT-R GT3 racer

Nissan has worked with England’s JR Motorsports (JRM) for a decade on race versions of the GT-R Nismo. JRM won the GT1 World Driver’s championship in 2011 with the GT-R Nismo GT1, and in 2012 developed the GT-R Nismo GT3 that it still engineers and sells for certain international markets. To celebrate a decade of expertise and success with the Japanese super-coupe, the engineering firm has created a road-legal version of the GT3 called the GT23, because just 23 units will be built. That means getting the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 in the GT3 car instead of the 5.6-liter V8 in the GT1 racer, but without FIA series restrictions, GT23 specs surpass both the competition cars. It starts with a tune to 650-horsepower, 50 hp more than the GT3 car, and a likely 510 pound-feet of torque in a package that weighs 2,811 pounds. The scale figure is about 55 pounds less than the actual GT3 racer, and a gargantuan 1,054 pounds less than a stock, 600-hp GT-R Nismo. 

Nothing’s been untouched.The aggro aero starts up front with a mesh grille replacing the solid bumper, above a huge splitter. What’s left of the hood really only provides attachment points for an enormous duct below the cowl. The track’s been widened by 3.5 inches in front and 3.9 inches in back, covered with wider, vented fenders and underlined with extended, vented side sills. The high rear wing lords over a mostly unchanged rear end fitted with a deep diffuser and center-exit exhaust. Even with all that, the GT23 is a whole foot shorter than a stock GT-R. JRM says that with 325-width race slicks on the 18-inch wheels all around, the GT23 can max out at 2G in corners. An optional Extreme Pack ups output to 760 hp, bolts on a larger front splitter, turning vanes, and a bigger rear wing, fits an FIA roll cage, fire extinguisher, stiffer suspension and anti-roll bars, center-lock wheels, and air jacks.

Engineers swapped the GT-R’s all-wheel drive for rear-wheel drive, and moved the engine back to improve balance. The seven-speed automatic is gone, a six-speed sequential gearbox with a four-plate clutch in its place. The suspension is height-adjustable, the brakes vented all around, with six-piston calipers in front, four-piston units in back.

The interior’s been stripped to near racing standard, the gauge cluster thrown out for a compact, full-color digital display. A steering wheel with a bunch of buttons matches the new center console that’s been pared back to a push-button control center on the tunnel. And get a load of that all-encompassing race seat.

JRM will construct each GT23 at its headquarters in Daventry, England. Price starts at £380,000 British pounds ($498,383 U.S.) before options like the £59,995 Extreme Pack ($78,680 U.S.). JRM says clients can work with the design team to customize their cars as desired, deliveries will begin in Spring 2020.

McLaren Senna GTR Review | Driving the track-ready, race-banned hypercar

Reviewed by J.R. Hildebrand for TechCrunch. Hildebrand is a professional racing and test driver, nine-time Indianapolis 500 competitor and adjunct lecturer for The Revs Program at Stanford University.

SNETTERTON, England — The McLaren Senna GTR shouldn’t exist.

This feat of engineering and design isn’t allowed on public roads. It’s built for the track, but prohibited from competing in motorsports. And yet, the GTR is no outlier at McLaren . It’s part of their Ultimate Series, a portfolio of extreme and distinct hypercars that now serve as the foundation of the company’s identity and an integral part of its business model.

The P1, introduced in 2012, was McLaren Automotive’s opening act on the hypercar stage and was an instant success for both the brand and its business. McLaren followed it up with the P1 GTR, then went on to chart a course toward the Ultimate Series of today and beyond.

Since 2017, the automaker has added the Senna, Speedtail, Senna GTR and now the open-cockpit Elva to the Ultimate Series portfolio. While the GTR is certainly the most extreme and limited in how and where it can be used, it follows a larger pattern of the Ultimate Series as being provocatively designed with obsessive intent.

Automotive takes the wheel

Purpose-built race cars that call on every modern tool of engineering and design have historically been produced for one purpose: winning. This objective, nourished by billions of dollars of investment from the motorsports industry, has led to technological and performance breakthroughs that have eventually trickled down to automotive.

The pipeline that has produced a century of motorsports-driven innovation is narrowing as racing regulations become more restrictive. Now, a new dynamic is taking shape. Automotive is taking the technological lead.

Take the McLaren Senna road car, the predecessor to the GTR. McLaren had to constrain the design of the Senna to make it road legal. But the automaker loaded it with active aerodynamics and chassis control systems that racing engineers could only dream about.

McLaren wasn’t finished. It pushed the bounds further and produced a strictly track-focused and unconstrained race car that expands upon the Senna’s lack of conformity. The Senna GTR might be too advanced and too fast for any racing championship, but McLaren said to hell with it and made the vehicle anyway.

The bet paid off. All 75 Senna GTR hypercars, which start at $1.65 million, sold before the first one was even produced.

The Senna GTR is the symbol of a new reality — a hypercar market that thrives on the ever-more-extreme, homologation standards be damned.

Two weeks ago, I had a chance to get behind the wheel of the Senna GTR at the Snetterton Circuit in the U.K. to find out how McLaren went about developing this wholly unconstrained machine.

Behind the wheel

Rr-rr-rr-kra-PAH! The deafening backfire of the GTR’s 814-horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine snapped me to attention and instantly transported me to the moment earlier in the day that provided the first hints of what my drive might be like.

Rob Bell, the McLaren factory driver who did track development for the GTR, was on hand to get the car warmed up. Shortly after he set out, the car ripped down the front-straight, climbing through RPMs with an ear-protection-worthy scream that reverberated off every nearby surface, an audible reminder of how unshackled it is.

As Bell approached Turn 1, the rear wing quickly dropped back to its standard setting from the straightaway DRS (drag reduction system) position, then to an even more aggressive airbrake as he went hard to the brakes from 6th gear down to 5th to 4th. The vehicle responded with the signature kra-PAH! kra-PAH! and then promptly discharged huge flames out the exhaust as the anti-lag settings keep a bit of fuel flowing off-throttle.

I thought to myself, ‘Holy sh*t! This thing is no joke!’

Sliding into the driver’s seat, I feel at home. The cockpit is purposeful. The track was cold with some damp spots, and the GTR is a stiff, lightweight race car with immense power on giant slick tires. Conventional wisdom would suggest the driver — me in this case — should slowly work up to speed in these otherwise treacherous conditions. However, the best way to get the car to work is to get temperature in the tires by leaning on it a bit right away. Bell sent me out in full “Race” settings for both the engine and electronic traction and stability controls. Within a few corners — and before the end of the lap — I had a good feel for the tuning of the ABS, TC and ESC, which were all intuitive and minimally invasive.

As a racing driver, it’s rare to feel a tinge of excitement just to go for a drive. As professionals, driving is a clinical exercise. But the GTR triggered that feeling.

I started by pushing hard in slower corners and before long worked my way up the ladder to the fast, high-commitment sections. The car violently accelerated up through the gears, leaving streaks of rubber at the exit of every corner.

Once the car is straight, drivers can push the DRS button to reduce drag and increase speed for an extra haptic kick. The DRS button is now a manual function on the upper left of the steering wheel to give the driver more control over when it’s deployed. After hitting the DRS, the car dares you to keep your right foot planted on the throttle, then instantly hunkers down under braking with a stability I’ve rarely experienced.

The active rear wing adds angle while the active front flaps take it out to counterbalance the effect of the car’s weight shifting forward onto the front axle, letting you drive deeper and deeper into each corner. It’s sharply reactive; the GTR stuck to the road, but still required a bit of driving with my fingertips out at the limit on that cold day. I soon discovered that the faster I went, the more downforce the car generated, and the more speed I was able to extract from it.

Tip to tail

In almost any other environment, the Senna road car is the most shocking car you’ve ever seen. Its cockpit shape is reminiscent of a sci-fi spaceship capsule. The enormous swan neck-mounted rear wing is one highlight in a long list of standout features. The Senna road car looks downright pedestrian next to the GTR.

The rear wing stretches off the back of the car with sculpted carbon fiber endplates and seamlessly connects to the rear fender bodywork. The diffuser that emerges from the car’s underbody — creating low pressure by accelerating the airflow under the car for added downforce — is massive. The giant 325/705-19 Pirelli slicks are slightly exposed from behind, giving you the full sense of just how much rubber is on the ground, and the sharp edges of the center exit exhaust tips are already a bluish-purple tint.

The cockpit shape and dihedral doors are instantly recognizable from the road car. But inside, the GTR is all business. The steering wheel is derived from McLaren’s 720S GT3 racing wheel, a butterfly shape with buttons and rotary switches aplenty. The dash is an electronic display straight out of a race car; six-point belts and proper racing seats complete the aesthetic.

Arriving at the front of the car, the active front wing-flaps are as prominent as ever, while the splitter extends several inches farther out in front of the car and is profiled with a raised area in the center to reduce pitch sensitivity given the car’s much lower dynamic ride-height. In fact, nearly the entire front end of the car has been tweaked; there are additional dive-planes, the forward facing bodywork at the sides of the car have been squared-off and reshaped, and an array of vortex generators have been carved into the outer edge of the wider, bigger splitter surface.

All of these design choices in the front point to the primary area of development from the Senna road-car to the GTR: maximizing its l/d or ratio of lift (in this case the inverse of lift, downforce) to drag.

McLaren pulled two of its F1 aerodynamicists into the GTR project to take the car’s aero to a new level. The upshot: a 20% increase in the car’s total downforce compared to the Senna road car, while increasing aero efficiency — the ratio of downforce to drag — by an incredible 50%. The car is wider, lower and longer than its road-going counterpart, and somehow looks more properly proportioned with its road-legal restrictions stripped away to take full advantage of its design freedom.

This was the car the Senna always wanted to be.

The development process of the GTR was short and to the point. When you have F1 aerodynamicists and a GT3 motorsport program in-house attacking what is already the most high-performing production track car in the industry, it can be. There were areas they could instantly improve by freeing themselves of road-car constraints — the interior of the car could be more spartan; the overall vehicle dimensions and track width could increase; the car would no longer need electronically variable ride heights for different road surfaces so the suspension system could be more purposeful for track use; the car would have larger, slick tires.

All this provided a cohesive mechanical platform upon which to release the aerodynamic assault of guided simulation and CFD.

The GTR benefits from the work of talented humans and amazing computer programs working together with a holistic design approach. What was once a sort of invisible magic, aerodynamics has become a well-understood means of generating performance. But you still have to know what you’re seeking to accomplish; the priorities for a car racing at Pikes Peak are much different than those of a streamliner at Bonneville.

The development team for the GTR sought to maximize the total level of downforce that the tires could sustain, then really kicked their efforts into gear to clean up airflow around the car as much as possible. Many of the aggressive-looking design elements that differentiate the GTR from the Senna are not just for additional downforce but to move air around the car with less turbulence — less turbulent air means less drag. You can’t see it or feel it, but it certainly shows up on the stopwatch, and is often the difference between a car that just looks fast and one that actually is.

I hadn’t asked how fast the car was relative to other GT race cars before I drove it. I think a part of me was fearful that despite its appearance and specs it might be wholly tuned down to be sure it was approachable for an amateur on a track day. And that would make sense, as that’s the likely use-case this car will have. After driving the GTR, I didn’t hesitate for a second to ask, to which they humbly said that it’s seconds faster than their own McLaren 720S GT3 car, and still had some headroom.The Senna GTR is another exercise in exploring the limits of technology, engineering and performance for McLaren, enabled by a market of enthusiasts with the means to support it. And this trend is likely to continue unless motorsports changes the rules to allow hypercars.

McLaren’s next move

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest, organizers of the FIA World Endurance Championship, which includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has been working for years to develop regulations that could include them. While these discussions are gaining momentum, it remains to be seen whether motorsport can provide a legitimate platform for the hypercar in the modern era.

The last time this kind of exercise was embarked on was more than 20 years ago during the incredible but short-lived GT1-era at Le Mans that spanned from 1995 to 1998. It saw McLaren, Porsche, Mercedes and others pull out all the stops to create the original hypercars — in most cases comically unroadworthy homologation specials like the Porsche 911 GT1 Strassenversion (literally “street version”) and Mercedes CLK GTR — for the sole purpose of becoming the underpinnings of a winning race car on the world’s stage.

At that time, the race cars made sense to people; the streetcars were misfits of which only the necessary minimum of 25 units were produced in most cases, and the whole thing collapsed due to loopholes, cost, politics and the lack of any real endgame.

Today, the ACO benefits from a road-going hypercar market that McLaren played a key role in developing. Considering McLaren’s success with hyper-specific specialized vehicles in recent years, I’d bet the automaker could produce a vehicle custom-tailored to a worthy set of hypercar regulations. Even if not, McLaren will continue to develop and sell vehicles under its Ultimate Series banner.

And there’s already evidence that McLaren is doubling down.


McLaren shows off the open cockpit Elva.

McLaren’s Track 25 business plan targets $1.6 billion in investment toward 18 new vehicles between 2018 and 2025. The company’s entire portfolio will use performance-focused hybrid powertrains by 2025.

The paint had barely dried on the Senna GTR before McLaren introduced another new vehicle, the Elva. And more are coming. McLaren is already promising a successor to the mighty P1. I, for one, am looking forward to what else they have in store.

Our first look at the Peugeot hypercar for Le Mans

Peugeot is returning to Le Mans with Rebellion Racing, and the French automaker just dropped the first photo of what its car will look like in the hypercar class. We normally wouldn’t get too worked up over a race car rendering, but this one has certain … implications.

Homologation rules require manufacturers to both build and sell at least 20 production versions of the race car for it to be competition-legal in this class. That means Peugeot is ultimately going to have to sell a road-going version of this wild-looking race car, but only a few of them. Whether this potential Peugeot hypercar ends up looking anything like this rendering is still up for debate, but it’s an interesting idea to toy around with.

Peugeot has never produced a supercar or hypercar before, so the news that it would enter the WEC in this fashion was a bit shocking last month. The FCA-PSA tie-up just makes it all the more interesting now that Peugeot will be part of a massive company producing cars for the U.S. We’re still waiting on details about how much involvement Peugeot Sport will have in the car, as a previous report suggested Peugeot would hand much of the project off to Oreca and Rebellion Racing. Today, Peugeot made the Rebellion Racing partnership official, but the rest is still a bit hazy. 

The racing program is scheduled to kick off in 2022 with the Swiss Rebellion Racing team. We dig the jagged edges and concept design of the hypercar rendering Peugeot released today, which leaves us hopeful for an awesome final product in a couple years.

Peugeot to contest Le Mans in 2022 with new hybrid hypercar

Peugeot is the third OEM to put its hand up for the new, so-called hypercar class in the World Endurance Championship, after Aston Martin and Toyota. The French manufacturer last competed at La Sarthe from 2007 to 2011 with its diesel-powered 908 HDi FAP, beating Audi in 2009. It quit the sport in 2012 to deal with dire financial issues, parking its brand new 908 HYbrid 4 LMP1 car (pictured) on the eve of the season opener. The announcement by parent company PSA Group put the return in 2022, giving it an even decade out of the sport before coming back with a racer that might make more waves on the street than on the track. Homologation rules require class entrants to build and sell 20 production versions of the race car, and Peugeot hasn’t built a production supercar in, well, ever.

We’re not sure how much building it’ll be doing here, either. Even though Peugeot Sport will play a key role in this effort, Sportscar365 reported in October that the French carmaker was looking at a “customer-based hypercar built by ORECA and run by Rebellion Racing.” Oreca and Rebellion are LMP-category stalwarts with OEM experience; the 47-year-old French team Oreca ran Toyota’s TS030 Hybrid in 2012 and has designed Rebellion’s cars, while the nine-year-old Swiss Rebellion team ran Toyota engines in its LMP car for the first four years of its existence. It’s possible the future Le Mans runner will campaign will be a technical partnership between the three outfits, a “semi-works effort run under the Rebellion banner.” Furthermore, the collaboration could start with Peugeot-branded engines supplied to the Rebellion R13 LMP1 car grandfathered into the series’s inaugural season that begins next summer.

As for Peugeot’s official debut, it’s not clear if the 2022 date means the first WEC race in the calendar year, or the 2022-2023 WEC season. The endurance racing calendar starts in September and overlaps calendar years. The 2019 season commenced in September, the first race in 2022 will be the fifth round of the current season. Peugeot promises more details in early 2020.

For the moment, Glickenhaus and ByKolles —run by former Formula One team boss Colin Kolles — are the other two manufacturers planning to compete at the top level in the new class in 2020. Porsche and McLaren have made noises about it but nothing’s come of it yet, and Lamborghini said in August that it’s looking closely at the regulations to gauge an entry.

Lamborghini previews Huracán Super Trofeo EVO and Urus ST-X Lego sets

At the Super Trofeo World Finals at the Jerez de la Frontera Circuit in Spain, where world-class athletes put their driving skills to the test in the big kid toys, Lamborghini unveiled two brand-new toys for everybody that are set to launch in 2020. The Huracán Super Trofeo EVO and Urus ST-X are paired for the next Lego Speed Champions set.

The Huracán Super Trofeo EVO is already one of Lamborghini’s most popular racing models and competes in the single-make Super Trofeo series. The Urus ST-X is set to compete in track and off-roading competitions starting in October 2020 at the Misano World Final in an all-new race. Now both of these cars will be available for purchase in Lego form. 

Fortunately, 2020 marks the start of a new chapter for Lego Speed Champions with the evolution to the more accurate ‘8 Studs Wide’ design, and we felt that we could now do the popular brand justice,” Lego Speed Champions design manager specialist Chris Stamp said. “Especially the wide body of the Huracán Super Trofeo EVO. And with the awesome Urus ST-X we also introduce our first Super SUV into the theme, which fans will hopefully be just as thrilled with as we are.”

The Huracán model includes realistic parallels such as the shark fin, air scoop, front diffuser and large wing. It features a black scheme with slick accents and advertising sponsors. The set is 659 pieces in total and also includes starting “lights” and two figurines. Though pricing is yet to be released, the set will be available starting January 1, 2020. Seems like a missed Christmas opportunity, no?

Lamborghini Squadra Corsa previews 830-hp hypercar and racing Urus ST-X

At the conclusion of last year’s Lamborghini Super Trofeo series, the Sant’Agata Bolognese carmaker’s Squadra Corse division unveiled the SC18 Alstom. That was a one-off, customer-commissioned, extreme track car based on the Aventador SVJ, and the first wholesale creation from the racing department. At this year’s series finale in Jerez, Spain, it teased a limited-run hypercar and an evolution of the race-bound Urus ST-X. The hypercar proves a rumor from earlier this month, when a poster at the McLaren Life forum said he was “Going to spec next week and test drive the SVR V12 track version of AV,” that AV standing for Aventador. Lamborghini says the track-only car, designed by the company’s Centro Stile department, will debut next year.

The rumor had posited the hypercar as a ne plus ultra expression of the Aventador’s 6.5-liter V12, and that seems to be the case. Engineers extracted 830 horsepower from the naturally aspirated engine, 70 hp more than found in the SVJ. In place of the road car’s seven-speed, single-clutch ISR transmission, the unnamed hypercar uses a six-speed Xtrac sequential gearbox, and a mechanical limited-slip differential can be adjusted by the driver for preload. The standard Aventador chassis has been reworked around that powertrain for aerodynamic and safety reasons. The front structure’s made of aluminum, a more pliant — and less expensive — material to deal with in case of incidents on the track. The engine’s been wrapped in a steel cage in order to increase torsional and bending stiffness. Airflow improves thanks to dual intakes on the hood, an airscoop over the cockpit, and a stonking rear wing. 

The Urus ST-X has undergone a few changes since its debut last year. The Verde Mantis SUV has been lightened by about 25 percent compared to the production version with “a lighter structure,” a vented carbon fiber hood and rear wing, and a racing exhaust. The cabin’s luxurious appointment are replaced by a roll cage, racing seats, and a fire suppression system. Scheduled to make its race debut at the end of October 2020 in Misano, Italy, the first pilots to get a chance behind the wheel will be winners of the four classes in the Super Trofeo series.

Toyota Finally Victorious at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2018!

Toyota have finally reigned victorious at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2018. The Toyota Gazoo racing team finally managed to score a victory at the legendary 24 Hour race. The team had raced at Le Mans since 2012 with a very competitive car, yet had never managed to score an outright victory.

The win was achieved by Toyota’s number 8 car piloted by the experienced duo of Kazuki Nakajima, and Sébastien Buemi together with newcomer Fernando Alonso who scores outright victory in the race at the first time of asking!

The result was never really in any doubt as the number 8 car qualified on pole and led the race from the outset.

The number 7 car was always out of reach. It suffered several setbacks during the race including a scare in the final few hours when it slowed for a few minutes with what looked like a fuel problem. It later turnout out that Kamui Kobayashi had simply forgotten to pit and was asked to conserve fuel to make it through the lap. It finished second behind the sister car giving Toyota a 1-2 finish.

Further down the field, the LPM2 class was fiercely fought, although GDrive Racing’s number 26 car eventually built an unassailable lead over the rest of the field. GTE Pro saw Porsche back on form with a win for the number 92 911, while GTE Am also saw a Porsche, the Dempsey-Proton Racing car, come out on top.

Toyota’s win is made all the more special after the team came within a lap of victory in 2016 only to have it taken away from them by reliability issues. The difference this year is that the field is less hotly contested with Porsche and Audi having stepped aside in recent years.

Vettel Wins Bahrain GP, Bottas Leads Mercedes 2-3

A second consecutive win for Vettel in the season so far, the Ferrari driver has won the Bahrain Grand Prix 2018 after leading from start to finish. Ferrari initially put him on what appeared to be a two stop strategy but after Raikkonen retired, Vettel made his soft tires stick to the end. Bottas finished in second place ahead of teammate Hamilton to give Mercedes a double podium.

Bahrain Grand Prix 2018 results

1. Vettel, 2. Bottas, 3. Hamilton, 4. Gasly, 5. Magnussen, 6. Hulkenberg, 7. Alonso, 8. Vandoorne, 9. Ericsson, 10. Ocon

Vettel started from pole at the Bahrain Grand Prix 2018, his 200th Grand Prix. Hamilton started from P9 after getting a five place grid drop for an unscheduled gearbox change, Mercedes found a leak in his gearbox after Australia. Elsewhere, Max Verstappen started from P15 after crashing out of Q1 yesterday, caused by an unexpected power surge of 150hp in his Red Bull.

It was not a smooth start for all, Perez spun at turn 1 while Hamilton made contact with Verstappen. There was also a stagnant Red Bull of Ricciardo on the field, the VSC was deployed to remove the car. At the front meanwhile, the race was led by Vettel away from Bottas and Raikkonen.

Verstappen’s Red Bull suddenly stopped on lap 6/57, and that was it for Red Bull at Bahrain GP 2018, it was later reported that Verstappen was told to retire the car by Red Bull. Hamilton meanwhile had managed to jump to P5.

The Perez spin on turn 1 was caused by Hartley, and he was given a 10s penalty. Hamilton had moved to P4 by lap 10, still on the soft tire while the three ahead were on supersoft, at around this time some cars began pitting for new tires including Lance Stroll, Vandoorne, Leclerc and Perez.

At the front, Vettel and Bottas were having a battle of their own, by lap 17/57, Bottas had trimmed down Vettel’s gap to 2.3s. Hamilton meanwhile was only 6s away from Raikkonen. Vettel made his first stop on lap 19, and switched into softs before rejoining the race in fourth behind Hamilton. “It’s all going to start happening now Lewis. Remember, we are sticking to Plan A.” Mercedes told Hamilton. Bottas stopped two laps later after Vettel and picked up medium tires, leaving Hamilton in the lead. Mercedes was having a one stop strategy while Ferrari was using a two stop.

Vettel managed to pass Hamilton on lap 26 with the help of DRS, taking back the lead. The Mercedes was yet to stop, and Bottas was further back in third. Raikkonen was told to pass Bottas as the Mercedes driver was not going to stop again. Hamilton made his first and only stop on lap 27, he switched mediums and rejoined in fourth.

Raikkonen stopped on lap 36 and switched into softs, but as he was leaving the pits he accidentally knocked down a member of his crew. The Ferrari pulled up to retire, in the meantime, the crew member was taken to the medical center for checks. Vettel was then told to go to plan B since Kimi retired. Ferrari was being investigated for unsafe release.

“I feel you guys aren’t giving much of a picture, I don’t know what the **** I’m doing,” said Hamilton. The team was having a problem with the radio.

By lap 52, Vettel was beginning to show struggle with his tires and Bottas had brought the gap down to 2.2s. But the Ferrari managed to hold till chequered flag, winning the Bahrain GP 2018 after leading from start to finish.