Belgian GP this weekend
And let us all hope and pray that we see a motor
race, and not a procession, such as we saw in Monza!
Spa is a real driver’s circuit, and there is
always the threat of rain, which could help bring some drivers
forward, and see the ‘power’ drivers slip back somewhat.
The almost nine mile Spa-Francorchamps circuit was
the quickest of all the classic road circuits and many would say, the
greatest. It used public roads through the mountains of the Ardennes
in Southern Belgium and even in the dry was a circuit for which you
needed a good set of cojones. In the wet it was only for heroes and as
the region is known as ‘The Pisspot of Europe’, races have
frequently been held in the wet.
Spa was first used for racing in 1924 and the first
Belgian GP was run in 1925, won by Antonio Ascari, father of the
double World Champion, Alberto Ascari.
Serious discontent with Spa began after a downpour
in the 1966 race caused several crashes, most significantly one
involving Jackie Stewart which led to his campaign for improved
In 1983 a new 4.31-mile circuit was built
incorporating some of the original track, but with an improved surface
and run-off areas. The new Spa, which still includes some public
roads, is the longest circuit on the F1 calendar and, many believe,
the most challenging.
The GP should be at 7 p.m. Thai time, but as
always, check your local feed to confirm this.
What did we learn from the Italian GP?
Well, the first thing we learned was that it was
dreadfully dull. When the highlight of the action is Sato and Webber
“racing” each other down pit lane with the speed limiters on, this
does not say much for the action on the track. Even Raikkonen’s pass
on Alonso was not for track position, and Alonso would have been told
by his pit to let Raikkonen through as he had one more stop to make.
To show the lack of action, Button slipped down from 3rd to 8th and
Sato from 4th to 16th and was never passed by anyone on the track. It
was all done in the pits. Yawnnnnnn!
Mark Webber is starting to become involved in too
many accidents for it to be ‘accidental’. Another first corner
tangle, and he gave away all chances of a points finish, while
Pizzonia in the other Williams kept his nose clean and finished 7th.
There is a lesson here that the Aussie does not seem to be learning. I
will say it again (slowly), “You do not win the race on the first
corner, you only lose the race on the first corner!”
Ferrari are even more in the doldrums than ever.
Schumi couldn’t get past Barichello, who certainly is not going to
move over any more, is he! 2005 is definitely a year that Maranello
would like to forget. And so would Bridgestone, who seem not to be
making race tyres, but more like mill-stones around the necks of the
Ferrari team cars.
Juan Pablo Montoya kept it all together for a change, and pressed
on conservatively at the end to see if his damaged tyre would hold up.
It did, and he deserved the win, though I could not find too many
Montoya fans in the group watching with me.
Is a Chinese Rover really a Rover?
The MG Rover saga is far from dead, with now three Chinese
companies in line to pick up the pieces, or some of the pieces anyway. Shanghai
Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC), Nanjing Automotive and Geely Automotive
Holdings are apparently all in there, looking for a slice of the action. Who
would have ever predicted that “Every Inch a Rover” could end up in
The whole situation is complicated by the fact that
apparently SAIC bought the intellectual property of the Rover 25 and the Rover
75, but the use of the name “Rover” in the UK requires an agreement with the
former MG Rover owner, BMW in Germany!
A right proper mess!
Last week, I mentioned that a very high performance American
two door coupe featured a cartoon character and a crazy horn. It was capable of
over 300 kph in the track versions, but even the road-going version was capable
of 225 kph. I asked what was the cartoon character’s name? It was the Road
Runner, that wild muscle car from Plymouth with the wing, that did zero to 100
kph in 4.9 seconds 35 years ago! Powered by a 7 litre Hemi, the racing models
would top 300 kph. They were outlawed in 1971!
So to this week. An easy one. A Scandinavian car had its body
made in Scotland and the rest put together in England to share the assembly line
with the Big Healey’s. Where in Scotland was this plant, and what was the car?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
RAAT meeting at Bira
Last weekend was also the RAAT meeting at the Bira Circuit in
Chonburi. The events included many of the “Run what you brung” category,
which had huge fields and lots of novice drivers. When I say it was run what you
brung, that included a hero in a Honda Jazz, who was going round the outside of
everyone. There were also events for Mitsubishi Evos, another for Subarus (I did
suggest to the organizers that mixing those two categories would be fun, but the
entry list exceeded the capacity of the track). For the VW fans, there was a
VeeDub only category, complete with a number 53 Herbie look-alike. There was
also a wild Type 3, complete with Weber carburettor and a turbocharger. Not
quite how it left Wolfsburg.
Local hero-in-the-making is James Grunwell, who I have
mentioned before. Still too young to have a road license, but going very well on
the track. He set a new fastest lap in qualifying in the Concept I class, and
was set to take the win in the race, until given a helping hand into the
shrubbery, which took off James and three other cars. This is one lesson in
racecraft that James will now have learned. In a longer race you can take the
time to plan your moves. You only do ‘desperates’ on the last lap!
The next RAAT meeting is on the 8th and 9th of October.
Thai debut for Mitsubishi’s new Triton pickup truck
On August 26 2005 Mitsubishi Motors Corporation announced the
release on the Thailand market of the new “Triton” 1-ton pickup truck.
Replacing the current Strada after a full redesign, the new Triton pickup is
assembled at Mitsubishi Motors’ local facility in Laem Chabang, Thailand.
Following the Thai launch, the company plans to start shipping this pickup model
to other countries and regions, and thus, it is expected to play a major role in
terms of the company’s global market strategy and of achieving the Mitsubishi
Motors Revitalization Plan.
Triton has been developed as a global strategic model to the
following three key concepts: 1 To fully satisfy user needs in terms of pickup
economy, durability and reliability; 2 To offer levels of quality that further
raise and consolidate the standing of the Mitsubishi Motors brand on a global
scale; 3 To accommodate the needs of a broad customer base not limited to
The major features that distinguish the new Triton pickup
are: An original and stylish exterior/interior design that adds a sporty dash to
pickup toughness; packaging that provides a best-in-class roomy interior living
space; and suspension and interior appointments that realize sedan levels of
comfort and ride. These elements serve both to highlight the originality and
advanced qualities Triton brings to the pickup segment and also to eliminate the
commonly held image of a pickup being a vehicle design purely for commercial
use. As such, these characteristics are expected to make a major contribution in
expanding the customer base for Mitsubishi brand pickup trucks.
Triton models are powered by a newly-developed common rail
direct injection diesel engine that delivers high outputs while returning low
consumption, clean emissions and quiet operation. Other customer-winning
features include a new body with top-rating crashworthiness in the class and a
Dakar Rally-honed four-wheel drive system that delivers outstanding all-surface
performance. The attractive design and go-anywhere component specification puts
the Triton next-generation pickup ahead of the market in all aspects of
performance, claims the automaker.
I think it does look rather good, compared to most other pick-ups, but will
the average buyer agree? Only time will tell.
Gasohol is Go for January 1 2007
The Thai government has decreed that from January 1 2007,
there will be no 95 octane, but rather it will be Gasohol 95 from that date.
Shell have said they will be ready, prepared to spend many millions to have the
pumps and supplies ready, and are also guaranteeing that it is safe to use. I
believe it will be, but despite the fact that it will be 1.50 baht cheaper per
litre, since it is not as efficient a fuel, you will probably find you use more,
thereby cancelling out any presumed “savings”
More on the “new” Chonburi circuit
Have been asking around and the general consensus is that it
will not happen, despite the fact that it is being pushed by Sontaya Khunplome,
the ex-minister of tourism and sport. Khun Sontaya has been driving in the
Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia all this year and has been enjoying himself in
the amateur class, rather than setting the tracks on fire.