Volkswagen Golf24 gears up for race debut at the Nürburgring

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Volkswagen Golf24 – Click above for high-res image gallery

The day is almost upon us when Volkswagen will unleash the ferocious Golf24 on the Green Hell. The hatchback endurance racer, which helps celebrate the GTI's 35 anniversary, was first revealed back in February, and is finally set to take on the Nürburgring race this weekend.

As you may recall, the Golf24 packs the turbocharged five-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive of the Audi TT RS, but tuned up to 450 horsepower and nearly 400 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed sequential gearbox, all mounted underneath some heavily revised competition-spec sheetmetal.

Volkswagen has lined up a star-studded roster of drivers to pilot the three cars around the clock, including former F1 drivers Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell, as well as Ringmeisters Peter Terting and Patrick Simon. The company's three-time Dakar winners Nasser Al-Attiyah, Carlos Sainz and Giniel de Villiers will also be making their Nürburgring debut, piloting one of two CNG-fueled 330-hp Sciroccos at the event.

Follow the jump for the latest press release, and scope out the images in the thoroughly updated high-res gallery for a closer look.
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The most spectacular Golf will line up for the most extreme race as Volkswagen prepares to contest the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring this weekend (23–26 June) with three 450-hp Golf24 cars.

Flat out around the clock, more than 200 competitors, rapidly changing weather conditions, strategy chess and all this on the world's most difficult race track – the Golf24 has been built for exactly this enormous challenge. Fitting the 35th anniversary of the Golf GTI, Volkswagen Motorsport has developed a thorough-bred racing version of the world's highest-volume production car.

Powered by a 450-hp 2.5-litre five cylinder turbo engine, the Golf24 is equipped with four-wheel drive, a sequential 6-speed gearbox with paddle shifters and, last but not least, a spectacular body shell. High-calibre racers will be taking turns at the wheel of three factory-fielded cars – they range from seasoned Nordschleife drivers like Peter Terting and Patrick Simon, Formula 1 legends like Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell through to the Volkswagen junior René Rast and the DTM rookie Edoardo Mortara.

With green power: three Dakar winners on the grid together for the first time

Nasser Al-Attiyah, Carlos Sainz, Giniel de Villiers – these are the names that have dominated the Dakar Rally in the past three years and made three consecutive Volkswagen victories possible. They will use the 24-hour race on the Nordschleife for a joint circuit visit. The three Dakar Champions from 2009, 2010 and 2011 will compete together for the first time and share a 330-hp Scirocco GT24-CNG.

Their team-mates will also be direct rivals for victory in the class for vehicles with alternative power-trains. Le Mans racer Vanina Ickx and the journalists Peter Wyss and Bernd Ostmann will be driving the sister car. Both Scirocco vehicles are powered by bio natural gas and reduce CO2 emissions by 80 per cent compared with conventional petrol engines. The fourth driver of both cars will be the former DTM racer Klaus Niedzwiedz, who has already won the 24-hour race twice.

The Volkswagen driver line-up for the 2011 Nürburgring 24-hour race will be as follows:

#35 – Golf24 – white / red
Peter Terting (D) / Nicki Thiim (DK) / Franck Mailleux (F) / René Rast (D)

#135 – Golf24 – white / blue
Thomas Mutsch (D) / Fredrik Ekblom (S) / Patrick Simon (D) / Edoardo Mortara (I)

#235 – Golf24 – white / yellow
Johnny Herbert (GB) / Patrick Bernhardt(D) / Mark Blundell (GB) / René Rast (D)

#116 – Scirocco GT24-CNG – blue / silver
Dr Ulrich Hackenberg (D) / Vanina Ickx (B) / Peter Wyss (CH) / Bernd Ostmann (D)

#117 – Scirocco GT24-CNG – blue / orange
Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q) / Carlos Sainz (E) / Giniel de Villiers (ZA) / Klaus Niedzwiedz (D)

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