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6th December 2010 - Racing Derivatives

Perhaps it's just the cold weather, but manufacturers seem to have gone a bit mad creating racing derivatives of some already rather quick cars this week.

Low volume maker Ginetta stepped up with its most powerful GT racer - the G55. Based on the G50, it will compete in the Ginetta GT Supercup and offers GT3-rivalling performance. Underneath lies a 3.7-litre powerplant offering up 370bhp - kept in line with upgraded brakes and a new aero kit. If you're dipping your hand into your wallet already, you best be prepared to cough up the £75,000 required. Add the cost of entering the Supercup series and you're looking at more like £90,000.

If you want to worry your bank manager even more, you might want to look towards the GT4 concept of the Audi TT. The GT4 is an extrapolation of the road-going TT RS, but sports a rollcage, carbonfibre on the bonnet, doors and boot to reduce weight, as well as a reinforced fuel tank. Expect the engine to be the same as that in the TT RS - a 335bhp TFSI five-cylinder unit. The GT4 is likely to set you back just over £100,000. The sports and supercar press have been alight this week with first drives of the Lancia Stratos recreation, and the excitement will no doubt increase even further, now that the people behind this automotive icon's rebirth have indicated that they will make a racing version. The car is likely to be made to compete in GT2 racing, although technical details are entirely unknown. The revived Stratos road car makes extensive use of carbonfibre over a shortened 430 Scuderia chassis in order to weigh in at just 1257kg, meaning that, with the power on tap from the 4.3-litre Ferrari V8 under the bonnet, it achieves a rather ridiculous power-to-weight ratio of more than 420bhp per tonne.

Speaking of Ferrari, they have also unveiled their own race car this week, in the form of the 458 Challenge that will compete in a one-make series. Whilst the 458 Challenge uses the same 562bhp powerplant from its sibling, its gearbox has been recalibrated and Ferrari has cut a significant amount of weight from the road car. As you would expect, big racing wheels and big racing brakes obviously feature as well. Just don't eat too soon before getting into the car, as Ferrari says it can generate lateral forces of up to 1.6g!

15th November 2010

This week seems to have been filled with a flurry of automotive news from overseas. The British Prime Minister was in China on a goodwill trip that also involved taking a handful of the top UK business people with him to see how they could sell to the Chinese. However, if David Cameron was eyeing up an export in return, I wonder if he took a look at the Emgrand EC8 Limousine. You've probably not heard of Emgrand, but it is a sister company to Geely, which has just bought Volvo, and has the same relationship to it as Lexus has to Toyota. The luxury marque has just made it onto the government's procurement list, meaning that China's diplomats can now stretch out in comfort in the limo that now extends to nearly six metres in length.

Whilst Emgrand was taking the wraps off its diplomatic barge, General Motors China was making a huge mass market statement at the Shanghai World Expo as it registered 1.2 million test drive requests. The Expo has been running since 1st May and GM's colossal stand featured the company's vision of low-carbon urban transport for 2030, crammed full of electric city vehicles, including the upright and distinctly Segway-ish EN-V. I hope all those test drive requests aren't going to have to be put into the same spreadsheet...

Coming back around to Europe, word emerged from the Czech Republic that its Transport Minister is now rather ironically lacking a driving licence after receiving a driving ban for having a fake number plate on his Maserati. The minister, Vit Barta, received the ludicrously small fine of 5,000 koruna, which equates to less than £200.

Perhaps the most bizarre story of the week - and frankly a victory for common sense - was that Renault is being allowed to use the name 'Zoe' for its new small electric car. The parents of a child with the name Zoe Renault filed a lawsuit against Renault, saying that their child would be the subject of mockery and jokes throughout her life if they went ahead. Unsurprisingly and thankfully, the judge ruled that the evidence that this would happen was pretty thin and threw the case out.

 

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