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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Canadian GP this weekend

Canadian GP.

The Grand Prix circus returns to Canada, a ‘real’ circuit for ‘real’ drivers, with none of the imitation glitz of the Monaco processions. The Canadian raceway is the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, constructed on a man-made island which had been used originally in the 1967 Expo. Previously called the Ile Notre Dame circuit, it was renamed in Villeneuve’s memory after his death in 1982. The location is one of the loveliest in Formula One since the track threads its way through lakes and parkland. It is a narrow, medium-fast, 4.4 km circuit with 13 corners. Some corners were eased for 1979, a new corner before the pits was added in 1991 and a chicane was added in 1994. And, it is possible to pass, as opposed to Monaco! With a well placed DRS, it will make passing even more probable. However it does have a couple of corners with some very unforgiving walls at the edge of the bitumen, which a few champions have tried out for size, now christened the “Champions Wall”.
It will be interesting to see if the soft option tyres can last more than 10 laps. Pirelli assure us they will - but I will reserve my judgment.
Qualifying is at midnight on the Saturday (groan). The race starts Sunday at 1 a.m.


If you believe in cubic inches - this engine is for you

Wartsila.

The Wärtsilä RT-flex96C is a two-stroke turbocharged low-speed diesel engine designed by the Finnish manufacturer Wärtsilä. It is currently considered the largest reciprocating engine in the world, designed for large container ships, running on heavy fuel oil. It stands 13.5 meters high, is 26.59 m long, and weighs over 2300 tonnes in its largest 14-cylinder version - producing 80080 kW.
The 14-cylinder version was put into service in September 2006 aboard the Emma Mærsk. The design is based on the older RTA96C engine but revolutionary common rail technology has done away with the traditional camshaft, chain gear, fuel pumps and hydraulic actuators. The result is better performance at low revolutions per minute, lower fuel consumption, and lower harmful emissions.
The engine has crosshead bearings so that the always vertical piston rod allows a tight seal under the piston. As a consequence of this design the lubrication of the engine is split, with different lubricants for the cylinders and the crankcase, with each being specialized and dedicated to their role. The cylinders are lubricated by continual, timed injection of consumable lubricant which is formulated to protect the cylinders from wear and neutralize the acids formed during combustion of the high-sulfur fuels commonly used. The crosshead design reduces sideways forces on the piston, keeping cylinder liner wear in the order of only about 0.03 mm per 1000 hours.
Fuel consumption at maximum power is 0.278 lbs per hp per hour (Brake Specific Fuel Consumption). Fuel consumption at maximum economy is 0.260 lbs/hp/hour. At maximum economy the engine exceeds 50 percent thermal efficiency. That is, more than 50 percent of the energy in the fuel is converted to motion.
(Thank you Bill Ponter for bringing this amazing engine to my attention.)


Want to win at Nurburg? Easy, invent a new class for yourself!

Unique Hybrid Hydrogen technology was proved at the Nürburgring 24 Hours race. An Aston Martin Rapide S race car, featuring a Hybrid Hydrogen system developed by Alset Global became the first hydrogen-powered car to compete in, and to undertake zero CO2 emissions laps of, an international motor race. The historic event took place at one of the world’s most challenging motor races, the ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24-Hour race in Germany in extreme weather conditions.
Leading the Aston Martin Rapide S driver line-up was Aston Martin CEO, Dr Ulrich Bez, who said, “We have exceeded our already very ambitious target of completing a full lap of the Nürburgring on hydrogen.” Aston Martin partnered with Alset Global on the project to showcase its commitment to engineering innovation in its centenary year.
The no. 100 Aston Martin Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S was the sole entry within a special E1-XP2 classification (so it wasn’t too difficult to win the class). The Hybrid Hydrogen system, comprising a hydrogen fuel supply system, tank and proprietary engine management system, ran faultlessly throughout, demonstrating the reliability and durability of the technology which could be on a series production vehicle within a couple of years. In the race, the car reached top speeds of around 255 kph on pure hydrogen.
“This is a historic day for two reasons: besides being the first hydrogen-powered race car to compete and undertake zero CO2 emissions laps, it has showcased the most practical technology available to fundamentally, and within a very short period of time, address the challenge of global emissions, without disrupting the automotive industry,” said Jose Ignacio Galindo, CEO and founder of Austria-based Alset Global.
The hydrogen was supplied by Alset Global’s partner, Linde, via its TrailH2-gas mobile refuelling truck. Hydrogen was stored at 350 bar and a full refill was reduced to just 30 seconds per pit stop by the end of the race.
Hydrogen has been used as an alternative fuel for some time, especially by BMW, but there is no infrastructure to provide a reticulation system to supply hydrogen on a mass user basis.


Thailand Super Series commences

B-Quik Super Series Porsche.

Thai motor racing takes a step forwards. And it wasn’t just a little step; it was a big step. Thailand Super Series is the realization of the dream of Minister Sonthaya Kunplome; who has already turned the Bangsaen Thailand Speed Festival into an event that not only attracts attention far beyond Thailand, but also can be now counted as one of the country’s major annual domestic leisure events. Now there is his second dream of raising the standard of Thailand motorsport with the introduction of Thailand Super Series.
The Thailand Super Series (TSS) has an eight round championship which began two weeks ago on the Grand Prix circuit in Sepang, Malaysia.
Spectators who have been accustomed to sparse fields from the Super Cars in Thailand previously were certainly not disappointed at Sepang with 72 race cars shipped in to compete in rounds 1 and 2.
The Super Car grid included Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin, with some of these cars brand new ex-factory. There were also new makes such as the V8 Holden from Australia and the British Ginetta G55. Make no mistake, this was a class field, the like of which, Thailand has never seen before.

Brand new factory Aston Martin.

Round 1 saw Vuttikorn in the Porsche first to greet the checkered flag in front of Pasin (Ferrari) and Chonsawat third in the first of the Gallardos. However, the Thailand Super Series lived up to all the promise and the battle for the minor places was ferocious as four Lamborghinis and one Ferrari went head-on, the order changing by the lap. Pasin showed lots of skill as he recovered from his tardy start, the youngster fighting his way through the Lamborghini ranks, no mean feat at all, and clearing them by the time the flag fell - just - as he claimed a well deserved second place, but only 1.821 seconds ahead of Chonsawat.
International motoring writer Edd Ellison was on hand in Sepang and commented that the 1-hour Malaysian Super Series (MSS) headline race immediately preceded the Thai Super Car and it gave onlookers the chance to make back-to-back comparisons. Those comparisons were hugely favorable too, the sheer strength and depth of the TSS drivers and cars, the professionalism, the skills and the presentation, was visually head-and-shoulders above MSS, a clear demonstration of just how far Thai racing has come on over the close season and how the series can now lay claim to be one of the leaders in the region.
This Round 2 saw Vuttikorn’s Porsche again a clear leader, with Chonsawat in the Lamborghini second and Boy in another Lamborghini third and the Ferrari of Pasin fourth.
In the Division 2 group it was Nattavude Charoensukhawatana who came away from Sepang with two wins making him a clear favorite in his works Toyota 86.
Rounds 3 and 4 will be held at the Bira circuit 13-14 July.
Rounds 5 and 6 at Bira 5-6 October.
Rounds 7 and 8 at Bangsaen, around the houses on 14-15 December.
Make no mistake about this - the new Thailand Super Series is world class, and undoubtedly will also assist Thailand’s bid for a round of the F1 world championship. I know that it will take serious money for the Bangkok race to happen, but there is already serious money being put into motor sport by the well-heeled Thai community.


What did we learn from the Monaco GP?

What did we learn from the Monaco Grand Prix? Lots, actually, but very little positive. The circuit round the houses of Monaco is an anachronism. Fine for 1923 with Bugatti ‘voiturettes’ reaching blistering speeds close to 60 mph, but totally ridiculous 90 years later with F1 vehicles doing 180 mph where possible (and often where not possible). All that can happen is processional races, livened up with spectacular crashes, safety car periods while they sweep up the debris and finally a red flag when there is too much debris for ten men and ten brooms. At one stage I thought I was watching the Fast and Furious 6 movie, half expecting Vin Diesel to appear climbing out of the debris in a sweaty singlet.
There were some positives, and the most obvious one was the performance of Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) who was in control all the way, seemingly pulling away from Vettel and Webber (Red Bulls) with ease after each restart. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) is in danger of losing the ‘Golden Boy’ mantle.
Adrian Sutil (FIndia) finished fifth after a well controlled drive featuring some clean passes, though that of his team mate Paul Di Resta was more impressive coming from 17th after fumbling from the pit wall in Qualifying, and finally getting up to ninth without hitting anyone or anything.
Jenson Button (6th) is turning out to be a bit of a whinger, especially when he gets passed by his team mate ‘Checo’ Perez, something that he will have to expect more often. Perez must wear special jocks, as he certainly has the big cojones!
Not a good weekend for Alonso (Ferrari), ending up seventh, but still a better weekend than that of his stable mate Massa.
The ‘Big Hitters’ at the weekend included Massa (Ferrari) who managed to destroy the barriers at St. Devote (twice), Maldonado (Williams) who tried the low flying approach after being launched by Chilton (Marussia) and Grosjean (“Lotus”) who tried mounting Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) from the rear, earning him a 10 place grid penalty for unseemly behavior in public for the next Grand Prix.
The Cheeky Award has to go to ‘Checo’ Perez (McLaren) with some fairly audacious overtaking maneuvers. This requires the driver to put his car in such a position that the car being passed has either to yield or crash. Alonso and Button yielded - Raikkonen (“Lotus”) did not! Alonso, after the race saying, “He was lucky this year in two or three incidents. In Bahrain nearly contact with Jenson, with me I was off the track avoiding contact. Here at the chicane I avoided contact again, but Kimi was not lucky because he didn’t avoid the contact. But only McLaren has to be happy with him.” Raikkonen complained, “He seems to expect people to be always looking at what he might do, then move over or go straight on if he comes into the corner too quick and isn’t going to make it without running into someone.” (And that is one very long sentence from KR, so he must be hopping mad!) One thing is also certain, Jenson Button isn’t happy with him either, complaining to his team during the race.
The next race is in Canada, with the telecast starting at 1 a.m. Have a nap in the afternoon, as I think this race will be spectacular, an adjective that could not be used about the Monaco GP, which was soporific for the majority of the two and a bit hours duration!


Eleanor sold in the US for 1 million USD

Eleanor.

A 1967 Ford Mustang used in the 2000 film Gone in 60 Seconds has sold for a staggering US$1 million. This Mustang was one with a movie history, being the famous ‘Eleanor’ Mustang driven by actor Nicolas Cage in the movie’s closing stages.
As is common with shooting movies, several models looking the same were commissioned. Eleven of the fictional Eleanor Mustangs were created for the movie, although only three of these were working cars, and two of those were destroyed during filming. This one was Cage’s primary ‘beauty’ car, used mostly for close ups as well as promotional efforts.
The car was sold during the Dana Mecum 26th Original Spring Classic Auction in Indianapolis last week. No details about the auction’s winner were announced, though the price paid is not at all unexpected given the car’s fame as well as its pedigree.
Though not an original Shelby, the Eleanor Mustang was based on a 1967 Ford Mustang fastback and was built by Cinema Vehicle Services with the help of legendary coachbuilder Chip Foose. Key features of the car are its central-mounted driving lights, pumped fender flares, and unique hood and trunk. Power comes from a 351 Ford V-8 crate engine, rated at 400 horsepower.
Other specifications include a four-speed manual transmission, lowered suspension with coil-overs, 17 inch wheels shod with Goodyear F1 tires and a faux nitrous kit.
Included in the sale was certification of the vehicle’s authenticity from the company responsible for building it as well as a special plaque that includes the VIN.
Interestingly, this is the second time in five years that this particular Eleanor Mustang has come up for sale.


Thai Automotive Sales Statistics April 2013

Vehicle output in April stood at 170,438 units, up 17 percent on April 2012, but down 33 percent on March (this was due to fewer working days in the month).
Domestic car sales over the month were 109,658 units, an increase of 24 percent over April 2012, but a decline of 30 percent on March. However, sales over Q1 this year stood at 522,914 units, up 42 percent on the same period last year.
The export market showed the same basic trends, with a total of 67,641 vehicles exported in April, up 22 percent on April 2012, but down 34 percent on March this year.
Despite poor sales figures for most manufacturers in Europe, Thailand appears to be sheltered from that downturn, and the future is looking good locally.


News from the Automotive Focus Group

Tata has decided to postpone the development of the new facility in Thailand. Previously, Tata had announced it will enter the passenger car market in Thailand during the third quarter, when it will introduce the Nano budget vehicle.
This news does not surprise me at all. Tata Xenon pickups have been selling steadily, but not setting the world on fire. The Nano received world-wide publicity as being the cheapest car on the planet, but some reliability problems have left the Nano with a less than stellar reputation. Until sales pick up in India, I do not think there will be any rush to sell this vehicle here in Thailand, to a customer base which is more sophisticated than their Indian one.


Slick and small - the way to haul?

Mazda CX-5.

The world is heading towards small efficient four cylinder engines, such as Ford’s eco-boost range. The body most wanted is now small SUV’s such as Ford’s Kluga, for example.
Mazda has a replacement for the Tribute, called the CX-5, which has had good reviews in the foreign press. The engines will be a choice of 2 liter petrol (155 BHP) or 2.2 liter diesel (175 BHP).
The new CK-5 is part of Mazda’s SkyActiv range and will return between 16 (petrol) and 18 kilometers (diesel) per liter. Fuel saving ideas include the Stop-Start systems as well as the use of lightweight materials in the body/chassis.
The CX-5 will be released in October and cost between 1.2 and 1.7 million baht.


Honda returning to F1

Honda has announced its decision to participate in the FIA Formula One World Championship from the 2015 season under a joint project with McLaren, the UK-based F1 corporation.

(From left) Whitmarsh and Ito.
Honda will be in charge of the development, manufacture and supply of the power unit, including the engine and energy recovery system, while McLaren will be in charge of the development and manufacture of the chassis, as well as the management of the new team, McLaren Honda.
From 2014, new F1 regulations require the introduction of a 1.6 liter direct injection turbocharged V6 engine with energy recovery systems. The opportunity to further develop these powertrain technologies through the challenge of racing is central to Honda’s decision to participate in F1. Throughout its history, Honda has passionately pursued improvements in the efficiency of the internal combustion engine and in more recent years, the development of pioneering energy management technologies such as hybrid systems. Participation in Formula 1 under these new regulations will encourage even further technological progress in both these areas. Furthermore, a new generation of Honda engineers can experience the challenges and the thrills of operating at the pinnacle of motorsport.
Commenting on this development, Takanobu Ito, President and CEO of Honda said, “Ever since its establishment, Honda has been a company which grows by taking on challenges in racing. Honda has a long history of advancing our technologies and nurturing our people by participating in the world’s most prestigious automobile racing series. The new F1 regulations with their significant environmental focus will inspire even greater development of our own advanced technologies and this is central to our participation in F1. We have the greatest respect for the FIA’s decision to introduce these new regulations that are both highly challenging but also attractive to manufacturers that pursue environmental technologies which has developed F1 into a high value, top car racing category supported by enthusiastic fans. The corporate slogan of Honda is “The Power of Dreams”. This slogan represents our strong desire to pursue and realise our dreams together with our customers and fans. Together with McLaren, one of the most distinguished F1 constructors, Honda will mark a new beginning in our challenges in F1.”
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of McLaren Group Limited said, “The names of McLaren and Honda are synonymous with success in Formula 1, and, for everyone who works for both companies, the weight of our past achievements together lies heavily on our shoulders. But it’s a mark of the ambition and resolve we both share that we want once again to take McLaren Honda to the very pinnacle of Formula 1 success. Together we have a great legacy - and we’re utterly committed to maintaining it.”
Bernie Ecclestone said, “It is a great pleasure to see Honda back in Formula 1. Their engine technology and passion for motor sports make them a natural Formula 1 contender.”
Of course, the following day our Bernie, the patron saint of pit stops, was intimating that BMW would be coming back in, a notion that was strongly denied by BMW headquarters.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Canadian GP this weekend

If you believe in cubic inches - this engine is for you

Want to win at Nurburg? Easy, invent a new class for yourself!

Thailand Super Series commences

What did we learn from the Monaco GP?

Eleanor sold in the US for 1 million USD

Thai Automotive Sales Statistics April 2013

News from the Automotive Focus Group

Slick and small - the way to haul?

Honda returning to F1