All posts in “Motorsports”

SSC officially owns up to its failed October top speed attempt

SSC acknowledged Wednesday that its Tuatara supercar did not reach the speed claimed by the company in October when it allegedly obliterated the Koenigsegg Agera RS’s then-record with a 316.11-mph run. While SSC didn’t outright apologize or completely explain the error, nor did the company reveal the Tuatara’s true top speed from last year’s run, the small supercar builder’s Instagram post is the first public admission that all was not as it seemed in the fall.

“We have seen your questions for months now and understand your frustrations. If it hasn’t been made clear up to this point, we would like to acknowledge officially that we did not reach the originally claimed speeds of 331 MPH or even 301 MPH in October of 2020,” the post said. “We were truly heartbroken as a company to learn that we did not reach this feat, and we are in an ongoing effort to break the 300 MPH barrier transparently, officially, and undoubtedly.”

“We also want to thank all of those who were supportive and understanding of our unexpected incident in April that has delayed our top speed efforts,” it continued.

Many cried foul after reviewing the video released by SSC which claimed to substantiate its top-speed run. The controversy prompted SSC to make a second (and ultimately unsuccessful) attempt. The third time turned out to be the charm, however the results were far less impressive, albeit still sufficient to knock off the Agera’s previous record. 

The “unexpected incident” referenced near the end of SSC’s post occurred when their record-attempt car was seriously damaged in transit back in April. The company claims it will eventually set the record straight (so to speak), but when, where and whether that will happen are all still yet to be determined. 

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Everrati and Superformance team up to build an all-electric GT40

Britain’s Everrati and America’s Superformance are teaming up to build all-electric continuation models of the iconic GT40 race car. Everrati, which has developed electric overhauls for the Porsche 911 (964), Land Rover Series IIA and Mercedes-Benz SL Pagoda, will take the lead on the powertrain, with Superformance supplying the body. 

Superformance’s licensed replicas may conjure images of America challenging the best from Italy at Le Mans, but that was a trans-Atlantic effort as well; the body for the original was built in Coventry. The roles may be reversed, but the pairing is as old as the idea of dethroning Enzo Ferrari. 

“The Everrati and Superformance partnership will allow enthusiasts to drive an electric-powered GT40, with development of this first model already underway,” the two said in their announcement. “A prototype chassis has been built and is being comprehensively adapted from ICE power to advanced electric propulsion at Everrati’s UK development centre in Upper Heyford, a former U.S. air base in the English Cotswolds.”

Neither provided any details regarding the GT40’s potential powertrain or its ultimate performance, but Superformance has pretty much always left such things up to the end customer, letting them choose from existing vintage and modern powertrains for its licensed replicas. There likely won’t be as many options for the electric GT40, but we sincerely doubt it will be a one-size-fits-all setup. Stay tuned. 

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Porsche 911 GT2 RS with Manthey kit sets Nurburgring production car lap record

Porsche is claiming the Nürburgring lap record for a production car once more, and it’s doing so with a 911 GT2 RS. However, there’s the slightest bit of gray area with this particular record. The 911 GT2 RS that broke the record is fitted with a Manthey Performance Kit. That screams “modified” at first blush, but Porsche skirts around that issue by saying that it offers this Manthey Performance Kit as a Porsche Tequipment option and sells it via Porsche Centers. This satisfies the “production” requirements, so the lap record is filed thusly.

Mercedes-AMG might be a little chuffed, though. This Manthey Performance Kit-equipped GT2 RS beat its AMG GT Black Series (previous record holder) around the ‘Ring by just 0.316 second. As Dominic Toretto says in “The Fast and the Furious” though, “It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning’s winning.”

Porsche’s official time set by development driver Lars Kern is 6:43.300 minutes. Versus a non-Manthey GT2 RS, it’s 4.747 seconds quicker. Modifications were made to the chassis, brakes and aero components to make the lap faster.

The new dampers in front have three different settings, while the rears have four. A new pad compound is paired with Porsche’s carbon ceramic rotors that is even more aggressive than standard. And the aero improvements include added flaps on the front spoiler, a new rear spoiler, modified diffuser, additional underbody coverings and aero discs on the rear wheels. Downforce in front at 124 mph increases from 108 pounds to 154 pounds. In the rear, it goes up from 205 pounds to 441 pounds. Kern cites the additional downforce as the main additive that allowed the lap to be nearly five seconds quicker than a normal GT2 RS.

Manthey’s last change includes an additional water tank for spray cooling of the intercoolers. The extra tank allows for fewer fill-ups, which is perfect for those who buy the track-focused Manthey kit. Porsche says European owners of the GT2 RS can order the kit now from a Porsche Center. It all comes with a Porsche warranty, and Porsche promises the kit will come to other markets in time.

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McLaren dresses in Gulf livery, reveals 720S and F1 car in orange and blue

If you’re a Gulf livery fan, McLaren has your back this week. McLaren revealed a 720S Gulf livery creation, and a Gulf livery for its Formula One cars to run around in for the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix.

Starting with the road car, this Gulf livery is no sticker package. Mclaren’s MSO team spent 20 days painstakingly painting this design onto a 720S in an effort to make a callback to the McLaren F1 GTR raced by the Gulf GTC team. Both the blue and orange were perfectly matched, and the details are impressive. You’ll notice orange brake calipers, blue and orange interior stitching, Gulf logos on the headrests and side sills and an orange center stripe on the steering wheel with blue spokes.

McLaren worked directly with Gulf on this entire build, too, having just renewed the relationship between the companies last year — that deal makes Gulf the preferred oil and gasoline supplier for McLaren cars, and they’re filled with both from the factory. If you want a 720S that looks like this, McLaren says that “a limited number of customers will exclusively have the opportunity to have their McLaren supercars hand-painted by MSO in Gulf livery.” That means not many, so raise your hand if you want one.

As for the F1 cars, this Gulf livery is perhaps even more exciting. We never get to see the Gulf livery in F1, so McLaren’s one-off cars this year are going to be somewhat of a spectacle. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris will race in this get-up while wearing matching racing suits and helmets. The cars look superb in photos, and we can’t wait to see them on track this coming weekend.

“This will be McLaren’s homage to Gulf’s celebrated race car design,” says McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “We’re enormous fans of brave and bold design, and the striking Gulf blue is among the most loved liveries in racing, a celebrated piece of culture which transcends the world of motorsport.”

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Prodrive to build $1.4 million street-legal rally raid supercar

U.K.-based race car builder Prodrive’s next project is a supercar described by founder and CEO David Richards as a “Ferrari of the desert.” Based on its BRX-T1 Dakar race rig, the vehicle will be powered by a Prodrive-modified Ford 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6. As with the rally raider, its design will be led by Ian Callum.

According to Autocar, the road car will likely be called the Hunter, and will hew closely to the Dakar-bred BRX-T1. However, it will feature a full interior and all the fixings to make it comfortable street car. It will also have, reportedly, a 500-horsepower version of the V6, which is more power than the 400 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque that the race car puts out. Power will be delivered through what Richards calls a “sophisticated transmission,” but he didn’t specify whether it’d be based on the six-speed sequential gearbox of the race car.

The race machine was built atop a steel tube-frame chassis draped in carbon fiber body panels. It’s not clear whether the road car will use a similar construction, but Callum, who has designed many beloved cars for Jaguar, Aston Martin, Ford and the BRX race car, will lend his hand to the body. The BRX-T1 definitely exhibits shades of the F-Type visible in the rear.

Richards told Autocar that the road car will be wider than the race car to accommodate bigger tires. In fact, having too-small tires was among the reasons Prodrive’s BRX-T1 Dakar racers didn’t have a better turnout in January. Nine-time WRC champion Sebastian Loeb logged a DNF because he kept getting punctures and eventually just ran out of tires. The other car, driven by Nani Roma, finished fifth overall. The team believes it has gained valuable experience that will help them log a better result next year.

The Hunter will likely cost £1 million ($1.83 million), but will stand in a class of its own. Richards told Autocar, “Imagine a road car capable of going across the sand dunes at 100mph – and keep doing it for 300 miles because the fuel tank is so big. It’s going to be quite exciting.”

Three of Ken Block’s Hoonigan builds are up for sale, including his RS200

Earlier this year, Gymkhana master Ken Block and Ford announced an amicable and uneventful divorce, with Block declaring himself a “free agent.” This quiet split may have slipped past your scopes, but one bit of fallout from the separation is guaranteed to stir up some interest: Ken Block is letting a few of his fast Fords go. 

LBI Limited’s “Ken Block Collection” showcase features two of Block’s rally-prepped Ford Fiesta STs and his Group B Ford Escort RS200. Both of the Fiestas — dubbed GYM3 and RX43 are powered by 2.0-liter turbocharged engines pushing north of 600 horsepower (per the Global RallyCross Supercar Spec, in the RX43’s case) and, thanks to their all-wheel drive and sequential gearboxes, can hit 60 mph in two seconds or less. GYM3 is allegedly capable of 850 horsepower with a different tune, but Block preferred the torque band offered with the less aggressive calibration.  

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The RS200 is a different beast entirely. Not only is it a genuine Group B rally car, it’s one of just 24 that were upgraded to EVO spec (more than 500 horsepower from the 2.1-liter version of the Cosworth-tuned 4-cylinder engine), which meant a 0-60 time of 3.0 seconds flat way back in 1986, when such things were virtually unheard of.

Nope, these won’t go cheap, and only the RS200 has a price listed ($550,000 asking, if you’re curious) and we suspect there might be enough interest to push that price higher. If you’re like us and these are well outside of your budget, just remember, you can enjoy them from the comfort of your own home thanks to the countless YouTube videos produced by the Hoonigan team during the Ford era. 

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If you want to buy a Toyota GR Super Sport hypercar, you’ll have to answer some questions first

The much anticipated Le Mans Hypercar class is set to kick off later this year, and that means road-going versions of the prototype race cars will soon be upon us. As per LMH homologation rules, carmakers must build a minimum of 20 street-legal versions. One of the coolest is expected to be the 986-horsepower Toyota GR Super Sport, but with such limited production, not everyone who wants one is going to be able to buy one.

Toyota is going to carefully choose who gets the privilege, and has put out a questionnaire for prospective buyers with some interesting inquiries. For one, Toyota wants to know your car ownership history, and they don’t mean the hand-me-down Tercel you had in high school. They want to know specifically if you’ve ever owned a Toyota 2000GT or Lexus LFA, but leave spaces for 10 other write-in candidates.

For those not familiar, the 1967-70 Toyota 2000GT was Japan’s first premium sports car, costing more than a Porsche 911 at the time. Reviews of the time were very favorable, but the hand-built car sold poorly because Toyota was not yet an established marque outside of Japan. In recent years, the 337 examples that were built have sold for between $900,000 and $1.2 million.

The Lexus LFA’s production beat the 2000GT’s, but not by much. Only 500 were made, and Toyota even constructed its own carbon fiber loom to weave parts of the body. The rev-happy 552-horsepower V10 (or 571 if you got one of 50 Nürburgring versions) is considered one of the best (and best-sounding) engines of the era. Even famous Lexus hater Jeremy Clarkson called it the best car he’s ever driven.

Admittedly, those would make pretty impressive stable-mates for a GR Super Sport. Toyota is clearly looking for connoisseurs of fine Aichi steel to make the cut. Toyota also asks about what racing licenses the potential buyer might hold, how often they go to the track, and what their level of involvement in motorsports might be (answer choices range from watching on TV to owning a racing team). Apparently, Toyota wants the GR Super Sport‘s twin-turbo V6 hybrid powertrain to be used as intended.

It’s not unusual for purveyors of luxury exotics like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin to pick its customers of limited-edition cars, but this is the first time Toyota has been so selective. It’s also a rare peek into what a carmaker looks for in potential hypercar buyers. If you think you have what it takes, fill out the survey on Toyota’s website.

Finali Mondiali Ferrari 2020 Rewind

Ferrari World Finals 2020 finally went down after the postponement back in November 20 due to lockdown restrictions in Italy. The event took place at the Misano circuit behind closed doors. Ferrari Challenge race drivers could finally compete in the last race of the season and seal the victory for the Coppa Shell and Trofeo Pirelli championships.

Finale Mondiale Trofeo Pirelli

The World Champions of the Trofeo Pirelli and Pirelli AM 2020 were Florian Merckx and Han Sikkens (HR Owen) respectively. 30 minutes of racing was not enough to decide the winner of the elite class: after scrutineering race stewards decided to disqualify the car belonging to Thomas Neubauer (Charles Pozzi – Courage) for technical irregularities, in spite of the car having commanded the race throughout.

Following the disqualification of the Frenchman, the title was awarded to Merckx, second past the chequered flag, while Fabienne Wohlwend (Octane 126) and Cooper MacNeil (Ferrari of Westlake) occupied the remaining two steps on the podium. Neubauer’s appeal makes the ranking sub judice pending the result of the appeal.

In the AM class, after a complicated start, pole-sitter Frederik Paulsen (Formula Racing) was forced to retire as was Matús Vyboh (Scuderia Praha), who looked like a contender on the eve of the race. Likewise, Christian Brunsborg (Formula Racing) was sanctioned with a drive-through, effectively ruling out any title aspirations despite the fastest lap of the category. After a long series of overtaking and counter manoeuvres Sikkens took a decisive lead and went on to become the champion; behind him was Tommaso Rocca (Rossocorsa), while John Dhillon (Graypaul Nottingham) finished third.

Finale Mondiale Coppa Shell

Roger Grouwels and Michael Simoncic (Baron Motorsport) are the new 2020 Coppa Shell and Coppa Shell AM World Champions. The race got underway with a fierce tussle between Ernst Kirchmayr (Baron Motorsport) and Grouwels, who managed to pull off a perfect overtaking manoeuvre at turn 8 to slip past his rival. In AM class, a troubled start from “Boris Gideon” (Formula Racing), saw him drop down the class order to third place behind Simoncic and “Alex Fox” (SF Grand Est Mulhouse).

The leading three then began to edge away: Grouwels set a fine pace and went on to clinch both the victory and a fastest lap of 1:37.135 ahead of Kirchmayr and Axel Sartingen (Lueg Sportivo). Meanwhile, among the AM class competitors, Simoncic took the top honours ahead of “Alex Fox” and Miroslav Výboh (Scuderia Praha), who produced an astonishing overtaking move on the final lap to outstrip Willem Van Der Vorm (Scuderia Monte-Carlo) hampered by damage to the car due to an earlier collision.

Corse Clienti

Naturally, between one race and another the XX Programme and F1 Clienti shakedown took place. This year, this part of the event was held in a reduced format but nonetheless a few FXXK EVO and 599 XX entertained the circuit with their screaming v12 and terrific performances. Old school F1 lovers were pleased as well with the presence of an F2007 and an F2008 that were raced by Kimi Räikkönen and brought two World Constructors’ titles to Maranello.

As tradition dictates, the long racing weekend concluded with the “Ferrari show”, this time unfortunately it was a pleasure available for the selected few that could attend the event. The show opened with several laps from the range of Prancing Horse covered-wheel racing models, namely the 488 GTE and the 488 GT3 Evo 2020 which raced in the FIA WEC and GT World Challenge Europe series, as well as the two #51 and #52 488 GTEs set to compete in the world championship.

At the wheels were a group of official Competizioni GT drivers, James Calado, Daniel Serra, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessandro Pier Guidi. It then came the turn of the Formula 1 single-seaters with Davide Rigon, Andrea Bertolini, Giancarlo Fisichella and Olivier Beretta driving four F60s, letting rip with their roaring V8s over a series of thrilling fast laps.

Next came the entrance of the 488 GT Modificata on the track, due to take part in Club Competizioni GT events – a car built for sheer driving pleasure and one unimpeded by any championship limitations and thus able to really bring out the best of the 488 GTE and 488 GT3 Evo 2020. The show concluded with a group photo of the official drivers from Ferrari Attività Sportive GT, Ferrari Challenge and the Competizioni GT teams with the cars lined up on the circuit.

Words and Photos by Yaron Esposito
Instagram: @Aaronandcars

Glickenhaus 007 Le Mans Hypercar seen testing at Monza

The Glickenhaus 007 has been filmed testing at the famed Autodromo Nazionale di Monza circuit. The entry into the new Le Mans Hypercar category plans to take on the likes of Toyota and Peugeot with a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V8. And if the noise generated by the wailing motor is any indication, the new class will be a raucous good time.

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While limited to 670 horsepower by class rules, quite a bit lower than recent Le Mans race cars, the organizing powers that be hope slower cars and fewer development costs will help lower the bar of entry. That, in turn, should attract more manufacturers and make races more exciting. Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus was priced out of the outgoing classes, but believes they will be competitive in Hypercar.

It also means the road-going version of the Glickenhaus 007 will have quite a bit more power — 840 from a 3.0-liter V8 at last count — than the race car it’s based on. (Similarly, Toyota’s GR Super Sports road car is said to have 986 horsepower). Hypercar rules require at least 20 street-legal versions to be built.

The Glickenhaus 007’s motor is a bespoke design developed by France’s Pipo Moteurs. That firm is probably best known for building the engines for Ford and Peugeot’s WRC cars. However, Glickenhaus’ partnerships with established names in the racing world doesn’t end there. The car is being developed by Joest, who has partnered with Porsche, Audi and Mazda on their prototype racers, and whose Bentley Speed 8 GTP won Le Mans in 2003. The aerodynamics are being developed by Sauber, famous for designing Mercedes‘ Group C racers.

Glickenhaus believes it can be the first American manufacturer to win overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since Ford’s last factory-backed win with the GT40 in 1967, and a privateer GT40 win in 1969. If things go according to plan, the Le Mans Hypercar class will kick off this year, with Ferrari joining in 2023, and hopefully usher in the next golden era of prototype racing.

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Gordon Murray unveils the 725-horsepower track-built T.50s Niki Lauda

Formula One legend Niki Lauda would have been 72 years old if he were alive today. Though he died in 2019, we think he would have heartily approved of the new Gordon Murray T.50s, which will also be called the Niki Lauda as an homage.

That’s because Lauda drove the Brabham BT46B “fan car,”  the Formula One car that inspired the T.50’s technological centerpiece, to its only victory. The downforce-generating fan helped Lauda win the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix to the dismay of rival teams. Murray also designed that car, and wanted to pay tribute to his friend and three-time F1 champ.

Like the Brabham, the T.50s is not street legal. It’s billed as a track version of the GMA T.50, the supercar Murray designed as a pure driver’s antidote to the status barges that modern supercars have become. The Lauda leans harder into Murray’s philosophy of lightness. Over 200 pounds have been stripped from the road-going T.50, thanks to one less passenger seat in the 1+2 layout, a stripped-out interior, and thinner glass. Total weight, 1,878 pounds.

However, reduced mass isn’t the only performance enhancement. The Cosworth-built 3.9-liter V12 now makes 725 horsepower, or 66 more ponies than the standard model. Part of that gain comes from a central roof-mounted intake drawing air into the engine, as well as the removal of any sound restriction hardware from the exhaust.

For the track model, one of the street T.50’s dearest features, an old-school manual transmission, has been replaced with a six-speed paddle-shift Xtrac. According to GMA, the gear ratios are more closely spaced on the race car, so a stick shift didn’t make sense; the driver would lose precious milliseconds switching gears and taking hands off the wheel.

The Lauda adds several aerodynamic aids that visually differentiate it from the T.50, starting with a wide lower air dam. A trio of NACA ducts funnel fresh air into the cabin and toward the front brakes. A long dorsal fin like the ones found on Le Mans prototypes extends from the cabin roof to the rear, where a GT-style rear wing spans the tail. According to GMA, it generates as much as 3,300 pounds of downforce at 175 mph.

Inside, the central instrument pod has been replaced with a digital screen, and the standard steering wheel with a yoke-type handle. Taking the space on the right, where the manual shifter and console would have been, is a board of toggle switches.

There will only be 25 Niki Laudas produced. Each will feature a plaque celebrating a victory by one of Murray’s many F1 car designs, starting with the 1974 South African Grand Prix at Kyalami Circuit. Production begins January 2022, and despite a $4.3 million price tag, GMA says 15 cars are already spoken for.

Back to the Roots: Audi to Focus on Rallying Starting with Dakar 2022

Audi will enter the Dakar Rally in 2022 with a new electric drive concept racer, the company has announced. Rallying will become their flagship sport, as they push electrification in the gruesome Dakar Rally. Audi is not new to pioneering concepts in Motorsport, they became the first to utilize AWD in Group B, and many years later claimed the first victory of a hybrid car in Le Mans.

Therefore, without rallying Audi Motorsports would not be what it is today. By mastering the art of AWD rallying with the Audi Quattro in the 80s, they changed the sport forever. They now seek to introduce an electric driven Dakar racer using technology they acquired from Formula E. By focusing on Dakar, the company will discontinue its Formula E factory campaign after the 2021 season.

If you are wondering how they will locate charging points in the Arabian desert, well the high voltage battery can be recharged while driving via an energy converter. This converter is something you are already familiar with, a high efficient TFSI engine. Alternative drivetrains are the new thing in Motorsport, by pioneering electrification in Dakar Rally, Audi will add another accolade on their wall of innovation.

Audi Motorsport has taken part in almost every racing series including DTM, WEC, Formula E, GT racing and more. Dakar Rally will be the next stage, this is unlike any other rally they have taken part in. Having a fast car and fast drivers is just a fraction of the success recipe…the real challenge comes from extreme racing conditions that call for the highest level of endurance.

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.