Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 11 September 2014 11:18

Volvo pins its hopes on the XC90 SUV

Volvo has been having a tough time over the past 15 years. The Volvo Car Corporation was sold to Ford Motor Company for $6.45 billion during 2000, and Ford placed it within the Premier Automotive Group alongside Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin. Volvo engineering resources and components would be used in various Ford, Land Rover and Aston Martin products, with the second generation Land Rover Freelander designed on the same platform as the second generation Volvo S80. The Volvo T5 petrol engine was used in the Ford Focus ST and RS performance models, and Volvo’s satellite navigation system was used on certain Aston Martin Vanquish, DB9 and V8 Vantage models. However, it did not make a profit for Ford and in 2010 Ford sold the Volvo Car Corporation to Geely Automobile of China for $1.8 billion, following on from their sale of Jaguar Land Rover in 2008 and Aston Martin in 2007. Hardly a success story for Ford, losing $4.65 billion in 10 years.

Thursday, 11 September 2014 11:12

“Super-MINI” springs out of Italy

Many years ago, there was a version of the Mini called the Innocenti, with the body designed by Bertone. As they say, history repeats itself and (new) MINI and Touring Superleggera, the tradition-steeped design and coach building house based in Milan, have brought the MINI Superleggera™ Vision out from under wraps.

Thursday, 11 September 2014 11:09

What did we learn from the Italian GP?

Well, we learned that Hamilton is the quicker of the two Mercedes drivers, and Rosberg can be made vulnerable when under pressure. And when I say “quicker”, he was in front of Rosberg in each of the three qualifying sessions, and first in the race and fastest lap as well. Only by margins of 0.1 seconds, but in modern F1 terms that represents total domination.

After the Mercedes duo there was a total mix of all the teams, with Williams again showing speed and reliability. Valtteri Bottas, who is marginally quicker than his older team mate Massa, drove a particularly stylish race after a dreadful start which saw him dropped to 11th after being third in Qualifying. However, it was a great day for Williams with Massa third (and no mistakes for once) and Bottas fourth.

Over in the Red Bull paddock, the driver formerly known as “The Finger” must be wondering where his speed has gone, with Vettel once again shown the way home by his new young team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who overcame his dreadful start, dropping to 12th on the first lap but finishing in fifth. Bottas and Ricciardo are definitely the new stars of F1.

It was the Italian GP, and what happened to Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, the darling of the Tifosi? The electrical recovery system (ERS) gave up, finishing Alonso’s race. His first non-finish for mechanical reasons since 2010, an amazing run. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen has not been having an amazing run, other than the fact that he went to sleep again and Ferrari haven’t awarded him a DCM (Don’t Come Monday). Ferrari are saying publically that Kimi is locked in for 2015. If so, I am sure they have a team of Italian lawyers looking for the get-out clause!

Slowly but surely McLaren are coming back into contention. Not as good as Williams, but both Button and Magnussen finished in the top 10, though Magnussen was given a retrospective penalty which then dropped him out of the top 10. The heinous crime was putting another car off the track. This was with the two cars side by side through the esses and two into one did not go. What would the stewards rather happen? A car gets pushed off or a full scale crash? This was a racing incident and nothing else. The stewards are far too harsh at times and too lenient at others. They need to have the same stewards every meeting. Simple fix.

Force India are always there in the middle of the pack, with both Perez and Hulkenberg showing strong in-fighting skills, but the car just isn’t good enough.

As for the rest, purely ‘make-weights’ or mobile chicanes I am afraid, keeping going with pay drivers. I rather like Bernie’s idea of letting the top teams run three cars and get rid of the bottom of the entry list altogether.

The finishing order shows only six teams in the top 10. (Six teams with three cars puts 18 on the grid immediately.

1 LHamilton Mercedes 232.449 kph
2 N Rosberg Mercedes 01:19.1
3 F Massa Williams 01:19.1
4 V Bottas Williams 01:19.4
5 D Ricciardo Red Bull 01:19.5
6 S Vettel Red Bull 01:20.0
7 S Perez Force India 01:20.1
8 J Button McLaren 01:20.1
9 K Raikkonen Ferrari 01:20.1
10 K Magnussen McLaren 01:20.1
11 D Kvyat Toro Rosso 01:20.2

The next GP is in Singapore on September 21 and is a night race around the houses. Not really a circuit where a driver can display his talents.

Thursday, 11 September 2014 11:04

Thailand enters F1 team

Sorry, but I nicked this photo from the internet, but it was just too good not to give it more media space! Obviously a great example of what can be done by skilled Photoshop exponents. And please, don’t write in, it is harmless fun.

 Thai F1 car Thai F1 car

Thursday, 11 September 2014 11:02

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned the Hindenburg. It had 16 features which it shared with a race car entered in the 1931 and 1932 Indianapolis 500, and with the Wartsilia 46F engine that produced 25,700 BHP. What were the 16 features? The answer was that all of these were powered by V16 engines.

So to this week. During the Cold War after WW2 there was one car which was named to glorify a dictator, but when the dictator died, the brand was changed to glorify the designer. What was the year and what were the names of the two brands?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Wednesday, 10 September 2014 16:40

Popping antioxidants?

We are all getting older. Not wiser nor necessarily richer, just older. However, getting on in years still beats the alternative. Just keep your place reserved in God’s waiting room but don’t sit on it just yet and you’ll be right.

Now with living longer, there comes a price. Our organs can start to get tired, so heart, liver, kidney can start to show a decrease in efficiency. There is also the fact that cancer is, by and large, a disease of aging, so anything that can reverse the aging process is of interest.

OK, so we are all living longer, what can we do to get our arthritic hands on the elixir of youth? If you believe the popular press, the answer to aging is multivitamins. Peddling mega-vitamins is a megabuck industry, credited with improving your health, your love life and fixing everything from falling hair to falling arches.

The latest trend is to take daily doses of antioxidants such as beta carotene, vitamin A and C or selenium to protect yourself against cancer, heart disease or signs of premature ageing. There is some scientific ‘proof’ that people who have a high level of antioxidants in their diet have a lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers. That is why the nutritionists say we should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. However, other studies also seem to suggest that taking those same antioxidants in pill form may not have the same effect and may even be harmful. Who do you believe?

Dr Alison Ross, at Cancer Research UK says, “These products don’t seem to give the same benefits as vitamins that naturally occur in our food.”

The British Heart Foundation agrees. A spokesman saying, “Research does not support the claim that taking extra antioxidants in the form of supplements will benefit the heart.”

Let us listen to some experts in the field, and not the label on the multi vitamin bottle. Catherine Collins, chief dietitian at St George’s Hospital in London says, “The whole idea that you must meet some vitamin and mineral target every day of your life is a marketing myth. You can eat lots of fruit and veg one day and not much the next but over a week you will still get the right amount of nutrients. There is very little scientific evidence that there is any benefit whatsoever in taking a daily multivitamin - even in old people. You cannot exist on a poor diet then shore yourself up with a multivitamin. The idea that taking high quantities of vitamins will give you a health boost - like putting premium petrol in your car - is complete nonsense.”

Dr Toni Steer, nutritionist with the British Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Research in Cambridge, states supplements cannot compete with real food because when we eat fruits and vegetables the vitamins and nutrients interact with other chemicals to produce positive effects on the body. “If these same vitamins are pulled out and isolated in pill form, there is no guarantee at all that they will have the same effect.”

Another nail in the multivitamin coffin came from the US journal of the National Cancer Institute which found that men with prostate cancer who took more than seven multivitamins a week were 30 percent more likely to get an advanced and fatal form of the disease. This came after a large, though hotly contested, review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found that people who took antioxidant vitamin tablets (particularly vitamins A and E, and beta-carotene) were more likely to die earlier than those who did not. Oops! That isn’t something you will read on the label of the multivitamin bottle.

Let’s look at the old Vitamin C to ward off the common cold, as proposed many years ago by Linus Pauling. Common claim: one-gram doses will ward off or even cure the common cold. Reality check: the human body can absorb only 500 milligrams of vitamin C and will excrete the excess. Vitamin C reduces the average length of a common cold from five days to four and a half - if you are lucky. Finally, do I take multivitamins? No.

Thursday, 04 September 2014 10:29

Italian GP this weekend

The GP circus moves to Italy, the home of Ferrari and the Tifosi. Spa was a good race two weeks ago, so let us hope that Monza will give us some real racing as well, and hopefully the Mercedes duo will avoid running into each other. Rosberg has a cool head, Hamilton does not.

Thursday, 04 September 2014 10:26

Nitto 3K races this weekend as well

The previous Nitto 3K meeting was held at the Kaeng Krachan circuit out near Hua Hin last month. The big winners were the BMW’s of Rogero Carletto and Armin Buschor who led the fields in the Retro division. Our TBX Retro Escort Mk 1 came home with a 2nd, 4th and 5th trophies.

However, the races at Bira this weekend might show some differences in results, as suspension settings that suit Kaeng Krachan often do not suit Bira.

There are two days of racing with multiple categories ranging from Daihatsu Mira’s to hopped up pick-ups and everything in between.

Bira gridBira grid

The Retro group is racing Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon, which works out well in that we can go to the Jesters Fair Sunday morning with the kids and then go to Bira after lunch.

Because of the Jesters Fair we will not be running the AA Insurances hospitality tent this meeting, but feel free to come and join us in the pits. If you are handy with a wheel brace, you could even find yourself in the crew!

Thursday, 04 September 2014 10:22

Tripping quietly through the weeds

I logged on to one of those YouTube sites with 10 minutes of race car crashes, some of which were just incredibly spectacular. In my many years of motor sport I have had a couple of never to be forgotten examples of awkward parking, one fire and even a triple barrel roll at the Kaeng Krachan Circuit two years ago. After all of these, I stepped out without a scratch, even though the car didn’t look too good.

That led me to thinking about the roll cages inside my cars, and how they stopped the distortion inside the vehicles, which when combined with seat belts meant I was only shaken and not stirred!

The roll cages in most race cars generally have hoops to incorporate the A pillars, the B pillars and the C pillars. The bottom of the hoops goes to the floor chassis rails, making a “cage” which is securely tied into the shell of the vehicle itself.

My clumsy parking.My clumsy parking.

Thinking further, look at the twisted wrecks that occur on the Thai roads after fatal road accidents, at probably around half the speed of a racing crash, in which the driver steps out without major injuries.

Surely it must be possible to incorporate a roll cage in a body shell at the original design? The extra cost would not be much at all, where the “cage” is just part of the shell.

Of course it is necessary to be wearing a good seatbelt as well, to avoid being thrown around inside, or out of the wreck. The car in this photo had done three barrel rolls down the track before coming to rest upside down.

Thursday, 04 September 2014 10:18

Natter Nosh and Noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday September 8 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers. A couple of the members were scrutineers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, so they may have some scuttlebutt about the F1 scene, though one is currently driving around Australia towing a caravan! Always a fun night. Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of the members (when they were younger)! The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!

F1 scrutineers.F1 scrutineers.

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