Silly Season in Detroit brings out a monster!
The Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler is certainly
making sure it throws off any stuffy images, with its latest offering
seen at the Detroit Motor Show this month. The concept vehicle in
question is an 11.4 litre V16 Jeep.
Mind you, this is not a new V16, as the Hurricane
actually has two 5.7 litre V8’s, with one at each end! Featuring
Chrysler’s Multi-Displacement System (MDS), the Hurricane driver can
select four, eight, 12 or 16 cylinders, depending on the mood of the
moment. This is also a Jeep that can do the 0-100 clicks in under five
seconds, when using all 16 of the cylinders. Power is delivered
through a central transfer case and split axles via a mechanically
controlled four-wheel torque distribution system.
To add to the unique nature it also has a steering
rack at each end to give four wheel steering, and then some, with both
front and rear axles capable of extremes of steering lock. Forget the
four wheel steering brought out by Honda about 10 years back. This is
real four wheel steer.
In addition to skid-steer capability and toe steer
(the ability to turn both front and rear wheels inward), Hurricane
features two modes of automated four-wheel steering: a traditional
system in which front and rear wheels point in opposite directions to
reduce the turning circle and an off-road crab-steer mode in which all
four wheels turn in the same direction. Confused? You probably would
be, trying to control this monster!
The suspension is totally independent, front and
rear, with 50 cm of travel and the Hurricane has around 36 cm of
ground clearance. (That’s around 14 inches in the old money.)
is no chassis or floor pan, as the Hurricane’s one-piece
carbon-fibre body is used as a one piece unitary construction, with
suspension and powertrain(s) mounted directly to it, while an
aluminium spine runs underneath as a skid plate.
“Jeep Hurricane is simply the most manoeuvrable,
most capable and most powerful 4x4 ever built,” said Trevor Creed,
senior vice-president - Chrysler Group Design.
“It pays homage to the extreme enthusiasts’
Jeep vehicles in form and off-road capability, but is a unique
interpretation of Jeep design. Simply stated, it is the extreme
example for the Jeep brand,” he said.
It certainly is, Trevor. It certainly is!
Here comes the car
of the future
If Ford has read the signals correctly, we are in
for a fairly torrid future. The Ford Synus was released at the same
Detroit Motor Show as Chrysler’s Hurricane. While the Hurricane lets
you escape from pursuers, Ford’s attitude to terror on the roads is
to tough it out.
concept vehicle, called the Synus, resembles a miniature
Brambles-Brinks van, the size of a Daihatsu Mira, complete with
bullet-proof windows. Not only that, it has driver activated shutters
that come down over the windscreen and sidescreens. The rear hatch can
only be opened by a rotating dial, similar to a bank safe.
Synus, which stands for “synthesis urban sanctuary” is how Ford
believes we will get around the suburbs in 2010, sheltering from
dive-by shootings and car-jackings. Ford’s design chief, J Mays (and
that’s all you get from FoMoCo, so I have no idea whether he’s
John, Jack or Jonas) says, “Many people over the years have confused
small with fragile, and I said there is a difference between a small
poodle and a small bulldog. This (vehicle) certainly falls off the
fence, clearly on the side of the bulldog.”
The Middle East - the new motorsport centre of
While Europe, and in particular the UK, has long been thought
of as the centre of ‘pukka’ motorsport, that is now all changing. Nothing
emphasizes this as much as BMW, one of the great marques in sporting motoring
for scores of years has now opened a BMW Performance Center in Bahrain.
The BMW Performance Center Bahrain threw open its gates for
the first time at the Bahrain International Circuit in January this year, with
more than 40 junior racing drivers from all over Asia taking part in two
three-day events at the Gulf region’s most modern circuit - running a license
course and Scholarship Qualifying for aspiring Formula BMW Asia racers.
The aspiring drivers, some as young as 15, were first
introduced to the theoretical foundations of the art of motor racing at the
Formula BMW Racing Center Bahrain. They then had an opportunity to put their
freshly acquired insights into practice in ten brand new FB02 BMW Formula cars
churning out 140 bhp and a top speed of almost 230 kph.
The BMW Performance Center in Bahrain is a new home not only
for Formula BMW but also for BMW Driver Training. Starting in spring of 2005, a
variety of training courses will be on offer to all-comers. The range of cars
involved extends from the BMW 1 Series to the BMW M3, and the safety training
courses at varying levels of difficulty will be held within the Performance
Center as well as on the race track.
The circuit was designed by German architect Hermann Tilke.
It took only 16 months from the official start of construction in December 2002
to the inaugural race on 3rd April 2004 when it hosted the F1 Bahrain Grand
Prix, with the Formula BMW Asia being on the support programme.
“We are delighted to have won the Bahrain International
Circuit as a partner of the BMW Performance Center,” said BMW Motorsport
Director Mario Theissen. “The race track is brand-new and boasts first-rate
safety standards. The Gulf region, moreover, offers good climatic conditions in
winter as well.”
Formula BMW is the world’s leading entry-level class in
single seater racing. In 2005 the series will be held in Germany, Britain, Asia
and the USA. Up and coming drivers, as young as 15 years of age, are given the
opportunity of entering motor racing with the high-tech, FB02 race car.
In 2005, Formula BMW will be staged five times as part of the
Formula One support programme. Formula 1 drivers who have come through the ranks
of Formula BMW include Ralf Schumacher, Christian Klien and Timo Glock.
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen says, “Formula BMW
offers talented young drivers more than just a car. In the Education and
Coaching Programme we have designed specially for them, they learn everything
they need to know to hold their own in the big wide world of motor racing.
Formula BMW has shot out of the blocks to become the top entry-level class for
Formula racing worldwide.”
The race car itself is a very safe, but high-tech race
vehicle. It is a single-seater with a 140 bhp BMW motorcycle engine that can
produce speeds up to 230 kph. It exceeds by far the safety requirements for its
class. BMW Motorsport has developed the FORS Formula Rescue Seat especially for
Formula BMW, and the HANS safety system is also mandatory.
We may have a young Thai based driver in one of these this
year, and if so, we will be watching with great interest.
Qualifying format for 2005
Here we are. A few weeks only until the Australian F1 Grand
Prix on March 6, and the final format for Qualifying will be decided upon by a
meeting today (January 28). The multi-gazillion dollar F1 motor racing show has
shown, yet again, that it is being run by self-serving businessmen with no
regard for the paying public.
A couple of years back, 20 drivers would get out on the track
on the Saturday and had 12 laps to set their best times. The fastest wins the
coveted ‘pole’ position. Unfortunately the drivers would all hang about,
waiting for the rubber to be built up on the track and there was nothing for the
spectator to see for the first 30 minutes of the hour.
So the powers that be changed this into ‘shotgun’
qualifying on the Saturday, whereby it all hung on one quick lap, single car at
a time, to find the starting order. It was hoped that this would mix up the grid
somewhat, and it did to a small extent, but not by much, and was fairly boring
from the spectator viewpoint.
So the same powers that be decided that to spice it all up
even more, Qualifying should take place on Sunday morning, before the GP, and it
would consist of two one lap blinders, with the fastest aggregate time giving
the pole position. So now the spectators have nothing to see on Saturday and
have to be mathematicians to add both laps together, to work out who is on pole.
For those of us not actually at the circuit, we have to rely
on TV coverage. Will the TV channels devote an extra two hours to F1 on Sunday?
I doubt it very much, and since there will be nothing important happening on
Saturday, they will not be showing F1 then either. So we will get less than
The only decent rule changes so far has been the adoption of
a one set of tyres rule for qualifying and the race, so perhaps there will be
less of the pit “strategy” than was mind-numbingly done last year. Of course
we may now get a series of very opportune ‘punctures’ around re-fuelling
time, so that new tyres will have to go on.
It is as plain as the nose on Eddie Jordan’s face that the
tyre rule should include carrying enough fuel to last the race, as well as
enough rubber to go the distance. This way, anyone coming in to the pits will
lose time, compared to the other cars in the race. But then, the F1 hierarchy
has never consulted the ordinary spectator. More’s the pity!
Last week, I asked who “invented” pit signals and why? It
was none other than the legendary pit manager for Mercedes, Alfred Neubauer. He
introduced pit signals in 1926 after his star driver Rudi Caracciola had been
driving the wheels off his Mercedes at the previous event, thinking he was
behind the other drivers, when actually he was well in front.
So to this week. And let’s get right away from motor
racing. Which motor car designer described his gearbox as follows, “C’est
brutal mais ca marche!” Clue: he was French! Another clue: the car was made in
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