According to Opel, their Astra TCR (Touring Car Racing Series) development program is going at full speed and everything is right on schedule.
The car covered countless kilometers over a five day test period last week, on the Circuito do Estoril in Portugal, where the team is working on “fine-tuning details before the first vehicles are delivered to our customer teams at the end of February,” said Opel Motorsport exec Jorg Schrott.
The development team needed to pay special attention to the front axle’s sophisticated concept. “On a racing car with around 330 hp and front-wheel drive, this is a key component. All the longitudinal and lateral forces of a TCR car, so in addition to braking and steering this also means acceleration, affect the front wheels,” explained technical director Dietmar Metrich.
“And this is not only about the lap times, it is also about tire wear. So whoever has a car with a well-performing front axle has a clear advantage in tough competition. And because the front-wheel suspension pivot point is not specified in the TCR guidelines, we have some leeway in the design of the front axle.”
During the test drives, technicians also focused on the basic setup in order to draw out the Astra TCR’s maximum performance – which also went hand in hand with Matrich’s philosophy about race cars.
“It’s always easier to make a fast racing car solid than to make a solid one fast. But ultimately the best of both has to be at hand,” which is something that reflects how the engineers balanced the mechanical grip of the chassis and wheels, along with the aerodynamic grip – which is created by the rear wing and front splitter mainly.
In terms of dynamic strength, the team installed a six-speed racing transmission operated by a paddle shifter, and boosted the power and torque outputs to 330 horses to go with 420 Nm (309 lb-ft). While those types of numbers don’t sound incredibly impressive in today’s world, remember that this is a real race car, not just a hot hatch.
The entire (race) car weighs just 1,200 kg (2,645 lbs), where in comparison, a (street) Ford Focus RS weighs in at about 1,600 kg (3,527 lbs) – just a little food for thought.