From historic Le Mans racers to cutting-edge Formula E cars, the Geneva show reminded us of how important motor racing is to car manufacturers
Matt Burt
7 March 2014

The adage 'win on Sunday, sell on Monday' is traditionally used to explain how important motor racing is to road car manufacturers.

From the dawn of the motor car, manufacturers such as Bugatti and Bentley have used competition as a tool to highlight the potency of the cars they construct.

However, the game has changed considerably over the years. In those formative years – indeed, all the way up until the 1970s – the saloon and sports cars on the world's most famous race tracks and rally stages were often derived directly from road machines.

Improvements in safety and increases in performance mean that today's motorsport vehicles often bear very little resemblance to the models customers can buy from their local dealership.

For example, your local Audi dealer isn't likely to offer you a tempting discount on Ingolstadt's RS5 DTM car anytime soon. So is modern motor racing less valid for the manufacturers? Quite the opposite, but the game has changed dramatically.

These days, motorsport is more of a marketing tool, offering manufacturers the opportunity to build the profile of their brands and raise the level of emotional attachment buyers have with their products. It's why Hyundai is competing in the World Rally Championship, conducting a high-speed global tour with an extreme version of its i20 hatchback.

Competing in modern-day motorsport also has technological advantages. The advent of hybridisation on road and track is enabling manufacturers such as Audi, Porsche and Toyota to conduct condensed research into areas such as battery longevity, electric motor performance and component packaging.

This year's Geneva motor show brought together classic racing cars and cutting-edge designs that reflected precisely why manufacturers continue to be attracted by racing and rallying. Here's our pick of the bunch. 

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