As well as extra power, Abt’s latest tuned Audi wears a new set of wheels with a carbonfibre aero lip
As well as extra power, Abt’s latest tuned Audi wears a new set of wheels with a carbonfibre aero lip
One seriously smart looking hatch…
In the beginning there was F1, followed 15 years later by the P1 and soon after came the 675LT, a mighty line-up of no holds barred performance cars from McLaren. Now there is Senna. Or rather: the Senna. The most extreme McLaren road car to date, Senna has been designed to be the quickest track car possible. And the name is no meaningless cash-in, either. Ayrton’s nephew Bruno Senna has been instrumental in the car’s development and McLaren Automotive has worked closely with the Senna Foundation in order to be able to use the name. A financial contribution will be made to the Senna Foundation for the sale of all the cars.
What will each owner who takes delivery of a Senna be getting, exactly? A 789bhp, 590lb ft, 11198kg (dry) mid-engined road car that looks like it has driven straight out of an LMP pit lane, that’s what. It may have a passing resemblance to the current cars that are produced in McLaren’s Woking factory, but when you start to pick up the details it’s clear the Senna is something very special.
Aerodynamics are why the Senna looks the way it does, designed to produce genuine performance enhancing downforce for the track via active-aerodynamics like no other seen on a road car.
An ankle height splitter combined with over-sized intakes dominate the front end, and within each outer opening are the active flaps and winglets to direct the air either under and through the body for aero purposes, or into the radiators and oil coolers for the powertrain. The latter’s warm air is forced out of the opening in the front bonnet area and over the roof of the car, neatly missing the engine’s roof mounted air intake that captures the cooling air flowing that’s required. Turbulent and disruptive air built up within the front wheel arch is accelerated out through the opening in the back of the front wheel arches
Along the flanks of the Senna two further intakes suck air through to the engine bay and out through a set of staggered louvers on top of the engine cover, or under the car and through the single piece double diffuser positioned at the rear of the car. And then there is the twin-plane rear wing, that’s fixed to the bodywork by two pylons that attach themselves to the top of the wing rather than in the more tradition position under it. This allows for an uninterrupted 6,500 square centimetre surface area.
Playing an integral role in the Senna’s active aerodynamics, the rear wing is hydraulically controlled and constantly moves to suit the driving situation. In its most upright position it sits 1.2-metres above the ground, can angle through nearly 90-degress when working as an airbrake, and is also part of a drag reduction system (DRS).
Built around MonoCell III, McLaren’s lightest and stiffness carbon-fibre tub, the Senna’s bodywork is also made exclusively from carbon fibre in a bid for ultimate lightness. How light, exactly? The front wings weigh just 600grams compared to the 2kg that the same item on a 720S weighs.
Behind the bulkhead of MonoCell II is the latest iteration of McLaren’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, albeit one that has had every possible component lightened. The results are a formidable 789bhp and 590lb ft of torque – up 79bhp and 47lb ft respectively over a 720S – and a power to weight ratio of 669bhp. The company’s seven-speed double clutch gearbox is retained, but modified accordingly to suit the engine’s increased performance.
Retaining the double-wishbone set-up with hydraulic dampers and anti-roll bars, the Senna also features the latest evolution of the variable stiffness and ride height technology first introduce on the P1. The engineers have further developed the Race active chassis control II system (RCC II), primarily to work with the increase in aerodynamic loads that will be forced through the chassis. The active dynamic system now also features a Race mode accompanying the Comfort, Sport and Track options we’ve become accustomed to. In Race the dampers switch to their stiffest setting as well as the ride height dropping 50mm.
Behind the nine-spoke, centre-lock alloy wheels (which are equipped with McLaren specific Pirelli Trofeo Rs) is a set of the latest carbon-ceramic brakes, with discs that reach their peak operating performance at a temperature 150-degrees lower than McLaren’s normal ceramics. They are also lighter, but do take seven months to manufacturer instead of one…
Functional is how best to describe the interior. Carbon and Alcantara are the materials of choice. There is also number of neat touches to mark Senna out as something special. The door ‘handle’ for example is a switch positioned in the roof along with the engine stop/start button, controls for the air-con fan and the switch to enable Race mode. In fact there’s nothing fixed to the doors aside from the visible gas strut, painted blue on this car to match the contrasting colour used to pick out its active aerodynamic components. The gear selector panel is also fixed to the driver’s seat and moves fore and aft with it. The flip instrument display is from the 720S. Being a car designed for the track, the Senna has no luggage storage except room for two crash helmets and races suits to be stored behind the seats in the rear bulkhead. And the front number is fixed to a removable bracket to optimise airflow when driving on track.
The Senna is dripping in detail, all of it functional, all of it necessary to be the most extreme and fastest road going McLaren the company has built. In the carbon fibre it looks brutal. To sit in it feels every inch the perfect driver’s car. The lucky 500 who have been notified by McLaren that their order has been accepted (they are, unfortunately all sold) will be owners of one the most extreme road cars of 2018 and for many years to come.
Frenchman Chicherit, former Free Skiing World Champion, FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup winner, Dakar driver and World Record-breaking stunt driver, has made no secret of his passion for racing in World Rallycross, and whilst entering select races in 2015 and 2016 decided to build his own team, GCK, to enter the 2018 season.
The new Supercar WRX will be based on the Renault Mégane IV and will be designed from the ground up by the British motorsport specialist to the latest World RX regulations. Prodrive will design the entire car at its headquarters in Banbury, UK, including developing a bespoke two-litre turbocharged engine. The new Renault Mégane RX will be unveiled at the 2017 World Rallycross round in Lohéac, France, on 1st September 2017. Chicherit will continue to use the 2017 season to enter select rounds and begin testing of the Mégane RX in autumn 2017, ready for the 2018 season start.
While best known for rallying and circuit racing, Prodrive has recent rallycross experience having developed the MINI WRX in 2013 to compete in the Global Rallycross Championship (GRC), where it won on its debut at X Games Munich. Prodrive also develops its own engines in house and has previous experience of creating bespoke, non-production based motorsport powertrains.
David Richards, Prodrive chairman said: “It has long been an ambition of ours to compete in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. It is the fastest growing motorsport series in the world and gives us the opportunity to use all our engineering experience to create a car capable of winning the World title. Guerlain is obviously a very talented driver and we look forward to working with him and developing a race car that both he and Renault will be proud of.”
Guerlain Chicherit added: “I’m so stoked to be working with the guys from Prodrive to build what has been my dream for a long time. I know that with the right team and the support we have, we’ll be able to produce a car that will really make an impact in the paddock. I absolutely trust Prodrive to build the best car and I’m excited to bring my brand and partners to the Championship in 2018.”
Paul Bellamy, World RX managing director for IMG, commented: “It is extremely encouraging to hear that Guerlain will be entering his own team into the FIA World Rallycross Championship using Prodrive’s years of expert knowledge and experience to design the new MeganeRX. Guerlain is an extremely experienced athlete and we look forward to welcoming him and his new team to our sport full-time from next year.”
Ford is backing out of World RallyX
The afternoon of October 4 2017 was pivotal for next season’s World Rallycross Championship. Within a matter of hours, Peugeot and Ford laid out their future.
In short, Peugeot is staying, Ford is not.
While uncertainty has hung over Peugeot’s rallycross future in recent months, all indications pointed towards Ford remaining in World RX. Although Ken Block’s Hoonigan Racing Division hadn’t had the second term it intended, on the back of winning three events with the Focus RS RX in 2016 and finishing third overall in both the drivers’ and teams’ championships, Block admitted to Motorsport News in August that focus had already shifted to developments for 2018.
Ford’s departure is a big shame for World RX, but the move has also thrown a curveball into the driver market. Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud, who has scored all but one of the Hoonigan squad’s 11 podiums since the start of 2016, is at the end of a two-year contract but had been expected to be retained for 2018.
However, now a free agent, the 26-year-old is one of the most desirable drivers in the paddock. It would be mightily surprising if his phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook in the last week.
Bakkerud has won with every Supercar team he has raced for in his career (LD Motorsports, OlsbergsMSE and Hoonigan) in cars with a variety of technical specifications. Assuming that Peugeot will maintain Red Bull backing, the same going for Mattias Ekstrom’s EKS squad if it continues next year, as a Monster Energy athlete an energy drink clash may play a part in Bakkerud’s next move.
With no Ford backing, where does Bakkerud head next?
Despite a Monster link with Petter Solberg’s PSRX team, World champion Johan Kristoffersson is expected to remain with Solberg next year and even if he didn’t, Bakkerud and Solberg are hardly the best of friends. While they have been competitive in 2017, Bakkerud is unlikely to move to either MJP Racing or STARD, squads that don’t have works-support, the latter also requiring budget to obtain a seat.
There are murmurs in the paddock of potential new teams, but there is a confirmed new outfit that has the ‘correct’ energy drink ties and is in need of rallycross experience. Guerlain Chicherit’s GCK squad will campaign a pair of Prodrive-built Renault Megane Supercars next season. While Prodrive clearly knows all about creating title-winning equipment, an experienced rallycross driver who has already helped to develop cars would be a big asset.
GCK needs to learn the discipline too, and while Chicherit continues to progress as a driver, a proven winner alongside him would be a significant boost. Bakkerud and his spotter, Dave Mansfield, are just the package that GCK needs to get up to speed quickly and Bakkerud’s full-of-life outgoing personality could fit Chicherit’s bill perfectly.
By Hal Ridge – Autosport
Bakkerud had expected to remain with Block’s Ford Performance-backed squad for a third term next year, but Hoonigan announced last month it was withdrawing from World RX.
Though 26-year-old Norwegian Bakkerud is still focused on becoming World RX champion, he is eyeing a season in WRC2 to hone his skills if he cannot find an alternative RX seat.
He has links with WRC champion team M-Sport as it built the Ford RX car.
“I’ve spoken with almost every team [in World RX], and not many of them know what they are doing next year yet,” Bakkerud told Autosport.
“We’re still in November, next season doesn’t start until April, so it’s still a little early to get anything signed or ready, but we are definitely working on it.
“I’m looking at everything, and looking at myself and what I can improve.
“For me, fighting against [Sebastien] Loeb, Petter [Solberg] and Mattias [Ekstrom] in World RX, they are not only great drivers but they are very good at setting up cars.
“I’ve actually been wondering about calling [M-Sport team principal] Malcolm Wilson to speak about doing a full season of WRC2 next year and wait for the right time for me in rallycross.
“I’m considering everything right now.”
Bakkerud sampled a Ford Fiesta R5 rally car for the first time at Castle Combe’s Rally Day in September.
“Rallying would be good because of the seat time, to help me get better on my weaker sides,” he said.
“But staying in rallycross is my main aim; I want to drive in the full world championship, but it needs to be on certain terms.
“I need to find a winning team that has the same goals and targets as me, and also be looking to electric rallycross too.”
The double European RX Super1600 champion believes he is yet to have the best car at his disposal in World RX, and had been talking about a long-term deal with Block’s Ford-supported squad before it withdrew.
“I haven’t been in a 100% winning car, yet. I think we had a very good car with OlsbergsMSE back in 2014, but I wasn’t ready,” said Bakkerud.
“Driving a lot of cars that haven’t been 100% ready, I’ve learnt a bunch and I think that’s one of my strong sides, that I can drive a car that’s not 100% to its limits very quickly.
“It’s a shame [Ford withdrew] really because I think it’s small stuff we could have done to be able to win, but we just didn’t have enough time to improve and to show it. But I think the base is very good.”
“Me and Ken were speaking about five to 10 years, we spoke about a long-term contract.
“I really want to stay in rallycross, so it was a big disappointment that I’m not going to continue with Ken Block.”