Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Apologies to the GoKart fans

I have to begin this week with an apology to the GoKart fans, following a failure in email communication between myself and the Easykart people who ran the recent 24 Hour Kart Race. Not knowing it was on until the last minute meant that any pre-race information did not get published, and my post-race details were indeed sketchy.

Thailand 24 Hour race

With electronic communication ‘re-wired’, I can now shed a little more light on this event, which was the third 24 Hour GoKart race to be held at the revamped Bira Kart circuit.
There were 24 teams entered for the 24 Hour, with five from France, three from the Philippines, two from Bahrain, seven from Thailand and singleton entries from China, UK, Germany, Japan and Morocco, showing just how much the Thailand 24 Hour has become an international event.

Rain did not deter them

The three winning teams were Mac Boys (France) outright winners on 1,168 laps, Nivea Dubai second on 1,165 laps (and not caring about skin dehydration) and Benfica (Portugal) third on 1,162 laps. Team China were the wooden-spooners, but even so, had covered 1,106 laps in the 24 hours, through night, day and deluge.
The Easykart people ( have more karting events coming up soon and a couple of new developments for the local karting scene. Now that the lines of communication are again open, I will be able to bring those to you in a more timely fashion.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what do the initials AC stand for, in the auto world. (And not Alternating Current.) The correct answer was the initials AC stand for the tiny “Auto-Carrier” tricycles which operated between 1905-1914. Founded by an engineer called John Weller and a pork chop butcher John Portwine who put up the money. So there.
And to this week. We have been looking at Porsche, so, when did the Porsche 901 come out?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!


Do you want to be a better driver?
In a novel move, an insurance broker has announced a program to help you retain your no-claim bonus! Working on the principal that if you have increased driving skills, you should be able to avoid more accidents, and in particular, cut down the chances of a single vehicle accident, but this needs driver training.
AA Insurance Brokers have hired the facilities of the Bira International Circuit just outside Pattaya, plus two experienced racing drivers to give lectures and practical instructions on how to better control your car. This will be on Wednesday March 12.
After instruction, the race drivers will take you round the circuit and teach you the finer points of braking and picking the correct lines through any corner. You will then swap seats and the instructor will assist you from the passenger’s chair. When he has judged that your competency level has improved, you will then be allowed to continue circulating around the Bira circuit on your own, to polish your new-found skills.
The objective in this course is not to teach people to be racing drivers – you will not become the next Michael Schumacher after a few laps of the Bira circuit, but for you to become ‘better’ drivers, being able to handle a car properly and safely.
One of the drivers will be from the Pizza Company racing team and will bring one of their modified sedan cars and a few students will be given passenger laps in a real racing car, and experience the excitement of two wheel cornering and last minute braking.
AA Insurance Broker’s Peter Smith, who has had one of these passenger rides previously, says, “Very few get out of the car without that pale look that says it all. There isn’t a roller coaster ride in the world that even comes close to being in a real racing car.”
Refreshments will be provided, including of course pizzas, courtesy of the Pizza Company. No beer … at least for the drivers, until after the event.
There has been a huge response by clients and businesses around the area, all keen to be part of what AA Insurance Brokers plan to be a regular event. I believe some sponsorship places are still available and all profits will be donated to a local charity.
To secure your place, act fast … but you either have to be a sponsor or a client of AA Insurance Brokers to get a place. You can contact AA Insurance Brokers by email on [email protected] But do it soon. And yes, you’ll need a helmet.

The ultimate Porsche?
Forget the Porsche Turbo and the Porsche Carrera, try the GT3 RSR. The potent Porsche GT3 RSR has received aerodynamic upgrades for 2008 and you will belong to a very exclusive club with one of these - only 35 are being released globally.

Other driver’s view of the RSR

As if the last GT3 was lacking something, the factory says that the 2008 Porsche GT3 RSR is “considerably improved”. You could (just about) drive it on the road, but the RSR is really for the race track.
It is based on the Porsche 911 (which if you remember came out about August 1964 so that certainly is an enduring design), and which last year scored wins at the 24 hour races of Le Mans and Spa as well as overall victory at the Nurburgring 24 hours.
The most distinguishing feature of the new GT3 RSR is the front end which received major improvements to the aerodynamics. These include the little ‘flicks’ on each side of the air intake.

Porsche RSR

The majority of innovations, however, are hidden under the lightweight body, which is made from hot-galvanized steel. The rear end including the rear wing was taken from the predecessor.
The 3.8 liter boxer engine of the GT3 RSR remains unchanged apart from slight improvements to details. It delivers 465 hp (342 kW) at 8,000 revs per minute and delivers a maximum torque of 430 Nm at 7,250 revs. The rev limiter of the efficient six-cylinder kicks in at 9,400 rpm. It has four valves per cylinder, and dry-sumped (naturally).
Much of the know-how in the GT3 RSR’s totally new gearbox has come from the RS Spyder sports prototype. The sequential six-speed unit, developed by Porsche engineers, is considerably lighter than its predecessor. Internal friction was substantially reduced. It uses a triple plate carbon-fiber clutch and has a limited slip differential.
The suspension also hearkens back to the original 911 series with McPherson struts up front with an adjustable roll bar.
The brake system has a balance bar control, with one-piece six-piston aluminium fixed callipers; inner-vented, 380 mm in diameter; racing brake pads at the front and one-piece four-piston aluminium fixed callipers; inner-vented, 355 mm in diameter; racing brake pads at the rear.
All up, the 911 RSR weighs 1,200 kg and I want one!
Aside from the GT3 Cup and the GT3 Cup S, the GT3 RSR is the third race car based on the Porsche 911 offered by Porsche Motorsport. And if you want to get your hands on one, be prepared to shell out the asking price of 349,800 Euro plus VAT, plus duty into this country which is calculated by multiplying the price ex-works by your birthday and doubling it.

The world is going green (or mad)
Another automaker that is putting on its ‘green’ clothes is Honda, who ran their F1 team last year under the banner of My Earth Dream, and while it was evidently one of the fuel misers (relatively) in the F1 pit lane, it was also one of the slowest.
Honda does have some very interesting technology, however, which was debuted in their clean and green V6 in Australia at the end of last year. This new fuel-saving technology is seen in the new, Thailand manufactured, Honda Accord V6.
The V6 version of the new Accord features variable cylinder management, which allows the car to run on six, four or three cylinders depending on the driving environment.
The new 3.5 liter V6 runs on six cylinders during acceleration or under high loads, then switches to four or three cylinders for cruising on the highway or low-speed driving in traffic. This system delivers better fuel consumption and lower emissions, as quite simply, not all six cylinders are gulping fuel 100 percent of the time. A very interesting way around the fuel consumption problem.
Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) is Honda’s term for their variable displacement technology. It uses a solenoid to unlock the cam followers on one bank from their respective rockers, so the cam follower floats freely while the valve springs keep the valves closed. The engine’s drive by wire throttle allows the engine management computer to smooth out the engine’s power delivery, making the system imperceptible. Vehicles equipped with VCM are equipped with an “ECO” indicator on the dashboard which corresponds to the VCM system’s operation.

Honda Accord V6