Porsche 911 Hybrid, Kia Forte Koup Go Racing

“Win on Sunday, sell on Monday?” Two new race cars are about to help test that old saying, in two groundbreaking ways.

Set to make its competitive debut this May in the 24-hour endurance race at Nürburgring—long considered one of motorsports’ most challenging tracks—will be the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid. Yes, Porsche is going hybrid.

The new car keeps the powerful 480-hp flat-six engine from the “regular” 911 GT3 racer, then adds two electric motors for the front wheels. Here’s how they work: A flywheel mounted on the passenger side of the race car stores up energy derived from a kinetic braking system. After enough energy is built up, the system can deliver about 160 hp to the front wheels for about six to eight seconds. That might not sound like much, but it could make a winning difference coming out of the ‘Rings many curves.

Plus, the company’s reputation has suffered a bit as it has introduced products like the Porsche Cayenne SUV and Porsche Panamera sedan, vehicles that don’t exactly fit into the traditional Porsche mold. A hybrid Porsche could be at risk of earning some scorn from traditionalists as well—unless it earns its wings in motorsports first.

Less powerful—but no less surprising—than a hybrid Porsche racer is the Kia Forte Koup that’s running its first year in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. It’s the first time the automaker has supported a race car in the U.S., and this road-racing series should be a good showcase for the Forte Koup. That’s because it’s competing against the same rivals on the track that it’s competing with on the market: the Mazda MAZDA3, Volkswagen GTI, Chevrolet Cobalt and other tuner types.

In this case, though, let’s hope some of Kia’s retail success rubs off on its racing team. There’s been just one race in the series so far, and the two Kias fielded by Kinetic Motorsports finished just 19th and 31st.

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