What did we learn from the Italian GP?
Well we (finally) got to hear (from the horse’s
mouth) that Michael Schumacher is to retire at the end of the year,
but we also learned that he is to go into (if it were Thailand) an
“inactive post” with Ferrari. This is actually nothing new, think
back to Rudi Caracciola (pre WWII) and Juan Manuel Fangio who both
received a new Mercedes every year to be ‘ambassadors’ for
Mercedes (Fangio also opened a Mercedes dealership). Consider this, a
new ‘Michael Schumacher Ferrari’ dealership that could sell
Ferraris with a special autographed ‘Michael Schumacher World
Champion’ badge will make money before the doors even open, so
register the business name now and sell out for a large profit January
With all the brouhaha about Michael’s retirement and Kimi (laughing
boy) Raikkonen going to Ferrari, it seems most people overlooked the
fact that Robert Kubica (pronounced “Koobitsa” by the way) came
third on his third GP, having held off some very experienced runners
all the way, including current World Champion Alonso. Forget about the
first Polish driver etc., etc., just concentrate on the fact that a
novice from any country has come third on his third GP ever. He also
scored the fourth fastest lap after Michael, Kimi and Massa (and that
was faster than Alonso), and outdrove his much more experienced team
mate Heidfeld. Kubica was chosen by BMW’s Dr. Mario Theissen, after
I believe they managed to get the crowbar under Jacques Villeneuve.
Kubica has a great future. BMW have now managed to claim two podiums
this year, which is more than Williams F1, BMW’s previous bed
Kimi signed the contract before the US GP it is now being said, so
what will he do between now and the new 2007 season? I can understand
his wishing to be seen to be able to challenge Schumacher on
Ferrari’s home turf last weekend, but will he get in the way of the
Alonso-Schumacher world title battle for the last three races? Kimi
may have no personality, but he (or his manager) is not dumb. With his
three year multi-million dollar Ferrari contract in his pocket, is
Kimi going to upset the Ferrari party? What do you think?
What else did we learn from the Italian GP? Well, to me it looks as if
David Coulthard has gone into a deep depression. From the start of the
season when he was getting right into the top half of the field, he is
now struggling to stay in front of the “B” team of Squadro Roro
Tossa. Let us hope that the new Red Bull car, designed by Adrian
Newey, will get DC fired up again. Perhaps his new 2007 team mate Mark
Webber will also give him someone to catch.
Finally, does Bernie Ecclestone have a “Detonate” button that he
can use to bring the results closer than otherwise? Ferrari could not
have asked for more when Alonso’s engine went kaboom, bringing the
difference in the points to two, and thank you Bernie. That is
Alonso’s first kaboom in almost three years, by the way.
So now, roll on the Chinese GP on October 1. By the way, please note
that the race will start at 1 p.m. Thai time, so check your local TV
Chairman of Geely to speak at China conference
If you haven’t heard of Geely Automobile Holdings, then you
haven’t been reading the right newspapers. Geely’s chairman, Li Shufu, the
Chinese entrepreneur, will address the third annual China Conference hosted by
Automotive News and Automotive News Europe.
The reason why Li is so important in the Chinese automotive scene (which will
have taken over the world by 2015, according to my crystal ball) is that Li was
China’s first private automaker. In the mid-1990s, when he decided to start an
auto company, neither the government nor the country’s banks would help Li in
his aim. He finally got a license in 1997 by acquiring a dying state-owned
Now Geely is working with top overseas suppliers to develop cars for export, and
is gearing up Geely Automobile Holdings Group to sell cars in the United States,
as well as in Asia.
Another top speaker at the China Conference will be Phil Murtaugh, former head
of General Motors’ China operations. Murtaugh was hired this summer as
executive vice president of SAIC Motor Corp. to manage the Shanghai-based
automaker’s overseas operations. SAIC bought MG, remember!
The November 15-18 conference takes place just before the Beijing auto show.
Speakers will discuss issues facing domestic and international automakers and
suppliers in the world’s fastest-growing major market. The world ignores China
at its own peril.
Porsche makes the ultimate 911 Turbo?
Do you remember the first Porsche Turbo of 1974? Perhaps I am
showing my age, but I certainly do. This version of the 911 came 10 years after
the debut of the 911 in September 1964, so the new Turbo, which retains the same
basic shape, is now 42 years old!
In 1974, Porsche had successfully developed the KKK turbochargers for use in
competition and when they applied this technology to the 911, the end result was
simply staggering. The top 911 Carrera had been developing 210 bhp at 6,300 rpm,
and in came the new Turbo which delivered 260 bhp at 5,500 rpm. The torque
figures were even more spectacular, going from 188 ft/lb at 5,100 rpm to 253
ft/lb at 4,000 rpm. To keep this projectile on the ground, Porsche also
introduced the huge ‘whale tail’ rear engine cover spoiler, which made the
Turbo even more exciting in its appearance.
Now 32 years later, Porsche has unveiled the latest reincarnation of the 911
Turbo, and if you thought the old one was staggering, try this new one for size!
In this sixth-generation 911 Turbo, the power plant is a 3.6 liter flat 6
cylinder engine equipped with two turbochargers. Power has been increased to 480
bhp, with peak torque 460 lb/ft, which is available from 1,950 rpm and
continuing through 5,000 rpm. If that is not enough, you can order the Sports
Chrono option which allows you to have over 500 lb/ft of torque at your
disposal. That is twice the power of the original version!
This increase in power can be attributed to the newly designed turbocharger that
feature Variable Turbine Geometry (VTG). The VTG technology adjusts the angle of
each turbine blade within the charger so it remains at top efficiency no matter
what the speed, which basically combines the attributes of a large and small
turbocharger into one. This was not possible previously because of the high
levels of heat generated by exhaust gasses; however, Porsche has developed a
special material resistant to the temperatures which reach 1000 degrees C.
The 2007 911 Turbo has two transmission options - a 6 speed manual or
Porsche’s advanced 5 speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, which returns
quicker acceleration times than the manual box.
The Tiptronic S transmission brings the 0-60 mph time (0-100 kmh) down to a mere
3.4 seconds, with 99 mph (160 kmh) showing up in 7.8 seconds. Top speed with
either transmission is 193 mph (around 320 kmh).
While the original Turbo was rear wheel drive, this new model is all wheel
drive. Previously I have been disappointed with the Porsche 4WD 911’s, with
chronic understeer occurring as the better biting rear pushed the front
outwards, but the new system has apparently fixed all that. Controlled by
Porsche Traction Management (PTM), the system can direct as much as 100 percent
of available power to front or rear wheels via an electromagnetically controlled
multiple-plate clutch. The PTM can respond to changes in power, steering input
and road conditions in less than 100 milliseconds, adjusting power to the front
or rear axle so quickly that the driver is barely aware of the changes.
The 911 Turbo also has Porsche’s Active Suspension Management (PASM) producing
continuous damper adjustments allow the driver to choose Normal mode for a more
comfortable ride or Sport mode which provides a firm, sporting ride.
Porsche has not been sitting on its hands over the past 32 years, and the new
Turbo deserves its position as the top of the line 911. Unfortunately, the price
tag is also top of the line. In the US it sells for around USD 130,000, but
here, if they ever bring one in, I imagine it would cost around 30 million baht.
Out of my price range, I’m afraid.
Fancy a Jag, Land Rover or an Aston Martin?
Fancy a Jag, Land Rover or an Aston Martin?
Why bother going down to the dealers, when you can buy the whole shooting match,
lock, stock and barrel. With FoMoCo trying to extricate itself from the doggy
doo that it is in, just about everything seems to be ‘For Sale’, and that
includes some (or all) of the once proudly vaunted Premier Automotive Group.
Aston definitely is on the block, according to Ford chairman, Bill Ford, and I
am sure the others could be too, if someone were to offer the right money (or
any money) for some of the loss making brands.
Make no mistake, Ford has its back to the wall (as does GM, by the way), but to
its credit, FoMoCo does seem to be reacting in a positive way, with a paring
down of the workforce in the domestic manufacturing plants, including some
closures, and hiring the ex-Boeing executive, charged with turning around the
Now all they will have to do is produce some well built cars that the buying
public wants. Even in America, the Japanese manufacturers are showing positive
gains with their small, fuel efficient vehicles, while the domestic gas guzzlers
are really going down the gurgler, and yet the Big 3 continue to place the
emphasis on these vehicles. Yet Ford has some good small to medium sized cars,
in the Focus in particular. A strongly marketed Euro-diesel Focus could turn
around the fortunes at Ford. Let’s see what happens in 2007.
Last week I asked which British car company
began as a piston manufacturer? The answer was Alvis which started life as Alloy
Pistons Limited, a fact that was brought to my attention by George Comino,
lately of Pattaya, but now back in Australia. Never mind George, they’ll let
you come back for good behavior! Poor Alvis got swallowed up by Rover in 1965
and was killed by them two years later!
So to this week. There is a hill climb course in England whose name was
incorporated into a car company. By reversing the names of the founder and the
hill climb, you get the name of the car make, which is still going today (and in
fact, if you have deep enough pockets, you can buy it). What is the name of the
hill climb? Clue, the founder sold the company to two gentlemen called Renwick
and Bertelli in 1926.
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