Or at least, that’s the only place this could possibly have come from. Shots of the test-hack Porsche 918 Spyder have been doing the rounds this week: these – surprisingly official, brutally honest – shots are of the development mule at the Nardo proving grounds in Italy.
The 918 Spyder isn’t due to go into production for another year, but Porsche are already doing the heavy-lifting to make sure the mechanics of this hybrid sportscar will do the job: hence svelte bodywork being very low down on the priority list.
Another prototype open-top: BMW have released images of their i8 Concept Spyder. Upward-swivelling, windowless doors, laser headlights and large dollops of technology make the i8 a mouth-watering prospect.
Combined output is going to beat 350hp in this triple-engined, low-slung plug-in hybrid roadster: you might not hear it coming but you’ll certainly see it disappear into the distance fast enough…
Lotus continue their attempt to take part in every form of motorsport known to man simultaneously: their latest effort is directed towards rallying, with an Exige R-GT taking part in the recent Rally St Remo in Italy as part of its on-going development.
If that wasn’t enough, Lotus have also sold a pair of heavily modified Evora S to the Italian Carabinieri, which will fulfil a similar role to the Polizia Gallardos prepped by Lamborghini a while back.
It’s a shame that they hadn’t passed them through Mansory first. The tuning specialists have gone into partnership with Lotus as official mutators, and this is the result of them getting their hands on the Evora. Any complaints about the original Evora being a little too refined in shape and form should now be answered. A huge improvement.
It’s all go in the GT racing world, as teams put in final tests before the opening rounds of the various world and national series this month. Mercedes had a fleet of SLS GT3s at Paul Ricard, and even brought a couple of spares along in case anyone wanted to buy one. As it is, 45 GT3-spec SLS will be competing in race-series around the world in 2012.
Daimler AG have also been taking a hard line on copycats this week, even going as far as having a replica 300SL bodyshell confiscated. The press release noted with particular delight that the body was separated from the chassis and then a crusher applied ’30 tonnes of pressure’ to destroy the shell. It doesn’t say what they did with the people who made it…
Whilst Daimler crush other people’s cars, Ford are trying their best to destroy their one of their own: they’ve been aping the Bullitt chase scene for the finale of JJ Abrams’ Alcatraz TV series, throwing a Mustang GT at the hills of San Francisco – chasing, of course, a Dodge Charger.
Staying on that side of the Atlantic, Nissan’s Deltawing continues to rack up the miles finishing up a test at Atlanta before it makes its way to Europe for the final leg of its pre-Le Mans 24 Hours testing.
Aston Martin have been in action around the globe, with three new Vantage variants racking up two wins and a bag of podiums last weekend after competing in VLN GT4 and ADAC GT3 Masters in Germany, plus Grand-Am CTSCC at Barber Motorsports Park – more Vantages were also racing in the European Le Mans Series and Japanese GTs.
British GT team Beechdean have also been to sunnier (and apparently more mountainous) climbs to test their similar GT3 Vantage ahead of their British GT campaign which kicks off this weekend at Oulton Park.
Also competing in British GT will be this Mazda MX5. The car will be taking part in the GT4 class – it’s been stripped back to 1,000kg and pushes out 315hp from its 2-litre unit: the 0-60mph time is less than three seconds, making this (according to the press release) the quickest MX5 in the world! Answers on a comments form…
McLaren were also participating in the Blancpain Endurance Series test down at Paul Ricard, the championship where 10 of the 25 MP4-12C GT3s competing globally this year are competing.
Back in the UK some of the factory McLaren GT drivers were given a chance to swap their regular racing mounts for the road-going version and a blast around the Dunsfold test track (also home to Top Gear).
Back in the immaculate factory complex at Woking, production is ramping up for the MP4-12C in the new £40m McLaren Production Centre. Eight cars are due to roll off the hospital-like production line every day, before being sent out to the 35 official McLaren dealerships in 18 countries.
More racing news: last weekend saw the first round of the British Touring Car Championship, held at Brands Hatch in Kent. As usual the series didn’t disappoint in the action stakes: cars were flying everywhere as first-day-back-at-school over-exuberance took over. But the racing was superb entertainment as ever.
A partial Tarmac run-off has been added to the famous Druids hairpin: however, oil from a stricken Ford meant the corner still saw carnage at the beginning of Race 3. That race was won by pantomime hero/villain Jason Plato in the new MG6; the first race was won by Rob Collard’s BMW and the second by multiple champion Matt Neal in a Civic Type R.
The NGTC-spec Honda looks great from the front – all elbows-out wide-body aggression from the front, though I’m not convinced by the high rear lights on the face-lifted Civic R.
It was a disappointing weekend for the NGTC Toyota Avensis: Frank Wrathall had been getting some great results at the end of last year with the Dynojet car, but they haven’t yet got a handle on changes made to the car over the winter.
On the other hand, the World Touring Cars ran at the interminably boring Valencia circuit in Spain. Luckily a decent-sized grid and plenty of bumping and barging kept things lively.
In fact, taking to the gravel seemed to be the thing to do, just to take attention away from another Chevy Cruze double-victory.
Ex-BTCC team Arena have stepped up to the WTCC this year to trial the new world-spec Ford Focus: the car is still early in development, but at least is providing some new blood to the series.
If you want to learn how to compete, how about getting Maserati to teach you? Starting later this month, the Trident are promoting a limited number of days at the Autodromo Riccardo Paletti near Parma, which will concentrate on technique and telemetry. Yes, it is very expensive by the way.
The DTM cars have been out testing at Hockenheim ahead of the opener later this month, and the three manufacturers ran out prime examples of their racing heritage as a counterpoint to the big, sleek saloons running this year.
The series has switched to larger models for 2012: Merc with the new AMG C Coupé, BMW’s M3 and Audi have switched to the A5.
The aero is still as aggressive-looking as ever on the outside, even if it’s theoretically been tweaked to be less efficient to promote overtaking.
2012 sees BMW return to the DTM with six M3s, taking on eight Audis and eight Mercs.
The World GT1 Championship kicks off this coming weekend at Nogaro in the south of France: the GT1 teams have been testing there this week ahead of the racing over the Easter weekend. There are some familiar teams taking part, but a lot of new machinery. With the change down a gear to GT3-spec cars for 2012, nine manufacturers are now taking part: McLaren, Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, Lamborghini, Ford, Aston Martin and Audi. Quite a line-up. Hexis have traded in their old Aston DBR9s for MP4-12Cs…
…and All-Inkl their Murcielagos for Mercedes SLS.
Lamborghini specialists Reiter Engineering re-enter the series with a pair of Gallardos. Porsche were at the top of the times during the test, closely followed by the Speedhunters-backed WRT Audi R8 LMSs.
Reiter have also been busy in GT3: they’ve spent the winter developing a version of the big Chevy Camaro to take part in GT3. YACO Racing are their first customers, and they’ll be racing in European GT3. The only bad news there is that the rules switch in GT1 has cannibalised GT3: the grid for the opener at Nogaro has been cut in half from what we saw last year…
A race series that is under the radar of a lot of people is the Italian Superstars championship: a wide variety of only-just-about production cars with a big aero pack slapped on and a fair number of well-known international drivers – such as ex-F1 man Vitantonio Liuizzi.
The best thing about the series is that there is a minimum engine size dictated – of 3.8-litres. That’s more like it.
Conditions in Portugal for the fourth round of the World Rally Championship were demonstrably appalling: Citroen’s Sebastian Loeb and Ford Jari-Matti Latvala both fell foul of the meteorological war-zone that was Faro.
In between throwing themselves at what (behind the mist and fog) was quite probably lovely countryside, the crews desperately tried to keep the cars on the muddy stages. High ground at least reduced the flooding problems, and rallying crowds proved, as usual, that there are none more hardy.
There was even some night-time running! Drivers might be complaining, but this is what I want to see rallycars doing.
But then, there is also this kind of image: that split-second capture just before the car lands, settles and is gone in a flash of flailing arms and crackling turbos. Like that – click. They were gone. Bliss. I’m already jealous of Paddy out on the Circuit of Ireland.
The Monte Carlo rally also finished recently – not that one, but the one for alternative and electrical propulsion: a Vauxhall Ampera won overall, with another three in the top 10. Admittedly not exactly tail-out, gravel-spewing rallying joy, but diverting.
Back to the streets for a final couple of images. The Toyota GT86 has just had its initial UK pricing and spec released: manual and auto variants of the high-spec model – expect them to fly off the forecourts around the world.
From the interior shot I would say it was taken at the Jarama track… Or at least a shot of that track was Photoshopped into the background!
Finally, VW have ‘refreshed’ the Scirocco line: the R Line builds on the GT specification, adding a bigger bodykit and 19″ alloys. More next week!