Reigning 24H SERIES GTX Teams’ champion Vortex V8 is developing a new ‘2.0’ version of its lightweight sports car, one that’s set to be unveiled by the end of 2022 ahead of a potential first race in March 2023.
Words – James Gent
Images – Vortex / Petr Frýba
Vortex V8 is set to debut a new racing car for the 2023 season, with development and build already underway at the team’s facility in Pézenas.
The Vortex 1.0, a lightweight sports car constructed by the French independent manufacturer, has competed regularly in the 24H SERIES since 2017, securing GTX Teams’ championship honours last year with an unprecedented six class podiums in seven outings.
From 2023 onwards though, Vortex is set to run a new ‘2.0’ version of its eponymous sports car, one that boasts new dimensions all-round courtesy of a new aerodynamics package. Another significant change is the new carbon chassis, which replaces the current steel example on the 1.0.
“We’re hoping to finish our first two new cars during the Fall, and from there we’ll move into the first testing session ideally this winter,” Philippe Bonnel explained to CREVENTIC at the recent Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS. “There will probably be further development done during the winter, and after that the first race will… probably not be in Dubai, but sometime in March.
“This is the ideal calendar: to have the car on four wheels by the Fall, and then get development testing done with Arnaud and Olivier [Gomez, founders and team managers at Vortex V8] between October and February.”
Bonnel, who both competes as a driver with Vortex V8 and oversees the team’s PR and marketing, explained that while the Chevrolet-sourced 6.2-litre V8 will continue to power the new Vortex, significant attention has been paid to the bodywork. Built atop a new carbon chassis, the bodywork, while similar to the 1.0 at the front, will be much sleeker at the rear in an effort to significantly reduce drag. As well as being structurally more rigid and aerodynamic, the new 2.0 will also be both longer and wider than the car it replaces.
“Aerodynamics was a bit priority,” Bonnel continues. “With the [1.0], we have trouble in a straight-line and are limited with our speed. But we are very quick in the corners because there is a lot of downforce. So, the main objective is to keep the downforce the same, but now without that affecting the speed on the straights.
“This means the aero will be completely different. A lot of study has gone into that, and we were actually inspired by the Renault R.S. 01. That also means we can change the position of the driver’s seat too: today [in the 1.0], it’s very straight, and in the new car, it will be more [horizontal].
“For the carbon chassis, there are two reasons. First, it’s much more rigid and stable. And the second one is because it’s a technical improvement, which should make the [lifespan] of the car much greater. By the end of October, we’re aiming to have our first two frames built in carbon.”
Discussions are also ongoing with PKM regarding upgraded suspension for the 2.0.
Having competed in last year’s season-closing Hankook 24H SEBRING, Vortex has attracted new customers in North America, and it is hoped that a new car could help further boost sales across Europe, the US, and, potentially, the Middle East. Bonnel does state though that development of the new Vortex is primarily to create a faster, higher-performing sports car that’s still nevertheless easy for its gentlemen drivers to race. As such, the 1.0 will continue to be run in 2023 to make the transition to the 2.0 easier for Vortex’s customers.
“We tried to find the ideal [balance] between improving the technics of the car and keep the same ability for our gentlemen drivers. This is a big selling point for our market, particularly in France and I hope [further afield] next year. We don’t have a price yet, but it will be a lower price than a GT3.
“For next year, ideally we’ll have two 1.0s and two 2.0s. This will help our drivers discover whether they want to race the first one or the second one.”
This season, Vortex V8 will continue to defend its newly-won 24H SERIES GTX Teams’ championship. The French team has already secured two class podium finishes this year, and goes into this weekend’s Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING equal on points at the top of the Championship of the Continents, and just two points behind class standings leader Leipert Motorsport.