Cars and their racing stars

When Mazda dropped us a line about the MX-5 GT, it’s racing car version of the world’s best-selling two-seat sports car, we spent quite a while browsing the website to check out how the car was doing in competition.

It turns out well, the MX-5 GT has had a couple of podium finishes on the track in recent weeks and with a striking green racing colour scheme, it certainly looks the part.

And it got us thinking. What are the most exciting track and racing cars around at the moment that owe their existence to the humble cars displayed on Perrys forecourts the length and breadth of the country?

We’ve delved into the world of racing to find three of the best:

Mazda MX-5 GT

One of the most recent race cars to be based on a production car, the Mazda MX-5 GT is an obvious choice for the manufacturer.

This is because the lightweight roadster is renowned for superb handling and a sporty drive as a production car. Throw in a new, stronger shell, tweaks to the suspension and gearbox, along with roll bars and a reduction in weight to just 850kg and you have yourself a superb track car.

A top speed of 160mph is quick, and acceleration is an equally impressive 0-60mph in three seconds. This all comes from a modified 275bhp engine and a six-speed sequential paddle shift gearbox.

The racing version competes in the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship 2011, but road worthy versions of the Mazda MX-5 start from just £17,990 on-the-road for a soft top or £19,990 for the roadster coupe.

Citroen DS3 WRC

The Citroen DS3 supermini has won a number of top design awards and was even voted Top Gear’s Car of the Year thanks to its attractive styling, fun driving dynamics and upmarket feel.

So it is the fitting basis for the new Citroen DS3 WRC – the car driven by World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb. Loeb has won seven titles in a row, so it is fitting he has been given the stylish new wheels for this season.

The rally car is fitted with a 1.6-litre turbo engine from BMW – a long way from the entry-level engine available in the road car range which is so green it is eligible for free UK road tax and exemption from the London congestion charge.

Loeb’s Citroen DS3 WRC is currently leading the rally standings and UK drivers can buy the standard version in the UK from £12,405.

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

The terms ‘Ford’ and ‘RS’ should conjure up images of sporty hot hatches that are virtually unmatched by rivals.

The 301bhp Ford Focus RS and limited edition 500 RS were huge hits for the manufacturer last year, and the Ford Focus RS WRC was not far behind in being revealed by the Blue Oval.

This is their chance to end Citroen’s dominance of the World Rally Championship and with a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, sporty tweaks including that large rear spoiler, it is set to push its French rival closer than ever.

The standard Ford Fiesta is one of the most popular cars in the UK thanks to its comfortable but responsive drive, high levels of equipment and build quality. Prices for the road going Fiesta start from £9,995.