With a motor sport heritage dating back to 1924 the MG marque was an obvious choice in 2000 to spearhead an ambitious competition programme to promote the newly formed MG Rover Group. Four years on, the company has further enhanced its sporting and engineering reputation with successes in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) and World Championship Rallies (WRC) and at the same time has introduced a world-class high performance sports car – the MG XPOWER SV.
MG EX 257-Lolas running in the lightweight LMP 675 prototype class made an immediate impact at Le Mans , not least for their striking team colours of XPOWER grey and fluorescent green. Very fast right from the off, the nimble MG’s were progressively developed until realising their full potential with an emphatic win in the 2003 American Le Mans Series LMP 675 championship. The BTCC is one of the world’s toughest and most competitive race series, yet MG Sport & Racing, despite having only a modest budget, has enjoyed race wins and fastest laps each season since first entering the championship in 2001, confirming that the MG ZS is one of the finest sporting saloons available.
In rallying, the MG ZR made the news at international level with a fine first and second in the standard showroom GpN class in the 2003 Wales Rally GB, the UK round of the World Rally Championship (WRC). Completing such a gruelling rally at all was a big achievement when most of the cars cost twenty times as much as the little ZR and half the field failed to finish.
At grass roots level, the ZR is the mainstay of the innovative MG Rally Scholarship. The scheme is a joint venture between MG Rover dealers, local newspapers and MG Sport & Racing to find a future British Rally Champion. In this first year, six Midlands newspapers ran competitions inviting 18-25 year olds with no previous motor sport experience to win a drive in a works MG rally car. Twenty winners from each area were selected from the hundreds of entries to spend a day at Silverstone Rally School driving MG ZR rally cars with guidance from professional rally instructors. After a series of tests, of fitness, communication, co-ordination and, of course, driving skills, six winners were chosen to compete in an eight round rally championship to compete for the really big prize, a drive in a pukka works rally MG ZR as driven by former British Champion Gwyndaf Evans.
As might be expected from its recent history, MG sport & Racing,s target for 2004 and beyond is altogether more ambitious. The company now intends to translate its many sporting achievements into commercial success with its MG XPOWER brand, whilst still maintaining a varied and exciting competition programme. Leading the way in this latest venture is the jewel in its crown, the “race car for the road”, the stunning MG XPOWER SV. The 4.6-litre, 320hp V8 engined sports car featuring a unique carbon fibre body bonded to a race-car inspired chassis was introduced in November last year and a new, higher powered version, the 5.0-litre SV-R, takes pride of place on the MG XPOWER stand at the Birmingham Motor Show at the NEC.
MG Sport & Racing is also expanding the MG XPOWER brand to include performance and customising parts, allowing thousands of the brand’s loyal supporters the chance to personalise their MG’s. A new range of merchandise and MG XPOWER versions of the mainstream MG cars, starting with the MG ZR-X, first revealed to wide acclaim at the Autosport International in January and shown again at the NEC in an evolved form is further proof that competition improves the breed and that MG is leading the way.