Click on the image for the a gallery of high-res shots of the GTI Cup racer

Volkswagen just announced a major return to grassroots motorsports in the United States. Starting this year, VW is establishing a $300,000 contingency fund for registered participants in Sports Car Club of America events. A lot of racers compete with a range of VW cars in various SCCA classes, and they will all be eligible for extra money from VW if they win.

In addition, VW announced the new GTI Cup series that will start in 2008 and be sanctioned by the SCCA. Competitors will run fixed specification GTI Cup cars that will be available from Volkswagen beginning later in 2007. The cars are based on the latest iteration of the GTI with the 2.0L turbocharged FSI four cylinder, mated to a DSG gearbox. The engine puts out 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. In addition, the cars will have a variety of safety and performance enhancements to make them more suitable for the track.

The Volkswagen press release is after the jump.

UPDATE: VIDEO added after the jump.

[Source: Volkswagen]


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VOLKSWAGEN ANNOUNCES "GTI CUP" SERIES


Production-based GTI racing to begin in 2008

CHICAGO – Volkswagen of America, Inc. today announced that it will operate a production- based GTI Cup spec racing series beginning in 2008, offering aspiring young racers an affordable entry into professional motorsports. The new series will be sanctioned by Sports Car Club of America.

"Volkswagen as an automotive manufacturer is represented around the globe, and we have a strong history in motorsports, including successful spec racing Cup programs in more than 10 countries," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "The GTI Cup in America will underscore Volkswagen's competitive spirit and the inspiration we take from racing into the building of our vehicles."

While the GTI Cup racer will be optimized for track performance and safety, the heart of the GTI remains the street version's high-tech, 200-horsepower 2.0T four-cylinder engine that produces 207 ft.-lbs. of torque. Fitted with its automated manual DSG® transmission, electro-mechanical power rack-and-pinion steering system, and advanced multi-link fully independent sports-tuned rear suspension, the production vehicle is an extremely capable car for the track.

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Rabbit, New Beetle, New Beetle convertible, GTI, Jetta, GLI, Passat, Passat wagon, Eos, and Touareg through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers. Visit Volkswagen of America online at vw.com.

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