Porsche’s Le Mans racer wraps 1200-mile test, new WRX starts at $30K, Dodge’s drag-racing honeypot

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Porsche | Hoch Zwei | Juergen Tap

Porsche’s Le Mans prototype wraps first international track test

Intake: Porsche’s next-gen endurance-racing prototype is 1200 miles closer to its 2023 competition debut. Though the German automaker won’t contest the FIA’s new top class until 2023, putting it on a similar schedule to rivals Cadillac and Ferrari, its prototype has left Stuttgart’s Weissach test track to continue development on the international scene. At the Circuit de Catalunya this week, the drivers and engineers of Porsche Penske Motorsport began to evaluate tire performance and make sure that the turbocharged V-8 engine and hybrid systems complied with the intricate Balance of Power rules of the LMDh class. (Among other nuances, these dictate that the electric motor can only kick in above 75 mph. Since the V-8 only powers the back wheels, drivers will be wrangling four or two driven wheels within a single lap.) Porsche bumped up time on track as well, more than doubling the car’s mileage from its previous outing.

Exhaust: Despite boasting 19 overall wins at Le Mans, Porsche has much to prove with this car. It owes much of its last victory at Le Mans, in 2017, to the implosion of rival Toyota’s effort. Porsche has been absent from the prototype class since. Mark your calendars for June 11—and stay tuned for news of the homologated car, due this autumn.

This is one smoky Porsche drift nobody wants to see

burning cargo ship porsche fire bentley audi
YouTube | Sal Mercogliano

Intake: A massive car transporter ship is currently drifting, abandoned in the Atlantic after a fire took hold. The good news is that all 22 crew have been rescued. The bad news is that around 2500 cars, including Porsches, Bentleys, Audis, and Volkswagens are on board. The 656-foot Felicity Ace was evacuated on Wednesday near the Azores, approximately halfway through its journey from the port of Emden in Germany to Davisville, Rhode island. Porsche said it believes that 1100 of its cars were loaded on the ship, while Bentley confirmed that 189 vehicles were on the Felicity Ace.

Exhaust: Customers who fear their cars may be aboard the stricken vessel have been advised to contact their dealers for updates. A Porsche statement says, “While it remains too early to confirm what occurred and next steps, we are—along with our colleagues at Porsche AG—supporting our customers and our dealers as best we can to find solutions. Anyone concerned by this incident and the implications on the car they’ve ordered should maintain in contact with dealer with which their order was placed.”

Base 2022 WRX hovers at $30K

Intake: For those about to hoon, or at least to run their hooning budgets, Subaru has released pricing for its all-wheel-drive pocket rocket, the 2022 WRX. The next-gen model starts at $29,105 and, if you add the ($70 higher) $995 fee, you’re looking at $30,100. That’s a barebones car with no options … but including the familiar six-speed manual transmission paired to a 271-horse, 2.4-liter turbo four. A $1680 premium over the outgoing model, for new suspension, driveline, and sheetmetal? Not too shabby. Those in colder climes will skip straight to the Premium trim, which adds heated seats and windshield wiper de-icers. The big 11.6-inch touchscreen, 18- rather than 17-inch wheels, and LED foglights on the Premium account for a $2500 upgrade from the base car; a $1875 upgrade nets you an 11-speaker Harmon Kardon stereo and a moon roof. The Limited trim starts to feel a bit luxe—which it should, for $36,990 (or $39,240 with the CVT). It starts with the big touchscreen and the audio/moonroof upgrade and adds headlights that track with steering inputs and 10-way adjustable seats trimmed in faux suede. The new GT trim tops out the regular WRX at $42,890. Unique to the GT are electronically controlled dampers, Recaro front chairs, and matte-grey 18-inch alloys. 

Exhaust: Subaru’s trying to move the WRX upmarket, and at first glance, we’re skeptical. Sure, you get Recaros and the fancy dampers in the GT trim—but that’s 2021 WRX money, and a CVT is the only option. Why not save your money for the STI? If spending our own money, we’d opt for a stickshift Premium with the Harman Kardon audio. Fun on a budget is the whole idea, after all. 

Lotus will “Electrify and add lightning” to its first SUV

 

Intake: Lotus has given its Twitter followers a glimpse of the electric powertrain that’s to be fitted to the upcoming Type 132 SUV and come up with a new take on Colin Chapman’s famous quote: “Simplify and add lightness.” Instead, Lotus says it will “Electrify and add lightning” to the car, and has released a series of teaser videos on its website, which uncover very little, focusing on macro details of the Type 132, described as “The beating heart of a new generation of Lotus.” More will be revealed soon.

Exhaust: The first electric SUV from the British sports car brand will be neither simple nor light. The Evija weighs in at 3700 pounds and to give the Type 132 a range of more than 400 miles, Lotus will have to fit a hefty battery pack. No matter how Chapman-like the architecture, there’ll be plenty of mass to move.

Bugatti honors the Type 30 on its 100th anniversary

Intake: 100 years ago, Bugatti unveiled the Type 30, a racing car with the brand’s first eight-cylinder engine. The 2.0-liter inline, originally planned for 3.0 liters, was redesigned for its smaller displacement to fit in new Grand Prix rules. The 24-valve, overhead-cam engine produced up to 100 PS (98.6 horsepower) and pushed the car to speeds up to 145 kph (90 mph). In addition to its engine performance, the Type 30 set itself apart from its competitors with technological advancements such as front brakes. Imagine the luxury!

Exhaust: Considering most of its contemporaries, the Type 30 must have seemed like something from out of this world when it debuted. Bugatti owes much to this early racing pioneer. Even today, the craftsmanship is impressive and deserves to be celebrated on its 100th anniversary.

Dodge rewards Drag Pak racers with $10,000 contingency

photo by Auto Imagery, Inc.

Intake: Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak racers will now take home a $10,000 prize from Dodge with any National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Factory Stock Showdown or National Muscle Car Association (NMCA) Factory Super Cars event win. That’s 14 opportunities to take home the biggest prize from any manufacturer in either series, giving Drag Pak competitors multiple shots at taking home a five-figure winner’s purse during the 2022 season. NHRA Stock and Super Stock class winners and runners-up will take home $1000 and $500, respectively.

Exhaust: The glory days of factory-backed drag racing was in the 1970s, but Dodge’s $10,000 prize, in addition to its contingency support for other racers flying the Mopar flag helps grassroots racers that need the support the most.

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