Vol. IV No. 17 - Saturday April 23 - April 29. 2005
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Automania

San Marino GP this weekend

The fourth race in the 2005 F1 world championship is this weekend in Italy, and it is also the first Grand Prix back in Europe. The circuit, which is located 20 miles south-east of Bolgna, is laid out in the Castellacio Park and was first used in 1950.

Originally 3.118 miles long, it was used for the occasional non-Championship race, but was very much a second-string circuit until 1973 when it was refurbished with the addition of Varianta Bassa and renamed Autodromo Enzo E Dino Ferrari. Variante Alta was added in 1974, when the length increased to 3.144 miles and a chicane was added at Aqua Minerale in time for the first Championship race in 1981, when the length of a lap became 3.132 miles.

Imola

It is a quick, undulating, circuit with a series of demanding corners broken by chicanes. Popular with almost everyone, it was Imola’s misfortune to be the scene of the fatal accidents to Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna in 1994 and these tragedies have made Imola remembered by everyone. It was lucky not to be dropped this year, as F1 goes further into Asia, but I fear its life is very limited.

The Ferrari team need a good result this weekend if Schumi is to pull off another world title, and they don’t need me or you to remind them of this fact!

Renault, and Alonso in particular, is riding the crest of the wave, with three wins out of three and two on the trot to Alonso. McLaren are not far behind, and in fact de la Rosa set the fastest lap in Dubai, and Raikkonen was his usual unsmiling self in third place on the podium. The next team seems to be BMW Williams, but they are still having a few problems, with Webber’s revs being limited in Dubai, being the reason he couldn’t hold off de la Rosa. With a fresh engine this weekend, let’s see what he can do.

I am still in the UK, so keep my seat at Jamieson’s Irish Pub warm! The race should begin at 7 p.m. but check with the local TV feed, so you don’t blame me for missing the start!


Rover falls over! Phoenix falls into the flames!

The mighty have really fallen this time. MG, the purveyors of sports cars for the masses, has gone into receivership in the UK, with a projected loss of 6,000 jobs.

The final blow was the refusal by the Chinese auto firm Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC) to take over the failing MG Rover Company. The idea that the last of Britain’s major carmakers looked such a poor risk that the Chinese wouldn’t bail them out is almost enough to get the stiff upper lips quivering. UK’s Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said, “In the end, SAIC made it clear that they were not confident about the future solvency of MG Rover, and therefore there was no reasonable prospect of a deal.”

Dr. Iain and his MGB 1971

Really hammering in the nails into the British coffin, the Chinese said, “We have said a deal would not be possible until Phoenix Venture Holdings (MG Rover’s holding company) were able to secure the solvency of MG Rover for the period of two years and that hasn’t been met,” affirmed the SAIC spokesman.

MG Rover have really found themselves in a Catch-22 situation. The British government has refused to give MG Rover a 100 million pound loan unless SAIC say they will take them over, but SAIC are saying they don’t want MG Rover unless it has its financial stability guaranteed for two years (for which the 100 million pound loan was needed). Something of a lose-lose situation at present.

-Nobody mourns the MG Metro!

Trying to contain losses, major suppliers to MG Rover have withheld product until they get paid, so production must cease. This ensures the fact that Rover the Wonder Puppy will almost certainly go to the great dog pound in the sky. The result is countless thousands of jobs lost, with 6,000 direct employees just being the start. Then there are all the suppliers, and further on there are the dealers and garages involved with MG Rover. After all the UK jobs, there are the overseas companies that were involved with Phoenix, the company that rose from the ashes, after BMW gave the Brits MG Rover back, as even they could not see how to turn the dying carmaker around either.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week, I asked what GM model was assembled here in Bangkok in the early 1970s? The answer was the HQ Holden assembled by Asoke Motors on Soi 21.

So to this week. What was the weight of Karl Benz’s first vehicle (without driver)?

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

Good luck!


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