Report: Two new RWD Toyota sports cars to join FR-S?

Filed under: Coupe, Performance, Scion, Toyota, Rumormill

2013 Scion FR-S

Toyota as we know it could become a thing of the past. According to Australian site Car Advice, the Japanese brand known for bland cruisers like the Camry and Corolla is preparing to bring two new rear-drive cars to market that would slot above and below the Scion-badged FR-S. This is very, very good news.

Car Advice spoke to the GT86/FR-S’ chief engineer, Tatsuya Tada, who claimed, “Akio Toyoda always says to me, Toyota sports car [family] should be three sports car brothers. 86 is in the middle.” The oldest “brother” would be the spiritual successor to the Supra, even if it doesn’t wear that name. Tada is in charge of that project, while a sub-GT86 project is being headed-up elsewhere.

Tada refused to comment on names (CA specifically mentions MR2 and Celica) for the new small car, but did say that, “Yes it is rear-wheel drive and that’s Toyota’s strong position – Toyota sports car must be rear-wheel drive.” Perhaps the juiciest bit of information obtained from Tada’s interview with Car Advice was his hinting that both new sports cars would be joint ventures, like the GT86/FR-S/Subaru BRZ triplets. Tada wouldn’t say who Toyota was in bed with on the smaller model, but did mention that the Supra would be a product of the world’s largest automaker’s partnership with BMW.

Now, things can and do change often, so we’d advise taking this information with a grain of salt. Still, the above report basically confirms a 2012 story on the return of the MR2 and Supra, while filling in a few blank details, like the fact that both cars will be join projects with other manufacturers. Looks like the next few years will be exciting for Toyota fans.

Two new RWD Toyota sports cars to join FR-S? originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 09 Aug 2013 14:14:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Mark Webber to quit F1, join Porsche for 2014 Le Mans

Filed under: Motorsports, Europe

Pro driver Mark Webber

Mark Webber has announced he’s leaving the Red Bull F1 team to join Porsche in that company’s quest for victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Australian has signed a contract that will keep him with his new employer for the next “several years.” Porsche says Webber will helm the company’s new LMP1 sports prototype at Le Mans and will also compete in the World Endurance Championship. This won’t be his first go at the legendary 24-hour race – Webber has competed at Le Mans twice before. Now he’ll be joined by Porsche works drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas.

Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen is likely to fill Webber’s seat at Red Bull. The team originally wanted to pull Jenson Button from McLaren, but was unable to lure the British driver from his seat. Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne are other possibilities for the open slot at Red Bull. You can read the brief Porsche press release on the move below for more information.

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Mark Webber to quit F1, join Porsche for 2014 Le Mans originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 27 Jun 2013 11:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Jaguar turns down offers to join V8 Supercars, questions AMG, Volvo participation

Filed under: Motorsports, Sedan, Performance, Jaguar, Australia, Luxury, Racing

2014 Jaguar XFR-S

Rumors have swirled in recent weeks that Jaguar may be the next manufacturer to join the V8 Supercars racing series, made popular in Australia but now well-known in other parts of the world as well. Sadly, Jag’s participation is not to be. In fact, it would be “insane,” according to Jaguar Land Rover Asia Pacific Managing Director David Blackhall, for it to accept either of the two offers it has received to bring Jaguar into V8 Supercars.

Not only is Jaguar not interested in entering V8 Supercars, says Blackhall, it also fails to understand the recent entries from AMG and Volvo. “I don’t know what it does for AMG to get flogged by a V8 Commodore week after week, but it’s their brand, their issue. And the same thing will happen to Volvo to be honest.”

Judging by Blackhall’s statements to motoring.com.au, after not-so-serious consideration, the automaker decided the monetary commitment it would take to compete for wins would be more than any potential exposure would be worth, despite the fact that Jaguar has a 5.0-liter V8 to go along with what would seem to be a tailor-made rear-wheel-drive chassis. For what it’s worth, one offer would have had Jaguar putting its name across an engine made by someone else, an option that was flatly turned down.

In related news, don’t expect to see Jaguar make a return to Formula 1, either. “We’ve been there. And the fizzy drink that took over [Jaguar’s F1 team] is not doing too bad. But we wouldn’t go back again,” said Jag’s head honcho Adrian Hallmark.

Jaguar turns down offers to join V8 Supercars, questions AMG, Volvo participation originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 27 Jun 2013 08:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Rumormill: Fiat Abarth to join World Rally Championship by 2014?

Filed under: Motorsports, Fiat

Abarth Punto S2000

It wasn’t that long ago that things didn’t look so good for the World Rally Championship. Automakers were dropping out of the series like so many flies, while other manufacturers were heading to the rival Intercontinental Rally Challenge. But things have turned around for the WRC.

While Citroën continues to dominate over Ford, Mini has joined the fight, and Volkswagen is on its way in as well. Now word comes in that Fiat could be preparing to take part, as well, with its Abarth performance brand.

Abarth 500 R3TAbarth has been contesting IRC and national rally championships with the Punto S2000 (pictured above) with considerable success, as well as mounting its own rally, touring car and junior formula spec series. But evidently looking for a new challenge, rumor has it that the Scorpion marque will challenge its European rivals on the world rally stage as soon as 2013 or maybe 2014.

If and when it does, the Punto Abarth will likely be adapted to WRC specifications (which now closely mirror the S2000 spec used in the IRC), as opposed to upgrading the 500 R3T (pictured at right) used in some lower-level rally events. We’ll have to wait for official confirmation, but one thing’s for sure: the competition in the WRC is getting fiercer by the day.

Fiat Abarth to join World Rally Championship by 2014? originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 23 May 2011 18:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ferrari and CVC Capital join the F1 buyout debate

Filed under: Motorsports, Ferrari, Fiat

Bernie Ecclestone at Ferrari's Wroom event

Unlike most business deals, which are negotiated behind closed doors with the general populace happily unaware, the effort to buy out the commercial rights to Formula One has been very public.

First came the rumors that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and a consortium of investors were interested in acquiring the rights from CVC Capital Partners, the current owners. Then their representative, Bernie Ecclestone, dismissed the reports offhand, insisting that the sport was not for sale. Following that, Exor (the Italian investment arm of the Agnelli family, which controls the Fiat empire) revealed itself to be the unnamed second party to Murdoch’s consortium, confirming that a bid is in the making. Now, CVC and Ferrari have responded with statements of their own.

For CVC’s part, the salient point in the press release (which you can read after the jump) is that while F1 is not currently for sale, “CVC recognises the quality of Exor and News Corporation as potential investors,” leading to speculation that News Corp and Exor could potentially buy part of the sport, if not the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Ferrari has responded to what it calls “many requests from the media wanting to know Ferrari’s opinion on this matter,” declaring that they are “not directly involved” in the bid and stressing “the importance of ensuring the long term stability and development of Formula 1.” While Maranello can deny being directly involved, the notion that the Agnelli/Elkann family would look into acquiring F1 without consulting their own team (headed by longtime confidant Luca di Montezemolo) is a bit much to swallow.

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Ferrari and CVC Capital join the F1 buyout debate originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 08 May 2011 14:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: VW poised to join WRC by month’s end

Filed under: Motorsports, Europe, Hatchback, Volkswagen, Off-Road, Racing

Volkswagen Touareg Dakar

Carlos Sainz at the 2010 Dakar Rally – Click above for high-res image gallery

According to Autocar, Volkswagen is expected to announce its participation in WRC by the end of this month. The automaker has been rumored to enter WRC ever since the racing series announced a shift to 1.6-liter-based rules.

If the rumors are to be believed, the car, which is already under development, will be based on the Polo. Volkswagen has tapped Fracois-Xavier Demaison, who has led rally projects for Peugeot and Citroen, to get the diminutive Polo ready to race.

The driver for VW’s WRC assault remains undetermined, though apparently the German automaker has tried – and failed – to get Sebastien Loeb. Petter Solberg’s name has also come up as a possible pilot for the effort.

Gallery: Carlos Sainz wins the 2010 Dakar Rally

[Source: Autocar]

Report: VW poised to join WRC by month’s end originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Mar 2011 17:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Super GT moving closer to DTM, may adopt KERS; Grand Am to join as well?

Filed under: Motorsports

DTM race start at Hockenheim 2010

In an attempt to reduce costs and get more brands into the field, it’s beginning to look like as many as three different race series in Europe, Asia and the United States may adopt a more-or-less common set of rules. The German Touring Car Championship (shown above) is set to introduced a new rules package for the 2012 season and the Japanese SuperGT series looks to be on-board for its GT500 class. Here in the States,. the NASCAR-owned Grand Am series is also considering jumping in, presumably to replace the current GT class.

The proposals being considered by the DTM organizers clearly show some NASCAR influence, although with more modern technology. A common carbon-fiber chassis could be mandated with an agreed-upon wheelbase and overhangs for all cars. DTM is considering “Introduction of “design line” where on one side all cars are common” which sounds an awful lot like NASCAR’s dreaded common templates. Along with the V8 powerplants, hybrid kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) could be part of the picture. The goal is to cut the cost of these cars in half from current levels.

If the new rules are adopted by all three groups, it could result in cross-pollination of cars between the series with Lexus, Nissan and Honda joining Audi and Mercedes-Benz in DTM and possibly the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro mixing it up with the Germans and Japanese.

[Sources: RaceCar Engineering, Touring Car Times, DTM | Image: Bongarts/Getty]

Report: Super GT moving closer to DTM, may adopt KERS; Grand Am to join as well? originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 19 Aug 2010 17:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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