2018 Hyundai i30 N TCR
Launched for the 2018 model year, the i30 N is Hyundai first high-performance vehicle for the road. Although the N division is a few years old and responsible for the company’s solid rally campaign, road-going cars wearing this badge are still to come. While the i30 N already available in Europe, a similar version of the brand-new Veloster is coming to the U.S. in 2018. The i30 won’t make it on this side of the pond for road use, but Hyundai wants to use the beefed-up hatchback on the race track. Meet the i30 N TCR, Hyundai’s weapon of choice for the Pirelli World Challenge.
Showcased for the first time at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show, the i30 N TCR was launched alongside Hyundai’s new partnership with Bryan Herta Autosport. The result of this collaboration is a factory-sponsored race team that uses two versions of Hyundai’s i30 N TCR race cars currently available to customers in Europe. Bryan Herta will also develop all aspects of the team, including technicians, drivers, coaching, and management.
As the name suggests, the i30 N TCR will compete in the Touring Car Racing division of the Pirelli World Championship. The season kicks off in March and ends in September after six events across the U.S. You’ll be able to see the i30 N TCR on March 23-25 in Texas, April 27-29 in Virginia, May 25-28 in Connecticut, July 13-15 in Oregon, August 10-12 in Utah, and August 31 - September 2 in New York.
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2018 Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi
This coming January, lovers of dirt-flavored racing will once again turn their attention to the Southern Hemisphere as the infamous Dakar Rally hits South America for the tenth year running. 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the event, once again promising a grueling 10,000 km (6,214 miles) of racing over some of the most difficult terrain Mother Nature can produce. The outlined route will lead teams through Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina, challenging competitors with steep sand dunes, craggy boulder fields, twisting tarmac, and impossibly high mountain passes. This is one of the ultimate tests of man and machine, but Peugeot looks ready for anything. The French automaker took top honors in the Dakar earlier last year, giving it back-to-back victories between 2016 and 2017. Now, the French automaker is looking for a three-peat with this – the updated 3008 DKR Maxi. The “brand-new racing lion” might carry the same name as the road-going Peugeot 3008, but it’s far removed from what you get in dealers, bringing the heat thanks to a host of impressive motorsport cues courtesy of Peugeot Sport, all aimed at ultimate victory over terra firma.
The Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi has undergone extensive testing in Morocco, Portugal, and France to prepare for the 2018 Dakar event, logging more than 18,000 test km (11,185 miles) over the past year. What’s more, Team Peugeot Total has once again assembled a dream team of talent for the driver’s roster, including names like Peterhansel, Loeb, Sainz, and Despres. Still – the Dakar is unpredictable at best. Will the new 3008 DKR once again have what it takes to snag another win?
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2018 Mini John Cooper Works Rally And Buggy
As is tradition, the world of motor sport is looking to kick off 2018 with the infamous Dakar Rally, one of the most brutal, unforgiving, car-breaking, will-sapping events ever conceived. The Dakar heads into its 40th running this year, and its tenth stint in South America after the move across the Atlantic in 2009, and once again, competitors will do battle over a variety of terrain, from sand, to tarmac, to boulder fields, to 13,000-foot mountain passes. With so much tough terrain and such insane distances to cover, simply completing the Dakar is considered a major accomplishment. However, X-raid and Mini aren’t looking to just reach the finish line - they wanna win. Thus far, the collaborative effort has yielded four consecutive victories between 2012 and 2015, with the most recent outing in 2017 snagging sixth overall thanks to the efforts of Argentinian driver Orlando Terranova. Now, X-raid and Mini are gearing up for a fresh approach that includes the brand-new RWD Mini John Cooper Works Buggy. Created to take advantage of certain regulations to bolster 2WD competition, the Buggy will race alongside the more traditional Countryman-based 4WD Mini John Cooper Works Rally for a two-pronged approach to tackling the Dakar.
Fittingly, both vehicles were presented in Paris prior to their competition debut. The Buggy is a particularly exciting new venture for the Germany-based X-raid, which for the past 15 years has focused primarily on 4WD competition vehicles. However, with an experienced roster of drivers ready to take the controls, plus the proven Mini Rally to bolster the ranks, the team is feeling good about its chances. Read on for details on what makes these machines tick.
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2019 McLaren 720S GT3
Launched in 2014, the McLaren Super Series included a batch of spectacular sports cars. Alongside the base 650S model, the British firm also launched the higher performance 675LT and the race-spec 650S GT3. Light, fast, and packed with the latest technology, the Super Series became McLaren’s most successful car. However, the British carmaker decided to replace it after only three years on the market. Its successor is called the 720S and boasts improvements in just about any department. It’s been six months since the 720S was unveiled at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show and McLaren announced that a race-spec GT3 version is also underway.
The new 720S GT3 will replace the 650S GT3, a vehicle that scored titles in all major motorsport series, including the Asian Le Mans Series, Australian GT championship, the Bathurst 12 Hour, Blancpain Endurance Cup and Pirelli World Challenge. But it won’t happen right away. Much like the 570S GT4, the 720S GT3 will have a trial season in 2018 and will completely replace the 650S in 2019, when it will be launched for customer teams.
In addition to the new race car, McLaren also announced plans to introduce a new racing program and a one-make GT series for customers. It’s also planning to appoint a network of motorsport retailers which will sell road and track products alongside each other. But more about all of this below.
2018 Aston Martin Vantage GTE
After no fewer than 12 years on the market, the first-generation Vantage was finally replaced by a brand-new car. Revealed in November 2017, the second-gen Vantage joins the DB11 in Aston Martin’s new lineup of cars that use completely new underpinnings and a fresh design language. Alongside the road-going coupe, Aston Martin also unveiled the Vantage GTE race car, which will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Built by the same team that developed the outgoing V8 Vantage GTE, the new race car replaces the company’s most successful competition car of all-time, credited with 37 of the team’s 51 international race victories, including two Le Mans 24 Hour class wins. With extensive optimization of the powertrain, chassis, and aerodynamics, Aston Martin hopes that the new Vantage GTE will be at least as successful as its predecessor.
Although it was just revealed, the race car is under development for many months and has already completed more than 8,000 miles of testing, a 30-hour run at the Navarra track in Spain, as well as a rigorous durability program at Sebring in Florida. Aston Martin says it will keep most of the 2017 driver lineup for the new Vantage GTE. This includes Le Mans GTE Pro class winners Darren Turner and Jonny Adam, as well as the Danish duo and 2016 FIA WEC GTE Pro world champions, Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen. In addition, AMR has recruited ex-GP2 race winner and now Formula E racer Alex Lynn.
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2018 Bentley Continental GT3
Bentley has just introduced the third-generation Continental GT, which rides on a new platform (shared with the Porsche Panamera), uses a new W-12 engine, and employs design cues from the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept car. Just like its predecessor, the new Conti GT is set to gain a range of versions, including a V-8-powered and higher performance Speed and Supersports variants. But while these are still under development, the new Continental GT has already made its public debut in motorsport clothes. Meet the second-generation Continental GT3, developed to replace the first-gen race car after four successful years on the race track.
Slated to hit the motorsport scene for the 2018 season, the new Continental GT3 uses the aluminum structure of the road car and most of its design cues. But much like its predecessor, its lighter, tipping the scales at "significantly less" than 2,866 pounds, and features a more aerodynamic body. The new Conti GT3 has big shoes to fill — the first-gen car scored 120 podiums and 45 wins across 528 races — and will attempt to do so starting with the opening round of the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at Monza in April. Meanwhile, let’s have a closer look at what it brings to the table.
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2017 Chevrolet ZR2 Race Development Truck
Chevy brought two custom Colorado ZR2 pickups to SEMA this year with some heavy modifications that make them even better off-road. One was built in collaboration with American Expedition Vehicles and meant for over-landing while this, the Colorado ZR2 Race Development Truck, is built for high-speed desert running. In fact, many of the upgrades on this truck were first tested on Chad Hall’s Colorado ZR2, which ran in the “Best In The Desert” race series.
The list of modifications isn’t overly extensive, showing just how capable the Colorado ZR2 is from the factory. The truck’s crown jewel is its DSSV spool valve shock absorbers from Multimatic. DSSV shocks were developed for supercars and F1 race teams, so its adoption for an off-roader was unconventional. The factory truck also has better ground clearance than a regular Colorado, along with bespoke bodywork that improved approach and departure angles. Adding to its capability are front and rear electronic differential lockers – something not found on any other Colorado. Still, Chevy improved on the ZR2’s design for hard-core racing.
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2018 Toyota Camry Daniel Suarez
While there are plenty of older builders out there, car modification is inherently a youthful endeavor, don’tcha think? Indeed, how many older individuals do you see out there driving custom cars versus the younger crowd? As such, it makes sense that Toyota asked its youngest NASCAR driver, 25-year-old Daniel Suarez, to have a hand in building this custom Camry. Granted, Toyota is giving several of its NASCAR drivers a chance to customize their own 2018 Camry, but we think Suarez might have a leg up on his colleagues. Funny enough, not only is Suarez’s youthful demeanor an asset but so is his experience. “I grew up in the car customization business,” he explains, “so I’m very hands-on when it comes to this kind of project. I wanted to keep the Camry’s athletic, refined aspect but morph it into a track-ready vehicle.” As such, his revisions to the popular four-door sedan include new body components, a white-on-black paint scheme, a freshened interior, a few extra ponies under the hood, and a sharp suspension set-up.
Suarez currently competes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, driving with Joe Gibbs Racing in the number 19 Camry. He also enjoys the occasional stint in the Xfinity Series behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing number 18 and number 20 Camrys. The young talent secured a championship win in the Xfinity Series last year – the question is, can his Camry secure some attention at SEMA in 2017?
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1970 Porsche 908
Introduced in 1968, the Porsche 908 was created as Stuttgart’s more-focused shot at competition success in the FIA’s Group 6 Prototype-Sports Cars class. The car is simple and completely stripped of any fluff whatsoever. Outside, the 908 gets a short, flat body made from fiberglass (both coupe and spyder variants were created), as well as simplified aerodynamics. The driver sits very far forward, his or her feet hanging ahead of the front axle to make room for the 3.0-liter flat-eight engine. With as much as 350 horses on tap, the 1,100-pound 908 was basically like a big racing kart, beating its heavier, more powerful competition on the twisty, more narrow tracks of the sports car series.
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1989 Mazda 767B
Mazda definitely lives up to the whole “zoom-zoom” branding thing its got going for it. With a variety of sports cars to its name, including the indispensable MX-5, plus a solid dose of fun instilled in just about every model it produces, this is the go-to manufacturer if you’re looking for an enjoyable experience behind the wheel. Per tradition, much of that driving engagement can be traced back to competition on the track, a place where Mazda boasts a long resume of experience and success. Looking over the list of Mazda’s accomplishments, one of the most impressive bullet points is an outright win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, something no other Japanese manufacturer can claim. Clinching that victory was the 787B, the culmination of years of trial and error. Featured here is the preceding 767B, one of the most important components to the development of Mazda’s Le Mans-winning 787. As an advanced prototype racer, the 767B was designed for competition in the IMSA-spec GTP class, where it saw a good deal of success.
Introduced in 1988 by Mazdaspeed, the Japanese manufacturer’s performance division, the 767B replaced the outgoing 757 prototype racer, another GTP-class 24 Hours of Le Mans competitor. Not only does this otherworldly speed wedge look the part of a top-notch competitor, but with an innovative four-rotor engine providing motivation, it was also one of the best-sounding race cars ever made. If you love triangle-shaped engines, this is one of the all-time superstars.
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Audi Steps Up To Formula E With E-Tron FE04
The high-tech slab of open-wheel speed machine you see before you is the Audi E-Tron FE04, the Four Ring brand’s very first all electric race car. The FE04 just made its big debut in Neuburg, Germany, and will be used in Audi’s re-doubled efforts in the all-electric Formula E race series. That makes Audi the first German brand to enter the Formula E fray with a full factory-backed effort. Audi says the FE04 will be used as a test bed for new and upcoming technology that will eventually trickle down to its production vehicles, raising hopes that battery motivation alone will be enough to whet the appetites of future Audi performance enthusiasts.
“Following quattro, TFSI, TDI, hybrid drive and many other innovations, our single-seater race car is a portent of our product offensive in the field of electric mobility that we are ringing in with the Audi e-tron in 2018,” says Peter Mertens, Member of the Board of Management, Technical Development at Audi AG. The brand says it’s planning on offering as many as 20 new battery-assisted models, including both hybrids and all-electric models, by the year 2025. While the FE04 will use a spec chassis, per regulations, the FE04 is still an opportunity for Audi to develop it’s know-how with a new electric motor, transmission, and some suspension bits, as well as the software needed to run it all. Look for the FE04 to make its competition debut in Hong Kong this coming December, with pre-season testing taking place in Spain.
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2018 Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo
Back in 2014, during the annual auto extravaganza that is Monterey Car Week, Lamborghini revealed the Huracan LP 620-2 Super Trofeo, a hardcore, race-ready iteration of the popular Lamborghini Huracan road car. Framed as an entry into the exciting world of GT3 racing, the Super Trofeo offers world-class performance at a relatively affordable price point. Built to spec for competition in the international one-make Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo series, more than 150 examples of the Super Trofeo have sold worldwide in the three years its been on the market, with racers taking to the track in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America. As many as 90 cars participate in the series annually. Now, the motorsports geeks from Lamborghini Squadra Corse just released an updated version of the Super Trofeo at a special event at Sant’Agata Bolognese, and it’s got improved aerodynamics and new safety measures, all with the same Super Trofeo fun.
“As it is a single-brand series, there are no regulatory demands that mean a successful model has to be altered. But with the Evo we wanted to give our customers an even more thrilling experience at the wheel, with superior performance and improved safety,” says Lambo’s Head of Motosport, Giorgio Sanna. Lambo’s CEO Stefano Domenicali adds, “Lamborghini Squadra Corse is continuing its plan to grow and consolidate its position as a trend setter on the competition scene.” So then – is this six-figure speed toy worth the outlay?
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2018 BMW M8 GTE
The official confirmation that BMW is planning to revive the 8 Series and build the first M8 ever is arguably the best BMW-related news we received this year. And while both cars are still a few months from going public, the German firm offered us a sneak preview by launching the M8-based race car first. Unveiled at the2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, it’s called the M8 GTE and will mark the brand’s return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans after seven years. The new race car will make its debut in early 2018, at the 24 Hours of Daytona.
BMW also confirmed that the M8 GTE will race before the 8 Series goes on sale, so don’t expect the flagship coupe to arrive earlier than January 2018. But the good news is that the race car gives a good look at what the upcoming M8 will bring to the table in terms of design and even performance. Of course, the production model won’t be as aggressive as the GTE-spec vehicle, but many of these styling features will make it on the coupe that you’ll be able to find in dealerships. Let’s have a closer at the M8 GTE and BMW’s upcoming campaign in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
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2018 Acura ARX-05 DPi
Launched in 1986, Acura has come a long way in 30 years, evolving from a small two-car lineup into a full-fledged automaker with no fewer than six offerings in 2017. Acura also entered motorsport very early, hitting the race tracks in 1991, just five years after its launch. So far, it has raced in some of the most important motorsport series, including the SCCA, IMSA GT, and the American Le Mans, scoring class wins at Daytona and Sebring. In 2009, the brand produced its very first LMP1 prototype car, the Acura ARX-02a. Come 2017, and the Japanese firm is joining the IMSA SportsCar Championship with its latest DPi prototype, the ARX-05.
Developed for the 2018 season, the ARX-05 will join the top tier of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, where it will go against Cadillac, Mazda, Ligier, and Nissan. A new team will bring together Acura Motorsports and Team Penske in an effort to win the championship against Cadillac, which has dominated the 2017 season. The multi-year DPi program will be headed by Honda Performance Development (HPD), the racing arm for both Acura Motorsports and Honda Racing in North America. The ARX-05’s official debut will take place at the season-opening Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in January 2018.
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2018 Holden Colorado SuperUte
The Land Down Under has a new racing series that plays off the exploding popularity of pickup trucks. It’s called the SuperUte ECB Series and it’s hosted by Australia’s well-known Supercars Series – you know, the series with V-8-powered, rear-wheel-drive sedans thundering around an autocross course. Well, now Australia will have turbodiesel-powered, mid-size, crew cab pickups racing around tracks like the Gold Coast’s Norwell Motorplex starting in March of 2018.
Unlike NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, these Utes aren’t sheet metal bodies on steel tube chassis. No, they are production pickups from the assembly line. Each undergoes a full work-over with a safety cage, suspension modifications, performance wheels and tires, and a tune of their stock turbodiesel engines. Every truck is capped at 340 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque, while the minimum weight is set at 3,968 pounds. Automakers currently preparing for the SuperUte Series include Ford, Mazda, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and General Motors. GM’s fighter is the Holden Colorado, a truck very similar to North America’s Chevrolet Colorado, even down to the 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel.
With official testing currently underway, let’s have a look at Holden’s newest and most unconventional racer.
2017 Mercedes-AMG GT4
Unveiled in 2014, the Mercedes-AMG GT is the company’s latest halo sports car and replaces the SLS AMG in the lineup. However, the [AMG GT is smaller than its predecessor and aimed at a slightly different market niche, having been developed as a competitor for the Porsche 911. The sports car was also used to introduce AMG’s brand-new engine, a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8. Launched in GT and GT S variations, the two-door gained higher performance GT R (coupe) and GT C (roadster) models, as well as a GT3-spec race car version in 2016. In 2017, Mercedes-Benz is rolling out a second race car based on the AMG GT, this time around in GT4 specification.
If you’re not familiar with the GT4 class, it’s a less powerful, more affordable version of GT3 and it’s mostly dedicated to amateur drivers. The cars are also equalized in order to allow driving skill to become key. The Mercedes-AMG GT4 was optimized for a wide range of championships, including the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the Pirelli World Challenge in the U.S., the Blancpain GT Series Asia in Asia and the Australian GT Trophy in Australia. In Germany, the VLN endurance racing championship, and the Nürburgring 24-hours are the series that will see new race car in action. The GT4 European Series Northern Cup and the GT4 European Series Southern Cup are among the international GT4 series that Mercedes developed the AMG GT4 for.
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2017 Norma MXX RD Limited
The Norma M20 was first introduced in 2003 as a Group CN prototype for the Prototype Endurance Challenge, the Speed EuroSeries, and the European Le Mans series. The car was also used in the FIA European Hill Climb Championship, and in 2014 in was raced at Pikes Peak for the very first time. The M20 won its maiden race with Romain Dumas behind the wheel and scored its second win two years later, in 2016, when it also ran the second-best lap. In 2017, Norma and Dumas returned at Pikes Peak with the MXX RD Limited update, scoring their third overall win in the Unlimited class.
Although it didn’t manage to best his record from 2016, Romain Dumas was a tenth-second faster than in 2014, thus posting the third-best overall time in the "Race to the Clouds." While still more than 30 seconds off Sebastien Loeb’s incredible record from 2013, Dumas’ effort is truly impressive given that Norma is a very small company that doesn’t benefit from the same financial support as the Peugeot 208 T16. It remains to be seen whether a new update will make the Norma faster in 2018, but until then, let’s have a closer look at one of the most extreme race cars ever built.
Continue reading to learn more about the Norma MXX RD Limited.