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Hongkong racers rev for Le Mans as Red Giant leads AMG celebrations and Lamborghini unveils stunning Huracán rear-wheel drive Spyder

Bauhinia flags fly in endurance classic AMG-Mercedes ships in 1971 racer and Porsche tempts collectors with 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 2:49pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 10:11pm

Hongkongers are driving some fabulous cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend. Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport fields a couple of Chinese-liveried 603-horsepower Oreca 07-Gibsons in the big race, the FIA World Endurance Championship. The team’s hopes are high as the #37FortuneCat of David Cheng, Tristan Gommendy and Alex Brundle was the third-fastest of the Le Mans Prototype 2 cars in last week’s official test, and the #Mighty38 of Tung Ho-pin, Thomas Laurent and Oliver Jarvis was fifth-quickest in the category. The closed-cockpit LMP cars usually produced specially for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship. The Orecas have normally aspirated, 4.2-litre V8s with a six-speed sequential transmission. Actor Chan founded his team in 2015 and won the 2015-16 Asian Le Mans LMP3 championship. Jota Sport has won class wins in both the Le Mans and Spa 24 Hours in two decades of endurance racing.

Hong Kong-based WIN Motorsport wants to qualify for next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Led by local racing driver and team owner William Lok, the team says it is the city’s first to be dedicated to LMP racing, and it has joined the Road to Le Mans programme to prove their worth for the 2018 race. Lok, a former VW Scirocco R-Cup China champion, and Italian teammate Davide Rizzo have started their campaign well, having won two of the opening rounds of the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup in Malaysia last month in their Bauhinia-flagged Ligier JS P3 LMP3. “LMP cars are the fastest closed-wheel cars in circuit racing today,” WIN Motorsport says. “They resemble a cross between an F1 car and the world’s fastest, most extravagant supercars.” Lok and British teammate Richard Bradley, the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours LMP2 champion, will compete in today’s Road to Le Mans’ trial race on the 13.6km Circuit de la Sarthe. If they do well there, the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup, and then impress in the 2017-18 Asian Le Mans Series, then Lok’s Ligier could qualify for the ultimate endurance race next year. The 4.6-metre Ligier costs 208,000 to buy ex-factory, and vrooms with a 420hp five-litre normally aspirated V8 Nissan engine, an X-TRAC six-speed sequential gearbox and semi-automatic paddle shifts. WIN Motorsports says the running costs for just the Road to Le Mans race are about £100,000.

Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong’s celebrates AMG’s 50th anniversary with eight 70-minute sessions and an appearance by Mercedes-AMG product specialist Joerg Letzel at Mercedes Me in Central this weekend. It is also a rare opportunity to see the legendary AMG 300 SEL 6.8 touring car in which Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz won a surprising class victory and second place in the overall classification at the 24-hour race at Spa, Belgium, in 1971. Developed by the then virtually unknown and then four-year-old AMG, “The Red Giant” was based on the 250hp Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 and improved to a 428hp V8. The four-door saloon faced tough opposition from 60 cars, from the Ford Capri RS and BMW 2800 CS to the Chevrolet Camaro, Opel Commodore and Alfa Romeo GTA. “Nobody expected the large saloon from provincial Affalterbach in Swabia to hold its own against the well-established teams,” Mercedes-Benz says. Schickentanz shocked Spa with a fifth-fastest training time. The Capri won, but The Red Giant finished second, achieving 308 laps and a top speed of 265km/h in front of 80,000 spectators on the 14.1km Ardennes circuit. “We knew we could win, but the others didn’t know it yet!” Heyer later said. The Red Giant put AMG on the tuning map and is must-see motoring history.

The new Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series’ will be in Hong Kong “around Q4” and cost about HK$4.96 million, its dealer says. Billed as the “most powerful and unique 911 Turbo S ever” and limited to 500 units worldwide, the hand-finished 607hp coupé has a 3.8-litre, biturbo flat-six that torques 750Nm. That means 100km/h in 2.9 seconds, and 200km/h in about 9.6 seconds.

Lamborghini on Monday announced the arrival of the new Huracán rear-wheel drive Spyder in Hong Kong. Designed to look more aggressive on 19-inch Kari rims than the four-wheel-drive version, the 1,509kg two-seater has a 580hp, 5.2-litre V10 that promises 100km/h in 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 319km/h via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It costs HK$3.98 million, with specially contoured steel brakes with aluminium brake disc pots and the latest Lamborghini Infotainment System II with a 12.3-inch hi-res TFT instrument panel. The hood reportedly closes in “just 17 seconds”.