Jaguar XKR: Jaguar's XKR gets ready to rumble

GT3 racer to compete against Aston in European Championship

The planned disposal of Aston Martin from the Ford portfolio is having the interesting side- effect of removing the ‘glass ceiling’ from over the head of Jaguar, and the first evidence of the company’s newfound freedom, previously denied it for fear of clashing with its stablemate, is this, the Jaguar XKR GT3 race car.

It’s being prepared by Apex Motorsport, led by Richard Lloyd, and will compete in the FIA GT3 European Championship – where it will lock horns with the existing Aston Martin teams. The most evocative confrontation between the two British companies will be at Le Mans.

Buckingham-based Apex is hoping that the shakedown tests of the XKR GT3 will be completed by the end of the year, with the expectation that the car will move on to its official FIA testing procedure in early 2007. The car is due to make its public debut in the support race to the Australian Grand Prix in March.

The XKR’s aluminium structure is said to work in its favour in its conversion to a race car, not only because of its lightness, but also because of its excellent rigidity, a feature further improved by the addition of a roll-cage.

The arrival of the GT3 could clear the path for a more extreme road-going XKR. Jaguar has long toyed with the idea of an XKR-R, a 500bhp+ supercoupe to really take on the likes of Ferrari, but that would also have meant brawling with Aston. With Aston off to pastures new, the final impediment to a Jaguar with proper bite will disappear.

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