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2010-07-29: MINI returns to the WRC and 2011-spec Lola LMP2 prototypes revealed ...
MINI Countryman WRC Although the 2010 racing season has barely reached its halfway point, we are already getting some very interesting previews for next year. The biggest news is the official confirmation, after months of rumors, that MINI will return to the World Rally Championship. The British BMW subsidiary have chosen Prodrive as the technical partner. The development work on the Countryman WRC started early in 2009, which was very shortly after Prodrive's previous partner, Subaru, had announced its withdrawal from the sport. Like the production Countryman, the new 'Super2000' rally car will be powered by a 1.6 litre, turbocharged engine and features an all-wheel drive system. Exact technical details have not yet been released. The first test drives are planned for this autumn ahead of a works WRC entry in 2011. The car will also become available to privateers.
Lola Cars have also provided a preview of what is to come in 2011 for the LMP2 class of endurance racing. Extensive rule changes will be carried through, which include a cost cap in LMP2 and the addition of a mandatory fin on the rear deck of all prototypes. As one of the most successful independent prototype manufacturers, it is no surprise that Lola have reacted quickly to the changes and are the very first to offer 2011-spec LMP2 cars. The new line-up consists of the B11/40 open and B11/80 closed sports prototypes. There is a clear family resemblance but the 'B11s' will be very easy to distinguish from its predecessors because of the fin. The two new Lolas will be able to accommodate a wide variety of engines, from the likes of HPD, BMW, Ford, Judd, Nissan and Toyota. We have no doubt that the two LMP2 machines will be prominently featured on both sides of the Atlantic in 2011.
  2010-07-27: Two new German coupes: the Audi A7 and Mercedes CL 63 AMG ...
Audi A7 Sportback Audi have expanded their line-up with a second four-door coupe/hatcback; the A7 Sportback. The new model was previewed in Detroit last year with the Sportback Concept. The car will be available with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines. The most potent petrol is the three litre petrol V6 engine, which features direct injection and a supercharger and produces 300 bhp. The similarly sized diesel engine is good for 240 bhp and a startling 500 Nm of torque. This power is transferred to all four wheels through a seven-speed 'S Tronic' automatic gearbox. Among the numerous options is a Bang & Olufsen sound system with 1,300 Watts of power spread over 15 speakers. A sportier 'S7' version should be launched some time in the future, most likely powered by a V8 engine.
A few weeks ago, Mercedes-Benz revealed the latest generation of the CL Coupe. Today the range was completed with the AMG version. Although dubbed the CL 63 AMG, the massive two-door is powered by a 5.5 litre version of AMG's latest V8 engine. The drop in displacement has been compensated by the addition of two turbochargers. In 'standard' trim it is good for 544 bhp, which can be raised to 571 bhp by fitting the AMG Performance package. In this trim, the CL can accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.4 seconds and it has a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). Like the Audi, the Mercedes-Benz coupe also uses a seven speed automatic gearbox.
2010-07-26: Spectacular Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut and new Stealth B7 ...
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe Running late for an appointment one day in the 1950s, Mercedes-Benz' chief engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut, completed the 2.5-hour journey between Stuttgart and Munich in less than an hour. The car he used was a fixed-head Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, better known as the Uhlenhaut Coupe. The coupe was one of the final developments of the all-conquering 300 SLR before Mercedes-Benz withdrew from racing at the end of the 1955 season, following the horrendous Le Mans accident. Just two examples were constructed and only the car later used on the road saw track time in 1955. Although it was not raced, it did participate in three practice sessions late in the season. The second car was slated to compete in the Carrera Panamericana but that was also cancelled in response to the Le Mans tragedy.
Ranked among the most valuable cars in the world, both are still owned by Mercedes-Benz and the second car is regularly brought to shows and events. Its most recent outing was the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it was driven by the likes of Sir Jackie Stewart and Mike Hakkinen. Uhlenhaut's car is on permanent display in the company's fabulous museum in Stuttgart. In the last few months we have managed to snap both of them in considerable detail with this 18-shot gallery as a result.
At an event in Poland last month, Stealth Cars introduced the all-new B7. The Chevrolet V8-engined machine uses a spaceframe chassis with a lightweight carbon fibre composite body, resulting in a dry weight of just 1000 kg. The most powerful, competition version features a 650 bhp version of the aluminium engine. A road going version is expected to be introduced at a later date.
  2010-07-22: Multi-million dollar Ferrari and Jaguar that starred at the Le Mans Classic ...
Ferrari 330 TRI/LM A vast majority of the cars that compete in events like the Le Mans Classic has become very familiar to us but there usually is a handful of very special machines that make our trips more than worth it. At this year's edition we were treated to the Ferrari that between 2002 and 2008 was the most expensive Ferrari ever sold at auction and the Jaguar that still holds the Jaguar record. And these one-off cars were not displayed on carefully manicured lawns; they were raced in the feature event!
The Ferrari in question is the 330 TRI/LM, which was built specifically for the 1962 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It is the final 'Testa Rossa' built and the only one to use the considerably larger 'long block' V12 engine, which produced a hefty 390 bhp. Olivier Gendebien and Phil Hill absolutely dominated the race in the car and made history by scoring the very last outright victory in a front engined car. Not eligible for the other World Championship races, it was only rarely raced after. Two of its subsequent owners used the Le Mans winning machine regularly on the street. The Testa Rossa's current custodian acquired the car in 2007 for EUR 6,875,000, which was an improvement of the record already held by this car since 2002. It was fantastic to see this important and obviously very valuable car back out on track and driven with great verve. The unique Ferrari's history is covered in a detailed article, illustrated by a twelve-shot gallery.
Although also raced in period at Le Mans, the Jaguar E2A is important for many more reasons. It was one of the prototypes for the legendary E-Type road car and as such forms a link between the triple Le Mans winning D-Type and the E-Type. Entered by Briggs Cunningham, it competed at Le Mans exactly 50 years ago, where it proved fast but not very reliable. For most of its history, the car has been owned by one family, until it was offered by Bonhams in 2008. It subsequently passed in the hands of a prominent Austrian Jaguar collector for a record amount. He has since carefully prepared the car for racing with great respect for its highly original condition.
We have updated our existing article with a set of beautiful shots of E2A flying around the high speed Le Mans track.
2010-07-19: 2010 Goodwood FoS: four of the modern supercars that sped up the hill ...
Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo Each of the three days of the Goodwood Festival of Speed is kicked off with the 'Sunday Times Supercar Run' in which the latest sports cars take part. During this year's event quite a few of these could be seen in motion for the first time and some even made their world debut.
Fitting in the latter category was the Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo. Based on the latest BMW 5-Series, it is powered by the company's sophisticated twin-turbo V8 engine. In Alpina trim, it produces a hefty 507 bhp. Interestingly the same engine will also be used for the upcoming M5.
Ginetta was well represented with the recently announced F400 supercar. It does not take an expert to see that the new Ginetta is simply a rebadged Farbio GTS. This is the result of the buy-out of the company by Ginetta's Lawrence Tomlinson back in March. The F400 uses the same supercharged V6 engine, which is good for 410 bhp.
Similar in most respects to the Ginetta F400, is the Noble M600. The difference is two cylinders and nearly 250 bhp. All this power is generated by a carefully tuned and twin-turbocharged version of the narrow-angle Volvo V8 engine. The Festival of Speed provided us with a first look at the car in action.
Also out in public for the first time was the Ferrari 599 GTO. Limited to just 599 examples, the 'GTO' is a more poised version of the 'standard' Fiorano. It uses a 670 bhp V12 engine is quite bit lighter. This is only the third time in Ferrari's history that the legendary GTO moniker is used.
  2010-07-15: News round-up: Ferrari 458 Challenge, green Renault and Mercedes concepts and more ...
Ferrari 458 Challenge Because of our travels to Goodwood and Le Mans, we were not able to follow up on some newly released cars. That is rectified today with the addition of seven new entries to our ever growing database, which is quickly approaching 4000 cars.
At a dealer meeting in Italy, Ferrari revealed their new challenge car based on the 458 Italia. Not surprisingly dubbed the 458 Challenge, it uses the same 570 bhp engine as the road car. It proved to be 2 seconds faster around Fiorano than its predecessor.
Renault provided a first look at the DeZir Concept to be launched at the Paris Motor Show in September. The striking coupe exclusively uses a 150 bhp electric motor. Some have suggested that this mid-engined machine may serve as a preview for an upcoming Alpine model. Also using electric motors exclusively is the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell Concept. Using the shell of the new 'Gullwing', the bright yellow concept features an electric motor in each wheel for a total of 519 bhp.
Aston Martin, Audi and Dodge all launched new versions of existing models with the V8 Vantage N420, A8 L W12 quattro and Mopar Challenger respectively.
Complementing the hugely successful C4 WRC, Citroen have now added a 'baby' rally car to their line-up for the newly established R3T class. The DS3 R3 is powered by a 210 bhp version of the 1.6 litre turbocharged four cylinder engine. That power is transferred to the front wheels through a six-speed semi-automatic gearbox. It will make its competitive debut towards the end of the season.
2010-07-13: 2010 Le Mans Classic Report and Slideshow ...
2010 Le Mans Classic Report and Slideshow ... This weekend nearly 100,000 enthusiasts flocked to Le Mans for the biannual Le Mans Classic despite tropical temperatures. They were treated to an action packed three days with the inaugural Artcurial Motorcars auction, over 400 cars on track and club corrals with around 7000 classic cars on display. The auction was headlined by the unique McLaren F1 GTR, which unfortunately failed to find a new owner. The sale was nevertheless a success with a Ferrari 275 GTB/4 and Lamborghini Miura SV selling near or over the top estimate. While the cars crossed the block, the historic racing cars hit the track for the first of two practice sessions. The spectacular field was split in six 'grids' depending on age with the earliest cars dating from 1923 and the most modern from 1980. Each grid completed three 40-minute heats between 4pm on Saturday and 4pm on Sunday. Among the many highlights were Le Mans winning Bentleys, Jaguars and Ferraris, and winning drivers like Jan Lammers, Richard Attwood and Henri Pescarolo. Another entry of note was the Porsche 908/2 that was entered in 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans by Solar Productions to film many of the spectacular scenes of the movie Le Mans. It was driven by the owner and David Piper, who lost part of one of his legs during the filming of the movie.
Our photographers were at the scorching hot track throughout the event. This has resulted in a detailed article and an exclusive 200-shot gallery packed with flames, slides and a beautiful sunset.
  2010-07-07: 2010 Goodwood FoS: full report and exclusive 290-shot gallery ...
2010 Goodwood Festival of Speed Report and Slideshow This weekend Goodwood's Lord March hosted the 18th Festival of Speed on his lovely estate in the undulating Sussex region of England. The theme for this year's event was 'Viva Veloce - The Passion for Speed'; a reference to Italian motoring in general and Alfa Romeo's 100th anniversary in particular. The Italian manufacturer's centenary was celebrated in great style with a large sculpture in front of Goodwood House and a fabulous selection of Alfa Romeos in the entry list. Other anniversaries included 60 years of Formula 1, 60 years of the Carrera Panamericana and 50 years of Bathurst's Great Race. As always there were also a large number of modern supercars out on the hill with various world debuts. Most prominent among them was the highly anticipated McLaren MP4-12C. British auctioneer Bonhams was also on hand with a sale on Friday, which set a new world record for the very rare Aston Martin DB5 Vantage Convertible. The Festival of Speed also offers famous drivers the chance to be reunited with their original cars and to drive machinery they had a model car of when they were growing up. Among the many world champions present were Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, John Surtees, Sir Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi.
We braved the seemingly ever growing crowds and the dust for four days. The end result of our efforts is a full report and an exclusive 290-shot gallery with all the action from the hill, the auction and the concours d'elegance. In the coming weeks you can expect detailed features on many of the fabulous cars that starred at the 2010 Festival of Speed.
2010-07-05: Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport: the fastest production car in the world ...
Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport Yesterday at Volkswagen's Ehra-Lessien high-speed test track, a Bugatti Veyron was clocked at a staggering 434,211 km/h (269,806 mph). A return run of 427,933 km/h (265,905 mph) was enough for an official Guinness World Record of 431 km/h (268 mph). Needless to say, the car used was not an 'ordinary' Veyron; it was the highly anticipated Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. For safety reasons, the production version's top speed will be limited to a lowly 415 km/h (258 mph). While based on the original Veyron launched back in 2005, the Super Sport has quite a bit more up its sleeve than the previous limited edition models of the 16-cylinder supercar. Most importantly, it features four larger turbos and intercoolers. This has resulted in a 200 bhp power increase to 1200 bhp and an additional 250 Nm of torque. The exterior design has also been tweaked to make it even more slippery. The most notable change is the extended roof with NACA-ducts instead of the normal engine intake scoops. The nose has also been revised and the rear end features a new double diffuser.
The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport will make its debut next month during the motoring week in Monterey with appearances at The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, the Monterey Motorsport Reunion and the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. The first five productions cars will be replicas of the car used by Pierre Henri Raphanel to set the new world record with the same black and orange finish. These have already been sold but Bugatti is now taking orders for additional cars.