Russelsheim, Germany - Opel's new-model blitz has taken a sho't left that will be very welcome to motorsport enthusiasts.
While the front office has been teasing us with previews and technical detail briefings of the all-new Astra, which will make its world debut at the Frankfurt motor show in little more than a month, the company's motorsport division has been quietly working on a competition version of the Astra.
No, Cyril, not a rally car - the new Astra racer is being built to the international TCR touring car regulations for customer cars, which will be welcome news to South African racing fans who remember the exploits of Michael Briggs and Co two decades ago, first in the South Africa-only Opel Kadett Superboss in Group N production car racing and later, the early Astra and Vectra models in Touring Cars.
TAILOR-MADE FOR THE ASTRA
TCR is, in fact a three-tier series derived from touring cars and new this year, that includes national and continental championships, as well as the TCR International Series - all running to exactly the same rules, which specify a road-derived car with turbocharged two-litre engine of no more than 243kW and 410Nm.
That means the same car can be raced anywhere in the world, at any level, without any technical modifications.
The series could have been tailor-made for the new Astra, said Opel boss Tina Muller. She ruled out a factory team, saying the Russelsheim skunk works would instead provide ambitious privateer teams with a platform for exciting racing at reasonable costs.
The Opel Astra TCR is currently still under development, so the technical specifications have yet to be released. Muller wouldn't be drawn on whether a complete car would be ready in time to be displayed at Frankfurt (although we'll be somewhat surprised if it isn't) but she did say that track testing was due to begin in October.IOL