The second round of the F1 circus will be held this weekend in
Malaysia. The Sepang circuit is 5.542 km around, and the race
will be over 55 laps. Malaysia will be as here, hot and humid
at this time of year. However, the configuration of the
circuit does afford some passing opportunities.
lap times this year to be around 1 min 36 as the new V8
engines and aerodynamic regulations have slowed the cars down,
but still have not made it easier to pass. The drivers this
year are not worried about how well their tyres might last if
they tried demon late-braking, making passing more probable,
especially as it comes up to pit stop times.
Starting time? I think it will start at 2 p.m. in Malaysia
which is 1 p.m. here, but please check your local TV guide!
I will be watching at Jameson’s Irish Pub, Soi AR next to Nova
Park. Why not join me for lunch and that way we can be sure of
not missing the start!
The Geneva motor show saw the definitive release of
Ferrari’s latest road going coupe – the 599 GTB Fiorano. Make
no mistake about it, this car was a show-stopper! Apparently
photographs do not do it full justice, according to those who
were in Geneva, but from my point of view, it looks stunning,
and almost in a “vintage” Ferrari way. Being front (to mid)
engined, rather than like their other super-car, the rear
engined Enzo, this gives it that ‘beast to be unleashed’ look.
has so much taken the high performance world by storm that
Ferrari agents all over the world have full order books,
despite the fact that the price is still not determined in
many countries. For example, Ferrari Australia will launch the
car locally at the Sydney International Motor Show in October,
but Ferrari Australia boss Kevin Wall is saying, “There will
be limited production numbers for Australia this year, but
interest is already high. Ferrari owners are very aware of the
new models under development and it is fair to say that our
order bank for the 599 GTB is already substantial.”
This new GTB (Gran Turismo Berlinetta) is the most powerful
production car ever produced by Ferrari, and the 599 GTB is a
mobile technological display. These include a V12 engine
derived from the Enzo supercar powerplant, an all-aluminium
space frame and a trick magneto rheological suspension-control
system, in which the viscosity of the damper oil is adjusted
by electric current (pioneered by GM in the Corvette as
magnetic selective-ride control) to best adapt to road
Penned by legendary Ferrari designer Pininfarina, the 599 GTB
Fiorano is named after the famous Ferrari test track, and
replaces the 575M Maranello.
The car derives the 599 figure from the swept volume of the
V12 engine, which is 5,990 cc’s. This engine delivers 462kW at
7600rpm and a staggering 608Nm of torque at 5600rpm, giving
the car the ability to go from 0-100 kph in 3.7 seconds on the
way to a top speed of 330 kph.
According to the publicity blurb that the overseas media is
happily regurgitating, during development, significant effort
was devoted to optimizing sound from the V12 with a decision
made early on to focus on the true sound of the engine. To
that end, mechanical resonance was reduced in favour of a pure
V12 soundtrack from both intake manifold and exhaust system.
All that hyperbole probably means this it is bloody noisy
inside the cabin, but whatthehell, V12’s sound fantastic
anyway. Pure aural sex!
The Bangkok International Motor Show begins on
Friday March 24 and goes through to April 2. This is the
accredited motor show for Thailand, being recognized as such
by the world motor show body. There will be journalists coming
from many countries for this show, including two from
Australia who were so impressed last year they are back again
for this Bangkok International Motor Show. This is also the
27th running of the show in Bangkok.
The theme this year, and very topical in the light of the
increasing oil prices, is Bio-Energy – Reality Power! Expect
to see some chaff-burners, peanut oil burners and recycled
chip fry on some of the stands.
There will be the new RHD versions of the M Class, SL Class
and R Class Mercedes Benz. This is something they have done
for the past few years, making Bangkok’s show the world
release of the RHD variants.
There will also be new pick-ups from Ford and Mazda, with the
new 3 litre engines, which I believe will make them the most
powerful in the class.
At motor shows, major manufacturers take the opportunity to
present some concept vehicles, as a toe in the water exercise
to gage public reaction to them. Toyota have a concept on
their stand, as does arch-rival Honda with their FCX.
There are also special events which will be held during the
show, including Classic Cars, Mustang Club, VW Club, Austin
Mini Club as well as sports cars and sports aircraft.
The auto sound people will be there, and accessories and
motorcycles, so it will take you a good day to walk around. I
will be up for Press Day on March 22 and VIP Day on March 23,
and will give you full reports over the next couple of weeks.
I will also have Alan Coates cover the bikes, as he so kindly
did for us last year.
The venue is BITEC, at Km 1 Bangna-Trat Road. There is parking
for 20,000 cars if you take your own to the show, otherwise go
by Skytrain and take a short taxi ride from the On Nut
Last week I asked you to take a look at these fine
machines. What is it, and what is it based on? The answer was
the Bijaji from Indonesia, and is based on the Piaggi. (I
think, though I can stand correcting!)
So to this week. Porsche built a race car which made its debut
painted black. It did not do well. It was then painted white
and won every race the factory entered it in. What was this
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email firstname.lastname@example.org
By the way, a couple of weeks ago I asked about cars with four
reverse gears and had many respondents. One was Stuart
Penketh, who was a little late, but had some interesting
details. Stuart mentioned various vehicles with four reverse
gears, usually trucks and earthmovers, but the one I used to
know and love was this one: Messerschmitt KR 200. In 1955,
Messerschmitt brought out the KR 200, because a two-stroke
engine doesn’t care which way its crankshaft rotates, Fritz
Fend (designer) installed a switch in the starter circuits,
that would enable the engine to spin backwards. Thus four
reverse speeds were available, and some intrepid types even
raced them in reverse!
There was another three wheeler: 1968 Velorex
(Czechoslovakia), Jawa two cylinder two stroke 350cc
displacement, air cooled motorcycle engine with four speed
gearbox integral with crankcase, reverse polarity employed to
start and run engine in opposite direction enabling four
reverse gears through same gearbox, exposed chain drive to
single rear wheel. Fabric covered tubular steel frame
Then there was the Italian job: 1979 Fiat Campagnola II - a
more militaristic theme, in a thinly disguised Italian
knock-off of a Willys Jeep. Finished in full-on Italian
military spec (including four reverse gears), the Campagnola
(one of Pope John Paul’s favorite ways of touring the crowds
gathered at the Vatican).
Would you believe there was a motorcycle also? Zundapp KS 750.
The transmission had four gears, four cross country gears and
four reverse gears as well. You can only switch the cross
country and reverse gears into the first gear. They have a
lock in the gear shifting gate.
(Thank you Stuart, most enlightening, Dr. Iain.)
What did we learn from
the Bahrain GP?
Well, the first thing we learned was on the
Saturday while watching qualifying, where Star Sports crossed
to a football match, leaving us missing the final and crucial
12 minutes of qualifying. In this current era of boycotts, I
would suggest we boycott Star Sports. We watched the race on
the South African feed, notable for the better commentators
Allen and Brundle and lack of adverts. Altogether a pathetic
effort at programming by Star Sports on the Saturday.
However Sunday’s race promises much for the forthcoming 2006
season. It was close, all the way to the final flag, and
Alonso deserved his win. This race also showed that you should
never write off a certain M. Schumacher. Three different teams
on the podium – Renault, Ferrari and McLaren, with Honda in
4th. Williams were also up there, with newcomer Nico Rosberg
setting fastest race lap. McLaren and Williams were the only
two teams to get both cars into the points.
The race was good with many passing manoeuvres, with young
baby-faced Rosberg showing he is sitting on some rather large
nest eggs. His three corner side-by-side pass on Coulthard was
Massa blotted his copybook on his first race for Ferrari,
despite making up the front row beside Schumacher. Quite
frankly, he looked out of his depth.
What else? Rooby Baby Barichello showed why he was number two
at Ferrari, having taken his position over to Honda as well.
The Squadro Toro Rosso cars were brilliant in a straight line,
being the only team with V 10s, even though they have been
Toyota? Nowhere! Another bucket of money will be thrown at the
project, believe you me. They cannot see Honda run away. Too
much face to be lost there.
Team Super Aguri is a total joke, running four year old Arrows
chassis, but neither Sato nor Ide actually managed to hit
anything, despite the dire predictions.