What did we learn from the Bahrain GP?
Well, the first thing we learned was on the Saturday while
watching qualifying, where Star Sports crossed to a football match, leaving us
missing the final and crucial 12 minutes of qualifying. In this current era of
boycotts, I would suggest we boycott Star Sports. We watched the race on the
South African feed, notable for the better commentators Allen and Brundle and
lack of adverts. Altogether a pathetic effort at programming by Star Sports on
However Sunday’s race promises much for the forthcoming
2006 season. It was close, all the way to the final flag, and Alonso deserved
his win. This race also showed that you should never write off a certain M.
Schumacher. Three different teams on the podium – Renault, Ferrari and
McLaren, with Honda in 4th. Williams were also up there,
with newcomer Nico Rosberg setting fastest race lap. McLaren and Williams were
the only two teams to get both cars into the points.
The race was good with many passing manoeuvres, with young
baby-faced Rosberg showing he is sitting on some rather large nest eggs. His
three corner side-by-side pass on Coulthard was exceptional.
Massa blotted his copybook on his first race for Ferrari,
despite making up the front row beside Schumacher. Quite frankly, he looked out
of his depth.
What else? Rooby Baby Barichello showed why he was number two
at Ferrari, having taken his position over the Honda as well. The Squadro Toro
Rosso cars were brilliant in a straight line, being the only team with V 10s,
even though they have been detuned.
Toyota? Nowhere! Another bucket of money will be thrown at
the project, believe you me. They cannot see Honda run away. Too much face to be
Team Super Aguri is a total joke, running four year old
Arrows chassis, but neither Sato nor Ide actually managed to hit anything,
despite the dire predictions.
The ultimate road-going Ferrari?
The Geneva motor show saw the definitive release of
Ferrari’s latest road going coupe – the 599 GTB Fiorano. Make no mistake
about it, this car was a show-stopper! Apparently photographs do not do it full
justice, according to those who were in Geneva, but from my point of view, it
looks stunning, and almost in a “vintage” Ferrari way. Being front (to mid)
engined, rather than like their other super-car, the rear engined Enzo, this
gives it that ‘beast to be unleashed’ look.
It has so much taken the high performance world by storm,
that Ferrai agents all over the world have full order books, despite the fact
that the price is still not determined in many countries. For example, Ferrari
Australia will launch the car locally at the Sydney International Motor Show in
October, but Ferrari Australia boss Kevin Wall is saying, “There will be
limited production numbers for Australia this year, but interest is already
high. Ferrari owners are very aware of the new models under development and it
is fair to say that our order bank for the 599 GTB is already substantial.”
This new GTB (Gran Turismo Berlinetta) is the most powerful
production car ever produced by Ferrari, and the 599 GTB is a mobile
technological display. These include a V12 engine derived from the Enzo supercar
powerplant, an all-aluminium space frame and a trick magneto rheological
suspension-control system, in which the viscosity of the damper oil is adjusted
by electric current (pioneered by GM in the Corvette as magnetic selective-ride
control) to best adapt to road conditions.
Penned by legendary Ferrari designer Pininfarina, the 599 GTB
Fiorano is named after the famous Ferrari test track, and replaces the 575M
The car derives the 599 figure from the swept volume of the
V12 engine, which is 5,990 cc’s. This engine delivers 462kW at 7600rpm and a
staggering 608Nm of torque at 5600rpm, giving the car the ability to go from
0-100 kmh in 3.7 seconds on the way to a top speed of 330 kmh.
According to the publicity blurb that the overseas media is happily
regurgitating, during development, significant effort was devoted to optimizing
sound from the V12 with a decision made early on to focus on the true sound of
the engine. To that end, mechanical resonance was reduced in favor of a pure V12
soundtrack from both intake manifold and exhaust system. All that hyperbole
probably means this it is bloody noisy inside the cabin, but whatthehell,
V12’s sound fantastic anyway. Pure aural sex!
Last week I asked you to take a look at these fine machines.
What is it, and what is it based on? The answer was the Bijaji from Indonesia,
and is based on the Piaggi. (I think, though I can stand correcting!)
So to this week. Porsche built a race car which made its
debut painted black. It did not do well. It was then painted white and won every
race the factory entered it in. What was this car?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected] chinagmai-mail.com. Good luck!
By the way, a couple of weeks ago I asked about cars with
four reverse gears and had many respondents. One was Stuart Penketh, who was a
little late, but had some interesting details. Stuart mentioned Various vehicles
with four reverse gears, usually trucks and earthmovers, but the one I used to
know and love was this one : Messerschmitt KR 200. In 1955, Messerschmitt
brought out the KR 200, because a two-stroke engine doesn’t care which way its
crankshaft rotates, Fritz Fend (designer) installed a switch in the starter
circuits, that would enable the engine to spin backwards. Thus four reverse
speeds were available, and some intrepid types even raced them in reverse!
There was another three wheeler : 1968 Velorex
(Czechoslovakia), Jawa two cylinder two stroke 350cc displacement, air cooled
motorcycle engine with four speed gearbox integral with crankcase, reverse
polarity employed to start and run engine in opposite direction enabling four
reverse gears through same gearbox, exposed chain drive to single rear wheel.
Fabric covered tubular steel frame construction.
Then there was the Italian job: 1979 Fiat Campagnola II - a
more militaristic theme, in this thinly disguised Italian knock-off of a Willys
Jeep. Finished in full-on Italian military spec (including four reverse gears),
the Campagnola (one of Pope John Paul’s favorite ways of touring the crowds
gathered at the Vatican).
Would you believe there was a motorcycle also? Zundapp KS
750. The transmission had four gears, four cross country gears and four reverse
gears as well. You can only switch the cross country and reverse gears into the
first gear. They have a lock in the gear shifting gate.
(Thank you Stuart, most enlightening, Dr. Iain.)
The Bangkok International Motor Show begins on Friday March
24 and goes through to April 2. This is the accredited motor show for Thailand,
being recognized as such by the world motor show body. There will be journalists
coming from many countries for this show, including two from Australia who were
so impressed last year they are back again for this Bangkok International Motor
Show. This is also the 27th running of the show in
The theme this year, and very topical in the light of the
increasing oil prices, is Bio-Energy – Reality Power! Expect to see some
chaff-burners, peanut oil burners and recycled chip fry on some of the stands.
There will be the new RHD versions of the M Class, SL Class
and R Class Mercedes Benz. This is something they have done for the past few
years, making Bangkok’s show the world release of the RHD variants.
There will also be new pick-ups from Ford and Mazda, with the
new 3 liter engines, which I believe will make them the most powerful in the
At motor shows, major manufacturers take the opportunity to
present some concept vehicles, as a toe in the water exercise to gage public
reaction to them. Toyota have a concept on their stand, as does arch-rival Honda
with their FCX.
There are also special events which will be held during the
show, including Classic Cars, Mustang club, VW club, Austin Mini Club as well as
sports cars and sports aircraft.
The auto sound people will be there, and accessories and
motor cycles, so it will take you a good day to walk around. I will be up for
Press Day on March 22 and VIP Day on March 23, and will give you full reports
over the next couple of weeks. I will also have Alan Coates cover the bikes, as
he so kindly did for us last year.
The venue is BITEC, at Km 1 Bangna-Trat Road. There is parking for 20,000
cars if you take your own to the show, otherwise go by Skytrain and take a short
taxi ride from the On Nut station.