by Dr. Iain Corness
Asian Festival of Speed comes to Bira
Jordan, eat your heart out - pic courtesy Motorsport Asia
The travelling Asian motorsport circus comes to the
Prince Bira Circuit just outside Pattaya on Highway 36 this weekend. Part
of a series that takes them all over Asia, we will have the Asian Touring
Car Championship vehicles and the AF 2000 open wheelers at the local
round. Unfortunately, the Porsche Cup cars have decided to go to China,
rather than Thailand, but having watched the Porsche cup chaps on TV,
there’s a couple of triers and the rest are well-heeled also rans in my
humble opinion. While the best drivers never win in the slowest cars, the
worst drivers don’t win in the fastest ones either.
Qualifying is on Saturday 25th, with two sessions, one
for round 9 and the other for round 10. AF 2000 is 11.20 a.m. and 2 p.m.
while the touring cars are on 12.10 p.m. and 2.50 p.m.
leads at Sepang - pic courtesy Motorsport Asia
Sunday 26th has the two rounds, with rounds 9 and 10
for the touring cars on 11.50 p.m. and 3.20 p.m., and the AF 2000 rounds
on at 12.40 p.m. and 4.10 p.m. Lunch break is between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.,
so I would suggest a pile of sandwiches, some cold turkey and salad and a
nice bottle of Hardy’s RF Chardonnay. Or two!
Local driver Nattavud in the Peugeot 306 is running
equal points leader with Chen Jun San in the Toyota Altezza, both on 105
To get to Bira, come from the ISR end of highway 36 and
head towards Rayong. Before you come to the overpass carrying highway 331
you will see the Bira circuit on your right.
|Daewoo heads down the
After posting a massive 71% slide in half year
profits from the same period last year, this looks to be the last
gasp for the ailing Daewoo Company. The net profit was $11.15
million but sales fell to $1.28 billion from $2 billion a year ago.
Operating profit fell to $12.49 million from $92.39 million over the
General Motors and partner Fiat have submitted a
proposal to buy Daewoo Motor, but a final agreement has not been
reached and both sides have said little about the status of talks.
Stalemate would probably cover it nicely, and I am sure the
world’s biggest car maker is just in there to stop FoMoCo or
others acquiring a new outlet.
Daewoo Motor went bankrupt in November last year
and has been propped up by South Korean taxpayers’ money, but
despite cutting about 7,000 jobs since last November, trimming its
workforce to about 15,000, lowering commission fees and adopting an
overall cost-cutting programme the sales have continued to decline
as market confidence has fallen.
Daewoo Motor also acquired Ssangyong Motor in
1998, but it too has bombed, despite sticking Mercedes Benz three
pointed stars on it. Ssangyong also sells jeeps, vans and sedans.
To show the real picture of financial woes at
Daewoo, the car maker’s assets fell to $7 billion at the end of
last year from $14 billion a year earlier, while liabilities
increased by $3.6 billion to $17.3 billion. And you thought you had
|Toyota looks like
going down (under)
Toyota Motor is reported to be seriously
considering building an R&D facility in Australia, which would
cover Asia. Apparently the costs of running such an enterprise in
Japan are astronomical compared to the costs in Australia. Add to
that an inducement package with a five-year scheme, launched earlier
this year by the Australian government subsidising up to 45 percent
of costs associated with developing cars to be built overseas. They
also cite the cheapness of land, building materials, and personnel
compared with Japan. It is calculated that overall R & D costs
are about half as much in Australia compared with Japan.
Toyota currently has design centres in the US and
Europe geared towards creating models for their respective markets,
but in the past cars for Asian markets have largely been developed
Another factor is that nearly one third of
Australia’s immigrants are now of Asian origin making it
reasonably easy to hire personnel who are familiar with tastes and
requirements in their Asian region.
There is also a precedent for this, set by Gee
Emm who four years ago opened its Asia-Pacific regional design
centre in Melbourne. The facility now employs 160 engineers and
designers developing vehicles for production in China, Thailand and
India. Australia doesn’t mind since the R&D centre brought in
around AUD 80 million last year.
week I asked which car had the first fibreglass monocoque body. The key
word was monocoque, and the answer was the Lotus Elite. These cars were
simply stunning in their day and I remember trying to buy one in about
1964. Fortunately the car yard that had this example was owned by a mate,
who worked out that after paying for the car and my flat I was going to
have less than $2 a week to live on and refused to sell me the car! I
begged! I was prepared to live on scraps from behind the bakery just to
own that car.
So to this week. Tail fins. On a street car these are
not really of much aerodynamic use, but they have been an important
styling tool for some makes. Have a look at the photograph here and tell
me the year and the model. These were the ultimate tail fins, 42 inches
high. I want the year and the model, remember!
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first
correct answer to fax 427 596 or email [email protected]
When the police got hold of radar speed guns, we
(the motorists) responded by grabbing technology with both hands,
and the on-board radar detector was born. Police responded by saying
that’s not fair, you can’t have one, so banned the radar
detectors. In return, we (the good guys) became even more devious,
hiding the detector behind the radiator grilles, or inside the sun
In the face of such blatant defiance, the police
brought out the radar-detector detector, so we (the devious guys)
made the detectors so small you could slip them in your pocket
before the police began to strip your vehicle looking for your
Next round and we (the fast guys) have to really
bring in the new technology - there is a group in the UK that has
brought out a speed trap detector which is legal! This one relies on
a Global Positioning System and a map of speed camera sites to let
you know where the man with the van and his radar is working and
Don’t we get it easy in Thailand? We certainly do.
“Kimi” gets his first win!
by Colin Ritchie
Local amateur racer Matti (“Kimi”) Kaikkonen had
his first win the other week at the Bira Circuit. Matti was driving one of
the AIM Racing Concept I cars - that fleet of rentaracers that gives
everyone the opportunity to have a crack at circuit racing. Matti had
always harboured the wish to have a go, but the usual things got in the
way when he was younger - business, family etc., etc., etc. When I
suggested to him that there was this opportunity available (despite his
age - he’ll kill me for that!) he jumped at it. Well jumped into my race
suit first to see if he liked driving. He did, and on his second meeting
scored a well driven win, coming from behind from grid number 4 and doing
it the hard way, passing the front runner two corners from home.
cars ready to go at Bira
The races, by the way, were shown nationwide live on
If you too are interested, talk to me. I suggest that
if you have zilch experience, then something like the Taki Racing School
is a good way of coming up to speed quickly, but if you’ve had some
sprint or rally experience then you can slide straight in to one of the
school Concept I cars and see what it’s like in the half day
“experience” course, or the one day high performance course.
Copyright 2001 Pattaya Mail Publishing Co.Ltd.
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20260, Thailand
Tel.66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax:66-38 427 596; e-mail: [email protected]
E-mail: [email protected]