Celebs to support Australian Grand Prix in Lexus CT 200h race

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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