by Dr. Iain Corness
Bahrain GP this weekend
The Bahrain Grand Prix will be televised at 10 p.m. Sunday April 6. Qualifying
is on the Saturday also at 10 p.m. Thai time.
NSX Prototype at Goodwood Festival of Speed
The forthcoming ground-breaking NSX supercar, set for launch
in 2015, will take center stage at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed (27-29
June) when it competes at one of the world’s most famous hillclimbs in front of
a capacity crowd. The Festival will provide visitors with a rare opportunity to
see and hear the all-new version of a supercar whose forebears gained iconic
status around the world.
The NSX has a long-standing relationship with the Festival of Speed. In 1993, at
the time of the first Festival, a fleet of 10 NSX were showcased at Goodwood.
Launched in 1990, the original NSX was already known as a ground-breaking exotic
car, delivering super performance and handling, without compromise in usability
and ergonomics. Driven by UK journalists, the 10 NSX made a thrilling impression
on visitors to the first Festival of Speed. More than two decades have passed
and the new NSX is making its return to Goodwood. It will again open the door
for a new era of the Super Sports model and Honda sees the Festival as the
perfect event to demonstrate its flagship supercar for the first time in Europe.
The new prototype will be joined on the hillclimb by a 1989 3.0 liter NSX, once
driven by Ayrton Senna himself, and a 2005 3.2 liter, illustrating the original
model’s rich history and development.
Honda’s all-new NSX will enter production next year with the innovative new
three-motor hybrid powertrain, and breathtaking performance.
The car will be powered by a mid-mounted, direct-injection longitudinally placed
twin-turbo V6 engine mated to Honda’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD® (Super Handling
All-Wheel Drive) system. Sport Hybrid SH-AWD® is an all-new, three-motor
high-performance hybrid system that combines torque vectoring all-wheel drive
with advanced hybrid efficiency through the use of three electric motors - one
motor integrated with the V6 engine and its all-new dual-clutch transmission
(DCT) driving the rear wheels, and two motors driving the front wheels. The
system enables instant delivery of negative or positive torque to the front
wheels during cornering to achieve a new level of driving performance
unparalleled by current AWD systems.
Bangkok International Motor Show (Part 1)
It was interesting to look at Rolls-Royce and Bentley.
Displayed close to each other, and both (previously) British brands, but now in
the hands of Germany with RR part of BMW and Bentley part of VW. Quite frankly
the RR looks like a ponderous pretentious tank and aptly called “The Ghost
Majestic Horse Collection”. There is no comparison to the Bentley range, that
are also large cars, but ones that look svelte at the same time. If you want to
spend stratospheric money, get the Bentley!
While still in the upper ranges of financial impossibility (for me at least) you
cannot go past the Aston Martin range. Achingly beautiful, all of them, even the
four door Rapide S, though the DB9 is my personal choice. I drove a DB9 a couple
of years ago and was guilty of driving with the driver’s window down, just so I
could hear the exhaust note. Aural orgasm!
James Bond’s DB9
At the other end of the scale there was the funky little
Japanese FOMM (First One Mile Mobility). This little run-about costs 300,000
baht and is claimed to be the world’s smallest four seater electric vehicle. Not
only that, it floats on water. Built on an aluminium and steel frame, it has two
sliding doors and a motorcycle style handlebar and twist-grip throttle. Front
seats are fine for most sizes of people, but the rear two seats are a bit
squeezy. I would tend to call it a 2+2, rather than four seater. Driving range
is claimed to be 100 km and the power comes from cassette type lithium-ion
batteries that can be recharged from a standard outlet. Certainly worth thinking
about for a city run-about.
The Floating Fomm
The MG6 was presented on a large stand with several styles,
including faux racers, borrowing heavily on the racing history of MG since 1924.
Their charming British spokesman went to great pains to say that even though MG
was owned by SAIC in China, the design and technology was all British. However,
there was no price put forward at this stage, as they were waiting to see how
much interest there was in the local marketplace.
Let me finish with my usual (annual) Motor Show rant. Why
would you go to a motor show and spend your time photographing “pretties”? These
are the young girls dressed in ridiculous outfits that pose for anyone who
points a camera at them, bending over to show a little cleavage, while pouting
their lips. If I wanted to photograph “pretties” there are enough on Soi Half
Dozen in Pattaya to keep me going for a month of Sundays and you can touch the
models as well! Nuff said!
More on the Motor Show next week.
What did we learn from the Malaysian GP?
Well, we learned that fuel flow is the most important part of
F1, with TV commentators excitedly informing the viewers for example that
Raikkonen is using more fuel than Alonso - as if anyone cared! Someone should
inform the FIA that viewers want to watch motor cars ‘racing’, and how much they
are spending at the pumps is of no interest whatsoever!
Sepang was all Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes). Pole position and never headed all
afternoon in the race. He was followed by his team mate Nico Rosberg, whose
second place was never in any doubt, even though he could see current F1
champion Vettel (Red Bull) in his mirrors who filled the last podium slot.
Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) must be getting used to enormous disappointments by
now. Disqualified from second in Melbourne and then a wheel incorrectly
tightened when he pitted from fourth position in Sepang, pushed back into the
pits for tightening of the wheel nut, to be then hit for a 10 second stop-go
penalty for an “unsafe release”. As if rejoining in last place wasn’t enough of
a penalty? Doesn’t anyone in the FIA use a little common sense?
With some new drivers, there was pre-season talk about how long it would take
them to get up to a competitive speed. The answer? About three laps! Both Kevin
Magnussen (McLaren) and Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) have finished in the points
for the first two races of the 2014 season and are more than the equals of their
team mates (Button and Vergne).
Driver of the day? For my money it was Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) who managed
his tyres cleverly and finally finished fifth behind Alonso (Ferrari). Alonso
drove with a gritty determination without letting up for the entire race. His
opposite number Kimi Raikkonen had one of his bad hair days, getting a puncture,
and thereafter driving well below the potential of his Ferrari (as compared to
Alonso) to eventually finish 12th and out of the points. If he keeps this form
for the rest of the season, he will be the only Ferrari driver to be sacked
Another driver who was having a bad hair day was Felipe Massa, for having
ignored the Williams Team orders to let his team mate Valtteri Bottas through.
Hearing “Valtteri is faster than you,” will have brought back painful memories
for Felipe where you substitute the name “Michael” and then “Fernando” in place
of “Valtteri”. Actually, to me there was little difference between the two
Williams drivers and Bottas was not really challenging Massa, though obviously
in close company, and were the last runners on the same lap as the leader.
Retirements were high, with seven drivers not seeing the chequer and one never
even leaving the start. They were:
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 49 laps
Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 35 laps
Adrian Sutil Sauber 32 laps
Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 18 laps
Jules Bianchi Marussia 8 laps
Pastor Maldonado Lotus7 laps
Sergio Perez Force India 0 laps
The next round of the F1 championship is in Bahrain Sunday April 6 and the
telecast is at 10 p.m. Thai Time.
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