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Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Racer: A Nürburgring Triumph

Published June 5, 2024 at 10:30
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Here's what Volkswagen's Golf GTI Clubsport 24h racer feels like to drive
Volkswagen's Golf GTI Clubsport recently achieved a class win at the Nürburgring 24 hours event with Max Kruse Racing.

We talked to Nicholas Otto, one of the team's drivers, for insights.

Volkswagen's Golf GTI Clubsport achieved a class win at the Nürburgring 24 hours, impressing with its performance and mechanical grip. This test bed for future racing Golfs shows promise.

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The Golf GTI Clubsport at Nürburgring 24 Hours

Last weekend, Volkswagen officially unveiled the new Golf GTI Clubsport, which features very few changes. But behind the scenes, a one-off version was being worked on night and day for the last four and a half weeks to create a bare-knuckle, 343bhp racer. The aim was to act as a test bed for future racing Golfs at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. However, VW couldn't have predicted how well the car would perform in the face of an apparent baptism of fire.

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Though the race was cut short after just over seven hours due to a thick blanket of fog, the Golf, run by Max Kruse Racing, finished 43rd overall with 44 laps completed at an average of just under 30mph. This also meant it won its ‘AT3' alternative fuel class, which included competitors like the BMW M4, Porsche 718 Cayman, and Toyota Supra GT4.

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The turbocharged 2.0-litre four-pot engine of the Golf may not be the most powerful in its group, but its strength lies in its mechanical grip. Weighing just 1,170kg and featuring a highly modified suspension setup, it makes marginal gains in each corner over its more powerful rivals.

Behind the Wheel: Nicholas Otto's Experience

To understand what it's like to drive this hotter-than-hot Golf, we spoke with Nicholas Otto, one of Max Kruse Racing's drivers during the N24.

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Out of the box, there's been no big set-up work and no big tests conducted. The car came here with about 50 kilometers on the odometer just over a month ago. We did some engine and gearbox applications at the official test facility, and took the car to Bilstein to develop the dampers for us before we made a few tow and camber adjustments ourselves.

When we finally got in and started testing the car a few days ago, we did a low-fuel run and found that we were several seconds quicker than some of our competitors. So for a car that's not even completely finished yet, this makes us want to work on it even more.

Otto, a regular at the Nürburgring, has extensive experience with rear-wheel drive cars. His transition to the front-wheel drive Golf was significant, yet he found the car remarkably enjoyable.


My first lap just a few days ago left me pretty amazed. You can really smash it around the corners and carry so much speed. The car rotates perfectly; one small turn-in leads to a perfect angle through corners. There's minimal wheel spin even at full throttle, so you can really send it.

During practice sessions, Otto found himself able to keep pace with the bigger GT3 cars, thanks to the Golf's exceptional grip.

It's all down to the grip. The level is so high and you can really work around it thanks to the mechanical differential. We're also running a fairly high preload on it to give us good traction. I have had very little time to learn the car, but it gives so much feedback and you've got so much trust in it that it has actually been quite easy to learn.

Looking ahead, Otto hopes for a future model based on the range-topping ‘R' and a full 24-hour race.Credit: Mondial
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June 5   |   1 answers
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Racer: A Nürburgring Triumph

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