• Jan 22nd 2011 at 5:27PM
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Lexus CT 200h Celebrity Challenge – Click above for high-res image gallery

The upcoming 2011 Formula One World Championship marks the return of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) introduced in 2009 and subsequently sidelined last season. But KERS isn't the only hybrid system slated to appear on the Albert Park circuit when the season kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix on March 24.

Not unlike the regenerative braking system, the Celebrity Challenge is a fixture set to return to this year's Australian Grand Prix. Though absent the past couple of years, the event campaigns a field of famous folks driving identical cars that typically changes from year to year. And this year the race will be going a more environmentally-conscious (and luxurious) route with the Lexus CT 200h.

The 27 examples of the luxury hybrid sport-hatch – likely to be only mildly modified with race-spec safety equipment – will be on hand for the event. Lexus is touting it as "the first hybrid-only race staged globally" and will serve as the vehicle's launch in the market Down Under. Details in the press release after the jump.

[Source: Lexus Australia via Motor Authority]

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Lexus brings Celebrity Challenge back to the Australian Grand Prix with CT 200h

  • Lexus announces The Lexus Celebrity Challenge for the 2011 Formula 1TM Qantas Australian Grand Prix
  • All-new Lexus CT 200h's to race at Melbourne's spectacular Albert Park circuit
  • First hybrid-only race event globally
  • Return of the Celebrity Challenge after two year hiatus

Lexus is bringing back the Celebrity Challenge race to the 2011 Formula 1TM Qantas Australian Grand Prix after the event's two-year hiatus with its soon-to-be-launched CT 200h hybrid hatchback.

The Lexus CT 200h Celebrity Challenge will feature 27 all-new Lexus CT 200h hybrids racing around Melbourne's Albert Park circuit this March.

Significantly, the Celebrity Challenge will be the first hybrid-only race staged globally and will mark the introduction of the all-new compact luxury hybrid to the Australian luxury market.

The hybrid-only race also coincides with the reintroduction of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) to Formula 1TM race vehicles.

KERS, like in a hybrid vehicle, captures energy and stores it for use later in the race to boost engine power.

In a new initiative, made possible by the Lexus CT 200h, two celebrities will have the opportunity to win - one for outright position and the other for the Le Mans-inspired "index of efficiency" concept, by measuring fuel use during the race.

2011 will be the first time Lexus has been involved with the event.

Lexus Australia's Corporate Manager in charge of marketing and aftersales, Peter Evans, said the event offered Lexus the perfect opportunity to launch the all-new luxury hybrid.

"CT 200h is a fun yet frugal sports luxury hybrid hatch. The Celebrity Challenge gives Lexus the ability to demonstrate that hybrids can be fun to drive - while still being environmentally conscious," Mr Evans said.

"Lexus is excited about showing off the environmental credentials of the CT 200h by taking advantage of its innovative hybrid driveline in this exciting racing format.

"In fact, the CT 200h has the unique ability to change its driving characteristics to suit Sport or ECO driving requirements - we call it 'two modes, two moods'.

"Lexus is pleased to be able to bring the Celebrity Challenge back to the program for the Australian Grand Prix," said Mr Evans.

Acting CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation Andrew Westacott said his organisation was very happy to welcome the Celebrity Challenge back to Albert Park with the support of Lexus.

"The Celebrity Challenge adds even more fun and glamour to an already action-packed schedule at the 2011 Formula 1TM Qantas Australian Grand Prix this March," he said.

Australian media personality Kelly Landry said that she was thrilled to be selected as part of the field for the Lexus CT 200h Celebrity Challenge.

"I am incredibly excited to have been chosen to race at Albert Park. I have followed the Grand Prix since it came to Melbourne 15 years ago," said Landry.

"It has been my dream to race in the celebrity race ever since, so naturally I am thrilled to have the opportunity to attempt to show what these great new Lexus vehicles can do and hopefully win in the process.

"I'm really looking forward to the whole event," said Landry.

The 2011 Formula 1TM Qantas Australian Grand Prix will run from 24-27 March, at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit.

Further information on the event and the Lexus CT 200h can be found at www.grandprix.com.au or www.lexus.com.au

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Where´s the car?? XDD
      • 4 Years Ago
      A race featuring cars that do what.. 9 second 0-60's and a top speed of 90mph or so?

      I can barely contain my excitement.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Drivers' skill is the most important part of good racing. What they're driving is irrelevant.

        • 4 Years Ago

        Remember they are celebrities - not exactly racing car drivers.

        You wouldn't want them in something too powerful.

        Also it is only a few lap support race as well so it more to watch your favourate celeb go door to door with another.

        Historically they have used cars like the Mini Cooper.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What happened to you?

        Today you seem to have neither an idea of basic physics (my 75HP commuting car does 105mph),
        nor do you understand the spirit of racing.

        • 4 Years Ago
        The top speed of the ct200h is ~110mph but with smaller motors ( especially in a car of this weight ), that is more like where the powertrain has completely pooped out, and not a hard electronic limiter.

        So if someone manages to hit that magic ~110mph number, if they touch their brakes and drop 10-20mph, it is a long way back to that top speed.

        This kind of racing looks like a slow motion instant replay of real racing where drivers are going over 200mph. These kinds of speeds are the kiddie pool... you may be a talented swimmer, but you're still in the kiddie pool.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They should just have a race to see who can use the least amount of gas in a 30 lap race in these things. I can't imagine the snore fest that awaits the viewers of this.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Kinda funny using hybrids in a way that is sure to poor consumption (I believe that top gear showed in their unique fashion [and the Sunday Times in thiers) that a flogged Prius is no match in efficiency to a BMW for economy)
        • 4 Years Ago
        In the US, the most popular racing series utilizes tube-frame chassis wearing bodies painted to somewhat faintly resemble four-door family sedans.

        Modern racing is used as advertising - it gets the manufacturers' names out to a very large audience. The audience roots for a driver, and forms an emotional attachment with a brand.

        The real-world consumption efficiency of the Lexus is not in question here; Toyota is making a very serious attempt to sell a "green" car to a very wide, and very passionately loyal, audience.

        You might think it's funny, but racing sells cars - and that is the goal of this exhibition.
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