The hotly-anticipated all-new Ford Focus ST debuted at the Beijing Auto Show last week: the Tangerine Scream metallic option ST is one of 15 cars that Ford will also be introducing to the Chinese market.
Inside, the Recaro seats are colour-coded and the instrument cluster is fitted with sport gauges; the steering has been upgraded with a variable-ratio rack and features electric power-assisted steering and torque steer compensation. There’s also an advanced three-mode, driver-adjustable stability control system.
The ST is powered by a 2-litre EcoBoost engine producing 252hp and 270lb-ft of torque. Ford’s sound engineers have also worked on the exhaust note, using the sound symposer first used on the previous ST and RS500 models. This enriches the natural sounds of the motor by capturing internal engine oscillations and piping them through the interior under throttle, so it should sound as good as it looks when you hit the gas hard.
Across the pond, Shelby have been working their magic on another Ford to produce the GT500. The latest model will go on sale next year, and features a new 5.8-litre V8 producing 650hp and 600lb-ft of torque – making it the most powerful production V8 in the world. An optional performance pack upgrade adds Bilstein dampers and a limited-slip diff, which can be mated to a track-pack upgrade for even more punch.
Audi have announced their own range of rather less in-your-face but still potent V8s for Europe. Four revised S models are about to hit the road: the S6, S6 Avant, S7 Sportback and S8 all feature a new 420hp, bi-turbo, 4-litre V8, replacing previous V10s used across majority of the S range.
They’ve also been playing with the TT to produce the TT RS-plus Coupé and Roadster models: 0-60mph times have been brought down to the four second mark and the top speed rises to 174mph. The 2.5-litre, five-cylinder TFSI engine has been tuned up to around 350hp, and there are six-speed manual or seven-speed S-Tronic twin-clutch transmission options.
The Ingolstadt marque are also ramping up the racing side ready for this weekend’s second race of the World Endurance Championship at the Spa-Francorchamps track in Belgium. Two each of Audi’s LMP1 R18 e-tron quattro and R18 ultras will be racing, with three new drivers joining the line-up – a pair of them are from WRT’s GT outfit: Oliver Jarvis and Marco Bonanomi.
The development of the radical Deltawing also continues – the car is now based in the UK and has been out testing again at the Snetterton track. NISMO driver and Super GT champion Satoshi Motoyama has been announced as the third pilot in the squad for the Le Mans 24 Hours, joining Marino Franchitti and World GT1 champion Michael Krumm.
The British Touring Car Championship moved to the high-speed Thruxton track in Hampshire for its third round. Rain poured down all weekend, making the super-fast back section of the track incredibly challenging to negotiate. In the dryer practice sessions there had been a continuation of the high-jump competition the BTCC boys seem to be having, with Jason Plato putting in this particularly fine example!
Each of the three races were run in torrential downpours, and there was a spot of embarrassment as the first race was red-flagged early after a tow-truck was required to tow the stuck tow-truck that was towing the smashed Ford Focus of Liam Griffin. If you follow…
Mat Jackson scored the first win of the day, scooting away from the opposition who were left to fight it out in the spray; Gordon Shedden’s Honda Racing Civic NGTC car took the next two victories. Plato leads the Driver’s Championship going into a short break before the next round at Oulton Park at the beginning of June – Shedden’s great weekend has hauled him up to second.
There were also wet conditions at Donington in the Midlands of England, where a Nissan GT-R GT3 took its maiden outright victory. JMH Automotive’s GT-R won the GT Cup event against a mixed bag of Moslers, Porsches and Ferraris.
And yes… it was wet at Silverstone as well, where Nissan were showing off the new GT-R Track Pack variant of the R35. The Track Pack is faster and lighter than the standard R35: it features lightweight six-spoke RAYS alloy wheels with gloss black centres, additional brake cooling ducts in the new carbon front splitter, suspension tweaks and a generally harder set-up. The car has been tested by GT-R development driver Toshio Suzuki during extensive running at the Nurburgring.
Following hot on the heels of the GT86 are the pricing and specs for the launch of its sister car, the Subaru BRZ. SE and SE Lux versions will be sold in the UK, with the Lux adding heated leather seats for a considerable boost in price. You’re going to really want to keep your backside warm – and isn’t that what this car is supposed to do on its own?
The 2012 DTM season has swung into action at the Hockenheim track in Germany, and Mercedes hedged their bets about being the car in front by also supplying the official safety car to the series. It’s based on the 6.3-litre V8-powered C63 AMG Coupé Black Series Edition, with a modified exhaust system, AMG Track suspension upgrade and carbon-fibre AMG Aerodynamic kit. Plus pretty flashing lights.
BMW celebrated their return to the DTM with a display of DTM machinery old and new: an M3 from the glory days of the original Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft alongside Andy Priaulx’s 2012 M3. In the race, Priaulx would end up the highest-placed BMW finisher in sixth, after a baptism of fire for the team.
The European Rallycross Championship moved back into Europe for its second round, held at the Circuit de l’Ouest Parisien track at Dreux in France. The weekend started off wet and miserable before sunny skies moved in for the finals; local drivers used their insider knowledge to top the time-sheets during practice.
Britain’s Kevin Proctor emerged victorious after fighting all the way up from the C Final to win overall, which has only happened twice before – in 1982 and 1994! Liam Doran made it to the A Final, taking valuable points and moving up to second in the championship behind Tanner Foust. The next round is in Austria at the end of May.
Next month another major auction is taking place at London Motorexpo, and this Lamborghini Reventon will be one of the cars coming under the hammer. With only 20 examples produced, the Reventon is expected to sell for more than a million pounds…
Salon Privé has announced details of its line-up for this year. The seventh running of the luxury supercar and concours d’elégance event will present a stunning collection of cars in September, including 18 of the world’s 22 ROFGO Gulf collection racecars, a Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera Disco Volante and Disco Volante 2012, and celebrations of the Ferrari F40 and Mercedes-Benz Gullwing.
Also celebrating an anniversary is Porsche: its first car club was founded in May 1952, and over the last six decades clubs have sprung up all over the world. The Porsche Museum in Stuttgart will be looking back on 60 years of the clubs’ activities, spotlighting cars, photographs, documents and small exhibits from their thousands of members.
The first hill-climb in the UK of 2012 will be held this weekend at Shelsey Walsh, the oldest motorsport venue in the world in continuous use. The May Midlander event will see the usual eclectic range of cars take part, from classic touring cars and single-seaters to specially prepared hill-climb specials and Group B-style rally cars.
The fourth round of the World Touring Car Championship took place at the Slovakiaring – the first time the championship had visited the venue. Its challenging layout threw up the expected number of incidents in typical door-banging touring car style. This is the kind of shot where the photographer is likely deciding if it’s now time to bail out…
Shockingly, Chevrolet only won a single race – veteran SEAT driver Gabriele Tarquini held off his Lukoil team-mate Aleksei Dudakalo to win the first race. It was only in the second race that Chevy man Rob Huff came to the front.
The WTCC circus then moved onto the streets of Budapest for a demonstration run ahead of this weekend’s upcoming race at the Hungaroring – Hungarian privateer BMW runner Norbert Michelisz took pride of place in front of huge crowds in the nation’s capital. He’d won the Hungarian Sportsman Of The Year prize, plus had taken pole position in Slovakia.