After the Dakar Rally based in South America and the Monte Carlo European Rally kicked off 2014 in motorsport, January will end with a popular car party on the beach in Florida.

The 2014 sports car racing season kicks off with a 24-hour event on the road course at Daytona International Speedway. While winning a long-distance sports car race is a crowning achievement for drivers as well as teams, the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona has the added significance of being the premier race of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship.

The Tudor United SportsCar Championship united North American competitors in the American Le Mans Series and the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series under a single sanctioning body. Besides the 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship, many global fans are waiting for the start of the next FIA World Endurance Championship which will start on April 20.

With the start of every major sports car series, several faces will make their very first appearances in the sport. Recognizing a fair share of rookie drivers, much of the focus on new competitors is placed on race vehicles. The 2014 Sports Car Competition features an assortment of purpose-built, production-based new racing machines that want to quickly jump a learning curve for a first win.

The following vehicles are some of the most ambitious newcomers we will find in sports car racing in 2014.

Ford EcoBoost prototype

Ford is working hard to elevate its EcoBoost engine technology to a superior position in the automotive world. In the past two months, even the new Ford Mustang will offer a version of the EcoBoost engine family. In 2014, Ford’s EcoBoost power was put to the test in the most publicized way yet. The Ford EcoBoost prototype race car joins the 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship. Powered by a racing version of the 3.5-liter twin-turbo direct-injected engine that pioneered the EcoBoost name, Ford’s new prototype will see the automaker automobile abandon V-8 propulsion.

For the car’s competition debut at the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona, Ford gave three EcoBoost prototypes to proven racing teams. The reigning Rolex 24 at Daytona, overall winning organization Chip Ganassi Racing will race two of these cars.

Winner of the event five times in the last eight years, Chip Ganassi shows up with an experienced team of riders and a professional pit crew dedicated to giving the Ford EcoBoost Prototype machine the best 24-hour run possible.

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian entered the third Ford EcoBoost Prototype machine in the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Picking up a memorable victory in 2012 at the Daytona International Speedway Sports Car Classic, the #60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian machine should be an interesting vehicle to watch.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro

2014 r18 audi_motorsport-131212-8564

If you’re an avid sports car racing enthusiast, you know the exploits of the Audi Sport Team Joest peloton. If you’re just an occasional spectator of the FIA ​​World Endurance Championship or the 24 Hours of Le Mans, you also know Audi’s ability to build a winning prototype-class sports car.

Due to several rule changes and with competition from Toyota and newcomer Porsche ready to go, nearly every aspect of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro is modified for the 2014 World Endurance Championship season. FIA. From a design perspective, the most noticeable difference for the 2014 car over last year’s Audi R18 e-tron quattro is the employment of a front spoiler.

Two game-changing technologies will transform the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro into a competitive laboratory. The six-cylinder TDi engine features forced air induction with an electric turbocharger. The electric power generated by the prototype sports car’s hybrid drivetrain will be split between running the turbocharger and moving the front wheels. The second innovative technology that Audi will debut on the R18 e-tron quattro is laser light headlights.

Porsche 919 hybrid

Porsche 919 hybrid

Porsche’s long-awaited return to top-level sports car prototype racing has almost become official. Almost 45 years since the introduction of the famous Porsche 917 which ultimately derailed the Ford GT-40 at Le Mans, their new petrol/electric hybrid sports car is set to mark the German marque’s first race in the prototype class at Le Mans after a 16-year absence.

Developed as the Porsche LMP1, the racing car incorporates a two-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an energy recovery system (similar to what is available on the Porsche 918 Spyder streetcar). At the end of 2013, Porsche officially designated the LMP1 project vehicle as the 919 Hybrid. Having spent much of the past year developing the 919 Hybrid in testing,

Porsche has also assembled a team of accomplished drivers for the 2014 season. Former Formula 1 star with Red Bull Racing Mark Webber is perhaps the most recognized driver of the Porsche 919 Hybrid in its first season in the Championship. FIA ​​World of Endurance 2014. Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Timo Bernhard, Marc Lieb and Brendon Hartley are also part of the crew of the 2014 Porsche 919 Hybrid.

What’s proving fun for the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship is that the Porsche 919 Hybrid will try to dethrone Audi in the prototype class. Porsche and Audi operate under the umbrella of the Volkswagen Group.

Mazda SkyActiv concept

2014 Mazda SKYACTIV-D Prototype Race Car

Making its debut in the much-hyped but underdeveloped GX class of the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series in 2013, Mazda introduced its clean diesel engine technology to the North American market. Created according to their SkyActiv philosophy, the racing version of the first Mazda6 sedan at the 24-hour event was extremely brief, with all competing Mazda6 SkyActiv-D cars dropping out.

Making its debut in the much-hyped but underdeveloped GX class of the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series in 2013, Mazda introduced its clean diesel engine technology to the North American market. Created according to their SkyActiv philosophy, the racing version of the first Mazda6 sedan at the 24-hour event was extremely brief, with all competing Mazda6 SkyActiv-D cars dropping out.

The 2014 Mazda SkyActiv prototype was developed quickly on lessons learned from GX-class competition. Although the shape of the vehicle is new, the SkyActiv-D Clean Diesel engine is almost identical. Generating nearly 600 pound-feet of torque, the Mazda SkyActiv concept features drivetrain enhancements that address an issue the automaker encountered with the 2013 Mazda6 race car.

The 2014 Mazda SkyActiv prototype was developed quickly on lessons learned from GX-class competition. Although the shape of the vehicle is new, the SkyActiv-D Clean Diesel engine is almost identical. Generating nearly 600 pound-feet of torque, the Mazda SkyActiv concept features drivetrain enhancements that address an issue the automaker encountered with the 2013 Mazda6 race car.

Chevrolet Corvette C7R

2014-Chevrolet-CorvetteC7R-176

When General Motors launched the modern Corvette Racing program in 1999, the brand’s racing pedigree has since been greatly enhanced by success at Le Mans, Sebring and the Rolex 24 at Daytona. In 2001, the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R was the overall winner of the one-day sports car event at Daytona. After continued success with the Corvette C6.R, the new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray spawns the new GT class contender, the C7.R.

Even before the start of the 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Series season, the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R may have set a record. Introduced to the public at the 2014 North American International Auto Show alongside the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z06, the Corvette C7.R race car makes its debut less than two weeks after its unveiling.

Heavily borrowing traits from the Z06 supercar model, the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R was also created as an improvement over the C6.R. Built on a laser-welded aluminum frame, the Corvette C7.R chassis is built at the Corvette Street Manufacturing Plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Corvette C7.R’s 5.5-liter V-8 powertrain is required by GT class rules to forego the Z06’s supercharger, but retains gasoline direct injection.

Source of information and photos: Audi AG, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, IMSA, Mazda North America, Porsche Cars North America

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