Despite the multitude of problems Lotus has been having recently, you have to give their racing division some credit for soldiering on with the continued expansion of their motor sports branch. Following in their involvement with Formula One, Indy Car, and Le Mans, among others, Lotus is venturing into new frontier with their entry into the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
The American racing series is organized by the same folks behind NASCAR and Lotus is coming in with the intention of being a contender right off the bat. They even have a car that’s primed and ready for action to any racing outfit looking for a ride: the Evora GX.
The Lotus Evora GX is a race-spec model of the sports coupe that has been customized specifically for the rigors of Grand-Am racing. Among the notable new features of the Evora GX include carbon fiber doors, a roof and engine cover, plexiglass windows, and tinted headlights. The car also comes with a new race-spec aero kit with new parts being fitted in including a new front splitter an bumper, a series-required rear wing, and a new set of wider wheels wrapped in Continental racing tires.
Meanwhile, the interior has been stripped of pretty much everything in favor of all the race-spec requirements, particularly the bucket seats, the roll bars, and the race steering wheel.
One other thing about the Evora GX is the noticeable absence of traction control and ABS, which makes racing in it all the more challenging for the driver. At the very least, though, these guys can rely on the car’s 440-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 engine and its Xtrac sequential transmission to make the drive that much more interesting.
Interested teams looking to use the Lotus Evora GX in their Grand-Am exploits will have to shell out $335,000 for one car.
In its short life span, Audi’s R8 LMS race car has proved to be a major force in the racing scene, having already amassed over 100 victories despite being only a couple of years old.
The R8 LMS’ world domination includes wins in Europe, Australia, and Asia with America being the only notable region that it hasn’t conquered. You can blame that on the stricter Grand-Am regulations, but Audi is looking into adhering to these regulations by building a car that will conform to the standards of Grand-Am racing.
“We’re convinced that we’re making a very attractive offer to our customers in the USA that will meet with great response,” says Romolo Liebchen, Head of customer racing at quattro GmbH.
“The anniversary event of the Daytona 24 Hours is a perfect occasion for the debut of the U.S. version of the new Audi R8 LMS.”
Among the tweaks and modifications being done on the R8 LMS to make it Grand-Am ready include the use of thicker-walled tubing in the roll cage, a new front splitter, a rear diffuser, and a new Grand-Am-spec rear wing.
In terms of performance, the R8 LMS Grand-AM will also come with a modified engine and the addition of an air restrictor that will drop the output of the R8 LMS from 493 horspepower to around 450 to 470 horsepower. Certain elements of the R8 LMS will also be removed for the Grand Am version, including the anti-lock system and traction control. Incidentally, Grand Am rules view these technologies as driving aids in the US.
UPDATE 12/12/2011: Audi has announced that the R8 GRAND-AM is now ready for the North American market. The car successfully finished its testing at the Daytona race track (Florida) and the first deliveries will be made in January, 2012.
"We successfully tested all the modifications at Daytona," says Romolo Liebchen, Head of Customer Sport at quattro GmbH. "With Frank Stippler we developed a sound and solid set-up for our customers and also gathered valuable findings in the endurance tests. The durability of wearing parts and runs at high outside temperatures meet challenging demands. We can now provide our racing customers with concrete advice and reference values for fielding the car."
UPDATE 01/24/2012: The Audi R8 GRAND-AM will make its debut this weekend on the 50th running of the Daytona 24 Hours from January 26th to 29th. "Our team prepared for this step at previous runs in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. APR is known around the world as one of the leading tuners of Audi, Volkswagen, Seat and Škoda vehicles. We’re looking forward to the Audi R8 GRAND-AM with huge anticipation, our customers and fans are really excited and since the ‘Roar before the 24’ test we’ve just been dying for the 24-hour race to start."
UPDATE 01/27/2012: Audi has unveiled new images and a video of the R8 Grand-Am during its practice time at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The race will be aired on Speed T.V. on Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 2:30 EST.
UPDATE 07/17/12: Audi France has released a pretty cool video of the R8 LMS Grand-Am Racer titled "Symbiosis". Check it out by clicking on the photo above!
A few months ago, Audi announced that the R8 LMS race car was officially coming to America for its inaugural race at Daytona. That was followed by the introduction of the Grand-Am-spec R8 LMS racer that has been tuned specifically to adhere to "stricter" Grand-Am regulations.
Now, we can officially confirm that the first racing team to field the R8 LMS is going to be APR Motorsport, which will use the race cars at the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January of 2012.
The team, which is the race division of APR Tuned, has been known for entering Audi’s in US-based racing series and will continue with that tradition by bringing in the R8 LMS to make its US debut next January.
The R8 LMS was born in 2009 and has evolved to be one of the most powerful and reliable race cars in the world. Tuned to racing specifications to meet Grand-Am regulations, the R8 LMS Grand-Am will receive a number of new equipment, including a thicker roll cage, a new front splitter, rear diffuser and a custom rear spoiler. Similarly, the race car’s 5.2-liter V10 engine has been tuned to produce a ’limited’ output range of 450 horsepower to 470 horsepower.
APR Motorsport has released sketches of their R8 LMS race car, complete with all the graphics and decals that come with it. Hopefully, we’re going to see the car in all its race glory before it jumps into action at Daytona this coming January.
UPDATE 12/28/11: APR Motorsport has finally taken delivery of their Daytona-bound Audi R8 LMS. Check out the fresh batch of photos of the pair of R8 racers in the gallery below!
Ferrari and their out-of-house tuning firm, Michelotto, have wrapped up their initial development for the new Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am and have begun testing the vehicle on the Fiorano Circuit. If the name for this new racer doesn’t give it away, the 458 Italia Grand Am was produced as the first factory-sanctioned Ferrari to compete in the Grand-Am’s Rolex Sports Car Series GT class under the current GT rules.
The Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am is based on the GT3 version of the V8-powered Ferrari Berlinetta. The difference between the new 458 Grand Am model and the European version is that the Grand Am develops a total of 500 HP (and not 470 HP like other 458 Italia racing cars) at maximum revs of 8000. Slowing the North American Grand Am down is a 48 mm restrictor and less efficient aerodynamics than the GT version. Compared to a standard 458 Italia, the Grand Am model features a revised braking system (since the car is lacking ABS and traction control) and a roll-over bar which gives greater lateral protection thereby increasing safety. The car is fitted with tires from the Grand Am series’ sole provider, Continental.
UPDATE 12/06/2011: Ferrari has confirmed that their 458 Italia Grand Am will be making its world debut at the Daytona 24 Hours, which takes place from January 26-29, 2012 at Florida’s Daytona International Speedway. The 458 Grand Am will be crewed all year by Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, North American Rally Champion, Travis Pastrana, and two endurance race veterans, Rui Aguas and Robert Kauffman.
Chevrolet is preparing to enter the 50th GRAND-AM Road Racing Series Rolex 24 at Daytona from January 26-29, 2012 and they’ve just introduced the car that will be their horse in the race. It’s called the Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype and holds true to Chevy’s founding principles of racing and performance, presenting a tremendous opportunity for the prototype to be competitive in the GRAND-AM race.
Built as a collaborative project by Chevrolet, Corvette Designers, Pratt & Miller, and GRAND-AM, the Corvette Daytona Prototype infuses plenty of industry expertise in one smoking hot project. The design of this race car was inspired by the MSA GTP Corvette Prototype that was campaigned by Hendrick Motorsports back in the ’80s and carries numerous design and styling cues from the street-spec Corvette.
“Racing and performance are the founding principles of Chevrolet, and bringing the Corvette Daytona Prototype to GRAND-AM is a tremendous opportunity,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, “The opportunity for innovation is what makes the Daytona Prototype Class such a good fit for Chevrolet.
“Sports car and endurance racing is an outstanding platform for manufacturers like us to test and learn. The design of this race car incorporates iconic Corvette styling cues and will be immediately recognized by sports car enthusiasts and fans of GRAND-AM Road Racing,” he adds, “We are excited to see the Corvette DP compete in the legendary Rolex 24 at Daytona next January.”
The Corvette Daytona Prototype will be used by four teams in 2012 including the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing; No. 10 SunTrust Racing; No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing; and the Nos. 5 and 9 Action Express Racing teams.
Although the Mazda RX-8 has passed on and will be replaced in the near future, we still find it to be one of the most interesting vehicles on the road. Sure, it might not be the best to drive, as it takes a whole new approach to get it to go fast, but it looks great and it’s pretty fast as the higher rev range.
Mazda may be killing off the RX-8 due to the motor not meeting the new emissions regulations and the fact that it hasn’t really sold the way the company had hoped, but it’s not gone yet. And Mazda is ensuring that the RX-8 will be remembered as it has presented everyone at SEMA with the RX-8 Grand-Am GT. This version of the Mazda RX-8 has just completed its 2010 racing season and did extremely well, walking away with six out of the 12 races.
Hit the jump for this winning Mazda Grand Am GT RX-8’s specifications.