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New Astra for BTCC

Reigning British Touring Car champion team Vauxhall is to replace its ultra-successful Astra Coupe with the new Astra Sport Hatch model in 2005, it as announced at the Autosport International Racing Car Show, in Birmingham's NEC

New Astra for BTCC

Vauxhall's Astra Coupe has been the dominant force in the BTCC since the Touring Car class was introduced in 2001 and has taken the last four championship titles. But VXR's new car, to be driven by Yvan Muller and Colin Turkington and an as yet unnamed third driver, will make its debut at Donington in April to coincide with the launch of the road-going version in the UK.

"The new Astra Sport Hatch has a tough act to follow because the old car was so incredibly successful," said VXR brand manager Stuart Harris. "It always takes some time to develop a new racing car, but the newcomer does have some inherent design advantages over the outgoing car, and we'd like to think it won't be long before the new Astra is winning races."

The new car's chassis is stiffer than its predecessor, the front and rear tracks are wider and the front and rear suspension has been re-tuned to increase installation stiffness and improve control. The new three-door Sport Hatch also features a low roofline, which it is hoped will aid the aero figures.

The new car is scheduled to have its first high-speed runs at Jarama in late January, and while it is expected to be a competitive package, Harris admitted that there is are risks involved with replacing such a successful car. "This could easily be the most open BTCC championship in years," he said. W"e have a new car, SEAT is strong and there are new Hondas to watch out for."

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