The Ford Performance GT will make its track debut on Australian soil at Mount Panorama, Bathurst, showcasing Ford Performance innovation and engineering in one of the most advanced race cars it has ever built. Driven by none-other than Australian racing driver, and full-time Ford Chip Ganassi Racing driver, Ryan Briscoe, the Le Mans-winning Ford GT will turn its first wheel in anger at the world-famous 6.213 kilometre circuit as a prelude to this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to put this amazing race car on such an iconic circuit,” said Ford Australian and New Zealand President and CEO, Kay Hart. “Innovation through design and engineering drives Ford Performance, and where better than Bathurst to introduce the Ford Performance GT to Australians.”

The Ford Performance GT race car is the culmination of years of Ford innovation in aerodynamics, lightweight carbonfibre construction and ultra-efficient EcoBoost engines, and serves as a test bed for new technologies and advanced lightweight materials that will benefit future Ford cars, trucks, SUVs and electric vehicles. With its carbonfibre teardrop-shaped body climbing the Mountain, it will be the most capable vehicle wearing a Ford badge to ever lap Mount Panorama.

“To have such an iconic vehicle in the Ford GT here – a car with strong success in some of the world’s greatest races – is something Australian fans will love, and it shows how highly regarded Bathurst is globally, and by Ford and Ford Performance,” said Supercars CEO, Sean Seamer.

The Ford GT’s simultaneous road and race-car development centred around three primary goals. At its core, the program provides a working training ground for Ford’s engineers to develop future engine technology and to expand their understanding of aerodynamics. On top of this, the challenge pushed the boundaries of advanced material usage, which has resulted in its teardrop body shape with carbonfibre buttresses, not possible if made of steel.

The Ford Performance IMSA GT Number 67 will be freighted to Australia for the first time, and will see Briscoe behind the wheel as part of the Ford Performance presence at this year’s Great Race. “To have Ryan, an Aussie who has driven with us many times at Bathurst, Sandown and on the Gold Coast, is the icing on the cake.”

Briscoe is well aware of this momentous occasion, and intends to take full advantage of a once-in-a-generation opportunity. “The Ford GT is an ultra-high-performance car, so I’m really excited and honoured to turn the Ford GT’s first laps at Bathurst” said Ryan Briscoe, who last raced in Australia’s premier motor race in 2013. “For me, Bathurst is one of the best, if not the best racing circuit in the world.”

The challenging layout will be another to add to the Ford GT’s list of iconic tracks, which so far this season has seen Briscoe and co-driver Richard Westbrook three-time winners following victory in Canada, Road America and the 2018 Rolex 24-hour at Daytona to build their championship campaign. "We know Ryan is excited to come back home to be part of such an historic occasion,” said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director Ford Performance Motorsports. “He's been an integral part of our success with the Ford GT in racing, and will certainly put on a good show for the fans."

Despite the familiarity with both the Ford GT and the circuit, putting the two together for the first time means that the Mountain will provide a fresh challenge for the Australian.

“Nothing quite compares to Bathurst,” said the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing pilot. “Bathurst as a circuit demands the highest respect at all times. It has the intensity of a circuit like Indy, where its very high speed and you just always need to be 100-per cent focused,” he said. “Of all the circuits we race on, Bathurst is probably closest to Watkins Glen (New York), though, as they both have a very smooth, high-grip surface with a lot of high-speed corners.”

Mount Panorama will provide an even greater challenge than ‘The Glen’, as it’s known, with the steepest corner at the Australian track being The Cutting, with its 1-in-6 grade climb. “Watkins Glen doesn’t have near the elevation change that Mount Panorama has,” said Briscoe. “And while the downhill section of Bathurst is comparable to Laguna Seca, Laguna is a very low-grip track, so it’s different in that way.

In 2016, the GT made history with its triumphant debut at the Le Mans 24 hour, by claiming victory 50 years on from the Ford’s crushing 1-2-3 formation finish for the Ford GT40 in the 1966 race. In doing so, it achieved the primary goal of the Ford GT’s program. Fittingly, Ford’s legacy at Mount Panorama goes back to the event’s origins in the 1960s, and since then, Fords have claimed victory at Bathurst 19 times.

In 2019, Ford Performance will support the Ford Mustang’s entry into the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, which kicks off in March at the Adelaide 500.

The Ford Performance GT will be in action during the Supercars Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, held over October 3-6, 2018.

Choosing the right Mercedes-AMG GT model is now twice as exciting, with the Australian range to include the open-top Roadster models for the first time; meanwhile, models already on sale receive an update highlighted by significant boosts to power and torque.

The low-slung Mercedes-AMG GT is the hero model of the performance-focused AMG range, which to date has been anchored in Australia by the well-received AMG GT Coupé and AMG GT S Coupé models. Power and torque outputs for both will be significantly boosted when they arrive in October – the AMG GT Coupé gains 10kW (to 350kW) and 30Nm to (630Nm) and the AMG GT S Coupé received an extra 9kW (to 384kW) and 20Nm (to 670Nm) respectively. Like all models in the range, they will also now be fitted with the distinctive Panamericana grille along with styling ehancements to the front apron and intakes.

The pair is joined in Australia by the range-topping AMG GT R Coupé, the 430kW/700Nm monster which set the daunting Mount Panorama racetrack alight in February 2017 with a new production car record of 2 minutes 16.5 seconds during a demonstration session at the LiquiMoly Bathurst 12-Hour Race.

Excitingly, the existing choice of three AMG GT Coupés now expands to include a special edition of the new AMG GT C Coupé as well as two open-top roadsters, effectively doubling the choices available to intending Mercedes-AMG GT customers.

Dropping the top: the AMG GT and GT C Roadster

In preparation for the warmer months to come, Mercedes-AMG introduces the AMG GT Roadster and AMG GT C Roadster to its Australian range. Both are set to embody the seamless linking of typical AMG Driving Performance with unrestrained open-top driving enjoyment. A high quality, triple layer fabric roof is stored in a Z-fold arrangement behind the seats when open. The roof opens and closes in 11 seconds up to a speed of 50 km/h.

Like the AMG GT Coupé, the AMG GT Roadster utilises a powerful V8 front mid-engine design harnessing 350kW of power and 630Nm of torque. A torque tube connects the engine to the AMG SPEEDSHIFT 7G-DCT transaxle at the rear for an ideal weight distribution of 47:53 per cent.

Other equipment designed to maximise open-top enjoyment includes a ‘draught stop’ wind deflector and heated seats, while a 10-speaker Burmester surround sound system and COMAND Online multimedia system with a 21.3cm high resolution colour display add enjoyment and everyday convenience.

The AMG GT C Roadster not only delivers more output and torque (410kW and 680Nm), it also impresses with numerous technical highlights from the AMG GT R Coupé for even more dynamic performance. Like the AMG GT R, the AMG GT C Roadster is recognisable by its wide, muscular rear end and large wheels. Other technical measures include active rear axle steering.

Positioned between the AMG GT S and AMG GT R Coupé models, the AMG GT C Roadster incorporates standard features including AMG Performance seats in nappa leather, an AMG Performance steering wheel in black nappa leather and DINAMICA®, heated and ventilated seats, and AIRSCARF neck level heating.

For a limited time: AMG GT C Edition 50 Coupe

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Aufrecht, Melcher and Großaspach – the high-performance arm of Mercedes-Benz better known as Mercedes-AMG – a special ‘Edition 50’ version of the newly arrived AMG GT C Coupe has been created. 

Powered by the same 410kW/680Nm front-mounted V8 as the AMG GT C Roadster, the AMG GT C Coupe will be available exclusively in ‘Edition 50’ specification until 2018.

Highlights of the AMG GT C Edition 50 Coupe include AMG Performance seats and steering wheel, the AMG interior Night Package, Edition 50 detailing in the head restraints and steering wheel bezel, quilted nappa leather upholstery, AMG trim elements in black chrome, LED high performance headlamps, black chrome exterior highlights, 19/20-inch AMG cross-spoke forged wheels and a choice of two ‘designo’ paint colours – graphite grey magno or cashmere white magno.

Mercedes-AMG GT range arriving in October - Australian pricing and availability

  • Mercedes-AMG GT Coupé - $258,711 (MRLP) 
  • Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster - $283,711 (MRLP) 
  • Mercedes-AMG GT S Coupé - $298,711 (MRLP)
  • Mercedes-AMG GT C Edition 50 Coupé - $335,211 (MRLP) 
  • Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster - $338,711 (MRLP) 
  • Mercedes-AMG GT R Coupé - $348,711 (MRLP)

Peugeot will launch its new-look 2008 compact SUV, priced from $26,490, with new technology, a new model line-up and an award-winning drivetrain. Visually, the 2008 features an all-new frontal design previewing the future of all Peugeot SUVs with a multi-faceted grille featuring the Peugeot Lion at its centre.

Flanking the new grille are headlamps featuring a ‘feline’ look with an intensely high-tech chrome and black mask. The LED rear lamps feature new, warm-coloured ‘lion claws’ with a profound 3D effect. This style approach continues from the grille over the bonnet and onto the roof with roof bars and spoiler completing the striking profile.

The sharp lines and curves of the bodywork are enhanced by the new Ultimate Red colour (first seen on the 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport and now available on 308 versions). The range offers customers a choice of seven colours in total. The new-look 2008 also features a revised model line-up with Active, Allure and new GT-Line models available.

In Australia, the GT-Line replaces the Outdoor variant (previously manual/diesel) while Active models feature automatic transmission as standard (previously 5-speed manual only). Allure models remain unchanged. Onboard technology has been boosted for all variants (see base for model breakdown) with the fitment of reverse camera and Mirror Screen functionality (including Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink) for the standard 7.0-inch touchscreen.

Higher grades feature satellite navigation, Active City Brake autonomous braking technology and Grip Control, a technology giving greater grip in low traction situations, as headline standard specification. One of the most significant improvements in the facelifted 2008 range is the adoption of the turbocharged 1.2-litre PureTech e-THP three-cylinder engine for all variants. With 81 kilowatts it is the most powerful of its type in the Australian compact SUV class. Paired exclusively to a new six-speed, sequential automatic transmission co-developed with Aisin, the 2008’s 81kW, turbocharged, 1.2-litre PureTech e-THP engine is a shining example of technological innovation, its development resulting in 121 patents being filed by the PSA Group.

This stringent focus on quality, reliability and durability, coupled with astounding performance, saw the 1.2-litre PureTech e-THP engine win its class at the coveted 2015 International Engine of the Year award and finish in the Top Three overall. This new engine replaces all previous options, making the entire range Euro-6 compliant while the new Aisin six-speed automatic transmission replaces the four-speed automatic and five-speed manual options of the previous model.

Peugeot Australia General Manager, Kai Bruesewitz, said the new-look 2008 is a vehicle better aligned to local customers’ needs.

“The 2008 SUV was always highly regarded for its smart packaging and stylish looks. Now, with new technology, a new model line-up and an all-new powertrain the 2008 becomes the complete package for Australian customers,” Bruesewitz said. “We have already proven with our 208 and 308 model lines that Peugeot’s award winning PureTech, turbo-petrol 1.2-litre engine can compete with the larger capacity engines of our competitors and there is no reason why this segment shouldn’t benefit from Peugeot’s advanced drivetrain.

“We are very excited about the introduction of the new-look 2008 range as it signals a significant year for the Peugeot SUV stable with the all-new 3008 and 5008 following hot on the 2008’s heels,” Bruesewitz added.

2015 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy winner Matt Simmons will mark another major career milestone on the weekend by competing in the 24 Hours of Spa at Belgium’s famous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Simmons and his co-drivers Romain Sarazin, Sean Walkinshaw and Ricardo Sanchez will share the #22 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in the endurance classic, the fourth round of the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup.

Simmons, Sarazin, Walkinshaw and Sanchez head into the race weekend well prepared following a test day earlier this month at the daunting 7km circuit that weaves through the Ardennes forests. Simmons and his Nissan GT Academy Team RJN team-mates completed 90 laps of the Spa circuit, with Simmons getting 25 trouble-free laps under his belt.

While the #22 GT-R will be aiming for Pro-Am Class honours, the #23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of defending Blancpain GT Endurance Cup champion Alex Buncombe, inaugural GT Academy winner Lucas Ordonez and young Japanese ace Mitsunori Takaboshi will be pushing for outright victory.

This year’s race is 25 years since Nissan’s first and only victory in the 24 Hours of Spa. In 1991, Swede Anders Olofsson, Japanese driver Naoki Hattori and Australian David Brabham took victory by a dominant margin of 21 laps in the all-conquering Nissan GT-R R32.

The GT3 cars hit the track for the first time on Tuesday with a practice session for ‘bronze’ rated drivers such as Simmons. Thursday will feature free practice, pre-qualifying and qualifying. Super Pole will be held on Friday ahead of the twice-around-the-clock race kicking off at 4:30pm Saturday (local time). GT3 session times are below, with full event timetable HERE.

2016 Blancpain GT Endurance Cup Points Standings are available HERE, with Simmons currently in 18th place in the Pro-Am Drivers Championship. The Spa 24 Hour, the premier event of the Blancpain GT Series, is crucial to Simmons’ Pro-Am Championship chances, with double points available. Points are awarded at the six (half points), 12 (half) and 24-hour (full) marks.

Simmons earned his place as a NISMO Athlete after winning the 2015 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy International competition, switching from his job driving a courier van for Australia Post to driving a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 for Nissan GT Academy Team RJN in the 2016 Blancpain GT Endurance Cup.

CLICK HERE for more details on the Nissan PlayStation GT Academy.

Q&A with MATT SIMMONS – 2016 Spa 24 Hour Preview

QUESTION: You are three races into your international motor racing career. Has it become more ‘real’ or do you still have to pinch yourself?

SIMMONS: I still pinch myself everyday that I get to live my dream of being a professional race driver. But when I get back behind the wheel of the GT-R, it wakes me up very quickly!

QUESTION: The last event at Paul Ricard was disappointing after you were involved in an early race incident. How frustrating was that?

SIMMONS: The Paul Ricard race was a tough result for myself and the team. It was definitely not the game plan to be out of contention so early on. The battle pack was fierce and things just didn’t go our way. These things happen in motorsport and we have learnt from what happened. Despite not being able to race for a result, all three of us were able to get a lot of laps in the GT-R NISMO GT3 and we’ve taken positives away so we can be ready to fight at the Spa 24 Hour.

QUESTION: How would you rate the progress you have made so far, both on and off the track?

SIMMONS: My progress as an international racing driver has been steep. Each race weekend has been full of new challenges and when we leave the track, I am more motivated than ever to work harder before the next race so I can give everything again. I’m really focused and I’m continuing to evolve into the best racing driver I can be.

QUESTION: You had a test at the Spa Franchorchamps circuit recently in the #22 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. How did you find the track and how much of an advantage was it to get some miles under your belt prior to the race weekend?

SIMMONS: One word for this track … awesome! This track is unique, very fast and challenging. To get a chance to feel that and get up to speed as quickly as possible will be a massive advantage come race week. Our test day was very productive. We did about 90 laps in total. I got 25 laps and we ticked all the objectives so I feel ready to hit the ground running at the bronze test session.

QUESTION: Spa is a world-famous circuit. What is your favourite part of the track?

SIMMONS: Spa is special, for sure. You feel it when you arrive to the circuit and see it all. My favourite section is easily Eau Rouge. This is as raw as it gets, feeling the force on your body at the bottom and then wanting to take off over the top – it’s an incredible feeling. It literally took my breath away the first few laps but I kept my eyes open!

QUESTION: Qualifying for the new batch of GT Academy hopefuls is about to kick-off in Australia. What would you suggest to those considering entering the same competition that changed your life?

SIMMONS: It’s so exciting to see GT Academy return to Australia this year to give another chance to change someone's life. The main thing for those wanting to enter is to prepare well and give it 100 per cent every chance you get. Most importantly, enjoy every moment that this incredible experience can offer.

2016 24 Hours of Spa Schedule

Tuesday 26 July 2016:
Bronze Test: 2:55pm (10:55pm AEST)

Thursday 28 July 2016:
Free Practice: 1:20pm (9:20pm AEST)
Qualifying: 8:00pm (4:00am, Friday AEST)
Night Qualifying: 9:45pm (5:45am, Friday AEST)

Friday 29 July 2016:
Super Pole: 6:00pm (2:00am, Saturday AEST)

Saturday 30 July 2016:
Warm-Up: 9:05am (5:05pm AEST)
Race: 4:30pm (12:30am, Sunday AEST)

Aaron Seton, son of V8 Supercars Hall of Fame inductee Glenn and grandson of 1965 Bathurst winner Barry, has signed on the dotted line for all five rounds of the Toyota 86 Racing Series in 2016. Determined to extend the Seton motor racing dynasty into a third generation, the young-gun amateur racer was the first entrant to confirm their participation as entries for the much-anticipated Toyota 86 Racing Series officially opened.

Following a step-up from karts in 2014, 17-year old Aaron has since made his mark in GT and production car competition. Bearing one of the most famous names in Australian motorsport, he says he is eager to further his progress in a series designed to encourage and support emerging talent.

With sponsorship support from Sci-Fleet Hino, plus his famous father overseeing the build and on-going development of his car, not to mention managing test and race operations, Aaron is off to a flying start.

"I've got a lot to live up to, with dad and pop's success," Aaron said. "But heading into this series, I see their experience and support as a big advantage, and I'm keen to make them proud," he said.

Underpinned by a straightforward and relatively affordable technical spec, the Toyota 86 Racing Series provides the perfect platform for competitors to learn and develop their skills. A high-performance, low-cost mandatory race package developed by Neal Bates Motorsport (NBM), enhances the 86's natural balance and agility. The NBM kit focuses primarily on the suspension tune, exhaust, braking, wheels and engine management.

To further assist driver development, Toyota is also adding selected professional racers to the starting line-up, with different drivers brought in throughout the season. These nominated drivers are not eligible for prizemoney; their primary role being to mentor regular competitors by sharing tips on everything from race-craft and driving technique to engineering set-up and team structure.

In Aaron Seton's case, mentoring and tips from a pro (or two) are things he definitely won't be short of.

The Toyota 86 Racing Series

The Toyota 86 Racing Series is an initiative designed to provide an entry point and training ground for up-and-coming drivers, offering a confirmed prize pool of $125,000. Open to all manual variants of Toyota's cult-classic sports car*, the series is part of the support program at selected rounds of the Australian V8 Supercars championship. In 2016 the Toyota 86 Racing Series will run over five events: May 20-22 (Winton SuperSprint), August 26-28 (Sydney Motorsport Park SuperSprint), September 16-18 (Sandown 500), October 6-9 (Bathurst 1000) and November 25-27 (Sydney 500).

The final round of this year’s Super GT Championship was held on November 15th at Twin Ring Motegi, Tochigi Prefecture, where the #1 MOTUL AUTECH Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 of Tsugio Matsuda (JAP) and Ronnie Quintarelli (ITA) accomplished an amazing come back from 12th to finish second. Displacing the points leader, the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 of Hironobu Yasuda (JAP) and Joao Paolo de Oliveira (BRA), Matsuda and Quintarellil secured their second GT500 championship in a row.

Due to strong rain that fell during the previous day’s qualification sessions, the #1 GT-R’s set-up did not quite match the road surface conditions and they failed to advance to Qualifying 2. For this reason they found themselves starting from 12th place on the grid. The #12 GT-R, on the other hand, was able to advance into Q2 where it qualified fifth and, at this point, it seemed the most likely to take home the title.

On race day, the rain that had been falling all morning abated and the start of the race looked like it would occur under dry conditions. However, just before the race began, a light shower started to fall and the entire circuit became wet once again. This saw every team hastily switch to rain tyres right at the last minute. Under these circumstances it seemed that the race would be anybody’s game.

The rainfall ceased immediately after the race started and, as the racing line gradually dried up, starting driver Quintarelli displayed a seriously fast paced performance that saw the #1 GT-R pass rival after rival with each lap and, by lap 10, Quintarelli had climbed up to sixth place. With the road surface becoming completely dry, the wear of every competitor’s rain tyres became severe and one after another all teams headed into the pits at around lap 20.

The NISMO team, which boasts some of the fastest pit work in the Super GT, managed to send the #1 GT-R back out onto the course as much as three seconds faster than their rival, IMPUL. Matsuda then rewarded this hard work with a tenacious drive that never gave the #12 GT-R a chance to regain its position. At this point the #1 GT-R was running in third. After this, a crash prompted the dispatch of the Safety Car (SC) and, after the race resumed, the #1 GT-R leapt into the lead. However, the #37 RC-F put up a formidable fight and Matsuda was somewhat hindered when dealing with GT300 vehicles and back markers. In spite of this, he protected their position in front of the #12 GT-R and, after 53 laps, passed the chequered flag in second to secure the championship.

This is Matsuda’s second championship in a row following on from last year and, in Quintarelli’s case, after combining this consecutive championship with those of 2011 and 2012, he has now taken an impressive four Super GT titles. Oliveira started from fifth place in the #12 GT-R and managed to protect this position in the first half of the race before pitting at lap 24 to hand the wheel over to Yasuda. Having pitted one lap earlier than the #1 GT-R, Yasuda returned to the track and expeditiously warmed up the tyres with the aim of pulling out in front of the #1 on its out-lap. However, the blisteringly fast work of the NISMO team resulted in an unstoppable reversal.

Being unable to achieve an immediate re-reversal during the #1 GT-R’s out-lap, he was set to pounce in the lap that followed but the dispatch of the safety car did not work in his favour and he missed his chance. From then on, with the #100 NSX-CONCEPT sandwiched between them, he kept a keen eye out for any chance to move up the order but he just couldn’t quite break through and he passed the finish line in fourth.

Having a mere two-point lead in the rankings over the #1 GT-R the title slipped out of their grasp right at the end of the season. The #24 D’station ADVAN GT-R (Daiki Sasaki [JAP] / Michael Krumm [GER]) started from an 11th place qualification and completed the race in 12th, while the #46 S Road MOLA GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama [JAP]/ Masataka Yanagida [JAP]) began from 13th but unfortunately made contact with a GT300 vehicle causing significant damage that forced them to retire.

In the GT300 class the #3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino [JAP]/ Mitsunori Takaboshi [JAP]) started from 15th on the grid but unfortunately was embroiled in an accident with another vehicle and also had to retire. Having already secured the championship in the previous round, the #10 GAINER TANAX GT-R (Andre Couto [MAC]/ Katsumasa Chiyo [JAP]) closed off the season with a top order finish of sixth place.

2015 Super GT Championship
GT500 Final Drivers Points Standings after Round 8 

1. #1 Ronnie Quintarelli / Tsugio Matsuda 79
2. #12 Joao Paulo De Oliveira / Hironobu Yasuda 74
3. #100 Naoki Yamamoto / Takuya Izawa 60
4. #38 Yuji Tachikawa / Hiroaki Ishiura 59
5. #37 Andrea Caldarelli / Ryo Hirakawa 56
6. #46 Satoshi Motoyama / Masataka Yanagida 50
7. #36 James Rossiter / Daisuke Ito 49
8. #17 Hideki Mutoh / Koudai Tsukakoshi 39
9. #6 Kazuya Oshima / Yuji Kunimoto 32
10. #24 Michael Krumm / Daiki Sasaki 31

An incident filled race weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium saw McLaren GT factory driver Alvaro Parente and teammate Miguel Ramos extend the lead of the International GT Open championship with a double podium finish for customer team Teo Martin Motorsport. Changeable conditions midway through the first race caught out the team’s sister car, driven by fellow McLaren GT factory driver Rob Bell and McLaren GT Young Driver Andrew Watson, but the pairing showed strong pace throughout the weekend, securing pole position and a solid top five finish in the second race.

Qualifying for the first race of the weekend saw Rob Bell qualify the #59 650S GT3 on the front row of the grid, closely followed by championship regulars Parente and Ramos in P3. From the start, Bell took control of the race, maintaining the lead until he pitted to hand over to Young Driver Andrew Watson. On rejoining the circuit with slick tyres, the young Ulsterman was caught out by a sudden downpour through the notorious Eau Rouge. Despite his best efforts, Watson was unable to prevent the car sliding off the track into the barriers, bringing his charge to an early end. A well-managed stint by Parente’s teammate Ramos, saw the Portuguese factory driver take over for the second stint and he wasted no time in chasing down the leaders.

With time running down, Parente showed his class in the tricky conditions, closing the gap on each lap, and was quickly up into a podium position. At the end of the 27 lap race, Parente brought the #2 650S GT3 home in P2, just 1.421s behind the race winner. This result crucially maintained the championship lead for Parente and Ramos by a single point.

The grid for race 2 of the weekend was set during a damp session on Saturday, ahead of the first race, and it was a closely-fought battle over the front row positions by Watson and Parente. The two McLaren drivers traded fastest times during the session as a dry line started to appear around the 7.004km circuit. In the dying seconds, Watson returned to the track taking a gamble on slick tyres, and moved himself back up to top the timesheets on his championship debut.

The race itself saw Bell and Ramos take the start for Teo Martin Motorsport, with the pair holding position. As the pit-window opened, the McLaren duo pitted for routine driver changes with both cars running strongly. Parente returned to the track and moved into the lead with Watson close behind in P2. As the chequered flag fell, Parente took the race win and was followed over the line by Watson in the #59 650S GT3. However, a post-race investigation penalised the young driver with 40 seconds added to the youngster’s race time, dropping to P5.

Alvaro Parente, Factory Driver, McLaren GT

“Another strong weekend for the 650S GT3 and Teo Martin Motorsport, and great to come away with an extended lead in the championship. The car ran faultlessly in both races, and we showed strong pace in the challenging conditions to secure two strong results. Spa is such a fantastic circuit to race on, and the 650S GT3 really comes into its own around here. It feels so stable and composed, and the team continues to do a great job to ensure we are in a strong position in the championship with two rounds to go.”

Andrew Watson, Young Driver, McLaren GT

“Overall, it was a great weekend, but it definitely had its challenges, and its highs and lows. However, the main thing I will take away is just how much I learnt – working closely with Rob [Bell] and pulling on his experiences of a race weekend, and seeing how a different team operates in a championship of this level. The retirement from Race 1 was a real disappointment, but to put the car on pole position on my championship debut, and then bring the car home in the top five was a great end to the weekend. I would like to thank Teo Martin and the whole team for the opportunity, and now looking forward to the next round of the Avon Tyres British GT championship.”

Andrew Kirkaldy, Managing Director, McLaren GT

“Congratulations to Teo Martin Motorsport on a strong weekend overall. A front row and three podium finishes, including the race win for Alvaro [Parente] to extend his lead with Miguel Ramos in championship, and pole position and a top five for Rob [Bell} and Andrew [Watson] is a great result. Especially when you think this is still the debut season for the car. Andrew was unlucky with how his race ended, being caught out by the sudden rain storm – but then that unpredictability is why we love Spa!”

Kia Motors Europe will unveil a new Kia cee’d ‘GT Line’ specification at the 85th Salon International de l’Automobile in Geneva on 3 March 2015. In addition to a range of visual upgrades, the new cee’d GT Line signifies the arrival of Kia’s all-new downsized 1.0-litre T-GDI (turbo gasoline direct injection) engine and new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in Europe. The new GT Line offers buyers the sporty looks of the high performance Kia cee’d GT and pro_cee’d GT and the versatility of the conventional cee’d model family. The GT Line specification is available on all three cee’d body types – five-door cee’d, three-door pro_cee’d and cee’d Sportswagon. The exterior of the GT Line evolves the design language of the cee’d GT, with ice-cube LED daytime running lights and deeper bumpers surrounding Kia’s hallmark ‘tiger-nose’ grille. At the rear of the car, both the cee’d hatchback and pro_cee’d include the wider GT bumper and twin exhausts, while the Sportswagon is fitted with dual exhausts and a subtle rear diffuser. All GT Line models are fitted as standard with the GT model’s eye-catching side sill mouldings and rear LED light units, and a stylish new 17-inch alloy wheel design.

The interior of the cee’d GT Line has been uprated with a higher quality, sportier ambience, inspired by the cabin of the turbo-powered cee’d GT and pro_cee’d GT models. The GT Line boasts a classy, new grey, white and black upholstery with grey stitching; a series of GT Line logos throughout the cabin; and the same piano black and leather steering wheel and aluminium alloy pedals fitted to Kia’s high-performance GT models. The dashboard is also equipped with a new aluminium start-stop button, GT-inspired centre fascia design, illumination for the USB and aux-in ports and new chrome trim around the air vents and power window switches. For the launch of the cee’d GT Line, Kia is introducing its all-new 1.0-litre ‘T-GDI’ engine, a downsized, three-cylinder power unit engineered to improve fuel consumption and emissions while offering strong, willing performance and immediate responses to driver input. This is the first of Kia’s upcoming range of downsized engines to make its debut in Europe.

The 1.0-litre T-GDI engine produces 88kW and 172 Nm torque, and has been engineered to deliver lower CO2 emissions than the 1.6-litre GDI engine found in other cee’d models, pending final homologation closer to the GT Line’s launch. The 1.0-litre cee’d GT Line is also equipped with Kia’s fuel-saving Idle Stop & Go system as standard, improving emissions and fuel economy in traffic, and is available with a six-speed manual transmission. Kia’s new turbocharged engine, developed in-house at the company’s Namyang R&D centre in Korea, features a high-pressure direct injection system, advanced engine cooling and an integrated exhaust manifold for cleaner emissions and efficient packaging. Immediate engine response and highly-efficient combustion were cornerstones of the engine’s development, fulfilling Kia’s sustainable engine downsizing strategy. The all-new 1.0-litre T-GDI engine will be fitted to other vehicles in Kia’s European model line-up in future.

The cee’d’s 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engine has also been upgraded for its application in the new GT Line variant, with power increased from 94 to 98 kW and torque from 265 to 285 Nm. With the small increase in performance, the engine’s full torque is now available from lower engine speeds for more effortless acceleration under all road conditions. Despite the increase in power and performance, however, CO2 emissions are expected to fall slightly once the homologation process is complete.

All-new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission
The new cee’d GT Line features a second new technology debut for Kia, with the arrival of the brand’s all-new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Available on GT Line models equipped with the 98kW 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engine, Kia’s new DCT is capable of handling torque outputs up to 300 Nm – higher than the six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission it replaces for application in the cee’d GT Line. Like the new 1.0-litre T-GDI power unit, Kia’s new DCT has also been developed in-house and has been engineered with low fuel consumption and a sporty driving feel when in manual mode, and with comfort and smoothness when left in automatic mode. Drivers specifying the new DCT for their cee’d GT Line will benefit from faster gear changes than a traditional automatic transmission, as well as lower running costs. It is anticipated that the new DCT will offer lower emissions and higher fuel economy compared to the outgoing six-speed automatic gearbox.

Kia’s R&D teams have targeted a three to five per cent improvement in acceleration (0 to 100 kph) and five to seven per cent improvement to fuel efficiency. After the cee’d GT Line, the new seven-speed DCT will be available on a number of Kia models in future, with similar gains expected in fuel efficiency and performance depending on its application in different models.

Kia cee’d GT Line on-sale in Q4 2015
The Kia cee’d GT Line will be available from Kia dealers across Europe in Q4 2015, offering the company’s unique 7-Year, 150,000 km warranty as standard. Designed and engineered in Europe, the Kia cee’d family – incorporating the hatchback, wagon and pro_cee’d – continues to be manufactured at Kia’s production facility in Žilina, Slovakia. With 75,960 units sold across Europe in 2014, the cee’d remains one of the brand’s bestselling models across the region.

Peugeot Australia has launched its all-new 308 GT models, featuring bespoke visual and dynamic upgrades, and two, all-new turbocharged engines. The GT Line has been designed and engineered for those that want access to greater power without compromising overall comfort and practicality. Buyers have the choice of a 151kW 1.6-litre petrol engine developing 285Nm, or a 133kW 2.0-litre diesel developing 400Nm. Designed and engineered to offer greater power and dynamic abilities, the new GT model maintains many of the winning traits that saw the 308 awarded the 2014 European Car of the Year, including a featherweight 1200kg kerb mass. Both 308 GT models feature lower ride height at the front (7mm) and rear (10mm) over other 308 models. Spring and damper rates for the 308 GT have also been stiffened by between 10 and 20 percent, depending on drivetrain. The 308 GT’s response to driver inputs has also been sharpened with firmer steering, sharper throttle mapping and, in the case of the diesel drivetrain, sharper gear changes from the automatic transmission. 

Both variants are also complimented by exclusive exterior and interior styling, as well as other features, including:

  • A new signature Magnetic Blue colour for the GT
  • Amplified and sportier engine note
  • Exclusive interior trim and steering wheel
  • Red illumination for the instruments
  • Instrument panel displaying read-outs from the car’s ECU, including levels of power and torque being delivered, turbo boost pressure, plus longitudinal and transverse acceleration
  • Exclusive GT badging
  • 18-inch alloy wheels

Peugeot Australia, General Manager John Startari said the addition of 308 GT tops off a brilliant, innovative and thrilling model range. “The arrival of GT tops off an exciting five month rollout of 308 for Australia – with the full complement of 308 models now available,” said Startari. “The 308 GT adds further desirability to the Peugeot range and, with the existing models already surprising the harshest of critics, the GT is only going to bolster the allure of the Peugeot 308 range. “The GT Line will give us the ability to offer a vehicle that offers visual and performance upgrades, while still maintaining the comfort and practical features of vehicle that is driven daily,” said Startari. Alongside the GT models the 308 range will also receive an all-new 1.6-litre, turbo-petrol drivetrain developing 110kW and 240Nm.

The THP 150 drivetrain is a member of PSA’s highly decorated e-THP drivetrain family and will be available on Allure and Allure Premium models.

Peugeot is looking to expand its GT Line of performance vehicles in Australia with the launch of its refreshed 508 range in the first quarter of 2015.

Joining the 508 GT Line sedan and touring, Peugeot Australia will launch another GT-badged vehicle, the 308 GT, with further sports models a distinct possibility in the near future.
National Marketing Manager for Peugeot Australia, Dimitri Andreatidis, said that the expansion of the GT Line would add to the allure of Peugeot vehicles in Australia.
“Australians love performance and sports-oriented models, as proven by the response to the 208 GTi, so there is an opening for us to talk to a range of customers who don’t necessarily want the high-performance experience of a GTi variant,” said Andreatidis.
“The GT Line will give us the ability to offer a vehicle that offers visual and performance upgrades, while still maintaining comfort in day-to-day driving duties.
“The first step in broadening the GT Line will be the launch of the all-new 308 GT in 2015. From there we will be working with France to investigate a number of opportunities to grow this segment in the future,” said Andreatidis.
The new-look Peugeot 508 GT will launch in the first quarter of 2015 and feature a range of performance and visual upgrades, including a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel drivetrain developing 150kW and 450Nm, double-wishbone front suspension, unique 19-inch alloys, GT badging, and Bi-xenon directional headlamps.
The all-new 308 GT will also launch in the first quarter of 2015 and will bring with it the choice of two engines; a 150kW 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine developing 285Nm, or a 131kW 2.0-litre turbo-diesel developing 400Nm.
Both drivetrains will be complimented by an exclusive styling, dynamic and interior package – including:

  • -A new signature colour for the GT called Magnetic blue
  • -Firmer and more responsive power steering
  • -More responsive accelerator pedal mapping
  • -More responsive shifts from the six-speed transmission, with steering wheel-mounted paddles
  • -Amplified and more sporty engine note
  • -Exclusive interior trim and steering wheel
  • -Red illumination for the instruments
  • -Instrument panel displaying read-outs from the car’s computer, including levels of power and torque being delivered, turbo boost pressure, and longitudinal and transverse acceleration
  • -Exclusive GT badging
  • -18-inch alloys