Category Archives: Brave New World

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Caspian Full Strength

There have been many attempts to bring motor sport to new markets, some more successful than others and this weekend sees the latest in the line. The City Challenge is kicking off in the centre of Baku, taking racing to the people of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Peter “Pedro” May is on duty for DSC and DDC, here is a first glimpse at the proceedings. Featuring drivers such as Sniff Petrol favourite, Jacques Villeneuve, in the feature race plus a drifting display and historic F1, the event will hopefully be the first of many such happenings.

John Brooks October 2012

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

The news from Baltimore leads to the conclusion that ALMS is being taken over by Grand Am, so maybe we will once again see proper sportscars on the Daytona banking. It is a seductive thought…………..ten years gone.

John Brooks, September 2012

Bolognese Sauce

Disco Volante?

Earlier this month I paid a visit to the Bologna Motor Show. While not on the scale of Paris or Frankfurt, nor with the slew of product launches that Geneva gives us each year, Bologna’s automotive display is well worth the time and attention of the average petrol head…….like me for instance. OK not all the exhibits work, a Disco Ball Smart? Nightmare Fever indeed.

FFX FFS!

Of course Northern Italy is FIAT/Ferrari/Alfa Romeo/Maserati/Lancia territory, so a whole hall was reserved for the fine automobiles from this venerable collection of Old Masters. As might be expected it was about the busiest hall of them all.

Style?

Proudly displayed was God’s answer to those with too much money…….a $2 million car that you pay for but can only drive on special days that are approved by Ferrari, with others who have have passed the filthy lucre test. Oh, and not on public roads……wear the myth, live the dream indeed.

EVO

Another piece of  glorious excess from Ferrari was unveiled at Bologna in the shape of the 599XX EVO, lighter, more powerful and faster than the 599XX, a rocket that managed to beat the seven minute mark round the Nordschleife……………so plenty of oomph. This Ferrari has go as well as show.

For those with 6.58 to spare you can see the lap on board HERE

458 Mate

More conventional was this brace of 458 Italias celebrating GTE success in 2011.

Class

Understatement and elegance were the qualities found at Maserati’s stand. Modena’s finest now producing some of most desirable cars available. Two or Four doors they are the automotive equivalent to the cut and style of Italian Tailoring. We could all look like George Clooney in one of these……errr maybe not.

Butch

The FIAT 500 has been a great success, even if it is more than a tad cutsie for my taste. Fortunately help is on hand with Abarth’s take on the supermini. I could be seen in one of these.

4Ceable Future?

Alfa Romeo’s stand was something of a disappointment, there being no sign of the gorgeous new 4C, so I had to make do with this instead. As can be seen the cars on display in the hall all had a “niece” as an optional extra, nice of the Italian car companies to help with the youth unemployment figures and the fostering of closer relations between the generations.

Dindo’s Delight

Perhaps the next biggest presence at Bologna came from the VW Group, reinforcing their aim of being the Numero Uno in the motoring universe and soon. Like FIAT they too had a full complement of nieces to stop the enthusiastic public getting too close to the cars.

Hall of Fame

The VW exhibition also had a hall to itself.

Topless

And more nieces…….

Up Swing

A new VW, well new to me at least, the up!, was in yet another location…………more budget….and more nieces………..nice car, terrible branding………….lower case and an exclamation mark……………gosh, the marketeers’ equivalent of photographers tilting the bloody camera and wearing silly hats. How cutting edge and kool!

‘Allo, ‘Allo

One member of the VW extended family that was not much in evidence on the stands was Lamborghini; however being Italy of course the cops brought along a Gallardo…………

Show Me The way To Go Home

One of the oddest stands was one promoting the Autostrada network……………why?

Outside of the Box

More innovation at the Show from BlowCar……………..as the blurb went:

BlowCar, which appears to be a direct competitor (to electric cars) chose the Bologna Motor Show to reveal the prototype of their vehicle announced with a concept car by Dario Di Camillo (former designer at Fiat and President of BlowCar) several years ago.
The BlowCar will be available in light quadricycle (leggero) limited to 45kph or heavy quadricycle (pesante) speed up to 100kph, and with three engines, diesel (Lombardini 442cc), hybrid or electric.
Four trim levels will be available in December 2012: BlowEva, BlowSugar, BlowEco, BlowJeans and finally BlowRoad a convertible version to be revealed later.
The body of the BlowCar is made of inflated rubber panels, this technique provides a very light material, inexpensive, rigid with higher shock absorbing qualities than those we knew until then!
With a weight of only 350kg Leggero, fuel economy is  announced from 2l/100km for the hybrid and 3l for the classic version…


Shakes Head

Obviously the commercial vehicle should be known as the Job, might be very popular. Well they laughed at Frankie Howerd…………

Sweets For My Sweet

More oddities, this time from Isuzu, a Haribo themed pick up………..a hit with the under-five segment…or something more sinister?

Purple Rain

And getting in touch with your inner FunkFather…………..dig the rims………..Man.

Bercow

And just in case you did not get down that day, we’ll play it again, this time with sign language…….as you will be deaf after this lot.

Door Stop

There was a concept car from Ford, someone got into the medicine chest methinks.

Follow My Leader

And a Mercedes Benz pace car leads Michael, how very 2011.

Yellow Peril

There was a hall for Luxury Cars. Not sure about this lapse in taste from Bentley, normally a safe pair of hands.

The End Of The Road

The Maybach may have looked imposing but was a commercial failure and will be quietly dropped in 2013. More motoring vanity from the Top.

What’ll She Do, Mister?

As old as motoring, kids posing with sportscars; two lucky lads grip and grin with a Pagani………….dreams are made of such days.

il Tricolore

Something that says more about me than the Bologna Show was that the cars I most wanted to see were virtually all in the Icon Hall. That is not to say that there was much wrong with the new stuff, but much of it is blandtastic…………..or maybe I am just old.

Junior

Just to prove that the cars do not have to be Concepts or Supercars, one of my all time favourites, a Guilia GTA Junior, what ever was in the water in Arese (probably wine) made the whole operation really special duing the 60’s.

Lounge Lizard

Blandtastic is not an expression that could ever be associated with the finest from Alfa Romeo T33 concept cars  such as the Iguana…find out more about this concept car HERE

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Or the Carabo concept………….more about this concept HERE

T33

Then there is the Pininfarina Coupes HERE, although I have not done justice to the impact of the car in the awful lighting.

Freccia Rosso

More Magic from Alfa’s Museo Historico, a 158 Alfetta dating back to 1940….Wouter once again………HERE

Pininfarina

OK I have left my favourite till last, this Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Pininfarina Coupe is almost beyond words,  elegance and style do not come close to giving the full description of this automotive art.

Twin Light

Once again the young Dutch Master is on the pace HERE . I featured a sister car dating from 1942 and from Bertone on DDC a bit earlier during the year HERE .
So a successful show and to complete my look at Bologna 2011 I post a gallery of the official images below, plenty of action and plenty of nieces.
John Brooks, December 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ground Control To Major Tom

Rose Tinted?

It has been common knowledge amongst those who follow motor sport that there are more than a fair share of space cadets involved at every level.

Well, now we have the genuine article………..Tom Coronel has signed up for some form of Dutch Space Travel…..sounds like a very complicated position………….I wonder if we will see it illustrated at some stage in Gentlemens’ Trophy?

He is leaving no room for doubts: “This is what I have always wanted!” During the Millionair Fair in Amsterdam, 39-year old Tom Coronel signed a contract with SXC Space Expedition Curacao’s Michiel Mol to become one of the 100 ‘founder’ astronauts to travel into space in 2014, among others with model Doutzen Kroes and DJ Armin van Buuren.

Can You Hear Me Major Tom?

John Brooks, December 2011

A big thank you to David Lister for Tom’s portrait and for tipping me off about this project.

 

Chinese Burn – Part One

 

 

 

 

The final ever round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup will be held in a week or so at Zhuhai, next year the competition will be called the FIA World Endurance Championship. At the sharp end the titles are settled, so one might assume that things should be relaxed between Peugeot, the Champs, and Audi, the Le Mans’ winners. I somehow doubt this, proud teams such as represent the French and German manufacturers hate to lose, it is not in their DNA, as the phrase goes.

Golden Girls?

A question then that the protagonists, if not the average fan, will know the answer to. Leaving aside the 24 Hours of Le Mans for 2010 and 2011, when was the last time that Audi beat Peugeot in a straight fight? Unbelieveably you have to go back to Sebring 2009 when TK, Dindo and Nishy took the R15 to début win. That will be almost three years ago unless Audi takes the top spot next week. If this were a boxing match Audi would have counted out on a TKO.

Three years, 12 races and over 100 hours of competition; standing on the rickety photo stand at Sebring back then grabbing these podium shots, what odds would you have got on that forecast?  How has this dry run happened and how do Audi break this pattern and resume their rightful place on equal terms with their French opponents?

Diesel Drama

After the disappointments and failures of 2007 and 2008 Peugeot decided enough was enough. A new season and a new boss, Olivier Quisnel, sharpened their approach. Marketing distractions, like Jacques Villeneuve were dropped and Peugeot were honest enough to admit that they had to learn from the Top Dogs, Audi.

Candid Camera

I remember Allan McNush telling me that at Sebring, a camera crew from Peugeot had recorded every Audi pit stop, “I always waved at them”.

Carambolage

Whatever Peugeot learned from their home movies seemed to work, excepting this monumental folly. Naturally it was all the fault of the photographers and not the mob standing around oblivious………………

Sunrise

Peugeot were brilliant that weekend in Le Mans and it was Audi who always seemed to be on the backfoot. The R15 was something of a disappointment and the 908 always seemed to have pace to spare. Peugeot resembled their national rugby team when on song, almost unbeatable in that mood.

Scotch Mist

As if to reinforce the point that balance of power had shifted to the West, Peugeot even went after Audi across the Atlantic chasing them to Road Atlanta and Petit Le Mans.

A typically forthright start by McNish, who else, and a storming first stint nearly put the lead Audi a lap up. A safety car period put a stop to that and it was game on once again between the diesel rivals.

Blow, Ye Winds, and Crack Your Cheeks

This time there was a third contestant in the race, the appalling weather. No matter what Audi did it was matched by Peugeot whose confidence was sky high after the victory at La Sarthe.

Slip Sliding Away

It was Audi who cracked, a couple of minor spins as a result of aquaplaning, put the French at the front.

At The Car Wash

Then the race was first stopped, then abandoned. I was happy enough, carrying round a big lens or two supported by a metal pole in the middle of an electrical storm was probably not the cleverest thing to do.

So another win for Peugeot. Audi skipped the next confrontation at Sebring, they needed more time to develop the R15+………most of us were not convinced. There is nothing quite like racing around Sebring for 12 Hours to pinpoint any weaknesses in the team or cars.

Allez Les Blues

The next contest at Spa seemed to confirm the impression that Peugeot would beat Audi at Le Mans. Peugeot won at a canter leaving the Audis struggling. It was a bit of a confused race with the farce of the timing screen failing after a power cut. The race was halted while the problem was sorted…..’tis whispered that someone had forgotten to fill the emergency generators….never in Belgium said I.

View From The Top

The run up to the 24 saw Peugeot grabbing the first two rows on the grid, it looked as if it could be a really long race for Ingolstadt’s finest

Blue Train

The first hour or so of the contest confirmed that Audi had no answer for the French pace.

Part Two Tomorrow

John Brooks, November 2011

 

 

 

 

The Power Game – A New World Order

It has been a generally held assumption in our business that the pinnacle of international motorsport is Formula One. Messrs Ecclestone, Mosley and the FIA have managed to convince most of the major motor manufacturers in the past twenty years that Grand Prix racing is the only game in town worth playing. This fable was held on to tightly by those who were not really seeing any success on the track despite the mountains of cash that they burned in pursuit of victory. The financial crisis of recent past changed the rules, even the largest organisations were forced to examine and genuinely evaluate all of their expenditures. Honda, Toyota, and eventually BMW, all looked at the return that they were getting from their F1 programmes and all reached the same conclusion, quit.

Whatever questionable benefits these brands were getting from the halo effect of being part of the culture of prestige, glamour and excitement that is 21st Century F1, was eradicated by the consistently poor performance of the teams that represented them, anyone could see that the cars were dogs.

Entering into the second decade of this century the priorities of motor manufacturers engaged in competition are changing fast. Power, performance and victory will always be a part of the motorsport mix but now other factors are in play. Sustainability, efficiency and economy are increasingly the primary motivators beyond that basic need for success in the sport. Even in defeat the brands are looking for a return on their investment, the simple formula of Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday does not hack it anymore.

These underlying trends go some way to explaining why Endurance and Sportscar racing should be heading for another golden age. As ever the principle “follow the money” will give a reliable compass point to the direction that we headed.

Modern day Grand Prix racing, with its proposed V6 turbo petrol technology and tightly specified rulebook, cannot provide the platform for manufacturers to achieve their extended objectives. In addition the old arguments of brand values being enhanced by proximity to F1’s prestige, glamour and excitement have been discredited, so where to go?

Perhaps the first question is why competition, why not just pure research? Major players like Volkswagen and Toyota have annual road car development budgets that are measured in the billions, Dollars, Euros, Yen, it matters not. There is enormous global pressure to introduce new technologies to answer the issues of reducing the dependence on fossil fuels and to cut emissions significantly.

At the end of July US President Obama announced an agreement with a broad coalition of motor manufacturers and other interested parties to dramatically increase fuel economy and reduce pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in the United States in the period from 2017 to 2025. The new standards call for incremental improvements each year in fuel efficiency to achieve a 2025 target of 54.5 mpg – almost a 100% increase on the 2011 requirements. Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced to 163 grams per mile, approximately 50% of the current position. These are major changes and provide a huge challenge to the car industry. Where America goes, the European Union and the rest of the world will surely follow. It is held that competition is a sure fire way of fast tracking that process, diverting a small proportion of the road car budgets into the competitive arena will bring disproportionate benefits, well that’s the theory.

How all of these strands link into the direction that endurance racing is headed is now beginning to become clear. From 1950 to 1992 there was a FIA sanctioned World Championship for sportscars and long distance racing. Why that stopped is a topic for another day, but since that time the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), custodians of Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans, have steered their own course, largely pulling the rest of sportscar racing in their wake. Relations between the FIA and the ACO improved after the departure of the choleric FIA President Jean Marie Balestre, who engaged in outright warfare with the ACO during the final years of the World Championship. Max Mosley, who succeeded the Frenchman as head of the FIA was much more concerned with Formula One battles and largely left the ACO to get on with re-building endurance racing.  This restoration was essential as the great race was nearly bankrupt, a direct consequence of the rules introduced by the FIA in the final years of the World Championship. This created the perfect storm of a vastly reduced number of entries together with the substantial costs of building a new pit and paddock complex and making changes to the Mulsanne Straight in the form of chicanes.

Last year a new FIA President, Jean Todt, was elected. Best known for managing multiple F1 Championships at Ferrari, Todt was, before that, head of Peugeot Sport during their years of triumph in the World Rally Championship and also during their two victories at Le Mans. Todt’s style since his elevation has been to eschew the confrontational approach favoured by his predecessors; he has kept a much lower profile too.  He has tried to unify the FIA and the sport in the face of the growing threats to the very existence of such activities. Todt has also built on the worthy initiatives of Max Mosley to expand the remit of the FIA to promote road safety worldwide and to engage with the various government bodies on green issues and sustainability.

Under encouragement from Audi and Peugeot, the ACO created a new competition for 2011, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, which was in reality a new world championship. Of course that designation cannot be used without sanction from the FIA, so it was not hugely surprising to see the presence of Jean Todt at this year’s Le Mans pre-race press conference. Nor was the announcement of the FIA World Endurance Championship for 2012, which will be run by the ACO in a partnership with the FIA. Peace in our time then, let bygones be bygones, honeyed words between the principals with Todt leading the chorus.

“For several years there has been collaboration between the ACO and the FIA, but this needs to be closer. An Endurance Commission will be set up at the FIA, involving manufacturers, privateers and the ACO. A working group will be put in place, their proposals to be approved by the FIA.”

So we have a World Championship for Endurance racing once more, but why now? What has prompted this sudden betrothal? The answer lies somewhere near the Corleone family strategy, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” This is a marriage of convenience; The ACO needs World Championship status to attract manufacturers and it also needs the political influence of the FIA with those making the regulations that the manufacturers will have to comply with in the coming decades. The manufacturers want a platform that offers both technological and marketing benefits. The FIA wants to follow the money and keep some nominal control over what promises to be a very significant part of the motorsport world.
2012 will see the new Championship emerge with races in Europe (Le Mans 24, Spa and Silverstone?), America (Sebring and Brazil? Petit Le Mans?) and Asia (Zhuhai and Japan?). These races will all be of six hours duration (except Le Mans and Sebring) and will feature the usual multiple classes with trophies being awarded for Manufacturers’ Endurance World Champion, Drivers’ Endurance World Champion (both for LM P1) GTE World Cup Pro, FIA GTE AM (both for LM GTE but no drivers’ category), FIA LMP2 and the FIA Trophy for the best private team – open to all categories. So a contest aimed squarely at manufacturer participation but run broadly along the lines of the status quo. To figure out why this should be attractive to other parties not presently involved, the future has to be the answer.
There are a new set of regulations being drawn up at present, scheduled to be introduced for the 2014 that will provide the framework to transform endurance racing into the platform that will encourage technological development. The aim will be to limit the amount of energy available for each car with all starting from an equal point. There will be no restriction on hybrid technology systems that will recycle the energy produced and not utilised by the engine. If one considers that even the most efficient petrol engine used in current road cars is only utilises 20-30% of the petrol’s energy in driving the rear wheels. The rest of the energy is consumed in thermal or frictional losses or when the vehicle is ticking over at rest. Clearly there are big gains to be made if the right technologies can be employed. That is the Holy Grail that the new World Endurance Championship offers.

There are three manufacturers competing in the LMP1 class at present, in reality only Audi and Peugeot are likely to have the resources and financial firepower to go to the brave new world, Aston Martin are not. It has been officially announced that Porsche will return to the top class with a form of petrol hybrid. This has led commentators to assume that Audi will leave the endurance arena, the logic runs that the bean counters will not allow such duplication of effort, and more importantly budget. My sources from Germany disagree with this obvious conclusion, saying that after the victory at Le Mans this year, Audi have been given the green light to compete in the Great Race for the foreseeable future.

Why these conflicting messages? The answer lies in the determination of the Chairman of the VW Board, Ferdinand Piech, to accelerate the pace of development of alternative power technology and other fuel efficiency measures. Ruthless by reputation, this highly talented engineer is arguably the Ultimate Car Guy and sees that for Volkswagen to meet its primary objective of being the world’s leading motor manufacturing group, in the face of the proposed changes to fuel consumption and emissions, radical measures are necessary. The logic runs that two approaches along different lines will fast track the optimal solutions. Few would bet against the mercurial Piech getting his way, as those who have opposed him in the past have found to their cost. As if to support this pan-VW assault on the WEC, comes the news that the new Chairman of Bentley, Wolfgang Dürheimer, wants to take the brand back to the tracks, Bentley Boys anyone?

Which other manufacturers are looking to join this trio of heavyweights? The answer would appear to lie in the East. Toyota have announced a programme for 2012 incorporating hybrid technologies. Certainly there is a sense of unfinished business in respect of the Japanese company and the Le Mans 24 Hours. They could also do with a rebuilding of their reputation, publically battered in the blizzard of US Congressional Hearings in 2010, as a result of road safety issues.

Nissan are also looking seriously at a full blown attempt on the FIA WEC. However the tsunami back in March has derailed these intentions and may end up leading to a delay or postponement of the plans, time will tell. Persistent stories are found in the media of Jaguar, now owned by Indian conglomerate, Tata, commissioning a Le Mans project. Some say with Williams Grand Prix, who took BMW to victory in 1999.

All of which ties explains the unlikely union of the FIA and the ACO at this point in time. Big budget projects with a complicated technological package will result from this initiative and both parties feel the need to involve the other. The face of Endurance racing will be fundamentally changed and hopefully so will the world of road cars and personal transport.

 

John Brooks, October 2011

GT-R GT3 – Return of Godzilla

The Blancpain Endurance Series round held at Magny Cours last weekend saw the debut of yet another brand to join this class, Nissan.

Power and Glory

This GT-R has a proper V6 Turbo engine, not the pick up truck V8 that is found in the current GT1 racer.  JR Motorsport were understandably modest in their expectations, billing their maiden appearance as a public test session.

New Kids On The Block

The GT-R, driven by David Brabham and Richard Westbrook, had a dream debut finishing 8th overall. To put that into context, one only has to contrast that result with the two retirements suffered by the other new boys, McLaren. GT3 is an intensively competitive arena but it is clear that the established brands will be pushed hard by the newcomers.

GT3 in 2012 just became even more interesting.

John Brooks, August 2011

MERGERS and ACQUISITIONS

Motorsports has its own language, just as does the other endeavors of mankind. So why, then, am I having to learn and deal with the language of the financial world when it comes to racing? The obvious answer, of course, is money: the ingredient without which neither motorsport, nor the rest of the planet would function, or even exist.

Anyone want to sit on my boat?

 

 

Clearly, the basis for Formula One is more greed than sport; a fact that might sadden and frustrate F1’s fans and true believers, but reality nevertheless. The sandbox that is sports car racing is perhaps less obviously based on greed. However, it too is financially driven these days as manufacturers increasingly are turning to it as a viable marketing tool not only to promote what is built now, but the technologies of the future which will reshape not only the sport, but the automotive industry itself.

Heavy Metal

 

America, where Detroit continues to try and rebound from the monetary crisis of 2008, there is less emphasis on performance than there has been in the past, the U.S. public more concerned with gas mileage than horsepower. Nevertheless, the real issue facing the Michigan-based manufacturers is their size and influence within the industry itself. With Chrysler now owned by Fiat, and General Motors having been forced to cut its brands down to just three to survive; only Ford remains a true global automotive powerhouse. However, there’s no need to worry for there is another global giant building up a head of steam in Europe, name Volkswagen.

Flying Start

 

Conceived by Hitler to provide Beetles to the German masses, the Volkswagen Group now embraces such prestigious brands as Bugatti, Porsche, Audi and Bentley, not to mention Lamborghini in its portfolio. And, it is this wealth which, friends and neighbors, leads us to the motorsports dilemma now facing VAG.

Racing Green?

 

 

Although the Italian nameplate has not won Le Mans’ Holy Grail, the other four marques have. Moreover, three of the remaining four could be in the running to do so again. However, those notorious bean counters are unlikely to allow Audi, Bentley and Porsche to compete for the same prize at the Sarthe, much less run against each other for a whole season. So, who goes where? That is the unanswered question.

When We Were Kings

 

 

Normally, it would be an interesting, maybe even a somewhat humorous discussion. However, in this case the future of the sports car competition universe could well hang in the balance. The reason for that is simple: the retrenchment by many of the participants on which the enclosed bodywork set of depended, particularly among the Japanese car makers, has drastically reduced the number of potential players down to just a few.

Vive La France

 

 

For the moment, only Peugeot appears committed to the sports car scene, with BMW perhaps moving to join the French manufacturer.  Two other likely candidates, Mercedes and Renault, are far more focused on F1, and will probably remain so. That leaves VAG’s Audi, Bentley and Porsche camps as the only resources for the two seat scene to draw on. But, what about Ferrari, you say? The Italians, in this case, likewise appear to want make F1 the mainstay of their motorsports efforts, providing only privateers oriented GTs machinery for the sports car arena.

Jump for Joy

 

 

So, who gets the brass ring at VAG? Is it Porsche, which needs, and has announced it will run a prototype at Le Mans in 2014; or will it be Audi, which, has, with the exception of 2003 and 2009, the latter occasion marking Peugeot’s only 24-Hour triumph in this century so far, has dominated at the Sarthe since the year 2000?  And, what about Bentley, which took the top prize at Le Mans in 2003, and which now, perhaps is ready to jump back into the fray? While it would be a tremendous boost to see all three fight it out, as we would put it in America, “it just ain’t going to happen folks.”

Wild Things Run Fast

 

 

Closing matters let me again introduce another possible scenario. Assuming that Porsche will take the lead at Le Mans, and assuming that Audi will continue in the German Touring Car Championship and with the R8 programs, could the be-ringed brand then follow Mercedes into F-1?  Perhaps? However, perhaps not. What if Bentley became VAG’s Formula One standard bearer and Audi returned to a rejuvenated rally arena where it could demonstrate the new automotive technologies now being developed just as it did with four-wheel-drive in the form of the Quattro during the first part of the 1980’s?

Some would suggest that all this is outlandish thinking on an old fart’s part. But, then again old farts have been known to occasionally get it right. In this case it is a case of “pays your money: takes your choice.”

Bill Oursler, August 2011

 

 

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

A  strange weekend, no racing for me, calm before the storms of the Le Mans and Nürburgring 24 Hours next month. So a chance to pause and reflect.

Gil Scott-Heron, RIP

 

 

The news came down the Mojo wire of the passing of Gil Scott-Heron. What does that have to do with motorsport? Nothing, but despite that I feel the need to mark this event with respect, he was a great Jazz Artist and Poet. There really “Ain’t No Such Thing As A Superman”.

Someone who is finding that out in a public way this year is Michael Schumacher, being constantly outpaced by Rosberg Junior at the Grand Prix tracks. However anyone who doubts the commitment of the Seven-time World Champion just needed to watch him wring the the neck of his Mercedes at Monaco yesterday during Qualifying. Fearless does not even get close. Like all the hot shoes the speed through the chicane at the Swimming Pool was staggering.

Mercedes Benz has a reputation for efficiency, amongst other things, and I have to say that their press site is one of the best out there. Daimler AG is rightly proud of their heritage and is happy to share it. So there are several pieces using their source material in the pipeline.

Daimler do not only hire top drivers, their photographers are first rate too. So here is a small selection of imagery from yesterday’s action on the shores of the Mediterranean.

I would like to have that stuff myself, but……………………………..

John Brooks, May 2011

Cat Out Of The Bag?

Before heading down the highway to Navarra last weekend, I stopped in at the El Salón Internacional del Automóvil de Barcelona. The Show was the usual concoction of desirable contemporary automobiles, but one item caught my eye.

I wondered into one of the pavilions, totally occupied by Nissan, then something out back attracted my attention. It was GT-R, a road car but decked out in the livery of the LMP2 team Signature Racing. They utilise a Nissan engine mated to an ORECA 03 chassis and race in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup under the banner Signatech Nissan.

The announcement of a GT3 racing version of the Nissan GT-R was made earlier this year. Not much was known about the project other there is an intention to début the car at the 2011 Spa 24 Hours and that it will be powered by a V6 turbo (not the V8 pickup truck engine that is used by the GT1 car). I got that tidbit from someone who really does know.

It has been assumed that the car would be run by Sumo/JR Motorsport on behalf of NISMO, as a development programme prior to selling the beasts to the discerning public. To be fair when I have asked the question, I have not been given a clue either way by the team.

However it seems strange that Signatech would go to the bother (and expense) of creating a livery and naming drivers if they had not some intention of racing something similar.

Maybe it was just promoting the tie up between Playstation and Nissan, Lucas Ordoñez, being something of a local hero. It was certainly a popular exhibit, even if inelegantly displayed on a flat bed.

My guess is that we will see one or more of the GT3 Nissans lined up at Spa or Magny Cours in this paint scheme.

This certainly adds to the feeling that the Spa 24 Hours, part of the new Blancpain Endurance Series, is a must-do event this summer.

John Brooks, May 2011