Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. This week, Honda takes the Civic Type R back to its roots, Pagani goes nuts with the Imola, Aston Martin backs out of Le Mans Hypercar program with the Valkyrie because of poor finances but blames it on smarter prototype class rules instead, and Maserati is finally coming out with a replacement for the GranTurismo.
2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition
Honda is doing something that far too few automakers are doing these days. They’re going back to their roots a little for a limited edition Civic Type R which I suspect will be in high demand. It carries a name which doesn’t insinuate much – it’s simply called the Civic Type R Limited Edition – but it’s got more than just limited numbers to its name. The Type R Limited Edition is a more track-focused variant that sacrifices some luxury for performance but remains a fully street-legal, daily-driver-friendly Civic. It takes everything brilliant about the Type R already and cuts weight, sharpens up the suspension, and brings you a little closer to the action.
Its first party trick is a decent weight loss. It cuts 18 pounds of unsprung weight with new forged aluminum wheels from BBS. Honda drops another 28 pounds from it with reduced sound deadening and by removing the rear wiper and rear heater ducts. It’s not often that you see reduced sound deadening offered as a feature these days. Now that’s where the mentions of weight reduction end on the US media site; the European site goes further and claims that the infotainment system and air condition have been removed too. Because I’m writing this at one in the morning I can’t exactly reach out for clarification… so take that as you will.
Because handling can always be improved, Honda provides retuned dampers and recalibrated steering. The dampers should make better use of the unsprung weight and the aggressive Michelin Cup 2 tires that it comes with. The new steering calibration provides “maximum control and feedback”. Knowing what a set of Cup 2s can do to a car from experience, this thing is going to be ridiculous.
The European model is shown, hence the infotainment and A/C delete
The rest of the car is pretty standard for the Type R. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder still peaks at 306 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. The six-speed manual is still the only way you can get it. Oh… and it brings back Phoenix Yellow too over a red interior. All is right in the world of Type R again.
600 of these will come to the US while Europe receives 100. Prices aren’t available yet but good luck getting one anywhere near MSRP.
Meanwhile at Pagani, their venerable Huayra supercar is getting a new performance variant that takes an already insane car a couple steps further. It’s enough of a jump in performance to warrant a totally different name too.
The Pagani Imola, named after the home of the old San Marino Grand Prix, is a track-focused but still street legal hypercar with some impressive numbers behind it. The same Mercedes-AMG 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 sits behind the driver, but power is increased to 827 horsepower and 811 lb.-ft. of torque. An Xtrac seven-speed automatic manual transmission sends it all to the rear wheels. It’ll have an easier time pushing the car around too thanks to some weight saving measures that bring dry weight down to 2,747 pounds. The car is built around a light carbon composite and titanium chassis and uses a new painting process to reduce weight by another 11 pounds in paint only.
Helping increase its abilities on track is more aggressive aero. Like the Huayra, the Imola features their innovative active aero solution comprising of four flaps – two front and two rear – which are integrated into the body. They extend and retract individually depending on what the car is doing. It can help it corner by raising one side or brake by raising them all. The Imola adds a larger fixed rear spoiler and more aggressive lower bodywork at the front, sides, and rear. Pagani admits that it isn’t an elegant car; that’s because it was designed as a test bed so to speak. A lot of the new features, especially in the aero department, were inspired by F1. A company known for form and function has admitted this one is all about function. When you’re only building five of them at $5.4 million a piece and all the buyers have already committed, you can make it look however you want.
[Source: Pagani via Autoweek]
Aston Martin halts Valkyrie Le Mans Hypercar program
Endurance racing fans received an awful shock this week in regards to the future of the top-level prototype racing in the World Endurance Challenge. Aston Martin has halted their plans to produce a racing version of the Valkyrie which was set to compete in the new “Hypercar” class in the WEC. This class was the ACO’s and WEC’s attempt to replace the dying LMP1 category with a more production-based group of cars that opened the door to a wide range of competitors. Aston Martin’s promise to bring a V12-powered beauty like the Valkyrie to Le Mans was perhaps the single biggest selling point of the Hypercar class. And now it’s gone.
The reasoning is up for debate. Aston Martin blamed the ACO’s decision to allow for the far more reasonable DPi 2.0 formula that IMSA came up with to compete in Le Mans (now known as the LMDh class). For those that need a refresher, this was huge news because IMSA had proposed DPi 2.0 as the replacement for LMP1 because it would have been cheaper, easier to BoP, and was the more attractive class for more manufacturers. But ultimately the ACO and WEC went their own ways with Hypercar, and Toyota and Aston Martin were the first to commit to it. Later on, Glickenhaus, ByKolles, and even Peugeot had expressed interest. Meanwhile, manufacturers interested in DPi 2.0 were put off because they wanted to compete at Le Mans as well. This is why the recent and ongoing convergence talks on LMDh between the ACO and IMSA is such a huge deal. Since that announcement, several manufacturers have expressed interest in LMDh again, or at least confirmed they’re evaluating.
If you’re confused as to why Aston Martin is blaming LMDh as the reason for halting (or more likely scrapping all together) the Valkyrie race car, so is everyone else. It would not have changed their ability to compete at Le Mans, it just would have given them more competition and the option to build a cheaper LMDh car with a spec chassis and hybrid system. There would have been Balance of Performance adjustments to keep everyone on the same level, but that’s it. Nobody would have stopped them from taking the Valkyrie to Le Mans and they wouldn’t have had to change anything (given what we currently know about LMDh). The real reason is most likely regarding their recent financial woes and a change of direction from the man who just gave them $239 million, Lawrence Stroll. If you recognize that name, it’s because he has a son in Formula 1. He also wants a new Aston Martin F1 team next year and knows just the guy for the role of lead driver. Aston Martin can’t afford to do Hypercar and Formula 1, so you know which program Stroll made them cut.
It’s a tragedy on many levels. We’ll never see the Valkyrie race at Le Mans. The once somewhat promising Hypercar class seems dead before it was even supposed to start as you now have Toyota and Peugeot reconsidering. And if not for Aston Martin, we could have already had a unified prototype class as confirmed by Sportscar365. To have Aston back out of Hypercar after being such strong proponents for it is… well, a dick move. The world was calling for a unified prototype class that could race in the two largest endurance series on the planet while operating on a much lower budget. IMSA had it figured out with DPi 2.0, but ACO/WEC had enough commitments at the time to make Hypercar happen and abandon convergence talks with IMSA. And now they’re cancelling the single most exciting race car program of the decade so they can become another moving chicane for Mercedes.
Maserati to finally debut new supercar this May
The Maserati GranTurismo is finally, finally getting a successor after being in production largely unchanged since 2007 until late last year. Maserati confirmed on Twitter that their “new era” begins in May when they reveal the MC20, which they’re calling a “super sports car to reconnect us to our racing heritage”. That’s unfortunately all we really know at this point. The return of the MC prefix is a promising sign. The fact that we’re getting any new Maserati sports car is a promising sign. I’ll be following this story closely.
What’s your automotive news?
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.
Have a good weekend.