Automania

DC gets a ride for 2005

It was almost starting to get embarrassing with poor old David Coulthard begging for a drive for 2005. However, it has now been revealed that Coulthard has signed with Red Bull Racing (formerly known as Jaguar Racing) for 12 months. This actually makes a huge amount of sense for both parties.

David Coulthard

While many of the Jaguar team have stayed on for 2005, they certainly need someone with a level head and experience in the driver’s seat. Coulthard may not be now ultimately as quick as Raikkonen was in 2004, but he certainly wasn’t slow. And he showed a great team spirit and never ‘gave up the ship’ the way Schumi Junior or Montoya did. And he is also a good ambassador for his team.

“What is important to me at this moment is that now I know I’m going to be racing with a competitive Formula One team in 2005,” Coulthard told the BBC. “Everything I’ve seen has been very, very positive, and with the developments I know the team has planned, things are looking good for 2005. We’ve got a lot of testing to do before the first grand prix in Australia in March, but know we can get the work done. I’m not going to make any silly predictions, except that we will be more competitive than many people think. I’m confident we’ll surprise more than a few people on the grid.”

Coulthard also said that he wanted to stay in F1 because that was what he liked doing best. He is a race driver, and gets his enjoyment from driving race cars. I can relate to that feeling very much. I still miss driving race cars and would hop in one tomorrow if there was one on offer!

Managing director of Jaguar/Red Bull, David Pitchforth is also feeling positive about the team’s prospects. “My big goal is to get us back on the track of building the team,” he said. I’d like to think we’re still in the fight there with Toyota and Sauber. The biggest thing that has affected the team has been the ability to hire the type of people we want in certain key roles. I want to build the team as far as getting those key positions filled.”

All very rah-rah stuff, but since Jaguar couldn’t get on the podium last year, even with a fired up Mark Webber behind the wheel, I doubt very much if 2005 will see much of a competitive effort, but he may as well have his goals, everyone does.

However, he did insist that contrary to popular belief Red Bull would not be giving the team unlimited funds and that they would work within a budget. “We’ve done a budget which is basically similar to previous ones because I want to make sure we build properly,” Pitchforth said. “I don’t want anyone to think we’re flush with money, but Red Bull are committed to doing a good job in Formula One and building the team year on year and eventually being in there to contend for race wins.”

Last year (2004, when Jaguar was being funded by FoMoCo) there was not enough cash in the piggy bank to get the car further up the grid, so Pitchforth’s comments do not bode all that good for the team. However, he did say, “So we’re going to have to increase the budget in some areas and in others see what happens to the sport.”

The bottom line is that you can expect to see Red Bull fighting tooth and nail with Jordan and Minardi.


How to stay upright on two wheels! Or move over Rossi!

Received this notification the other day, which will be of interest to all the Valentino Rossi fans out there. (If you don’t know who Valentino Rossi is, then skip this item!)

HighSideTours has announced the launch of its track day activities at the Bira International race circuit. The activities will be marketed to local and international riders of high performance sports bikes.

Valentino Rossi

Starting on January 18th 2005, HighSideTours will provide a three day all-inclusive package of riding and bike hire using Suzuki GSR 600/750 race prepared sports bikes. Bikes will also be provided for practicing wheelie and stoppie skills. (This I do need, as I am already proficient at falling off skills!)

As part of each day’s activities they will have a one hour session where riders will have a range of bikes to ride and compare and to allow for photo opportunities. At present these bikes are Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300, Ducati 996SPS, Yamaha Fazer 1000 and Honda CBR 929. Other bikes will be added as they become available. It is also hoped that some smaller bikes (125-150cc) will be made available for customers to ride during the event.

For more information, visit their website www.highside tours.com for more details on the day’s activities (English and German language only).

The launch event will be from January 18th-20th and will be attended by representatives of the biking press from the UK, Australia, and Germany, which will be the premier international markets.

As part of its desire to promote rider skill and safety in Thailand HighSideTours will also be sponsoring a three race series for bikes of 500cc and over. It is expected that up to 20 riders, both Thai and international will compete at the first round on January 20.

For more information about the event please contact Graham Knight 091190000 (English) or Unchalee Wisaed 022566770 (Thai).

Why motoring can be dull in Thailand

I am kept abreast of what is happening in other countries by some good friends who email me snippets of information. George Comino keeps tabs on what is happening in Australia (as well as our Down-under correspondent John Weinthal). However, it was George who sent over a piece reviewing the new cars of 2004 and what the testers thought of them.

Reading through the list was, quite frankly, depressing. Not that I have any beef with their choices, but rather with the lack of choices we get in Thailand. “Detroit of the East” says the sign as you drive into the Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate, but Optras, Isuzu D-Max and the Chevrolet Colorado and Ford Rangers don’t really cover the Detroit range!

For what it’s worth, here’s the (depressing) list from Oz.

Cheapie - the Hyundai Getz which we don’t gets! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself!)

Small - the new Golf diesel model. (Forget it. We’re still talking about the “new” Beetle, that’s almost ready to be pensioned off!)

Medium - the Aussies gave the nod to the Honda Accord Euro and Subaru Liberty. We get neither of these; our Accord is a different model.

Family Sedan - the new BA II Ford Falcon was the choice. (Here we get 20 versions of the Ford Ranger, leaving me totally underwhelmed!)

4WD SUV - no question here, Ford’s Territory is the goods say the lads down-under. (Sorry folk, but Ford doesn’t give us that one either - see my comments on the 20 Ford Rangers!)

Serious 4WD - the Toyota Prado, especially the diesel model. At last, one you can buy in Thailand - but the Prado will set you back about 3.5 million. Still interested?

Sports - the Mercedes 350 SLK wins hands down, said the Australian market. (Here you will get the SLK 200, so we’re half way there and costs 4.25 million as well!)

Luxury - their choice was the Audi 4.2-litre A8 Quattro, which is available here if you’ve got 13.5 million baht to spend.

People mover - in this category the Honda Odyssey got the nod. And it is available here too, thank you Mr. Honda, and it’s only 2.5 million, so almost affordable (as long as you’re not a journalist!).

Finally, Commercial vehicles - the award here went to any one of three Renaults - the Master, the Trafic and the Kangoo. If someone can tell me where the Renault showrooms are here, I’ll go and take a look at them!

But we do get the Toyota Vigo, the Isuzu D-Max and the Nissan Frontier. Yes, this is the wild west (or should that be the “wild east”?).


A late entry for the Autotrivia Quiz

I received a late entry (like about 12 months late) for one of the quiz questions from Stuart Penketh; however, he did append a little Ferrari history, which was interesting enough for me to include here.

Stuart wrote, “Throughout the 1920’s Ferrari spent a lot of time surrounding himself with his close collaborators, including Gioacchino Colombo (the man who would eventually design the first Ferrari car after masterminding the Alfa 158s) and former Fiat technician Luigi Bazzi.

Dr. Farina

Bazzi had joined Alfa Romeo in 1922 after a spell in Fiat’s experimental department, and would later become tagged as the man who conceived the fearsome twin-engined Alfa Romeo ‘Bimotore’ in the 1930’s.

The concept of the Scuderia Ferrari was originated during a dinner in Bologna during 1929. Co-founders of the team with Enzo Ferrari were the Ferrari-based Caniato brothers, Augusto and Alfredo (heirs to a textile fortune), and keen amateur racer Mario Tadini.

Ferrari fielded what amounted to the works Alfa Romeos during the 1930’s, but the team soon expanded to become what amounted to a small, autonomous division of the Alfa Company.

By 1940, Ferrari had manufactured a couple of eight cylinder, 1.5 litre sports cars, designed by former Fiat engineer Alberto Massimino, which were used to compete in the 1940 Mile Miglia and, although they carried no formal designation apart from ‘815’ standing for eight cylinders, 1.5 litres, they were widely and correctly regarded as the first Ferrari cars.

Ferrari’s first proper Formula One car was the Colombo-designed supercharged Ferrari 125 which made its debut in the Italian Grand Prix staged at Turin’s Valentino Park on 5th September 1948.”

Thank you for that, Stuart, though technically you are not correct referring to Formula One in 1948, as the category did not exist until 1950, with the first race being at Silverstone on May 13th, in front of the British Royal family. Ferrari, in fact, did not even compete at the inaugural F1 Grand Prix. This event was won by Dr. Nino Farina in the Alfa Romeo. Incidentally, he was 44 years old at the time. The second F1 GP was held at Monaco one week later and this was won by Fangio, who was a mere lad at 38 years of age!


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week, I mentioned that the first company in the United States to produce petrol engined motor cars was set up by two brothers in 1894. I asked who were they? This should have been easy - they were Charles and Frank Duryea. A prototype Duryea won the Times-Herald race in November 1895 at an average speed of a little under eight miles per hour, but regular production did not start until 1896.

So to this week. In South Australia, if you find an old car built before 1930, the chances are that it will be partially dismantled. What is the reason for this? Clue - think of government regulations!

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]

Good luck!