1/3/2005 - GM put its new Pontiac GTO.R race car through its paces at the Homestead-Miami Speedway recently, rigorously testing the car on the track's high speed straights, banks and twisting infield course. This was the first time Pontiac tested the freshly built car, and this site is one of many where it will compete next year in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. A second GTO.R will soon be built, and both cars will debut in the series mid-season in 2005.
The two production-based GTO.R race cars will employ new 6.0-liter LS2 engines with only slight modifications to the exhaust and intake with the addition of a dry-sump oil system and competition camshaft. Its output has been bumped to a Grand-Am-mandated 450 horsepower from the road car's 400, and body panels are composite copies of the steel originals (with the exception of fender flares) fixed to a tube-frame chassis. Brakes, suspension and other running gear consist of aftermarket parts that are currently available for purchase for racing use.
"This is a very exciting milestone for Pontiac," said Mark-Hans Richer, marketing manager for Pontiac. "Pontiac has already been successful in the Daytona Prototype class of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, winning the 2004 Engine Manufacturers Championship. Racing the GTO.R in the GT class is a natural next step. The original GTO built its reputation on competition success and we are sure that the 2005 GTO.R will do the same."
An affordable, race-winning package will be developed from experience gained during the 2005 season and GTO.R race cars will be offered for sale to independent teams for campaigning in 2006. GM Racing will provide comprehensive technical support to those teams.
Jan Magnussen, Paul Edwards and Ron Fellows, three of GM Racing's top road-racing drivers, all drove the GTO.R during the recent test in Miami. Magnussen and Edwards, who did most of the track driving at the test, will continue to work with GM in an ongoing testing and development program.
Veteran driver and Danish native Magnussen, 31, won the Le Mans GTS and Petit Le Mans GTS classes this year in a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R and has a long and successful motorsport driving career, including two seasons in the late '90s with the Stewart Grand Prix team in Formula One. Edwards, a 26-year-old American with a formidable open-wheel career in Europe, won the Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series of 1999 as well as the Formula Opel Winter Series the year before.
"Pontiac and GM Racing have put a lot of effort into this car and it was encouraging that the hard work paid off with a fast, reliable test," said Edwards. "The car responded very well to the changes we made to it, it's pretty forgiving to drive and we made steady progress over the two days. I'm glad I was one of the first drivers to try it out - it's going to be a great race car."
Announcements of GTO.R race teams and drivers will be made in the first quarter of 2005.