Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 31 July 2014 11:45

Nitto 3K race meeting this weekend

The Nitto 3K people are promoting a race weekend, but unfortunately it is not at the local Bira International circuit, but out in Kaeng Krachan, near Cha Am and Hua Hin.

A moving joint Buddhist and Brahmin ceremony was held at the Bira International circuit in July to mark the 100th anniversary of Prince Bira’s birth.  The event was carried out in front of the statue of Prince Bira, which is near the main entrance to the circuit, and revering Prince Bira is something that many racers do at some stage each season.

Thursday, 31 July 2014 11:41

Jaguar F-Type breaks cover in Pattaya

There were two Jaguar F-Types on display at the Bira circuit for the 100 year anniversary of Prince Bira.  Same color, but one a cabriolet and the other a coupe.  The coupe was pleasant enough looking, without being traffic-stopping.  But the rag roof was a complete disaster around the rear.

However, Jaguar says that its new F-Type Coupe will double sales of its two-seater sports cars, with the majority of customers being lured away from other premium sports car brands, including Porsche and BMW.

F-Type cabrioletF-Type cabriolet

The convertible V8 F-Type in its supercharged form puts out 364 kW and 625 Nm torque, but the top of the line V8 coupe has 404 kW/680 Nm and cutting the zero to 100 acceleration time by a second to 4.2 seconds.

Top speed remains the same at 300 km/h, as do the fuel-consumption and CO2 emissions figures at 11.1 liters per 100 km and 259 g/km respectively (if that is of any interest in a sports car).

Less powerful engines include a 3.0 liter V6 developing 280 kW and 460 Nm torque, which is enough to keep the 0-100 km/h dash below five seconds at 4.9 and on to a top speed of 275 km/h.

Jaguar EgalJaguar Egal

The least powerful engine in the coupe still manages to get to 100 km/h in 5.3 seconds, a top speed of 260 km/h and a consumption of 8.8 liters per 100 km. Both V6 variants have fuel-saving idle-stop.

Convertible versions have a minimal 196 liter boot which shrinks further with the addition of ‘space saving’ spare wheel, but with the coupe, the boot more than doubles to just over 400 liters.

All variants have forged aluminium double-wishbone suspension at all four corners and the electronic stability system measures body movement 100 times per second to keep everything pointing in the right direction.

Selecting the Dynamic mode switch sets the Coupe up for more spirited driving, with sharpened accelerator response, heavier steering and more aggressive gear-changes higher up the rev-range.

If the switchable sport-exhaust option is fitted, the Dynamic mode also automatically selects the loudest setting.  However, the more noisy option can be switched on and off at any time with a center console button.

All versions get auto dimming rear-view mirror, rear parking sensors, cruise control with limiter, keyless entry and start, while Bluetooth, Meridian 380W sound system and navigation are all accessed through the eight inch touch-screen.

However, many items you would expect are pay-extra options, including an electric boot-lid, a package including memory for both seats and dimming/folding side mirrors, a package with reversing camera and front parking sensors, a range of carbon-fiber interior and exterior trims, 12 different wheel designs and even a five-piece luggage set tailored to fit perfectly in the boot.

So whilst the new Jaguar F-Type may look good on paper, even if not in the flesh, I cannot see them lifting too many sales from Porsche, for example.

However, it seems impossible for Jaguar to get anywhere near the staggering impression produced by the E-Type when it was released in 1961.  In March 2008, the Jaguar E-Type ranked first in a The Daily Telegraph online list of the world’s “100 most beautiful cars” of all time.  Even Enzo Ferrari called it “The most beautiful car ever made.”

There was also a very special E-Type fitted with a 7 liter Holman and Moody Ford Galaxie engine, and called the Jaguar Egal.  This would have been built around 1962, and I saw this car racing at Silverstone in 1966.  The driver would get it half straight in the corner, pull the string and smoke would come out from under the rear guards and it would launch itself through to the next corner.  Nothing beats cubic inches!

Thursday, 31 July 2014 11:38

Anybody got a barn?

For my money, living in the UK does not have many advantages over living in Thailand - other than perhaps the plethora of barns dotted around the British countryside, barns that have old cars stored in them, to be found many decades later.

I was given some copies of an interesting magazine simply called The Automobile, and each month there is a section devoted to “barn finds”, and in January this year these finds included a Healey Silverstone which had been residing in the barn for 30 years, a 1921 Dodge Brothers half-ton pick up truck, found in the basement of a dealership, where it was last known of 60 years ago and a three wheeled BSA stored in a village in England for 30 years.

Healey Silverstone

I often wonder just what kind of person parks his car in a barn and then leaves it there to be covered in chicken poop?  Don’t they at some stage think, “Oh yes, I left the Hispano Suiza in the shed down the road, I should go and start the engine, I suppose?”

The closest I ever got here was finding a 1965 Datsun 510 which had been left there in a lean-to.  Locals didn’t know how much it was likely to go for, but said they would ring when they found the owner, which they did.  Unfortunately my wife answered the phone, didn’t understand what the caller was on about, and considering it to be a wrong number, promptly hung up, only telling me a week later of the communication.

Memo to self - do not let my wife be involved with old cars in any way.

Thursday, 31 July 2014 11:38

What did we learn from the Hungarian GP?

Well, we learned that the young Aussie Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) really is the real deal and able to mix it with current and past world champions.  He will be one himself in the not too distant future.

Everyone remarked on what a cracker of a race the Hungarian GP turned out to be, with one of my fellow spectators in Jameson’s saying it was the best GP of the year.  I probably wouldn’t go that far, or that effusive, as a number of factors conspired to make the race exciting.  The rain before the start was a major factor in the mix.  The safety car being another major factor.  Up to the first SC, Rosberg was running away with the race, to then lose the advantage because of the timing of the SC spoiled the race for me.  I like to see lead changes through talented driving, not by extraneous factors.

Another gritty drive by Alonso (Ferrari), showing just why he is a champion.  However, his second place was again through other factors and even team manager Marco Mattiacci admitted “we have to be realistic about it.  Here, the weather and the track conditions leveled out the performance differences and that’s why we must not delude ourselves.”  This was emphasized by Alonso himself who said, “This race shows that anything is possible when there are unusual conditions like today, with a wet start and the appearance of the Safety Car.  We managed to make the most of all opportunities that presented themselves, taking the best decisions even at the most difficult moments.”

Second (string) driver Kimi Raikkonen with his sixth place, showed why Alonso is Number 1 in the Ferrari team.

Mercedes went from being invincible to vulnerable, and it is obvious that hurried decisions are not something the three pointed star is good at.  After the first SC with Rosberg now back in the pack, Hamilton brought back into the pack and both cars on different strategies they were muddling.  Team boss Toto Wolff admitting, “We had some very difficult decisions to make in the race.  Obviously, we need to sit down, discuss and analyze the moment when Lewis was asked to let Nico pass - but, like always, we will do this calmly and work our way through any confusion or misunderstanding.  There were so many things influencing the decisions we made.”  Forget the conspiracy theories.  There isn’t one, but if Hamilton had moved over for Rosberg they would have been second and third instead of third and fourth.  Hamilton has shown (again) that he is not a team player.  The Mercedes drivers will not be pals for the rest of the season.

A good solid drive by Massa (Williams) translated into a solid finish in fifth.  He is the elder statesman these days, but still deserving of his seat at Williams.

Vettel (Red Bull), once the proud owner of the vertical digit, is becoming unraveled.  A very lucky save from a spin and unable to use the track the way his team mate was managing it shows that his confidence is no longer there, finishing 40 seconds behind his Australian team mate.  He should move to Ferrari ASAP, if Hulkenberg hasn’t signed on the dotted line yet.

There is now a three week break so that the mechanics can go home and get some clean undies.  The next race is at Spa on August 24.

Thursday, 31 July 2014 11:36

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what 1916 American small car was given by Thailand’s King Rama VI to his nephew Prince Chula Chakrabongse?  It was a scaled down Cadillac, with which Prince Chula managed to knock over a lady in the palace!  Prince Chula became the sponsor for Prince Bira.  (Many thanks to Jerry Coffey from the US, for bringing the information to me.)

So to this week.  The Aero Minx of the 1930’s had taller windscreens as special orders.  Who ordered this, and why?

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, 30 July 2014 15:59

Prostate Cancer - and the PSA

Honestly, never a week goes by without some male asking me about the PSA test, and in many instances knowing exactly their PSA numbers have been for the past 10 years.  You think I joke?  I do not.  I was asked again today, and that is why I am dealing with this subject again.

The male child is born with a subconscious fascination for the anatomy in his nappy.  Watch an infant learning his anatomy.  As the boy turns into man, what goes on in his underpants becomes a major pre-occupation.  As the man turns older, fear of cancer in the underpants is an even greater pre-occupation.

Unfortunately prostate problems are extremely common, a situation we men have to live with.  Like all things, there is a downside as well as the fun side.  In fact this year in the United States, almost 180,000 men will be told that they have prostate cancer.

With all our older friends getting prostate problems, does this mean there is a rise in the incidence?  Are our underpants too tight?  One reason for the ‘apparent’ increase is the fact that prostate cancer is a disease of aging, and we are all living longer.  The statistics show that by age 50, almost 50 percent of American men will have microscopic signs of prostate cancer.  By age 75, almost 75 percent of men will have some cancerous changes in their prostate glands.  Do the maths.  By 100 we’ve all got it!

So does this mean that life really ends at around 76?  Fortunately no.  Most of these cancers stay within the prostate, producing no signs or symptoms, or are so slow-growing, that they never become a serious threat to health.  The good news is you die of something else before the prostate gets you!  You die with it, rather than from it.

The real situation is that a much smaller number of men will actually be treated for prostate cancer.  About 16 percent of American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lives; 8 percent will develop significant symptoms; but only 3 percent will die of the disease.  Put another much more positive way, 97 percent won’t die from prostate cancer.

While prostate cancer can be ‘aggressive’, breaking out from the prostate gland itself and attacking other tissues, including brain and bone, fortunately this is the minority scenario.  The great majority of prostate cancers are slow growing, and it can be decades between the early diagnosis and the cancer growing large enough to produce symptoms.

So let’s look at diagnosis and get the “blood test” out of the way first.  The blood test is called Prostate Specific Antigen, or PSA for short (we medico’s love acronyms).  Up till then we had another test called DRE (digital rectal examination), which, quite frankly, was not all that popular.  As medical students, we were taught, “If you don’t put your finger in it, you’ll put your foot in it!”  Despite this, ‘buyer resistance’ was high, so when news came through about a “blood test”, millions of men began rejoicing and the sale of rubber gloves plummeted.  Unfortunately, PSA is not a go/no-go test.  A normal range test doesn’t guarantee you haven’t got it, and an elevated result doesn’t automatically mean that you are about to claim early on your life insurance (or your dependents, anyway).

However, there is good news.  We are becoming smarter with the PSA test.  Serial PSA examinations can show the rate of growth.  This gives us “Staging” with four main grades.  Stage I cannot be felt and is diagnosed through pathological testing.  Stage II can be felt, but it is confined to the prostate.  Stage III is coming out of the gland and Stage IV has grown into nearby tissues.

This is where you need to discuss your options with your doctor.  If you are a young man with stage IV, then you have to make up your mind quickly.  But if you are 75 with stage I or II, then you have more time, as you will most likely die of other causes rather than prostate cancer.  “Watch and Wait” has much going for it, but you must be prepared to get to know your urologist.

Thursday, 24 July 2014 14:52

Hungarian GP this weekend

As a racing venue, Hungary has a long history, with its first GP run in 1906, and regular events in Budapest since 1926.  Built with state backing, and laid out in a natural amphitheater, the Hungaroring opened in 1986 and attracted an estimated 200,000 spectators.  Though the event was well organized, and the hosts very appreciative, it was felt that the 4 km Hungaroring had been laid out more in the style of a twisty street circuit rather than a bespoke road track.  There were few opportunities for overtaking, though things were eased from 1989 when a tight corner was by-passed and the lap distance became slightly less than 4 km.  However, it remains a circuit that is not high on any of the drivers’ lists, unless you are after a piece of quick action behind the pits, as the Hungarian government actually erected (nice word in the sex scene) some mobile brothels a couple of years ago (sponsored by Viagra?).  I think they are still in use today!

HungaroringHungaroring

After the German GP, will we get the same sort of racing?  Find out this weekend.  I will be watching from my favorite roost at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR (next to Nova Park) and the racing begins at 7 p.m.  We get there early around 6 p.m. and have something to eat and wet the whistle before the racing begins, while watching the dedicated F1 channel which has no adverts during the race, and is so much better than the others.  Why don’t you join me at around 6 p.m. for a natter and some food (the Sunday roasts are great value) and amber liquids and then sit down for the Grand Prix.

Thursday, 24 July 2014 14:51

What did we learn from the German GP?

Well, we learned at the first corner that Felipe Massa (Williams) is still the unlucky driver, being forced out by young Magnussen who confused excitement with (lack of) experience and ruined the Brazilian’s race, as well as his own.  He forgot my old adage - you never win the race at the first corner, you only lose the race at the first corner!  He will learn, especially as he had to go straight into the pits to change a front wheel.

We also saw that many of the drivers had been eating Brave Pills for breakfast, with plenty of wheel banging/side pod action, more usually seen in saloon car racing.

We also saw that those amazingly contorted front wings are for increasing the impression ratio, not for aerodynamic purposes after Hamilton (Mercedes) lost the end from his and still set the fastest lap of the race.  Obviously the aerodynamicist is superfluous!

So to the race.  Starting from pole, this was Rosberg’s (Mercedes) race to lose, rather than having to fight for a win, with Hamilton starting almost from the rear of the grid.  He did the job so easily that he was very rarely seen by the TV cameras - he was just out in front and cruising.  Hamilton drove very well, not averse to shouldering the opposition out of the way to come third.

Unflustered drive by Valtteri Bottas (Williams) into a very strong second place.  Hamilton may have caught him at the end, but he was not going to take the place from him.

The driver formerly known as The Finger brought his Red Bull home in fourth after some thrilling dices with both Ferrari drivers Alonso and Raikkonen.  Alonso showed his determination for the entire race, whilst Raikkonen showed flashes of his former brilliance.  Alonso fifth and Raikkonen 11th says it all.  With the new head of the Ferrari racing team Marco Mattiaci, I will not be surprised to see the Finn take early retirement.

After being forced off the track to avoid Massa at the first corner, Ricciardo ended up in 16th, but fought his way back through the field to sixth with many heart in the mouth battles on the way.  The young Aussie is not short on talent or cojones!  In typical fashion, he said after the race, “That was awesome fun, one of my most enjoyable races I’ve had.”

Another solid drive from Hulkenberg (Force India) to finish seventh ahead of the McLarens of Button and the recovered Magnussen from his first lap mistake.

Understatement of the weekend came from Adrian Sutil (Sauber) who spun onto the grid straight, saying, “There’s something wrong with the car!”  However, his team said it was a “wrong driver procedure”, which is usually race speak for “he accidentally hit the off switch!”

Another driver having car problems was Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) whose car burst into flames with excitement, which the crew put down to a “drive train failure” and Renault (engine supplier) put down to an “ignition problem leading to combustion of the unburnt fuel in the exhaust pipe.”  Right.  Yes.

Star of the show?  For me it was Alonso and not Hamilton.  Alonso managed to fight cleanly, where Hamilton was barging.

The next race is this weekend in Hungary.  Let us hope for more excitement, as Germany was an exciting Grand prix.

Thursday, 24 July 2014 14:49

Wireless recharging by Daimler/BMW

One of the next steps on the way to perfect electric drive and plug-in hybrid vehicles is wireless battery charging.  Daimler and BMW have now agreed on jointly developing and implementing one common technology.

Wireless charging of the battery will make the handling of electric drive and plug-in hybrid vehicles even easier.  Mercedes-Benz will commence fleet testing of this “unplugged” technology with the S 500 Plug-in hybrid soon, in order to develop a real S-Class solution in recharging the high voltage battery in terms of comfort and ease of operating in the near future.

The system consists of two components: a secondary coil integrated into the under tray of the car and a primary coil integrated into a floor plate that can be placed on a garage floor for instance.  Electrical energy is transmitted contact-free without the need for a cable, at a power rate of 3.6 kW and with a degree of efficiency of 90 percent.

Wireless charge.Wireless charge.

Trials of the cordless charging system with BMW’s high-tech i8 sports car have allowed a full charge in less than two hours, and with a charge-rate of 3.6 kilowatts, BMW says an average hybrid can be charged in less than three hours.

With further development, a rate of up to 7kW could be permitted, cutting charge times even further.

A WiFi connection between the charge point and the car assists the driver with positioning the vehicle easily, and once parked, charging starts at the touch of a button.

While the vehicle is refuelling, its charge-status and time to full-charge can be monitored remotely with the use of a smart-phone application.

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