Mike Stevens | Mar 25, 2011

Lexus Australia has released a pair of videos that show the competitors in this year's F1 Grand Prix Celebrity Challenge coming to grips with the trials of the track.

The new clips follow the announcement in January of the return of the Celebrity Challenge to this week's Australian F1 Grand Prix in March. Taking to the track in the starring metal-grinding role will be its brand-new CT 200h hybrid hatch - 27 of them no less.

And, as well as marking its return from a two-year hiatus, this year's Celebrity Challenge will also be the first hybrid-only race in the world.

This year will also be the first time Lexus has been involved with the event, with the CT 200h replacing the Fiat 500.

The race will offer two opportunities to win: one celebrity driver will take the top podium step for an outright win, while another will win the new Le Mans-inspired 'Index of Efficiency', based on efficient fuel use during the race.

"The CT 200h is a fun yet frugal sports luxury hybrid hatch. The Celebrity Challenge gives Lexus the ability to demonstrate that hybrids can be fun to drive - while still being environmentally conscious," Lexus Australia's Peter Evans said.

"In fact, the CT 200h has the unique ability to change its driving characteristics to suit Sport or ECO driving requirements - we call it 'two modes, two moods'," he added.

Mr Evans also said that 24 cars will be piloted by celebrities, with the remaining three cars to be split between dealer principals and one lucky CT 200h buyer.

Modifications to the cars will be minimal, consisting mainly of a roll cage, racing seat, racing harnesses, bonnet pins and a partially stripped interior. The engine, drivetrain, suspension and brakes will remain standard.

The F1 Grand Prix will also be the venue for the CT 200h's local launch, so watch for Tony O'Kane's 'first drive' review of the new small car.

Linking the hybrid-driven Celebrity Challenge to the headline act, the 2011 F1 Championship will also see the return of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) to F1 cars, capturing and storing braking energy for later use.

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