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The Lotus Emira GT4 is a race-ready performance car

Lotus has kick-started a new age of motorsport with the release of a new GT4 race car.

The Lotus Emira GT4 follows on from the launch of the regular car in July and while the pair share the same Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre V6 engine, the racer has been given a whole host of aerodynamic tweaks to make it competitive on the circuit.

Built in collaboration with project partner RML Group, it has also been made even lighter than the already-featherweight road car, now weighing 1260kg – a drop of 145kg – through the use of lightweight body panels. A large rear wing is one of the more prominent aspects of the aerodynamic package, too. A full FIA-compliant roll cage, six-point harness and fire extinguisher has been fitted as well.

It follows on from the firm’s last bespoke GT4 racer – the Evora GT4 – which saw wins at the British GT, Dubai 24hrs, Barcelona 24hrs and European GT to name but a few. Each Emira GT4 will be hand-built to meet the very latest safety regulations, with a limited number created for the 2022 season – though Lotus has said it’ll increase production for 2023 ‘in line with global demand’.

Richard Selwin, race programme manager at Lotus, said: “The all-new Emira GT4 is an exciting next step following the hugely successful launch of the Emira road car. We have worked hard with the team at RML Group to ensure this next-generation of Lotus GT car will deliver race-winning performance.”

Photos: PA Media

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Malta Classic announces postponement of 13th edition to 2022

The Valletta Grand Prix foundation has announced that the current event and travel restrictions has for the second consecutive year called for the postponement of Malta Classic’s four-day staple event.

“The production of the Malta Classic Hill Climb, Concours d’ Elegance and the Grand Prix held since 2008 has involved the coordination of travel for overseas drivers, timescale logistical planning, sponsors, partners and most importantly a car enthusiast spectatorship. It is extremely disappointing that the circumstances have led to the postponement of both 2020 and 2021’s editions,” Josef Abela, technical director, Valletta Grand Prix Foundation, said. 

Attracting thousands of vintage car racing enthusiasts each year, the Malta Classic committee has ensured 12 seamless annual events with the health and safety of its drivers and patrons at the core of its operations.

“While the circumstances beyond our control have called for the second consecutive deferment, more than 60 committee members, volunteers and third parties are working towards 2022: the most exhilarating edition yet for its drivers, patrons and spectators,” Karen Zammit Southernwood; secretary for Malta Classic said. 

Malta Classic has announced its dates for the 13th edition scheduled to be back on the road between October 13-16. A rare 1959 Lotus Elite series 1 that was confirmed for this year’s edition is one among many sought after classic cars that will feature in the next edition. 

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The Morgan built for overland adventure

Morgan has unveiled the Plus Four CX-T, a car with adventure at its core. A vehicle with capability not yet witnessed on a Morgan sports car, it opens up the possibility of routes, landscapes and destinations inaccessible by Morgan cars until now.

The Morgan Plus Four CX-T is inspired by Morgan’s well documented history of competing in all-terrain endurance trials. As early as 1911, Morgan sports cars were competing and winning in trials competitions, and this spirit of adventure has been key to shaping the Morgan brand ever since. The more adventurous journeys that are frequently undertaken by Morgan customers all over the world have further fuelled the desire for Morgan to imagine the Plus Four CX-T.

Following the launch of the Plus Four in 2020, Morgan partnered with Rally Raid UK, renowned creator of Dakar race cars, to jointly design and engineer the Plus Four CX-T. One of the aims of the project is to demonstrate the capability and durability of Morgan’s new CX-Generation platform, along with the Plus Four upon which the CX-T is based.

Just eight vehicles will be built, with each customer having the opportunity to work alongside Morgan’s design team to specify their own CX-T. Every Plus Four CX-T is built at Morgan’s factory in Malvern, Worcestershire, before undergoing the final preparation and setup at Rally Raid UK’s own workshop facilities. Morgan’s design and engineering team have worked alongside Rally Raid UK throughout the programme to define the concept, specification, technical attributes, and aesthetic of the model.

The exterior of the Plus Four CX-T is designed to maximise luggage and equipment carrying capacity, and provide the occupant protection necessary for extreme environments. Simultaneously, Morgan has ensured that its visual design reflects this capability and purposefulness.

Most prominently, the rear panel of the vehicle has been replaced with an equipment rack, with unique side body panels designed to be reminiscent of the classic four-seater Morgan.

The rack houses two ruggedised and waterproof Pelican luggage cases, a Zarges aluminium tool/storage box, two Rotopax 11-litre containers and two spare wheel/tyre assemblies. Additionally, for those who venture further off the beaten track, recovery equipment is mounted on the exterior of the car within easy reach when required. All exterior mounting systems for all storage and equipment have been painstakingly engineered to be tough and easy to access when needed.

The external protective exoskeleton can also be adapted to carry leisure equipment such as bikes and surf boards, to compliment the lifestyle activities of the owner, while the removable side screens can be mounted onto the roof of the vehicle, allowing them to be carried unobtrusively in case of a change in weather conditions.

Rally Raid UK undertook a complete study of the standard Plus Four vehicle to determine the possibilities for the conversion. This study included durability assessments of the platform, drivetrain, and suspension systems.

The suspension has been designed to be expedition ready: tough and fit for purpose. Durability, and a drive-over obstacle clearance of 230mm, has been achieved using modified Plus Six wishbones. These widen the track and allow for the extra arc of movement required to achieve the desired suspension performance. The wheel arch apertures have also been modified, allowing the suspension to compress deep into the wheel well, providing maximum traction and stability.

EXE-TC coilover assemblies with internal bump stops are used, these have been developed by EXE-TC specifically for the vehicle. These assemblies are born from off-road competition, and are calibrated to provide the ideal balance of compliance and durability.

In addition to the main suspension hardware, the lower suspension arms contain bespoke bushes which further increase durability. The combined suspension package is optimised to undertake journeys never before attempted in a Morgan sports car, while ensuring composure and comfort during any excursion into the back country.

A five-piece underbody protection system – comprising an engine guard, rear chassis guard, mid-section shield and rear undertray – helps to protect the chassis and important components from damage when driving in extreme conditions. The car is also fitted with a full bespoke exhaust system with rear side-exit that improves the departure angle and contributes to 230mm of ground clearance.

The Plus Four CX-T uses a BMW X-Drive electronic differential with bespoke software, calibrated and tested specifically for the application. Switches inside the cabin allow a choice of three modes to be selected depending upon the driving conditions; each mode varies the degree of differential lock that is applied. Selecting ‘Road’ mode fully opens the differential, while ‘All-Terrain’ mode applies approximately 45% lock to the rear differential, allowing some variation torque distribution between the rear wheels. ‘All-Terrain – Extreme’ mode fully locks the rear differential, providing equal torque to both rear wheels. The two All-Terrain modes are designed to be used when tackling rough surfaces and low-traction conditions. The final drive ratio has also been shortened to account for the larger diameter tyres and suit all-terrain usage.

Inside the cabin of the Plus Four CX-T features have been added to improve occupant comfort and usability in remote environments. A RAM mount track is built into to the dashboard to allow the secure fixing of a variety of devices such as phones or cameras. A flexible map light, pencil and notebook holder have also been integrated, all designed to withstand operation in harsh driving environments.

Cabin stowage has also been optimised with the addition of a removable map/document holder and insulated cool bag, both located in the passenger footwell. A custom-made first aid kit is mounted to the internal roll cage behind the seats. Just like the exterior equipment, every interior feature has been designed with accessibility and convenience in mind, whether this is for use in remote conditions or the leisure pursuits of the owner.  The cabin is enclosed within a composite hard top which is unique to the Plus Four CX-T and has been intricately engineered to fit between the internal and external roll cages.

The Morgan Plus Four CX-T is the second of two special projects being produced by Morgan in 2021, with the first being the Plus 8 GTR. The introduction of the Plus Four CX-T also coincides with the announcement of Model Year 22 updates to the Plus Four and Plus Six, and helps to inform technical and aesthetic advancements for Morgan’s current and future range of vehicles. The Plus Four CX-T is on sale immediately, with all vehicles due to be built before the end of 2021.

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New Michael Schumacher documentary to air on Netflix from September

Netflix has announced a new documentary about former Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher.

Produced with full support from the German racing driver’s family, it will include ‘rare interviews and previously undisclosed archival footage’ that will chart a career that saw him become a seven-time World Champion and an icon of the sport.

Announcing the release, Netflix wrote: “His strong will and triumphant fight to win against all odds put Michael Schumacher at the centre of global attention.

“Michael Schumacher’s journey has captured the imagination of millions, but there is a lot more than motor racing to the success of this very private man.

“However, it is not only his fighting spirit and striving for perfection that define Michael Schumacher as a person; his self-doubt and insecurities complete the picture of a sensitive and reflected man.”

Photo: PA Media

Little has been heard from the Schumacher family since Michael’s skiing accident in 2013. The star was in the French Alps with his then-14-year-old son Mick – who is currently in his debut season in Formula 1 with Haas – when he fell and hit his head on a rock.

Despite wearing a helmet, he suffered a traumatic brain injury and was placed in a medically induced coma. In September 2014 he was transferred to his home where updates on his condition have been minimal following a request for privacy from his family.

Based on the synopsis released by Netflix, it’s unlikely the Schumacher documentary will provide new details on the accident or his condition.

Schumacher will be released on the streaming service on September 15, 2021.

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Peugeot reveals exciting new Hypercar project that’s destined for Le Mans

Peugeot has finally revealed the Hypercar racer that will be competing in the World Endurance Championship from next season.

Called 9X8, it is considered a direct successor to the 905, which won the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1992 and 1993, and the 908, which won in 2009.

Despite providing the inspiration for the new car, the 9X8 is a world away from its predecessors mechanically. It has a hybrid powertrain, combining a rear-mounted 2.6-litre V6 petrol engine making 661bhp to an electric motor producing 264bhp.

Peugeot says the battery is still in development but will be a ‘technologically sophisticated’ unit with a 900v output – the highest currently seen in an electric road car is the Porsche Taycan’s 800v system.

One interesting quirk that has not been explained in depth yet is the lack of a rear wing. Performance cars tend to use spoilers and wings to manipulate the air travelling over the car and push it into the ground to improve grip.

However, the 9X8 has a clean rear end, with the message ‘We didn’t want a rear wing” in subtle lettering. Although these wings help to improve cornering speeds, they also create drag, which lowers the car’s top speed, making their design a balancing act.

Photos: PA Media

Jean-Marc Finot, motorsport director for Peugeot’s parent company Stellantis, said the team has “achieved a degree of aerodynamic efficiency that allows us to do away with this feature,” and joked that people shouldn’t ask how they achieved this.

However, it’s likely related to ground effects, which involves manipulating the air travelling beneath the car to create downforce while minimising drag.

Linda Jackson, Peugeot CEO, said: “There’s more to Peugeot’s involvement in endurance racing than the sporting aspect.

“Endurance racing is a form of motorsport that provides us with an extreme laboratory, which explains why our association with Le Mans is so strong. More significant perhaps than the results we obtain on the racetrack are the opportunities it provides to prove our technology and the fruit of our research work in a race that throws extreme conditions at you for 24 hours.

“Le Mans gives us a competitive environment to validate the hybrid systems and technologies we are currently developing to reduce the fuel consumption – and therefore CO2 emissions – of our road cars. The teams at Peugeot Sport are proud when they see their research carried over to our production models. For our customers, Le Mans is a laboratory that testifies to the quality of our cars.”

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Maserati celebrates racing past with F Tributo Special Editions

Maserati has launched two new special edition models to celebrate the 95th anniversary of its first race.

The F Tributo Special Edition is available on the Ghibli saloon and the Levante SUV, and can be specified with two exclusive paint jobs called Rosso Tributo (red) and Azzuro Tributo (blue).

The colours have been inspired by the fact that red is the classic Maserati racing colour and has been used to represent Italy in motorsport, while blue is the colour of the City of Modena, where the firm is based.

Extra equipment for these special editions includes 21-inch black alloy wheels, a gloss black model-specific badge on the wheel arch, and a body-coloured Maserati logo on the C-pillar.

Inside, there’s a choice of red or yellow stitching combined with black leather upholstery.

The Maserati Ghibli is the firm’s luxury saloon model. It’s available with a V6 petrol engine making either 345 or 424bhp depending on trim, as well as a 325bhp hybrid and 572bhp V8.

The Levante, meanwhile, has the same V6 engine options, but also has a choice of 523 and 572bhp V8s.

Photos: PA Media

The F Tributo models come 95 years after Maserati’s first race, on April 25, 1926. A Tipo26 wore the now-famous Trident logo and won 1,500cc class of the Targa Florio with Alfieri Maserati, one of the firm’s founders, driving.

The F Tributo Special Edition is available on the Ghibli saloon and the Levante SUV, and can be specified with two exclusive paint jobs called Rosso Tributo (red) and Azzuro Tributo (blue).

The colours have been inspired by the fact that red is the classic Maserati racing colour and has been used to represent Italy in motorsport, while blue is the colour of the City of Modena, where the firm is based.

Extra equipment for these special editions includes 21-inch black alloy wheels, a gloss black model-specific badge on the wheel arch, and a body-coloured Maserati logo on the C-pillar.

Inside, there’s a choice of red or yellow stitching combined with black leather upholstery.

The Maserati Ghibli is the firm’s luxury saloon model. It’s available with a V6 petrol engine making either 345 or 424bhp depending on trim, as well as a 325bhp hybrid and 572bhp V8.

The Levante, meanwhile, has the same V6 engine options, but also has a choice of 523 and 572bhp V8s.

The F Tributo models come 95 years after Maserati’s first race, on April 25, 1926. A Tipo26 wore the now-famous Trident logo and won 1,500cc class of the Targa Florio with Alfieri Maserati, one of the firm’s founders, driving.

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Bentley unveils striking Continental GT Pikes Peak racer

Bentley is aiming for a third record at the iconic Pikes Peak International Hillclimb with a new and even more outlandish race car.

The Crewe-based firm will be looking to build on its success in 2018 and 2019 when it broke records for production SUVs and production cars. This latest attempt will look to break the Time Attack 1 record which applies to modified production-based cars.

As a result, the car of choice is loosely based on the firm’s Continental GT but shares more in common with the GT3 race car.

The Continental GT3 Pike Peak will be driven by Rhys Millen who is aiming to beat his previous record-breaking times, finishing the course in less than nine minutes and 36 seconds.

Referred to as the ‘most extreme road-car-based Bentley in history’ by the firm, the GT3 Pikes Peak features a comprehensive aerodynamic package, including the biggest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley. Beneath this is a rear diffuser, while at the front sits a two-plane splitter.

The engine is a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 which, on this occasion, will run on biofuel. Despite the change in fueling, Bentley says that it’ll produce the same amount of power and ensure that the engine keeps running at optimal levels even at the huge elevations of the course.

Photos: PA Media

Dr Matthias Rabe, Bentley’s member of the board for engineering, said: “We are delighted to be returning to Pikes Peak for a third time – now powered by renewable fuel, as the launch project for another new element of our Beyond100 programme.

“Our powertrain engineers are already researching both biofuels and e-fuels for use by our customers alongside our electrification programme – with intermediate steps of adopting renewable fuels at the factory in Crewe and for our company fleet. In the meantime, the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak will show that renewable fuels can allow motorsport to continue in a responsible way, and hopefully it will capture the third and final record in our triple crown.”

The car now enters a test and development phase in the UK, before being shipped to the US for further altitude testing. An update on the car will be issued next month prior to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 27.

The Hill Climb is one of the most famous motorsport events in the world, pitching cars to tackle a climb of over 12 miles up to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado, US.

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Porsche to test sustainable fuels in 911 Cup racing series

This season’s Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup championship will run exclusively on renewable fuels following a collaboration between the German car maker and energy giant ExxonMobil.

The new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car will use Esso Renewable Racing Fuels to provide an intensive test bed that it hopes will accelerate a potential path towards being used in consumer products.

Porsche says it has already tested to make sure the car’s high-revving 4.0-litre engine can deal with the biofuels and will now use it in all eight races this season.

For 2021, the cars will use a bio-based fuel blend, which has been obtained from food waste products and mixed with other components to provide the usual combustion behaviour expected of fuel. It will have an octane racing equivalent to 98 octane.

In 2022, the cars will use a new synthetic fuel – also referred to as ‘eFuel’ – which Porsche says will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 per cent. This has been sourced from the Haru Oni pilot project in Chile, which generates hydrogen and mixes it with carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere to produce methanol.

Photos: PA Media


Oliver Schwab, project manager of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, said: “The testing of new technologies in racing has a decades-long tradition at Porsche. We’re proud to be able to assume a pioneering role for Porsche on the critical topic of eFuels.

“The Supercup is the first international racing series to use renewable fuels. Given that our races are held as part of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, we’re very much in the eye of the media, the public and other manufacturers involved in motor racing.”

Porsche has been making a lot of noise recently about synthetic fuels, saying that the benefit is reduced harmful emissions and the ability to continue using existing internal combustion engines and refuelling networks.

The recent trend towards using a higher ethanol mix in petrol can be harmful towards older vehicles that are not made for it, something that is not an issue with e-fuels.

It announced partnerships with a variety of firms, including tech giant Siemens, last year. The group is opening a synthetic fuel plant in Chile powered by the wind to further reduce emissions.

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JBXE Racing and Lotus join forces in Extreme E technical partnership

Lotus Engineering is the latest addition to the family of partners, JBXE Racing has announced. The world-renowned British engineering consultancy, part of Group Lotus, joins as technical partner, supporting Jenson Button’s Extreme E team in this radical new electric off-roading series.

Highly respected for its dedication to cutting-edge technologies and motor racing pedigree, Lotus Engineering is internationally recognised for driving innovation in the automotive industry and beyond. JBXE Racing looks forward to working together with Lotus Engineering to promote electrification and highlight the importance of sustainable solutions to help protect and preserve the planet.

JBXE Racing team founder and 2009 FIA Formula 1 Drivers’ World Champion, Jenson Button, and multiple Scandinavian Touring Car race-winner, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, are preparing to compete in the opening race of the 2021 Extreme E Championship later this week – the Desert X Prix takes place from April 3-4 in AlUla, Saudi Arabia.

JBXE Racing team founder and 2009 FIA Formula 1 Drivers’ World Champion, Jenson Button. Photos: Lotus

Jenson Button said: “Lotus is a great British brand that is inextricably linked to motorsport, so we are delighted to welcome Lotus Engineering to JBXE. Extreme E is a unique and exciting formula, full of “world firsts” and challenges, and to announce that a brand such as Lotus Engineering is coming on this journey with us is a proud moment for myself and the team. We are very excited about our new technical partnership and can’t wait to show what we can do in the first race this weekend.”

Matt Windle, managing director, Lotus Cars, added: “We are on the cusp of an exciting new era of electrified motorsport, and we’re delighted to support the JBXE team as Technical Partner. The complex technicalities of EV racing present a fascinating challenge, and using our learnings from more than a decade of electrifying sports cars – most recently with the Lotus Evija hypercar – we can bring valuable knowledge to the team.”

Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Extreme E said: “It’s fantastic that Lotus Engineering is entering Extreme E alongside Jenson Button’s JBXE team. The long-term success of our series relies on bringing in top automotive manufacturers to utilise our extreme racing platform as a testbed for accelerating electric mobility innovation for the wider industry. Lotus Engineering brings a wealth of experience in electrification and will no doubt prove a huge asset to the JBXE team. Welcome to the Extreme E family Lotus!”

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