Canadian GP this weekend
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
If you believe in cubic inches - this engine is for you
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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.
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
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
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.