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Friday, 16 August 2013

2014's SUPER GT Cars Unveiled

2014 Lexus LF-CC, Honda NSX-GT and Nissan GT-R GT500
A lot of changes appear to be happening in the world of motorsport next year. Not only is F1 returning to turbocharged engines (which I like to think I did a damn sight better job explaining than CNN did), but the premier Japanese and German racing series, SUPER GT and Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschäft (DTM) are merging most of their regulations, with a view for the American Grand-Am series to also adjust its rules and make for a global super-touring car series by 2017. At a special event at Suzuka Circuit today, the Japanese Big Three have unveiled their latest challengers, which oddly enough includes two near-production concept cars in a series for road-based silhouette racers...

For a comparison of current (mostly 2010 in these pics, in red) and future GT500* class cars, see here:

2008 reveal car
2014 reveal car





Essentially, the aerodynamics are less extreme, with a slightly higher nose/waistline, fewer winglets and vents and whatnot, a less agressive diffuser and a skinnier, lower rear wing completing the new look. Underneath they're still silhouette racers, meaning that they're purpose-built racing cars with a unique chassis and imitation bodywork to resemble a production car (for marketing purposes). Or, y'know, a sort-of-production concept car or something...

While the chassis and bodywork match up to DTM next year, the powertrains are markedly different in 2014. While the Germans will retain their 480bhp 4.0 V8 engines (and minimum weight of 1110kg), the GT500 cars will downsize from 3.4-litre naturally-aspirated V8s to 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder units, which make a rather impressive 550bhp. Adding torque and eco-cred to that is a 50bhp KERS of some unspecified sort, making them hybrids for the first time, but then if there's any one country that's going to have hybrid racing cars it's Japan. Little more is known at this point, although they'll almost definitely have 6-speed sequential gearboxes like DTM and just about any GT series. All-Wheel-Drive is banned so the Nissan GT-R will be Rear-Wheel-Drive, as it already has been.

As well as the long-serving GT-R, there will be a New NSX from Honda:

Honda NSX-GT Concept
All of them seem to have two square holes in the back. Probably aero witchcraft

Unlike the other two, or indeed any DTM car, the NSX is mid-engined, because the imminent Acura NSX Hybrid road car will also be mid-engined. This flies in the face of even the current GT500 rules which stipulate an engine mounted in front of the cockpit, a regulation that made Honda kill off the old NSX GT after 2009 and adapt their last attempt at a successor into the Formula Nippon-powered HSV-010 GT, which promptly won the championship in 2010.

Finally, Toyota/Lexus will be fielding a silhouette of a concept that will eventually become their rival to the BMW 4-Series and Audi A5, currently called the Lexus Future-Coupe Concept (LF-CC), replacing the antiquated SC430 they've been using since 2006.


As you can see, all three of them look similar to the current-era DTM cars, aside from the Lexus and Nissan having very deep vents in their bonnets to cool the much smaller engines. It's unclear at this point whether SUPER GT will also adapt the DRS used in DTM as well, wherein the rear wing leans back to reduce its effect to nearly zero.

2012 Audi A5, BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé
The new GT500 cars will undergo testing this week around the 5th round of the 2013 series, the highly-revered Suzuka 1000km. Apparently the NSX will even race, but we'll find out more over the weekend. It's a bit of a shame that the GT500 cars are changing from mad GTs (FIA-spec GT cars couldn't match the high-downforce GT500s) to touring cars, but change happens, and in the grand scheme of things it's for the better. Also, don't expect DTM to suddenly be flooded with Japanese cars next year, as the powertrains are too different, but once DTM follows suit and Grand-Am responds with a very similar American series, we'll have the beginnings of a new global super touring series. Hopefully it gets good TV coverage!

*GT500 is the top tier, with mostly-factory-backed carbon fibre machines, whereas the lower-cost, privateer-friendly GT300 class uses production-based chassis with 300-horsepower engines.

6 comments:

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