Meet the mad, bad Opel Astra touring car

A few weeks ago we showed you Volkswagen’s slightly mental new Golf touring car. This is Opel’s riposte.

Like the Golf – which won on its debut in Austria – this Opel Astra touring car is being created for the low-cost Touring Car Racing International Series. TCR is currently enjoying a successful inaugural globe-trotting season, while licenses to run national and regional series have been sold to at least 12 territories around the world.

Intentionally or not, TCR rules are such that the cars end up looking absolutely wild. Based on the new seventh-generation Opel Astra, this machine is no different. Huge wheelarches stretch out to the maximum permitted width, the front splitter looks like a lawn mower blade and there’s a preposterous rear spoiler. Opel has only released these renderings so far, as the car itself is still in the early stages of development.

Like all TCR cars, the Astra’s 2.0-litre turbo motor produces 326bhp and 302lb/ft of torque.

Opel boss Tina Muller said: “Touring car racing has always been an important part of Opel. The philosophy of the TCR series corresponds to our idea of customer racing. We want to give ambitious, privately owned teams a platform for exciting sport at reasonable costs.”

The cost of TCR cars is capped at €90,000, including the engine. Both manufacturers and privateers can develop cars. Opel and Volkswagen join early adopters SEAT and Honda in designing and building cars within their own motorsport operations, which are then sold on to teams to race. Independently produced contenders include Audis, Fords, and the current Opel Astra OPC (VXR, as we know it). A Subaru is due to join, as well.

Opel hasn’t had a presence in international touring car racing since the short-lived mid-Nineties International Touring Car Championship. It then competed in the northern Europe-based DTM series between 2000 and 2005.

As far as I’m aware, a license to run TCR in the UK has not been taken out. The British Touring Car Championship leaves little room for it, unless it were marketed specifically as a stepping stone to the BTCC (and a refuge for drivers and teams without the resources for the BTCC), rather than a direct rival. Someone may take a chance, though.

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By Only Motors

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