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A once-forgotten Volkswagen Golf racer will enter 2024 Nurburgring 24 Hours

The GTI Clubsport 24h is an evolution of an abandoned TCR project

Welcome back to motorsports, Volkswagen. PHOTO FROM VOLKSWAGEN

After its tech-focused debut at CES, Volkswagen is ready to unveil the new Golf GTI Clubsport to the enthusiast crowd (hopefully not for the last time). In celebration of the face-lifted hot hatch’s launch, the Wolfsburg outfit has announced its entries to the grueling Nurburgring 24 Hours (N24)—one of which revived an abandoned touring car project.

Underneath the zebra disguise, you can piece together the similarities. PHOTOS FROM FCP EURO

The Golf GTI Clubsport 24h started life as a Mk8 TCR prototype for the 2022 season of numerous TCR series worldwide, following the success of the Mk7. Unfortunately, as the project was nearly completed, Volkswagen Motorsport folded operations by the end of 2021.

The abandoned project wasn’t widely known until March 2022 when car builder Jamie Orr visited the Volkswagen Classic warehouse to discover a camouflage Golf collecting dust. He then requested to bring the prototype to the US just to spread the knowledge of its existence, and through some miracle, the staff obliged.

After a comprehensive appearance on YouTube, the prototype returned to hiding in Wolfsburg away from the public eye. Or so we thought.

Max Kruse Racing began the rebirth of the Mk8 TCR in late 2023. PHOTOS FROM VOLKSWAGEN

While Volkswagen didn’t explicitly say it was leftovers of the TCR program, the Clubsport 24h retains some design elements of the racing prototype—like the pre-facelift headlights—with minor aero tweaks suited for the Nordschleife developed by Max Kruse Racing.

Piloting the Clubsport 24h will be 2017 N24 TCR class winner Benny Leuchter, who was also involved in the original Mk8 TCR program, and World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson, as well as track regulars Nico Otto and Heiko Hammel.

Under the hood is the 2.0-liter turbocharged EA888 engine producing 343hp and 450Nm, fitting figures for TCR regulations. However, it won’t be in the same class as the Audi RS3 LMS and the Hyundai Elantra N TCR. Instead, the Golf will race in the AT3 class for alternative fuels since the powertrain now runs on E20 bioethanol fuel.

After 50 years, the original Golf GTI is still an icon. PHOTOS FROM VOLKSWAGEN

Volkswagen will also participate in the ADAC 24h Classic, the N24 support race, on May 30 with three distinct first-generation GTIs prepared by KWL Motorsport. The 45-year-old racing team will celebrate its anniversary alongside the 50-year-old Golf nameplate, including a 1980 example wearing the same camo livery as the Clubsport 24h racer.

Anyone can follow the GTI Clubsport 24h and many other entrants tackling the Green Hell starting June 1 (9pm, Philippine time), streaming live on the official N24 YouTube channel.

It’s fascinating to see a company that closed its motorsport division three years ago revive a neglected chassis for one of the largest motorsport events in the world, even if it’s a one-off occasion. What other racing programs would you love to see make a comeback?

Justin Young

Justin loves cars of all forms. Molded by motoring TV shows and Internet car culture, he sees the world from a different perspective that not many get to see every day.