The year 2001 was a long time ago now, but I still remember how good the Australian GT Production Car Championship was back then. The racing was great because of the number of different classes and manufacturers included.
Some of the cars that raced in Class A ‘High Performance Cars’ included the Ford Mustang Cobra RA, Subaru Impreza WRX STi, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, HSV GTS and Mazda RX7.
Class B was for ‘Sport Touring Cars’ and also featured a diverse mix of cars. There was a very rare car entered in this class called the Volkswagen Beetle RSi, which competed against cars including the Honda Integra Type-R and Mitsubishi FTO. The RSi was a performance version of the New Beetle, built from 2001 to 2003. There were only 250 units produced, all in left hand drive. They were powered by VW’s narrow angle 3.2-litre V6, with outputs of 165kW and 317Nm. Drive was sent to all four wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. Other performance extras included a big whale-tail wing, 18-inch OZ Racing Superturismo wheels with 235/40 profile tyres, unique front and rear bumpers, flared guards, rear cross brace, Remus sports exhaust and modified suspension. Inside was trimmed in carbon fibre and billet aluminium, with Recaro racing bucket seats fitted as standard. The 0-100 km/h sprint was achieved in 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 230 km/h was achievable.
Although the car was a unique sight on the race track, its best result was finishing third overall in the 2001 Australian GT Production Car Championship, driven by Tim Leahey. Interestingly, one of the cars used in this championship was used in the Modern Competition of the 2002 Targa Tasmania, driven by Paul Stokell.