Lighter, wider, faster

The Best Sports Cars of 2018, Stripped Out and Race-Ready

February 15, 2018 Cars By Photo by Bryan Campbell

Most modern-day high-performance sports cars are track day weapons, straight from the factory. An unbelievable amount of research and development goes into squeezing out every bit of power from an engine while still keeping them usable for everyday road driving; even more work goes into scrutinizing the whole package to find a few pounds that can be shaved off here or there in the spirit of efficiency. While most of their existence will be spent running the speed limit on public roads, top-tier cars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Mercedes, Ford, Lexus and Audi are inherently built to handle fast laps and crazy cornering forces at the track. Objectively, these “normal” cars you see on dealership floors are incredible feats of engineering, but that’s not even the half of it.

In the IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship, the world’s best sports cars are split into two tiers: the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes. The top-tier GT Le Mans class cars top out at 180 mph and are restricted to 500 horsepower, which in some cases may actually be less power than their street-legal counterparts boast — but these race versions weigh nearly 900 lbs less. Furthermore, GT LM cars also benefit from massive wings, vents and diffusers to help keep them glued to the track at high speeds. There’s a certain amount of technical and engineering freedom involved, but for the most part, these cars are based very directly on the same cars on dealership floors right now.

The GT Daytona class is a little more strict in regards to what can and can’t be changed on the car. They don’t enjoy as many benefits from aerodynamic add-ons as the GT Le Mans class and are restricted to “only” 450 horsepower, maximum. They do weigh more than the GT LM class by a few pounds, but the GT Daytona cars also top out at 180 mph.

When it comes to pitting these upper-echelon performance cars against each other in motorsport, how ‘livable’ each car is on a day-to-day basis goes out the window — power, weight and balance are the only things that matter. When luxuries and creature comforts are nowhere near the list of priorities, the result is insane race cars ready to go all out for 24 hours at a time. Next time you’re behind the wheel of something sporty, close your eyes and imagine that car’s feral relatives.

GT Le Mans Class

BMW M8 GTE

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Porsche 911 RSR

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Ford GT

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Ferrari 488 GTE

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Corvette C7.R

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GT Daytona Class

 

Lexus RC F GT3

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Acura NSX GT3

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Mercedes-AMG GT3

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Lamborghini Huracan GT3

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Audi R8 LMS

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