Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Say “Hi!” to Hyundai

Hyundai Tiburon

After many years of its absence in Thailand, Hyundai is coming back to the kingdom. Not only is it back as a sales entity, but it intends to assemble the Hyundai Sonata model at the Thonburi Automotive Assembly Plant in Samut Prakan, where Mercedes Benz also assemble certain models. The Sonata will be pitched against the market segment with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Teana.

As well as the Sonata, Hyundai will be selling the Santa Fe SUV and their two door Coupe, also called the Tiburon or Tuscani. I am not sure which name will be given to it in Thailand.
Hyundai have been getting good ratings overseas, so it will be interesting to see if they can get a toe in the door currently being held shut by the Japanese.
And for the most fantastic Hyundai make-over take a look at this, sent up to me by our roving correspondent John Weinthal, who called it the “Bendai” or “Hyuntley”. Take your pic. The license plate says California. Brilliant job by whoever did it.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that a famous French record breaking car had to stop its endurance run to allow the French Grand Prix to be held, then it continued on after the GP was over. What was the car, and when did this happen? The correct answer was La Petite Rosalie, a Citroen that was vying for the endurance records between two and 133 days! It was in 1933 on the Montlhery circuit, and it had to be parked on a dais while the French Grand Prix was run, after which it resumed the record attempts. The outcome was 288,000 km at an average speed of 93 kph. That’s not bad going for 1933.
So to this week, and let’s stay with record breaking. Ice cooling was used for three world land speed record attempts. What were the three cars? Clue: 1928, 1929, 1938.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] Good luck!


Young local racers on way up
The first local driver is Jack Lemvard, now with sponsorship from Ocean 1 Tower Racing to assist him make the next step up the very expensive motor racing ladder. Jack has been racing go-karts (guided by ex-Danish champion Thomas Raldorf) and then last year went into the Toyota Vios one make races, winning that very competitive series quite convincingly (and incidentally beating his former mentor Thomas Raldorf).

Dr. Iain wishing he were 22 again with Jack (left) and James (right).

With the Ocean 1 Racing behind him, which has already supplied him with a test drive in the Formula BMW Asia open-wheelers in Indonesia, the world is certainly his oyster at present. He has the talent, all he needs now is more experience and ‘lucky breaks’.
The second young driver is teenager James Grunwell. Now in his second year in Formula BMW, James Grunwell, representing Thailand, has taken the lead in the Asian series. Following a win in Sentul (Indonesia) Grunwell (18/THA/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus) took victory in Round 11 of Formula BMW Asia, and following the exclusion of his team mate Jazeman Jaafar, Grunwell has now taken over at the top of the Driver Classification with the slim margin of two points. Jazeman second and Zahir Ali lies 3rd on the leaderboard, 20 points behind, with BMW Junior Ross Jamison (17/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus) of Hong Kong 4th overall and top of the Rookie Cup standings, although an impressive performance by fellow Junior Kyle Mitchell (16/RSA/Eurasia Motorsport), which saw him take both wins in the category today, mean his lead is reduced to 13 points.
Rounds 13-16 will be held at the brand new race track in Chengdu China, on September 15 and 16. Thailand has its fingers crossed for you, James.

Fantastic plastic for wheels?
Lightweight wheels are a must-have for automotive enthusiasts as they significantly decrease unsprung weight and improve handling characteristics. What is more, they make your car look better.
Though fiber-composite materials are used in motorsport, and promise better long-term performance than their metal counterparts, they have been unable to make their way into the mainstream due to a lack of suitable testing methods. Just because they hung together in a 600 kg race car, does not mean that they are necessarily going to hang together on a 2,500 kg pick-up, for example.
Standardized testing methods do exist for conventional rims made of steel or aluminium, but there is doubt as to whether the testing methods for metal wheels can be applied to composite materials. However, German researchers have created a new method which can reliably simulate how an individual composite wheel will cope with the stresses of driving on public roads, including hitting the curb and potholes, and the meeting of quality standards, without destroying the wheel. Non-destructive testing, in the scientific parlance.
A composite wheel consists of two main components - a matrix and reinforcing fibers. Through their interaction the two components achieve better properties in the composite material than they do separately.
Working in conjunction with colleagues from four other Fraunhofer institutes, research engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF in Darmstadt are developing a simulation method which reliably predicts the quality of the rims. “First we produce a computed tomography (CT) image of the wheel,” explains Dr. Andreas BŁter, Head of Department at the LBF. “The image enables us to ascertain the length, alignment, curvature and density of the fibers. These parameters are crucial for the strength and load capacity of the material.”
On the basis of these results the research scientists simulate the microstructure of the material, a virtual unitary cell in which they can for the first time depict arbitrary material configuration.
Applying the results from the unitary cell, they use a numerical component model to simulate how the wheel will handle bends in the road or hitting the curb and how it would behave in a crash. “We calculate the stress and elongation occurring in the material under various loadings,” says BŁter. “We know from experiments what stresses the material can withstand without being damaged and what elongations will damage it. This enables us to make a reliable assessment of plastic wheels.”
This is an interesting development of the medical CT scans, now applied to wheels. The only problem I see is that it would be very expensive to carry out the testing, and how do you ensure that all wheels from the same batch have the same standard in construction.

Rattles and squeaks
There is probably nothing more annoying than a squeak or rattle in your car. You spend hours bashing the dashboard trying to locate exactly where the noise is coming from. In desperation you take the car and its rattle to the service center, and guess what? The rattle disappears and you feel like a right proper goat.
However, the smart chaps have come up with the answer. The Rattlebuster, a UKP10 CD that plays vibration-inducing tones through your car stereo. Mimicking several different road travel frequencies, the Rattlebuster lets you track down loose bits and pieces once and for all, with your car stopped.
Many factors can cause an annoying interior rattle or vibration. Loose interior trim, grommets, screws, trim-clips, tie-clips, poorly-fitted after-market accessories: satellite navigation systems, hands-free phone kits, iPod audio adapter kits, tracker devices and so on, are all common offenders.
RattleBuster is an audio CD comprised of five digital “Power-Tones” (each four minutes in length) developed in a professional studio. Each tone mimics a different type of road vibration and is played in a stationary vehicle with the engine off. The driver is then free to move around the vehicle enabling them to listen for and pin-point the rattle, vibration or dashboard buzz.
By altering the exact amount of vibration generated, using the bass, volume and fade controls on the CD player, the vibration can be induced and located, allowing the motorist to take either steps to fix the problem themselves or be able to easily reproduce the rattle to the supplying car dealer in order to fix.