General Motors’ European division Opel has decided to build two new factory-backed racing cars. Opel today revealed a rally car and endurance racer that it hopes to campaign from 2013 to 2016.
The Opel Adam rally car is based on the company’s style-conscious Adam subcompact, albeit with a long list of modifications to meet FIA R2 racing standards. The cars will compete in a special subcategory of Europe’s ADAC Rally Masters series, called the ADAC Opel Rally Cup. There are cash prizes for winners, and a special points system to guarantee that novice drivers under 27 years old receive extra coaching and instruction. The Opel Adam rally cars will debut in the 2013 race season and are set to run until at least 2016, after which Opel may consider supporting successful drivers in international rally series.
Opel also unveiled the Astra OPC Cup, which is designed for Germany’s VLN endurance racing series. The car is meant to be affordable enough for entry-level racers, who will receive lots of factory support and reasonably-priced spare parts. Opel will fund a set of Astra OPC Cup races for the cars, and plans for the hatchbacks to enter the 24 Hours of Nürburgring race. The cars will be available from the 2013 racing season.
It might seem strange for Opel to launch into an expensive racing endeavor now, given that the brand is in dire financial straits. GM Europe expects to lose between $1.5 and $1.8 billion in 2012 as European car makers continue to struggle.In light of those losses, Opel pitches the rally and circuit cars as essential brand-building exercises.
“These new motorsports activities play an important role in the strategic re-alignment of the company; they are a fundamental element of our brand profile,” Opel deputy CEO Dr Thomas Sedran said in a prepared statement.