Last week I mentioned that there is a car preserved in the
Turin Automobile museum, which was built for the Monaco GP of 1935. It was very
radical, featuring an eight cylinder radial two stroke engine, which was mounted
ahead of the driven wheels - which meant it was also front wheel drive. It did
not race after the early trials were not positive. I asked what was this car? It
was the Trossi-Monaco.
So to this week. What engine was described as having “pistons
like dustbins, moving deliberately up and down like lifts by Nogood-Waytis”?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
What did we learn from the
We learned that anticipation can often be better than
realization. After months of waiting with the unanswered questions regarding
intra-team rivalry, what would happen with full tanks, which teams were the
quickest, the answers were delivered in what was frankly a very boring Bahrain
With the no refueling regulations, almost every team was
running to preserve their tyres, fearing that they would end up with multiple
pit stops. Consequently we did not see anyone really ‘having a go’, all running
around at 80 percent effort. When Jaime Algywotsit (who can hardly drive out of
sight on a dark night) in the Toro Rosso can set some fastest laps, which he did
at one stage, five seconds off the qualifying times, this shows just how slowly
the so-called hot shots were driving. Yes, you read that correctly - five
seconds off qualifying times.
Back to the race, Alonso inherited first place when Vettel’s
Red Bull suffered a spark plug failure (not an exhaust failure as initially
thought), as up till then Vettel looked completely in control. Thankfully Alonso
has stopped doing bird impersonations from the cockpit, so we were spared that.
However, at the post-race conference he then dedicated his race inheritance to
Ferrari president Montezemolo in a wonderful display of brown nosing. Whilst it
was good to see Massa back in action, he could not hold the Spaniard and has
already all but relegated himself to ‘Number 2’ status in the team.
In Red Bull, Vettel out drove Webber; in McLaren Hamilton out
drove Button and in Mercedes Rosberg out drove Schumacher. Yawn.
Even Michael Schumacher on his return to F1 admitted that it
was a boring race. If it was boring from where he was sitting, it was
interminable from where we were sitting. “It’s the start and then after it is
just sort of go your pace and not do mistakes,” he told the BBC.
Much plaudits in the general press for the HRT Spaniards, for
having got there. If this had been a club race meeting at Bira, I would have
applauded too, but it was not a club race. It was supposedly the pinnacle of the
world’s motor racing, and they presented two unsorted motor cars, with rookie
Chandhok crashing out on lap two as he hit a bump he had never seen before! Just
what is the FIA doing? Bring back the 107 percent rule immediately. Mobile
chicanes are not needed at the top echelon.
Lotus finished shaking hands with themselves for just having
finished, in what was really a dismal showing. Is this the pinnacle? It was more
like Pattaya FC playing Arsenal. Bring back the 107 percent rule.
Spectators? I thought I had spotted a few standing on one
corner, but they turned out to be palm trees.
Finally, I can report with complete surety that by half way
through the race there were no Virgins left at the Bahrain circuit!
The next race is the Australian GP in Melbourne March 28. If
you are of a God-fearing nature, pray for a better race.
Staying on the saddle
Welcome to part three of our riding course from HiSide Tours:
The biggest single factor that will keep you alive and unhurt
the longest in road riding is observation. No amount of skill can help you avoid
a hazard you have not seen, whereas even a bad rider with good observation
skills will be able to avoid most hazards.
Don’t try this at home!
This is not a god-given skill that some have and some don’t.
It can be acquired. Firstly, of course, the more of your attention you can spend
on looking around and not on operating the controls the easier this will be, so
familiarize yourself with all the instruments and the operation of your bike
controls so that you are not looking at them too often. If you still have to
look at the clutch to change gear you should not be on the road!
Split screen. You need to develop what I call the
PlayStation™ vision. Imagine that your field of vision is a TV screen and you
are playing your friend at some racing game where the screen is split into two
halves by a horizontal line in the middle. You are player number 1 at the top
and he is player number 2 at the bottom. As you play your attention is on the
top half of the screen as you avoid the obstacles coming at you, but out of the
bottom of your eye you are tracking your friend’s progress at the bottom of the
screen. What you don’t do is focus your attention on his half of the screen
because then you crash at the top.
You need to develop a similar skill in your riding
observation. Looking ahead into the distance and focusing your attention there
will allow you to see things far enough ahead of you to react smoothly and avoid
any hazards without sudden maneuvers. When you look into the distance you need
to scan the field of vision to see the big picture. When your scanning has
identified a potential hazard, e.g. a truck stopped in the middle of the road,
you mentally click on it and keep scanning for other hazards. Position yourself
on the road to avoid the hazard and ride around it. Too many times I see riders
in front of me suddenly panic braking because they have failed to look past the
bumper of the car in front of them to see a hazard I have already identified and
planned for 100 meters further back. Your greatest advantage on a bike is the
ability to maneuver freely, use it! Look through car windscreens, ride to the
right or the left of them, look over them. Whatever it takes so you can see what
is ahead of you. Choppers with their low seating position and extended length
cannot do this easily, another reason why these bikes handle so badly.
There is a saying in track riding which is; “You go where you
look”. And unfortunately the human instinct when faced with a danger is to look
at it. So when something pulls out in front of you, your immediate instinct is
to stare at it and then apply the brakes in a panic. You are suffering from
“target fixation”. This makes it almost impossible for you to see any easy
escape route because you cannot focus on anything except for the on-coming
hazard. It is almost impossible for the normal rider to drag his attention away
from a hazard once this target fixation has taken over, so you need to
counteract it, before it kicks in, by focussing your attention past the area
immediately in front of you. Use your peripheral vision to monitor things close
up and plan far ahead, that way you will be able to ride smoothly around hazards
that other less skilled riders will only see at the last possible moment.
You will not achieve this skill overnight and even vastly
experienced road and track riders still suffer from target fixation occasionally
when their concentration slips. So keep practicing every day on your bike or in
Graham Knight can be contacted at [email protected] highsidetours.com
Action galore at 3K - Nitto
A couple of weeks ago I attended the 3K - Nitto race meeting
at the Bira Circuit on Highway 36 in Pattaya. A ‘club type’ meeting, it
presented non-stop action with short races scheduled one after the other, many
different categories including ‘Retro’ and pick-ups and plenty of racing, plus
thrills and spills.
I walked around the pits and chatted to the competitors, and
the laid-back atmosphere was great fun. I wanted to speak with the owner of a
Datsun SSS from the Retro class as I had raced one of these many years ago, and
even though he had very little English, other drivers came to his assistance and
we had enjoyable chats ‘in the round’.
With a B. 50 entry as a spectator, it doesn’t break the bank
to bring the family, and the viewing area from under the tree at the hairpin at
the end of the straight has become a bit of an ex-pat hangout. It is not too far
to walk to the pits and the Bira Caf้ presents reasonable Thai food very
inexpensively, as well as cold drinks.
The next 3K race meeting will be in May on 29/30. See you
under the hairpin’s tree.
Remember there is also the ‘Pro’ Racing series at Bira with
the first round on April 24/25. Again not as intense or rigidly organized as the
SuperCar events, but plenty of fun.
To be repaired in der Black Forest by der Elves.