2011 12 Hours of Sebring in the books!

With this weekend’s 12 Hours of Sebring marking the opening round of both the American Le Mans Series and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, an even larger than usual contingent of European teams turned up for a 56 car starting field. For some years now, the bumpy Sebring track has attracted the European factory squads from Peugeot, Audi and Aston Martin as a high-speed test session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This was also the first race run to the new 2011 rules package with downsized engines for the top LMP1 class.

Only three all-new P1 cars on the track to compete at Sebring were the factory Peugeot 908s and the Highcroft HPD ARX-01e. While Audi had been testing its all new 3.7-liter V6 diesel powered at Sebring in the weeks leading up to the race, the Germans opted to race with an updated version of last year’s Le Mans winning R15+ with smaller intake restrictors and fuel tank. The rest of the P1 field consisted of “grandfathered” old 2010 P1 and P2 machines including the biobutanol powered Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda and the ex-factory Aston Martin-Lola being run by the Cytosport Muscle Milk team. The French Oreca Matmut team that ran an ex-factory Peugeot in Europe (including Le Mans) in 2010 is entered in the ILMC with its V12 diesel machine so they were also running in Florida.

The lighter, lower cost P2 machines are now required to use production based engines and only four of them were ready for the season opener including a pair of Honda powered Lolas fielded by last year’s LMP Challenge winners, Level 5 Motorsports. Interestingly, Level 5 ran one car as a closed-top coupe while the other was in open-top configuration.

A full field of 24 GT cars took part including the debuts of the all-new Ferrari 458 Italia and the Panoz Abruzzi. Three of the older Ferrari F430 GTs were also on hand to prove that they were still in contention. Among the Ferrari squads, Houston based Risi Competizione arrived in Florida with absolutely no running time on their new 458 after the car was held up in customs for an extra week and then the crew had scramble just to prepare it for the race. The factory Corvette C6.Rs were making their first run with the new paddle-shift gearbox. The JaguarRSR XKR and Robertson Racing Ford GT squads both expanded to two car efforts.

Through most of the practice and qualifying sessions from Wednesday to Friday the P1 cars were all running fairly close together with no one really dominating. That all changed when Stephan Sarrazin went out for a hot lap in the #8 Peugeot and put in a blistering lap 1.109 seconds faster than the #1 Audi which took the #2 spot. The Peugeots and Audis alternated for the first five slots on the grid. Among the P2 cars, the new Signatech Oreca-Nissan ran nearly 3.5 seconds a lap quicker than the first of the Level 5 Lola-HPD which happened to be the open-top version.

Among the GT machines, things were a lot tighter with less than eight-tenths of a second covering the first six cars. Gimmi Bruni in the AF Corsa F430 went out and demonstrated that the older Ferrari still had some life left in it by grabbing the GT pole ahead of the 04 Corvette, the two BMWs, the Risi Ferrari and the #045 Flying Lizard Porsche.

Once the green flag fell on Saturday morning, Frank Montagny kept the lead and Alex Wurz slipped past Mike Rockenfeller’s Audi where they stayed for the next several laps with the Audis following close behind. In GT Oliver Gavin got the jump on Bruni’s Ferrari and quickly started to pull out a lead of several seconds over the first few laps. Eventually the grip on the Ferrari’s tires improved and the gap vanished and Bruni got back out in front while the Corvette lost grip any time it picked up some dust.

At the front of the pack, the four factory prototypes from Germany and France continued their mighty battle trading places and paint as they regularly rubbed fenders. However, several caution periods in the early hours prevented a breakaway and bunched up the field. Ultimately neither team was likely to be dominant anyway as the Audis seemed to have more straightline speed and the Puegeots had the advantage in corners.

Following a restart less than two hours in, the 04 Corvette came in contact with Patrick Long’s Porsche and they both spun in Turn 17. As the back end of the Corvette came around it struck the rear of the ExtremeSpeed Ferrari 458 of Johannes van Overbeek causing it spin backwards into the tirewall causing heavy damage and ending its day. Jan Magnussen got the Corvette back to the pits for some quick repairs that cost six minutes and ultimately a shot at victory at the end of the day.

In that same hour, Mike Rockenfeller pitted the #1 Audi on two consecutive laps for a punctured left rear tire that also damaged body work. After the second stop, the car went back to the garage for more extensive repairs that cost it eight laps. Teammate Dindo Capello had coming together with Peugeot driver Marc Gene in hour five that resulted in rear suspension damage to the Audi which cost seven laps in the pits.

All of the new Ferraris ran well at various times but ultimately succumbed to various maladies that dropped them well down or out of the competition. The last 458 with a chance was the fresh out of the box Risi car which led the GT field on several occasions. Unfortunately as the sun set on Florida, an alternator problem kicked in when the night driving lights were switched on and the battery rapidly drained. The team tried running with just the regular headlights but it was simply too dangerous and the car was parked with about 90 minutes left.

By this time, the 2010 Puegeot being campaigned by Hughes de Chaunac’s Oreca Matmut team had moved into the lead followed by the Highcroft HPD ARX-01e and the #8 factory 908 all on the lead lap. The Muscle Milk Aston Martin had retired midway after damage caused by a collision with one of the GT cars and the Audi were five and six laps down in fourth and fifth.

In GT the fight between the top six stayed on the same lap for much of the day and only late in the race did the two BMW M3s of the Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan squad get a firm hold on the top two spots.

However, the real battle remained at the front where the older Peugeot had the speed advantage on the HPD car, while the latter had an efficiency advantage. The question was whether the French machine could build up enough of a cushion to retain the lead while it made and extra stop for fuel in the final hour. The Connecticut based Highcroft team opted to run lean and preserve fuel as the Peugeot slowly pulled away.  In the final hour, the Oreca car dashed in for a splash of fuel that was just enough to allow to get to the finish and still exit the pits ahead of the Highcroft car. Meanwhile Frank Montagny in the factory 908 was unable to close a 20-25 second gap to Simon Pagenaud in the ARX-01e, especially after he got stuck behind Alan McNish in the #2 Audi. Just after 10:30pm, the Oreca car took the checkered flag in the team’s first visit to Florida since 2000 when it was running the factory Dodge Viper GT effort. The HPD and #8 Peugeot filled out the podium, all on the lead lap.

In GT, the 56 and 55 BMW’s led the way with the Corvettes right behind. The open-top Level 5 Lola-Honda recovered from early problems and overcame the pole sitting Signatech Oreca-Nissan for the LMP2 victory. In LMP Challenge, the Genoa Racing team took top honors while defending GT Challenge champs, Black Swan Racing continued their winning ways.

The teams with fresh cars now have four weeks to get things sorted out before getting back in action at Long Beach on April 16.


Porsche 911 GT3R Hybrid 2.0 gets more power and efficiency

After a successful first season of competition with the flywheel-equipped 911 GT3R hybrid in 2010, Porsche is coming back with a more powerful and efficient Ver. 2.0 for this year. In its debut campaign, Porsche proved out the effectiveness of the basic electro-mechanical flywheel system even finishing first among all GT cars at the season ending race in Zuhai, China.

Version 2.0 is primarily about refining the car and the hybrid system to reduce weight and size as well as improving the aerodynamics. The flywheel system still spins at up to 40,000 rpm but it’s now more compact and 20 percent lighter than the first iteration allowing it and the hybrid power electronics to be packaged into the carbon fiber safety enclosure on the passenger side of the car. The electronics are now more efficient so they generate less heat and require less cooling which has allowed Porsche to dispense with the two large air scoops that sat ahead of the rear wheel arches on the 2010 car. The result is less aerodynamic drag for better speed and reduced fuel consumption.

On the driver side of the cockpit, Porsche has consolidated all of the instrumentation readout and all of the major controls into the center of the steering wheel so they are always visible and accessible.  Other controls are available with backlit buttons that have been placed on panel in the center console. The goal was to improve the ergonomics for the drivers, especially when running in the dark during endurance races.

The 470 horsepower normally aspirated six-cylinder boxer engine continues to hang out behind the rear axle just as 911s have done for 50 years. Up front, the two electric motors that drive the front wheels have been upgraded from 60 to 75 kilowatts each, giving the 911 hybrid a boost of up to 200 hp for accelerating out of curves or passing. The system can be programmed to either feed in the electric power automatically when the driver presses the throttle pedal or provide an on-demand boost via a steering wheel button for overtaking.

Overall, Porsche engineers have dropped the weight of the 911 hybrid by 50 kilograms to just 1,300 kg which should improve the handling, accelerating and efficiency.  The plan is tune the 911 to provide similar lap-times to the 2010 car, but use the improvements to cut fuel consumption over the already efficient version 1.0. So far Porsche has committed to running the hybrid in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring in June and probably some of the four hour races that make up the Ring endurance series this spring. After the 24 hour race, the car will probably go to Petit Le Mans in October and perhaps one or two other races.  What Porsche still isn’t talking about are competition plans for the 918 RSR that debuted at the Detroit Auto show. It now looks like the 918 won’t be racing until at least 2012.

ALMS cuts petroleum use while improving racing

Being green isn’t what most fans think about when high-powered race cars roar past, but the American Le Mans Series thinks differently. Race cars obviously use a lot more fuel than a typical Prius, but efficiency is actually very important to most racers.

Weight is the enemy of performance and the more fuel a car uses, the more it has to carry, adding mass. In endurance racing, especially on long tracks like Le Mans, guzzling fuel also means more pit stops and time standing still while other cars are circulating.

ALMS CEO Scott Atherton led the charge starting in 2006 to make the series the “green racing” leader. ALMS regulations are based on those set down by the Automobile Club de L’Ouest (ACO) which runs Le Mans. Le Mans organizers have given prizes for the efficiency index going back to at least the 1960s and the ACO rule book made allowances for all manner of different powerplants including Wankel rotaries and different fuels such as diesel.

Atherton took this idea and expanded on it, deciding that the ALMS was going to make a concerted effort to reduce oil and petroleum use. There were a number of reasons for going down this path, not the least of which was to find an angle that would set the series apart and hopefully attract new fans. Adopting new fuels starting with E10 and diesel and allowing experimental powertrains would also provide an outlet for manufacturers looking to test new technology that could have production applications.

In 2008, Atherton announced the introduction of cellulosic ethanol E85 blends as one of the allowable fuels in the series as well as the launch of the Michelin Green X Challenge. Starting with the Intersport LMP1 team and the GT1 Corvettes that year, the use of E85 has grown to the point where virtually the entire GT field is now using it along with several prototypes.  The diesel powered Audi prototypes were regular competitors and winners and the diesel Peugeots also join in the fun at Sebring and Petit Le Mans as part of their preparations for the French endurance classic. In 2010, the Dyson Racing squad also began using a 20 percent bio-butanol blend for the entire season after testing it in 2009.

2009 also saw the debut of the Corsa racing team with a hybrid LMP1 car that saw limited success and Porsche ran its more competitive flywheel hybrid 911 GT3R at the 2010 Petit Le Mans.

The Green Challenge is a second championship in addition to the race for outright victory. Working with the US Department of Energy and the Society of Automotive Engineers, ALMS developed a formula that rates the cars on a combination of distance run on the track and overall carbon footprint. The teams that demonstrate the best combination of performance and efficiency take the prize.  In 2010, the Highcroft racing team took both the overall LMP championship and the Green Challenge for prototypes, while E85 fueled Flying Lizard Porsche took the GT class.

So what does it all amount to? For the Corvette Racing team, the struggle for efficiency saw the team improve from getting 10 laps per tankful at the 8.5 mile Le Mans circuit during their debut season in 1999 to 15 laps per tank in 2009. The 911 hybrid gets 25-30 percent better fuel efficiency than its conventional equivalent despite added weight. At this year’s 12 Hours of Sebring, the combined field will use over 28 percent less petroleum than the 2007 field. The Sebring field also includes a number of European teams that aren’t set up for running on E85, so once they go home and the rest of the ALMS season continues that improvement will get even better.

According to ALMS spokesman Bob Dickinson, if the entire U.S. vehicle fleet achieved a similar improvement, oil imports could be cut in half and 338 million gallons of gasoline would be saved.

We won’t kid you, we love the sound and fury of sports cars chasing each around a road course for hours on end and the technology is damn cool. The fact that it can be done while using less of the planet’s resources at the same time, is a serious bonus.

McLaren MP4-12C GT3 on-track video


McLaren Automotive claims that the new  Mp4-12C is not meant as a direct replacement for the legendary F1 but that doesn’t mean it won’t be following in its forebear’s footsteps which means that it will be hitting the racetrack to earn its pedigree. With the road going version of the world’s latest supercar now ready for consumption, the competition version hit the pavement at the Silverstone racetrack and the MIRA proving ground in Nuneaton, England.

Unlike the F1 GTR that dove right into the top-level GT1 class that was in place in 1995 when it took overall victory at Le Mans in its first outing, the new car is being prepared to FIA GT3 rules.  That puts in the same class with other factory built race cars like the Audi R8 LMS, Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, BMW Z4 GT3 and of course the Porsche 911 GT3R.

The F1 GTR’s 6.0-liter BMW-built V12 engine produced about 600 horsepower, a little less than the road car. In street-legal form, the Mp4-12C’s twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 also produces 600 hp.  However, the mandatory air-intake restrictors will likely limit the GT3-spec model to somewhere between 400 and 450 hp.  The standard seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is swapped out for a Ricardo designed and built racing unit actuated by a bespoke paddle shift mechanism.

The road car’s single-piece carbon fiber tub is retained as is the basic suspension system. The ProActive Chassis control system that uses a hydraulic interconnect system to manage body roll is replaced by a more conventional anti-roll-bar configuration while a custom Akebono braking system handles deceleration duties.

The basic appearance of the production 12C is carried over with the usual modifications to enhance aerodynamic downforce and enclose the larger racing rubber. A front splitter, extended wheel arches and vertical blades behind the front wheels are complemented by fender-top vents, a wing and rear diffuser.

CRS Racing is working with the factory engineers to test and develop the GT3 car and Álvaro Parente has been named as the first test driver. Teams interested in acquiring and racing the McLaren GT3 can sign up at www.mclarengt.com. No pricing has been announced but it certainly won’t come cheap with price tag that will surely top $500,000.  Now if only the American Le Mans Series would add a full GT3 class so we could see these amazing machines run in North America.



Highcroft Racing gives first glimpse of new HPD ARX-01e LMP1 car: Updated!

Defending American Le Mans Series LMP champions Highcroft Racing have finally shown the first images of the new HPD ARX-01e that will campaign in 2011. With the Le Mans Prototypes returning to a two class setup this year, Highcroft has had a busy off-season testing the all-new twin-turbo V6 that Honda Performance Development (HPD) has produced for P2 customers while also developing a new P1 car.

This year’s P1 rules are based on the old P2 rules with normally-aspirated E10-fueled engines limited to 3.4 liters but with the same 900 kilogram minimum weight as the pre-2010 P1 cars. The ARX-01e will be powered by an updated version of the tried and true V8 that Highcroft has used since the beginning of the Acura ALMS effort in 2007. To compensate for the extra 50 kg the car now has to carry, the 01e engine gets larger air restrictors that boost output to over 500 horsepower.

Aside from the V8, the only other major component carried over from last year’s ARX-01c is the central tub. All of the bodywork and suspension hardware has been heavily revamped by HPD and Wirth Research. Nick Wirth and his UK-based race engineering shop have been working with Honda’s California -based racing division since the program was launched in 2006. The 01e adopts several of the design features first seen on the 2009 ARX-02a including the equal-diameter front and rear wheels.

2009 Acura ARX-02a

The aerodynamic package of the 01e looks like a blend of the older P1 car and last year’s 01c. The green and black Patron that has become familiar on the Highcroft machine for the last three years has been replaced by sponsorship from from technical partner Michelin.

The Highcroft crew is now headed to Sebring for a shakedown test with the new racer ahead of next week’s season opening 12 Hour enduro. David Brabham and Marino Franchitti will be back in the cockpit with Simon Pagenaud joining the lineup for the longer races at Sebring, Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca.

Update: The team hit the track in Sebring over the weekend completing 33 laps on Saturday in their first shakedown run.  Day one was dedicated to systems checks before starting on some setup work on Sunday.  Monday the track will be open for two four hour official test sessions for all race entrants. Those sessions will give us the first indications of how well the Highcroft HPD machine will run against the Audis, Peugeots and Aston Martins.

Ferrari F458 GT in ExtremeSpeed Motorsports livery


Scott Sharp’s ExtremeSpeed Motorsports team was the first outfit to show off the all-new Ferrari F458 GT on the track back in January, but at that time it was only seen in basic black. Afterwards ESM took a pass on the American Le Mans Series winter test at Sebring while it prepared its new cars for the team’s second season of competition. The cars have now been revealed in a fresh variation of the usual black and green livery of the Patron distillery that looks stunning on the voluptuous Italian bodywork.

Nobody has any idea how fast the 458 GT will be, but ExtremeSpeed Motorsports will look damn good doing it. Only one 458 GT has been seen in public in the hands of the Risi team at Sebring. That car consistently ran mid-pack during the test, closing to within half a second of the leading Corvettes by the end of the fourth and final test session. We only have a few more days to wait until official practice opens for the 12 Hours of Sebring and all of our questions are answered.

Ferrari shows “High Emotion-Low Emissions” and novel 4-wheel torque vectoring in Geneva


At last week’s Geneva Motor Show, Ferrari announced that its two newest cars, the 458 Italia and the FF shooting brake, would be equipped with High Emotion Low Emissions (HELE) technology. Like every other automaker doing business in Europe, Ferrari will have to address pending CO2 emissions limits. Even though its fleet will be averaged with the much more efficient mainstream Fiat lineup, Ferrari still needs to slash its emissions.

To that end Ferrari is following a similar path to Porsche and adding automatic stop-start capability to both models, at least for Europe.  Unlike the current EPA tests, the European test cycle actually includes full stops and starts, thus showing the benefit of stop-start with a 15 percent reduction in CO2 emissions. The FF is rated at 360 g/km for CO2 while the 458 is down to a “mere” 275 g/km.

Of course, this technology only provides a benefit in urban driving. Take one of these Ferraris out on the open road and you can easily consume almost as much fuel as ever, especially in the 660 horsepower FF.

That’s not to say there aren’t any improvements elsewhere in the FF. Like the 458 and California, the 6.3-liter V12 is now equipped with direct fuel injection for both a power and efficiency boost. The charge cooling effect of spraying the fuel directly into the combustion chamber allows the FF’s engine to run reliably with a 12.3:1 compression ratio. The FF is also the first V12 Ferrari equipped with a dual clutch gearbox for very fast automatic shifts without the losses inherent in a torque converter automatic.

Ferrari has also concocted a rather novel four wheel drive system for the FF that is claimed to weigh only half as much as a typical system. Rather than a complex transfer case to split the torque between the front and rear axles, the 4RM system actually consists of two independent gearboxes. The 7-speed DCT transaxle is mounted at the rear axle to balance the mass.

A second two-speed gearbox hangs off the front end of the crankshaft exclusively to send up to 20 percent of the engine torque to the front wheels. The gearing of the two ratios spans the range of the four lower gears in the 7-speed. At higher speeds, the reduced mechanical advantage means that all of the torque can go to the rear wheels with ease.

Since the introduction of Acura’s Super Handling-All Wheel Drive several years back a number of automakers have incorporated torque vectoring to actively distribute the propulsive effort for better handling.  All of those systems only worked on the rear axles, typically sending more torque to the outside rear wheel, thus increasing the yaw moment and helping to counter understeer.  Another unique element of the 4RM system is a pair of electronically controlled multi-plate clutch units on the front gearbox which enables torque vectoring for all four wheels. All told, 4RM only adds 90 pounds to the FF which still leaves it at rather chunky 4,144 pounds.

Ferrari hasn’t yet given any indication when the HELE package will be offered on US market models but we wouldn’t be surprised if it happens sooner rather than later.


2011 Nissan Leaf outsold by Ferrari, Maserati and Bentley


2011 was supposed to be the year of the electric car. The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf both went on sale in late 2010, but based on two months of sales, it ain’t anything worth getting excited about yet.

602 Chevrolet Volts were delivered by the end of February 2011. January sales, at 321 vehicles, were stronger than February’s 281 units. There aren’t as many days in February, of course, but there’s more to the Volt sales story than slackening demand. In fact there is no evidence of sales going flaccid as dealers continue to gouge well over the $41,000 sticker price. Even Consumer Reports, the magazine that buys all the cars they test had to pay $5,000 over sticker for its Volt.

In fact, General Motors built 624 Volts in February. Where are they? Many are apparently going to dealers as demo units which started to arrive last month for the first time.  Several hundred Volts are being kept in stock in the launch markets so that potential customers can actually drive the cars before signing their loan or lease papers.  In total, the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant has cranked out 2,423 Volts since production started in earnest sometime last year. Several hundred of those are part of GM’s captured test fleet being driven by GM employees to gather more real world data before ramping up production further for retail customers. Just shy of 1,000 had gone to customers by the end of February with the rest being demos, in transit or inventory. At the current pace, Chevrolet will have delivered more Volts to customers sometime in April than Tesla has delivered since it began production of the Roadster in 2008.

What of Nissan and its vaunted Leaf?  Nissan is not being particularly clear what the issue is, but February sales dropped to just 67 units from 87 in January with no indications that dealers are getting demo units from the factory.  Apparently, there are supplying issues and also some reports that a number of people that made $99 reservations are walking away when the time comes to firm up their orders.  Whatever the case, only 154 Leafs had found American homes by February 28.

Let’s take a look at some other brands with comparable sales numbers.  In the first two months, such mainstream environmentally friendly and affordable brands as Maserati, Ferrari and Bentley have delivered 273, 262 and 183 units respectively. It doesn’t look like an auspicious start for the Leaf, but once the kinks are taken out of the supply hose, electric Datsuns will start flowing more freely.

Peugeot unveils 908 Hybrid4 Le Mans racer at Geneva


After revealing its completely redesigned 2011 908 Le Mans Prototype last month, Peugeot announced a hybrid version today at the Geneva Motor Show.  The Peugeot 908 Hybrid4 adds a hybrid component to the 3.7-liter diesel V8. Peugeot has been fiddling with this since late 2008, but the car that debuted at the Geneva Motor Show may actually see competition.

While Peugeot is using the same Hybrid4 branding as its production hybrids like the upcoming 3008 crossover, the system is completely different.  The road-going hybrids use a through the road configuration with the conventional powertrain driving the front wheels and an electric motor powering the rear axle.  Last year’s Porsche 911 GT3 hybrid (and the newer 918 RSR) use a similar setup with the electric drive on the front axle and engine on the rear.

The 908 Hybrid4 sends both the diesel and electric power to the rear wheels. The 60 kW motor/generator captures kinetic energy under braking and stores it in a lithium ion battery. The 0.139 kWh of stored energy is automatically released and blended with the engine power when accelerating with no push-to-pass button required.  The powertrain can also drive the 908 in pure electric mode along the pit-lane where speeds are limited.

Right now Peugeot hasn’t committed to racing the 908 Hybrid4. They’re French, remember. It will be track tested later this month alongside the conventional diesel 908. If everything goes well, Peugeot will bring the hybrid to the official Le Mans test day on April 24. What happens beyond that will depend on how both cars run against the new Audis and Aston Martins.  Because overall victory is Peugeot’s top priority, the conventional car will get most of the effort in order to make sure it is reliable and fast.  If the team is confident enough in the base car, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the hybrid run as a third (or fourth) entry.

Aston Martin AMR-One Le Mans Prototype flips its lid


Aston Martin’s new 2011 Le Mans Prototype flips the script on its predecessor. The LMP1 car fielded by Aston Martin Racing for the last two years was a modified Lola coupe powered by a competition version of the 6.0-liter V12 that propels most Aston road cars. Despite being the fastest non-diesel P1 of the past two seasons, it couldn’t compete with the Audi R15 and Peugeot 908.

While Audi has switched to a closed cockpit for its new R18, the AMR-One does away with its roof to make driver changes quicker. The aerodynamic hit is balanced by speed in the pits. The carbon-fiber chassis of the AMR-One has been developed in-house by Aston Martin rather than use off-the-shelf Lola parts. Like the new Audi and Peugeot racers, Aston Martin has opted for 18-inch wheels all around which is expected to provide better balance. Despite the rear-mid-engine layout and the now-mandatory shark fin on the back, the flat sides of the AMR-One mean that it most closely resembles the front-engine Panoz LMP1 Roadster of 1999.

2011 P1 rules  limit non-diesel normally aspirated engines to 3.4-liters  and boosted engines to 2.0-liters.  Aston engineers have created a brand-new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-six-cylinder that cranks out an estimated 540 horsepower. Power is fed to the rear wheels via an Xtrac six-speed semi-automatic gearbox with a pneumatic shift mechanism.

Aston Martin is planning to build six examples of the AMR-One but they won’t be ready to race at the ALMS/Intercontinental Le Mans Cup season opener at Sebring this month. Aston hasn’t said if they will run a Lola at Sebring although the Cytosport team will be campaigning one of the Lolas in Florida and throughout the rest of the year. Aston does plan to run a car in the rest of the ILMC races and two cars at Le Mans in June.