A few years ago Volkswagen Germany (ie HQ) pulled the plug on all official racing duties. Touring car activities, rallycross and WRC were all confined to the history books as the brand tackled electrification. However, the attraction was too much to resist and the GTI returns to race at the 2024 Nurburgring 24 Hours. Volkswagen is taking the opportunity to celebrate the GTI’s 50th birthday at the famous endurance event. The 24-hour race will start at the ‘Green Hell’ on 1 June, with more than 200 000 spectators expected.

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Special Racecars

Volkswagen has prepared some special racecars for the event. Three GTIs will compete in the 24-hour classic race before the main event. All three are Mk1 generation, classic Golf GTIs. The first car is a Golf GTI 16S Oettinger (Group 4) from 1981 that has an output of 153 kW. The second is a 1978 Golf GTI Kamei (Group 2) with 135 kW. The third is wrapped in the ‘50 years of Golf’ livery. The last car (pictured) is a 1980 year model from Group 2 also with 135 kW.

A Mk8 Golf GTI will compete in the main race that starts on Saturday 1 June. Fittingly, organisers have granted this car the race number ’50’. This one-off GTI has outputs of 256 kW/450 N.m. Its 2,0-litre turbocharged engine is powered by bioethanol fuel called E20. As a result the car will compete in SP3T, a class for vehicles using “alternative fuels”. VW stalwarts Benny Leuchter and Johan Kristoffersson will be tasked with the driving duties. They will be joined by two Nürburgring professionals Nico Otto and Heiko Hammel.

Click here to check out more VW GTI content on our website.

New ClubSport

Volkswagen is also taking the opportunity to present an all-new Golf GTI Clubsport to the public. This is a 50th birthday present to fans of the brand. The latest to carry this name is billed as the most powerful derivative to ever wear a GTI badge. Although VW has not yet made that figure public knowledge yet. The Mk7 GTI Clubsport S had 228 kW on tap, incidentally, it is one of the best FWD cars we have ever had the pleasure of driving. If we had to guess we’d say VW are targeting the 235 kW of the latest Civic Type R.

Click here to read about the stillborn GTI Spitze that was supposed to take on the mighty 325iS in local circuit racing.

Increased power aside, the latest Golf GTI Clubsport boasts a completely redesigned front, which you can see in the pic above. Other distinct changes include a large roof spoiler and new 19-inch ‘Queenstown’ alloy wheels. The cabin features a newly developed multifunction steering wheel and infotainment system. In addition, the latter has a new voice assistant IDA with Chat GPT integration.