Volkswagen will be launching a five-strong Scirocco attack on the Nürburgring 24 hour race this year. Returning to defend its title is the familiar Scirocco GT24, which will hit the track with a three car team. The new kid on the block, though, is the Scirocco GT24 CNG. That’s right, a Scirocco racer fuelled by Compressed Natural Gas.
Inspired by the Touareg TDI becoming the first diesel powered car to win Dakar, Volkswagen is pushing alternate fuel technology further with the CNG powered machines emitting up to 25% less in CO2 compared to conventionally fuelled cars.
The high octane offered by natural gas fuel (approx 130 RON) is able to exploit the Scirocco’s 2-litre turbo engine, with power nudging 300bhp and 350Nm of torque. Like the petrol powered brothers, the GT24 CNG utilises a race proven 6-speed DSG transmission.
The driving team for the two gas powered cars will be headed by two-time N24 winner, and touring car legend Klaus Niedzwiedz. He will be given able support from Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Board Member for Technical Development of the Volkswagen Brand, and journalists Bernd Ostmann, Peter Wyss and John Barker as well as touring car ace Peter Terting, Nordschleife expert Thomas Klenke and former DTM driver Vanina Ickx.
The GT24 CNG will be see action this weekend in a 4 hour VLN race.
Further details and driver line ups of the GT24 petrol cars can be read after the jump.
UPDATE 20 April: An update from the weekend’s racing has been added below.
Début on the Nordschleife: Volkswagen Scirocco powered by natural gas
Wolfsburg (17 April 2009). At the 24-Hour Race on the Nürburgring on 23/24 May, Volkswagen will field two Scirocco cars with innovative natural gas engines.
Following the historic one-two victory at the Dakar Rally in January, which Volkswagen won as the first automobile manufacturer using diesel technology in the event, the Wolfsburg brand is now taking on another technical challenge – the use of EcoFuel engines in the endurance test twice around the clock on the world’s most demanding race track. The two Scirocco GT24-CNG two-litre turbo engines powered by natural gas deliver nearly 300 hp. In addition, the “factory” team will field three further Scirocco GT24 cars powered by two-litre turbo petrol engines in the classic endurance race at the “Green Hell” in the Eifel region. Last year, Volkswagen had clinched a one-two victory in the two-litre turbo class even before the Scirocco’s market launch.
“The 24-Hour Race offers Volkswagen an exciting stage to demonstrate its technical capabilities and expertise,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “The Scirocco GT24 already proved its strengths as a dynamic sports coupe by clinching class victory in its début race last year. In 2009, we are taking yet another step forwards by using two different engine concepts. We want to prove that Volkswagen offers different powertrain concepts, all of which excel in terms of high efficiency, dynamics and reliability. The Nordschleife and the 24-Hour Race provide an ideal test bed for this purpose.”
Engine technology: innovative and proven systems for the circuit marathon
For this acid test on the challenging Nordschleife, Volkswagen developed a CNG (compressed natural gas) version based on the two-litre petrol engine that was victorious last year. The engineers primarily focused on the fuel induction system of the unit equipped with a turbocharger as well as on the balance between maximum exhaust gas temperature and full usage of the turbocharger’s potential in order to optimise both driveability and power output. The result: just under 300 hp and 350 Nm of torque which continue to be transmitted to the front wheels via a six-speed DSG gearbox operated by paddle shifters in the steering wheel.
Natural gas as an efficient and clean source of power
The new generation of natural gas turbo engines takes full advantage of the high anti-knock quality of approx. 130 octane offered by natural gas fuel. This enables natural gas vehicles to achieve a level of driving dynamics unrivalled by any other alternative powertrain system. Furthermore, natural gas as a fuel is particularly eco-friendly as well as very cost-effective. On average, natural gas vehicles reduce CO2 emissions by 25 per cent compared with conventional spark ignition engines. The combustion process generates almost no particulate matter or fine dust.
“Dakar” aces, “ring” experts and multi-talents: the drivers of the Scirocco GT24
In addition to these technological innovations, Volkswagen tackles the challenge of the “Green Hell” with interesting driver combinations. The two natural gas-powered Scirocco GT24-CNG cars will be driven by Dr Ulrich Hackenberg (D), Board Member for Technical Development of the Volkswagen Brand, and journalists Bernd Ostmann (D), Peter Wyss (CH) and John Barker (GB) as well as touring car ace Peter Terting (D), Nordschleife expert Thomas Klenke (D), former DTM driver Vanina Ickx (B) and touring car legend Klaus Niedzwiedz (D), two-time overall winner of the 24 Hours on the Nürburgring.
The squad of one of the three petrol-powered Scirocco GT24 cars reflects the exploit achieved at the Dakar Rally: “Dakar” winner Giniel de Villiers (ZA), two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz (E) as well as Dieter Depping (D) will take turns at the wheel during their excursion from rally to circuit racing. A true juniors’ foursome is formed by last year’s winners Jimmy Johansson (S) and Florian Gruber (D) as well as Nicki Thiim (DK) and Martin Karlhofer (A). In addition, the formula racing specialists Congfu Cheng (CN), Carlo van Dam (NL) and Franck Mailleux (F) as well as the two-time 24-h overall winner Altfrid Heger (D) will share another one of the cockpits of the 330-hp Scirocco GT24 cars.
A model of success returns: the Scirocco GT24 on the Nordschleife
The 2009 24-Hour Race on the Nürburgring will mark the return of the Scirocco GT24 to the scene of its success. Last year, the Scirocco experienced its competition début even before its production counterpart started selling on the market. Jimmy Johansson (S), Florian Gruber (D), Thomas Mutsch (D) and Hans-Joachim Stuck (D) secured class victory in the ultra-competitive two-litre turbo class (SP3T) in front of an audience of some 200,000 spectators. The one-two victory in the field 219 touring cars that had started from the grid was completed by Carlos Sainz (E), Giniel de Villiers (ZA), Dieter Depping (D) and Hans-Joachim Stuck (D).
Tests and races to prepare for the 24-hour Nürburgring
In addition to tests, Volkswagen’s preparation for the 24-hour Nürburgring includes three races in the BFGoodrich Endurance Championship Nürburgring. The Scirocco GT24-CNG will make its début on 18 April at the Four-Hour Race on the “ring”.
Promising race debut of the Scirocco GT24 powered by natural gas
(19 April 2009) The Volkswagen Scirocco GT24 fitted with a CNG (compressed natural gas) engine caused a sensation at its race debut in the second round of the BFGoodrich Endurance Championship: In qualifying, the 300-hp, CNG-powered Scirocco clinched 15th place on the grid out of 182 contenders. Vanina Ickx (B), Peter Terting (D) and John Barker (GB) were leading the class up to the 4-hour race’s midpoint when an electrical defect forced the trio to retire. In a Scirocco GT24 with a petrol engine, Carlos Sainz (E), Florian Gruber (D) and Martin Karlhofer (A) used the event to prepare for running in the 24-Hour Race on the Nürburgring. Before the race, Volkswagen had completed a two-day test on the legendary Nordschleife with a CNG version and two petrol-powered Scirocco cars. They were driven by Jimmy Johansson (S), Klaus Niedzwiedz (D) as well as Terting, Karlhofer and Ickx. A total of two vehicles with CNG engines and three Scirocco cars with turbocharged petrol units will start from the grid of the endurance classic staged on the penultimate weekend in May.