Certain carmakers create race-spec variants of their favorite models for competitive motorsport. Here are five of the most enticing.
If you have the means and the lust for motor racing, there are plenty of automakers with their own spec racing series. Ferrari runs the Challenge series, while Lamborghini and Maserati have their respective Super Trofeo and Trofeo series. Porsche has the Supercup, and track toys like the Ariel Atom have their own. Each of these championships runs identical machinery derived from their respective road-going sportscars upgraded to competition specifications.
In 2009 the Raging Bull marque launched the Super Trofeo. The series uses racing versions of the Gallardo, and Lambo released the latest version late last year. The new Gallardo LP570-4 Super Trofeo follows the new LP560-4 coupe revealed at the 2012 Paris Motor Show and the Spyder as the third new variant based on the recently revised model. Unveiled at the Navarra circuit where the 2012 series wrapped up, the new Super Trofeo racer is 120% more aerodynamically efficient than the model it replaces and offers 50% better brake cooling. Best of all is that V10 scream, multiplied by the dozens of racing Lambos on the grid.
Maserati recently updated the GranTurismo for the 2013 Maserati Trofeo MC World Series. The latest GranTurismo MC Trofeo has mostly the same specifications as the 2012 model it replaces, only with a slightly lower curb weight, widened track, reworked aerodynamics and new Pirelli tires. The same 4.7-liter V8 continues to produce 444 horsepower. So far Maserati has signed up 15 teams for the 2013 season, and hopes to attract another five before the first race on April 28 at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France.
Porsche released the new 991-gen 911 GT3 Cup at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. While the previous model produced 450 horsepower, the 3.8-liter flat six in the new Cup has been tuned to 460 hp, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox. Ready for the track, it also has a high-flow exhaust, adjustable anti-roll bars, 18-inch alloys with Michelin slicks and 15-inch brakes. The interior has also been stripped out and fitted with a roll cage, racing controls, emergency escape hatch and bucket seat with competition harness.
The Ferrari Challenge features the track-only version of the 458 Italia and the fifth model used by Ferrari in its single-make racing program. Engineers modified the gear ratios and calibration of the F1 dual clutchbox to improve torque delivery at lower revs. It is also equipped with the E-Diff electric differential used on the street legal model. The race-spec 458 received a specific suspension set, 19-inch center-nut forged alloys and a ride height lowered by 50 mm. Ferrari also decreased the car's weight by using lightweight materials of carbon fiber and Lexan.
Instead of racing the Atom in an existing series, Ariel created its own spec racing series called the Atom Cup, which kicks off in the UK next month with races to be held at Silverstone, Brands Hatch and other tracks on the British Isles. For the task, Ariel has modified the Atom into the Atom Cup, with a bit of extra bodywork, rollover cage, Ohlins dampers and Yokohama racing slicks. The 245-horsepower 2.0-liter i-Vtec four sourced from Honda carries over essentially unchanged, but racing fuel should help it eke out a bit of extra power.