IOL Motoring Staff
Johannesburg - The Global Touring Car Series organisers have treated the world to some stunning new images of the first race car that will grace the series when it gets underway on local soil during the third quarter of 2014.
Though the series kicks off in South Africa, it has its sights set on a worldwide network of championships that promise "real racing values."
GTC's mantra certainly gets our blood pumping:
"Motorsport should inspire, drive the imagination and fuel the passion of its followers. It should also be a viable business opportunity, free of red tape and muddied regulations for competitors and investors alike."
Yet what truly turns us on is what this series will deliver to the asphalt.
The car in the photos, taken at Zwartkops Raceway near Pretoria, might resemble a Ford Focus, but it's a totally different beast beneath.
Here you'll find an Australian-designed spaceframe fitted with a 373kW V8 engine that's mated to a sequential-shift gearbox. The frame and powertrain will be uniform across the series, but teams will be able to fit their own bodies as the frame will accommodate body panels of various cars that fit into the same size class as the Focus.
Yet there's something about the business plan that also makes this new series special, as GTC executive director Mark Woolley explains:
"Racing at the top level is often seen as a compromised mix of technology wars and team orders, and an expensive pastime for well-backed hobbyists on the tiers below. "What the Global Touring Car (GTC) Series aim to provide is thrilling racing for true motorsport fans, and an opportunity for franchise investors to make money from a proven race series concept."
"We want to bring the focus back on serious affordable racing," Woolley added.
To that end, managing director (and well-known race driver) Gary Formato explained: "The purchase price and cost of running a GTC car will be significantly less than most serious touring cars currently racing in established series, but without compromising on performance, looks or build quality - we are not aware of another Touring Car series currently running 500bhp V8 engines in compact, mid-sized saloon car bodies."