Motorsports auto news

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Ecclestone headed for $100M settlement in F1 bribery trial

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Euro, Government/Legal, Racing

Germany F1 Ecclestone Trial

Formula One bigwig Bernie Ecclestone has opened his wallet to finally put an end to his trial for alleged bribery in Germany. According to Britain's The Telegraph citing the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the controversial racing magnate offered a 60 million pound- ($100 million-) settlement to put the case behind him. Deutsche Welle is reporting that state prosecutors have accepted the deal. Ecclestone had initially proposed $25 million to take care of things and later increased the price further.

It already appeared quite likely that the settlement would be accepted. The German court hearing the case told scheduled witnesses that they didn't need to be there for Tuesday's proceedings. According to Deutsche Welle, Ecclestone's old age was a contributing factor the prosecutors' agreement to the offer.

Ecclestone was accused of paying German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky about $44 million in bribes in 2006 for preferential treatment in buying F1 shares. However, the case was always somewhat complicated. Ecclestone claimed that he paid the banker the money, but it was because he was being blackmailed. If convicted, he could have faced up to 10 years in prison. Gribkowsky received eight-and-a-half years behind bars for his role in the affair. Ecclestone previously stepped down from his position on the F1 board because of the trial in Germany. Although, this settlement could clear him to resume that role.

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Renault R.S. 01 says hello before debut in Moscow

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Coupes, Renault, Racing

Renault Sport RS 01

What does the "RS" in the Renault Clio RS and Megane RS mean? Well, unlike Audi and Porsche, it doesn't stand for Renn Sport. No, it's actually a signifier that said hot hatch has been breathed upon by Renault Sport, the French manufacturer's answer to Volkswagen's R models, Ford's ST hatches and Opel/Vauxhalls's OPC and VXR lines. Its production of forbidden fruit aside, Renault Sport has another project on the burner - the RS 01.

Formerly known as the Renault Sport Trophy, the RS 01 is a 500-horsepower racer that's underpinned by a Dallara carbon-monocoque chassis. Its power is sent to a dedicated set of Michelin slicks through a Sadev seven-speed sequential trans, while the curb weight hovers around 2,500 pounds. A road car, this is not.

And now, we have our very first look at it. As teaser videos go, this 30-second spot from Renault is particularly juicy, giving us an excellent look at the new RS 01 and it's almost prototype-like shape.

Scroll down for the full video and a very short press release, and then keep your eyes on this space, as Renault will officially unveil the RS 01 on August 27 at the Moscow Motor Show.

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Xcar goes Radical in a big way

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Videos, Racing

Inside Radical for XCar

In just a relatively short period of time, Radical Sportscars has proven to be a company true to its name. It only completed its first car in 1997 but has become among the leaders in the world of dedicated track day specials since then. These days it's even dipping its toe into the world of road models with the RXC, which stretches the definition of a vehicle for the street nearly to the breaking point. In it's latest video, Xcar Films sits down with the company's managing director Phil Abbot to talk about the business' genesis and its future.

Abbot weaves an intriguing tale. He left school at 15 to become an auto mechanic and eventually branched out into engineering. He didn't become an amateur racer until he was in his 40s. After doing that for a while, he decided that he could build a better mousetrap and set out to build a fast, affordable track car. The company's original Clubsport model was heavier and more expensive than Abbot wanted, but it was enough of a success for the business to push forward.

With the RXC the company is now aiming more at the on-road business. With a US price of $171,280, they aren't cheap, but it's hard to imagine finding a more hardcore vehicle for the street. "Our cars will always be racecars, but if people are crazy enough to put them on the road, then that gives us a good market," said Abbot in the video.

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Toyota GT86 CS-R3 rally car presages for-sale customer racecar

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Coupes, Toyota, Off-Road, Racing

Toyota GT86 CS-R3 rally car

Rallying may enjoy a very strong association with all-wheel drive, but it wasn't so long ago that the World Rally Championship was populated by cars that slipped and slid across gravel and tarmac using rear-wheel drive. One of those was the Toyota Celica. While the little Celica eventually joined the gravel-spewing masses with an all-wheel-drive rally car, Toyota is returning to its rear-drive rally roots with a modified version of the critically acclaimed GT86.

Called the CS-R3, the new model boasts all the necessary changes to turn the diminutive twin of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ into a car capable of tackling the tough, twisting paths that are so routinely conquered by the world's rally cars. That means, of course, the CS-R3 has gotten a power bump.

Expected output sits between 240 and 250 horsepower, thanks to a new racing exhaust and manifold, as well as other changes. The ECU has been replaced with an item a bit more suited to racing, while the compression ratio has also been adjusted to boost the output.

Power continues to travel to the rear wheels, although a six-speed sequential racing box, complete with a racing clutch and a lightweight flywheel, has replaced the GT86's six-speed manual. The brakes, meanwhile, are 13-inchers in front and 11.8 inches in back on tarmac stages, while gravel stages demand 11.8-inch rotors at all four corners. Regardless of brake disc size, four-piston front calipers and two-piston rears are standard.

While Toyota is debuting this car at the 2014 Rallye Deutschland, it's not going to be racing there. Instead, the event will serve as the "pathfinder" car for the rally, and will tackle each course with an eye on safety, ahead of the actual WRC cars.

Toyota has already committed to offering the CS-R3 as a customer option, promising that it will be a "cost-effective option."

"It's important to say that the GT86 CS-R3 which Isolde [that's Isolde Holderied, a two-time women's WRC champ] will drive is not the finished article; we need the data from Rallye Deutschland to finalize our development program," Nico Ehlert, Toyota Motorsport's principal engineer for customer motorsports. "But it does represent a significant step in the GT86 CS-R3 story and gives a clear indication to our future customers that this project is progressing quickly."

Scroll down for the full press release from Toyota.

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Kawasaki recounts the highs and lows of the 2014 Isle of Man TT

07/30/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Videos, Motorcycles, Racing

Kawasaki at the Isle of Man

There's no event in the world of motorsports quite like the annual Isle of Man TT. The course is long and treacherous, the scenery breathtaking, the motorcycles fast and the riders like gods on celestial chariots of two wheels. It's an amazing experience, and one that Kawasaki has decided to focus its efforts on, capturing the highs and lows of its time on the Isle in video form.

If there's any one motorcycle manufacturer that has had a foothold on the TT, it's Honda, representing most of the top riders of the last few decades, but more recently there has been surging participation from the likes of BMW, Suzuki, Yamaha, the aforementioned Kawasaki and others. At the 2014 running, Kawasaki performed pretty well for itself, scoring victories in the sidecar and Lightweight TT classes and reaching the podium in Superstock.

Scroll down below for all the action.

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eBay Find Of The Day: 1988 Saleen Ford Mustang General Tire 21R race car

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Coupes, Auctions, Ford, Racing

1988 Ford Mustang Saleen 21R General Tire racecar auction

Saleen may be making headlines these days for working on the Tesla Model S, but its history and bread-and-butter is all about the Ford Mustang. The rear-wheel-drive Dearborn pony cars singlehandedly put the company on the map in the '80s. Founder Steve Saleen was already a talented American racing driver when he started the venture, and like many auto industry businesses before him, Saleen went to the track to prove his vehicles' worth. Now, there's a chance to buy one of those early racers on eBay Motors.

Saleen Mustangs raced in the Sports Car Club of America Escort Endurance Championship - a series of multi-hour races meant to challenge man and machine. Ostensibly a showroom stock class, the cars had larger wheels, tuned suspensions and other upgrades that stretched the concept slightly. Saleen found major success though, taking the championship for its class in 1987 and winning the 24 Hours of Mosport consecutively from 1986 through 1988.

According to the seller, Saleen only built eight of these cars, and this one carries the #21R serial number. They all started life as new Mustangs from Ford dealers but were immediately stripped and prepped to go racing. Beyond obvious mods like a roll cage, they featured eight-inch wide wheels in front, an inch of additional track width, stiffer suspension bushings and much more.

Saleen #21R is still in its well-known "Bumblebee" livery and includes its SCCA logbook, original wheels, a Saleen title, Steve's signature on the interior and many of the company's ID tags still on the car, according to the auction. It carries a Buy It Now of $65,000, and the auction ends on August 13. That's not cheap, but it would likely be quite a conversation piece whenever it arrived for a day at the track.

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What you missed on 7.28.14

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Videos, Cadillac, Ford, Infiniti, Scion, Motorcycles, Special/Limited Editions, Luxury, MISC, Racing

Daily U-Turn

First Drive: Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge PrototypeInfiniti Q50 Eau Rouge prototype

It's quick - 0-60 in under four seconds. It's fast - top speed is estimated at around 186 miles per hour. And, rather surprisingly considering its status as a prototype, it drives pretty darn well. With a heart of gold borrowed from the Nissan GT-R mated to all-wheel-drive hung off a luxurious sedan chassis, this is one vehicle we openly beg and plead enters production. Soon.

Polaris Slingshot enters the fray on three wheelsPolaris Slingshot

The fact that it only has three wheels on which to stand means the government classifies the Polaris Slingshot as a motorcycle. That means you'll need an appropriate license to operate it, and it probably means you'll need to wear head and/or eye protection. But with an enviable power-to-weight ratio to go along with what's sure to be a thrilling drive experience, those may be small prices to pay. Speaking of which, this sucker will start just shy of $20,000.

Rain an equalizer at Hungarian Grand Prix2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

How thankful we are that rain doesn't keep these open-cockpit Formula 1 cars in the paddock. The 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix proved once again that changing weather conditions are one rather natural way of adding some excitement to the race track. Check out our full race recap for all the details of what went down in Hungary.

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Race Recap: 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix a thrilling wet mess

07/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Euro, Infiniti, Mercedes Benz, Ferrari, Racing, McLaren

Graphic for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Three Free Practice sessions left us thinking Lewis Hamilton looked good to claim another victory for Mercedes AMG Petronas and close up the Driver's World Championship race, but the first qualifying session for the 2014 Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix threw out that script. A fuel leak in Q3 set Hamilton's car aflame and he never set a time. His chassis damaged beyond repair, the team built him a new one and he started from pit lane. That same session also claimed Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen, when a bad call about whether to go out again dropped him down to 17th and out for the day.

Without a real challenge, that put Hamilton's teammate-slash-nemesis Nico Rosberg on pole in the other Mercedes, followed by a resurgent Sebastian Vettel in the first Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Valtteri Bottas in the first Williams and Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull. Fernando Alonso waved the scarlet in fifth for Ferrari but figured he could be in third place by the end of the first lap. Felipe Massa put the second Williams in sixth, followed by Jenson Button in the first McLaren, Jean-Eric Vergne getting up to eighth for Toro Rosso, Nico Hülkenberg in ninth for Force India and Kevin Magnussen in the second McLaren.

When rain poured on the 4.381-kilometer Hungaroring before the race, every script up and down the field got rewritten, and they would continue come in for revision almost every one of the 70 laps.

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Porsche acquires Kyalami race track at auction

07/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Porsche, Earnings/Financials

SAFRICA-AUTO-PRIX-RSA

With more victories under its belt than any other manufacturer, you could say, in a figurative sense at least, that Porsche owns countless numbers of race tracks around the world. But here we're not talking about figuratively owning a track - we're talking about literally buying one. And Porsche has just bought Kyalami.

Kylamai, for those unfamiliar, is a grand prix circuit near Johannesburg in South Africa. Between 1967 and 1985, and again in '92 and '93, it was home to the South African Grand Prix, and has since hosted a variety of local and lower-level international races, but apparently fell on hard times. As a result, the track's owners - listed as Universal Property Professionals - put it up for auction. Bidders had to deposit four million Rand (about $380k) to participate, but after just 50 seconds, the auction was over.

The winning bid was placed - via telephone from the local press launch for the Macan - by Porsche South Africa CEO Toby Venter, who bid a reported 205 million rand (about $19.5 million) to take over the complex. The German automaker's South African division reportedly intends to keep the track open for racing, but could also be expected to use the facility for testing, customer track days and such moving forward.

It would not be the only track, after all, owned by a Porsche - even if the South African option is owned and operated independently of the German automaker and its holding company. The factory at Leipzig has its own test track on premises, there's another one in the works for the company's new US headquarters in Atlanta, Porsche Engineering owns the Nardo high-speed test track in Germany and there's probably a few more we're forgetting about, not to mention facilities like Ehra-Lessien which Porsche effectively owns through its 50+ percent stake in the Volkswagen Group.

Porsche also has a number of customer experience centers opening at tracks around the world - including LA, Atlanta, Silverstone and Le Mans - and given the new acquisition, we wouldn't be surprised to see it set one up at Kyalami as well.

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American F1 driver Alexander Rossi signs with Marussia

07/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Hirings/Firings

Alexander Rossi at Marussia

American fans of Formula One racing have a new team to root for as the Marussia F1 Team has named Alexander Rossi as its official reserve driver for the remainder of the season.

The 22-year-old native of Auburn, California, has advanced through the single-seater ranks since winning the Skip Barber Western Regional championship and placing third nationally in 2006. He won the Formula BMW Americas title in 2008 and proceeded to Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2 where he competes currently, winning races in both series. For the past three seasons he's driven for Caterham, racing for its GP2 team and acting as test driver for its F1 team. Once the team was sold, however, Rossi jumped ship. He's driving for the championship-winning Campos Racing team in GP2 and just announced his signing with Marussia on Thursday.

The move is only a minor step up for Rossi as the Marussia team is only two points ahead of Caterham this season, but will hopefully lead to the young Californian getting some seat time in an official test session or two - if not being called up to replace Max Chilton or Jules Bianchi in the race seat at some point before the end of the season or maybe getting promoted to a full-time drive for next year's championship.

Rossi is the first American to break into F1 racing since Scott Speed, who left the series in 2007. The last American driver to win a grand prix was Mario Andretti back in 1978.

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