Australian GP this weekend

Usually the first GP of the season, this year Australia hosts the third round after Bahrain and Malaysia. Albert Park in Melbourne is one of the longer circuits at a tad over 5 km around. Total laps for the Grand Prix will be 58 and you can expect lap times around the 1 min 24 mark.
Although this is a relatively new circuit, Albert Park was used in the 1950s, including two Australian Grand Prix but these did not count towards the World Championship.
I believe the GP should start around 10 a.m. Thai time, but please check your local TV feed. We watch the South African feeder with Brundle and Allen giving knowledgeable commentary, as opposed to the tele-bletherers on Star Sports.
Incidentally, I had dinner the other evening with Eddie Irvine – not THE Eddie Irvine, but THE Eddie Irvine’s father (who is also called Eddie) – so my gossip is now fully up to date!

Bangkok International Motor Show

Bangkok is in the somewhat ridiculous situation of having two motor shows. However, only one has the backing of the international motoring charter organization, and that is the one which this year was held again at BITEC, and closes on April 2 (so you can still get there if you rush)! It was also the 27th Bangkok Motor Show, so it has the history as well as the credentials. The other one (in November) is more of an excuse to unload the year’s models, before the end of December, when they become superceded.

Press Day, held two days before the first public days, is also very interesting. There appears to be around 300 “motoring” writers, with most under 21 years of age and obviously writing for “Hip-Hop” weekly or the “Teenyboppers Knitting Monthly”, taking high quality, never to be published, photographs with the hand-held Nokia. They are, however, first in line for the feeding frenzy for the free T shirts.
The displays this year ranged from stunning to absolutely abysmal. For example, DaimlerChrysler had two new cars (the M and R classes) and a very professional dancing troupe to add sparkle to the presentation. On the other side of the coin were Isuzu, who featured a lurid green T-Max as the highlight of their boring display, and Nissan who had (believe me, this is true) an NV Wingroad, which is probably one of the world’s all-time forgettable 10 year old baby pick-ups!

If a show has to have a “star” it was the Honda FCX concept vehicle. This was simply sensational. Honda claims there is no plan to produce this experimental vehicle, but parts of this car will find their way into Honda production cars, believe me. The styling was new, practical and mouth-watering. The interior being every bit as sensational as the sheet metal (and carbon fiber). Well done Honda!
In the category of motor cars you can actually own now (if you have deep enough pockets) were the AMG Mercedes SLK 55, a snip at a pocket of change under 10 million baht,
plus a scaled down pedal car version for the children of the well-heeled AMG enthusiast.
, or the (I desperately want one) Bentley Continental GT at around the price of two AMG SLK’s.

On the Bentley stand was their PR and Event Manager James (ever so British) Barclay, who was a veritable treasure-trove of knowledge. The fact that Thailand has an allocation of 10 cars, and seven of them have been sold already, shows that there are still some true enthusiasts in this country, (with money)!
In the category of “He’d turn in his grave” was the Cooper S with a ridiculous wing tacked on the top. John Cooper, who built and designed the original Coopers will certainly be doing 7,000 RPM in his box over that one. A stupid piece of kit that will do absolutely nothing, but I suppose would allow you to hang your coat on it from the outside.
On the new and innovative front, was the Segway company, demonstrating their incredible personal mobility vehicle.

Baby SLK
This two wheeled device works on your balance – lean forwards and it goes forwards, lean back and it goes in reverse. With an in-wheel motor on both sides, which are independent of each other, it is highly maneuverable. I was most interested in this, and hope that I can do a “road test” on this soon.
I will cover individual makes in some more detail next week, while I go through the several metric tones of PR material brought home from the show!

Wingroad – or Wrongroad?

Bentley Continental GT

Stupid Mini Cooper wing


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked which Porsche driver in the Targa Florio put a wheel off the road and damaged a radius rod. He walked back to the pits to be asked, “Is that what broke, or is it all that’s left?” Clue, he was English. Answer, it was Vic Elford in 1971.
So to this week. Many vehicles featuring in-wheel motors at the Bangkok International Motor Show this year. This is no innovation however. Who was first with this idea?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] Good luck!