Monday, March 25, 2013


Touring on a Ducati for many would be a dream adventure, and now with the Strada range of Ducati motorcycles, that dream is now easier than ever to fulfil. The Strada concept began with the Multistrada and has now been expanded this year with the new additions of the Hyperstrada and the Diavel Strada.
The Stradatour is an evolution of the popular Ducati Roadshow that has run over the last 3 years covering the length and breadth of the UK. This year, the Stradatour will consist of 33 dates beginning on April 6 and running until August 4 and will feature extended rides up to a maximum of one and half hours.
These test rides will give the customers an extensive period of time to evaluate the bikes touring and long distance appeal.  The local Ducati dealer will take riders on a route taking in a variety of roads to fully test the bikes touring capabilities and also give pillion riders the chance to assess the comfort of these machines.
The Multistrada was the first Ducati to embrace the Strada concept, with its unique blend of adventure styling, blistering performance and touring capabilities. With its four-bikes-in-one concept the Multistrada has proven to be unrivalled in its sector and now with its semi-active (Skyhook) suspension the bike has moved on to another level. On the Stradatour fleet there will be not only the Multistrada Touring S, but also the Multistrada Granturismo, the ultimate touring Ducati. The Granturismo  features  extended screen, larger panniers,  top case, higher handlebars, comfort seat, LED spotlights and engine crash bars.
2013 has seen the introduction of the Hyperstrada and the Diavel Strada which will make up the remaining models of the tour. The Hyperstrada is a new dimension of the Hypermotard uniquely blending together the worlds of motard and touring that will provide thrills on demand and yet with the flexibility that a touring bike gives. The Hyperstrada features panniers, centre stand, touring screen, touring seat as well as the Ducati Safety Pack that includes ABS and traction control as standard.
The Diavel set pulses racing when it came onto the market and the unfeasible was made feasible as Ducati produced a cruiser that had sports bike performance with handling to match.  Now the Diavel Strada version comes with higher handlebars, touring screen, touring seat, heated grips and side luggage as well as the riding modes and ABS and traction control found standard on other Diavel models.
For further information regarding the Stradatour and a full list of dates visit


The Vauxhall 30-98, one of the greatest sports cars of the twentieth century and the first to top 100mph in production form, is marking its centenary in style this May, when almost 50 surviving examples attempt the Waddington Fell hillclimb, site of the car’s first appearance and competition success in 1913.
Described as ‘The car of grace that sets the pace’, the 30-98 was derived from Vauxhall’s C10 ‘Prince Henry’ – acknowledged as the UK’s first real sports car – and was produced at a time when Vauxhall vied with Bentley in the prestige car market.
But armed with a kerb weight 400kgs less than a Bentley 3.0-Litre, a powerful engine and high axle ratio, the 30-98 became renowned as a high-performance car that could swallow long distances with ease. This made it particularly popular with drivers in the colonies, and explains why so many cars still survive in Australia today.
A precursor to the recently launched Cascada convertible, the 30-98 was actually developed in just 71 days, but went on to spawn a production run of 600 cars over a 14 year period (with a break for WW1). Remarkably, around a third of these cars still survive today.
At a time when car manufacturers promoted the performance, durability and handling of their products through competition, Vauxhall had already been successful in hillclimbs, grands prix and endurance trials since the company was formed in 1903 (now celebrating its 110th anniversary, it’s the UK’s oldest surviving car brand).
And the 30-98 represented the zenith of those achievements. On its first outing at the Waddington Fell hill climb in Lancashire, it set fastest time of the day, proving to the car’s designer, Laurence Pomeroy, and Vauxhall’s directors, Percy Kidner and Leslie Walton, that the car had a future, and production started in earnest.
Originally fitted with a 4,525cc side-valve four cylinder engine, producing 90bhp, the model was made in two basic types: E-type and OE-type, with the latter denoting the more powerful overhead valve cars producing 112bhp, and built between 1923 and 1927.
And it was the OE-type that became the first production car to exceed 100mph, partly prompted by a letter to The Autocar’s editor from a Major L.Ropner, complaining that he was unable to buy a road car that could cover a flying mile at more than 100mph!
Vauxhall responded by producing a stunning two-seater 30-98 for him in polished aluminium, with a full set of road equipment. On March 28, 1923 factory test driver Matt Park took the car to Brooklands and achieved a flying lap at 100.7mph, before delivering the car to Ropner, who used it extensively for competition, continental touring and commuting to London from his home in Yorkshire.
The British motoring press fell in love with the OE-Type 30-98, and in 1923 The Autocar subjected one to an early road test, recording a maximum speed (with standard Velox body and wind-breaking full windscreen) of 82.57mph – no mean feat at a time when most cars were struggling to top 50mph.
The Autocar went on to say: ‘Few cars have such graceful lines yet at once suggest unlimited strength allied to speed…and very, very few can take a corner stiffly with absolute certainty as this one can.’
This year, Vauxhall Motors’ own 1926 OE-Type Velox Tourer (OE268) will join around 50 other 30-98s in Lancashire to celebrate the model’s competition debut at Waddington Fell. Working with the Vauxhall 30-98 Register, local authorities have closed the public road which used to form the course, allowing cars from as far afield as Australia and the US to recreate Higginson’s winning run.
Other events which Vauxhall is supporting as part of the 30-98 centenary include:
  • Brooklands Double Twelve (June 15-16)
  • The 30-98 Centenary Run (July 5) – Tour starting at Brooklands and travelling to Vauxhall’s Luton HQ and then on to Millbrook Proving Ground with up to 100 30-98s
  • CarFest North, Oulton Park (August 2-4)
  • CarFest South, Laverstoke Park (August 23-25)
  • ‘Thirsty Down Under’ Tour (Oct/Nov) – a three-week tour of Victoria and Tasmania for the thriving 30-98 Register based in Australia
Goodwood has yet to confirm entry of the 30-98 in its centenary year at the Festival of Speed.

THOMAS SABO extends involvement with Mercedes-Benz and the DTM

The THOMAS SABO lifestyle brand is strengthening ties with Mercedes-Benz in the world’s most popular touring car series. The company, headquartered in the Bavarian town of Lauf an der Pegnitz, is involved once again as a car sponsor with Mercedes-Benz in the 2013 DTM season. Spaniard Roberto Merhi will be in the THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé cockpit this season.
Furthermore, THOMAS SABO intends to intensify cooperation with Mercedes-Benz in the DTM; commencing with the season opener at Hockenheim on 5th May, the logos of the jewellery and watch brand will feature prominently on the front aprons of all six DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupés and on the racing overalls of the six Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers.
THOMAS SABO is the jewellery company headquartered in the northern Bavarian town of Lauf an der Pegnitz that was established in 1984 by its eponymous owner. The company ranks among one of the world’s leading lifestyle brands with its jewellery, watches and beauty products.
THOMAS SABO has been a sponsoring partner of Mercedes-Benz in the DTM since the 2011 season. In addition, the lifestyle label is also personal sponsor to MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg.
Roberto Merhi will be contesting his second DTM season this year. The 22-year-old Spaniard has been a Mercedes-Benz protégé since 2008 and won the Formula 3 Euro Series championship in a Dallara-Mercedes before moving up to the DTM. He secured the FIA ​​Formula 3 International Trophy in the same year.
Roberto Merhi: “THOMAS SABO is a global brand that has also made a name for itself in motor racing in recent years. My black THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé looks fast and aggressive. I am really looking forward to Hockenheim and lining up for the first time in the C-Coupé. Gary achieved brilliant results with our very own Black Lightning last season. Now it’s up to me to continue the good work.”
Thomas Sabo: “I am delighted that we are expanding our involvement in motor racing with Mercedes-Benz. THOMAS SABO will have a dynamic and promising team on the grid once again this year. We are particularly keen to promote young drivers and in Roberto Merhi, we have found a young dedicated DTM driver who not only has a great career in motor racing ahead of him, but also perfectly fits the image of the THOMAS SABO lifestyle brand. I am certain that we are in for a thrilling DTM season.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “The black THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé with its elegant, sporty look is a firm favourite of many DTM fans. So, I am really pleased that THOMAS SABO is stepping up a gear with Mercedes-Benz and the world’s most popular touring car series. The two brands fit together perfectly: The distinctive design and the high quality standards of the lifestyle label correspond exactly with those of the Mercedes-Benz brand. We aim to continue our successful long-term cooperation both on and off the track this coming season.”


Land Rover joins the celebrations for the commissioning of the Royal Navy’s newest warship today by announcing an affiliation with HMS Defender and supplying a Land Rover Defender for its use whilst on dry land. Company representatives will be among the guests attending the official ceremony at the HM Naval Base in Portsmouth, the Type 45 destroyer’s home port.
The name provides an obvious link: HMS Defender is the navy’s fifth warship of its name, while today’s Land Rover Defender can trace its roots directly back to the original Land Rover of 1948. The two are also fine examples of British engineering, the former built at the Govan shipyard on the River Clyde in Scotland, and the latter at the Land Rover plant in Solihull. Both are designed and equipped to tackle tough, albeit very different, environments around the world.
Mark Cameron, Land Rover Brand Experience Director – Global Marketing, said: “We are proud of our Land Rover Defender as an expression of what Land Rover has stood for for more than 60 years, and in the same spirit we are also proud of our new association with HMS Defender and her servicemen and women.
“Our affiliation reflects shared values and heritage that represent the best of Britain on the world stage. We look forward to sharing experiences and friendship in the future as HMS Defender takes up her duties.”
HMS Defender Commanding Officer, Commander Nash said:  “The Commissioning of HMS Defender is a hugely significant day in this state of the art warship’s life – it marks the point at which building and testing the ship finishes and frontline service in the Fleet begins.  It is also important to recognise that for the 190 women and men that make up my ship’s company this day of Commissioning represents the culmination of months and years of hard work, of training, trials and practice focussed on ensuring that Defender is ready to undertake operations around the world whenever tasked.  We are extremely proud of our achievement and would like to thank our partners in British industries for their assistance in reaching this goal. Land Rover have lent great support for the staging of the ceremonial event today and on behalf of My Ship’s Company and guests I would like to pass our sincere thanks for that assistance. ”
Today’s commissioning ceremony is a significant occasion that will be recorded in Royal Navy history, the moment when HMS Defender is officially taken up into the Fleet’s Order of Battle under the White Ensign. The destroyer was launched in 2009 and has undergone extensive sea trials prior to entering service this year. It has a number of other affiliations, notably with the cities of Glasgow and Exeter.
HMS Defender and Land Rover Defender – key facts
 HMS Defender Type 45 DestroyerLand Rover Defender 110 Station Wagon
HeritageFifth Royal Navy ship of this name since 1797Current model is the latest development of the original Land Rover concept of 1948
Displacement/weight8,000 tonnes2,062kg
Complement/accommodation190 personnelDriver and up to six passengers
Draught/wading depth5.3m500mm
Max. speed30+ knots91mph
Range7,000 nautical miles420 miles
WeaponryMedium calibre guns and weapon systems, short range machine guns, Sea Viper missile system and Lynx helicopter weapons systemsn/a


The 2013 Goodwood Revival (13-15 September) is set to build on the success of last year’s event, when a record-breaking 146,000 people attended over the weekend.  As ever, the Revival offers visitors of all ages a chance to revel in the romance and glamour of motor racing as it used to be.  It is the only sporting event in the world set entirely to a period theme, and every year, spectators and competitors take a magical step back in time by getting into the effervescent Goodwood spirit.  The majority of visitors enter into the spirit of the event, dressing in appropriate clothing from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.
This September’s event will offer an action-packed weekend of historic motor racing and period theatre for all the family, as always – with much more besides with mouth-watering grids, scintillating on-track action, and a number of significant anniversaries to celebrate.  The following is a summary of all the on-track activity:
Celebrity Two-driver Races
Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration race (one hour, two driver)
For closed-cockpit GT cars in the spirit of the RAC TT races, 1960-1964
The one-hour, two-driver Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration race remains the jewel in the Revival’s crown.  Nowhere else in the world will you see such a spectacular grid of super-rare GT cars racing in anger, driven by great aces past and present.  The grid will once again feature a breathtaking £150+ million array of internationally-renowned historic cars.  Expect to see Ferrari 250 LM (50th anniversary), GTO and GT SWB;Aston Martin DB4GT, Zagato and Project cars; plus AC Cobras, Jaguar E-types and E-Type Lightweights.
Whitsun Trophy
For Ford GT40s and related cars of a type that raced prior to 1966
This year’s Saturday feature race will be very special indeed, featuring a grid exclusively made up of the world’s finest collection of significant and authentic racing FordGT40s, plus the possibility of a Lola Mk6 GT – the model on which the iconic GT40 was based.  This will be the first time that a dedicated competition has ever been held for these iconic cars. It will be a 45-minute two-driver race, with driver changes in the pits between 15 and 30 minutes.
Freddie March Memorial Trophy
For cars in the spirit of the Goodwood Nine-Hour races, 1952-1955
To mark the 60th anniversary of the second Goodwood Nine Hours race, this year’s Freddie March Memorial Trophy will be a 90-minute two-driver race into twilight, for cars of a type that contested the legendary race.  It will feature a fabulous collection of classic sports-racing cars such as Jaguar C-type, Aston Martin DB3 and DB3S, Austin-Healey 100S, Ferrari 750, Allard and HWM.
St Mary’s Trophy
Two races for saloon cars of a type that raced between 1960 and 1966
This year’s St Mary’s Trophy will feature saloon cars from the 1960s.  Expect to see a thrilling and close-fought battle between such diverse and classic cars as Alfa Romeo Giulia GT Coupes, Mini Cooper S, Lotus Cortina (all three celebrating their 50th anniversaries this year) as well as Jaguar MkII, BMW 2000 Tii and Ford Galaxie, plus many lesser-seen period racing saloons. As ever, the format will be a celebrity race on Saturday, with the car owners taking their turn on Sunday, and the result declared on aggregate.
Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy
Two races for motorcycles (1960-66) in the spirit of the original Goodwood Saturday meeting
The Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy will continue as a two-part, two-rider challenge, this year featuring bikes from the 1960s, including iconic names like BSA, Triumph, Norton and BMW.  There will again be one race on Saturday and another on Sunday, with the result decided by aggregate timing.  Each owner-rider will be paired up with a professional racer, and both will ride in each race, changing over in the pits around half distance. 
Sports car races
Fordwater Trophy
For production-based sports and GT cars, of a type that raced between 1955 and 1960
The Fordwater Trophy is a name synonymous with Goodwood and the Revival, and this year’s race will feature production-based sports and GT cars in the spirit of the Members meetings held between 1955 and 1960.  This year the race will feature powerful exotic thoroughbreds such as the Chevrolet Corvette,Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France and Mercedes-Benz 300SL 'Gullwing', through to smaller and more nimble models including theMGA and Porsche 356.
For World Championship sports cars and production sports racing cars from 1955-1960
The Sussex Trophy caters for World Championship sports cars and production sports racing cars from 1955-1960.  These big, powerful cars, from the likes of Aston Martin,Ferrari,Jaguar,Lister and Maserati, are perfectly suited to Goodwood’s fast, sweeping curves, and always produce a stunning spectacle.
Madgwick Cup
For sports-racing cars of under 2-litres of a type that raced between 1948 and 1955
This year’s Revival sees the return of the Madgwick Cup, with a grid of classic sports-racing cars of under 2-litres of a type that raced at Goodwood between 1948 and 1955.  From the exotic Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta,OSCA MT4 and Cisitalia 202 to the many British Coopers,Lesters and Lotuses, these cars were the cornerstones of Goodwood’s early days.
Single-Seater Racing
Goodwood Trophy
For Grand Prix and Voiturette cars of a type that raced between 1930 and 1950
This race features GP ‘titans’ and more nimble voiturette cars based on designs from before the Second World War.  These sit-up-and-beg single seaters will thunder around the fast and spectacular track, just as they did in the circuit’s earliest years.  In addition to a gaggle of ERAs, expect to see Alfa Romeo Tipo B and 308C take on Maserati 4CM, 6CM and 8CM, plus Alta, Bugatti Type 54 and Talbot Lago.
For front-engined Grand Prix cars of a type that raced between 1952 and 1960
The Richmond Trophy will feature a grid of classic front-engined Grand Prix cars from the early years of the World Championship, including such iconic cars as the Maserati 250F, Ferrari 246 Dino, Aston Martin DBR4 and BRM Type 25.
Gordon Trophy
For rear-engined Inter-Continental Formula and Formula One cars, 1956-1962
The Gordon Trophy, which returns for the first time since 2010, will cater for cars from one of Grand Prix racing’s golden eras, when the Cooper-led rear-engined revolution changed the face of the sport. This year’s race should see a close-fought battle, pitting Cooper T43, 45, 51 and 53 against Lotus 18 and BRM P48, plus some interesting interlopers.  
Glover Trophy
For 1.5-litre Formula One and Tasman cars of a type that raced between 1961 and 1965
This race for 1960s Formula 1 cars will once again see a spectacular gathering of 1.5-litre GP cars, from the likes of Lotus, Brabham, BRM and Cooper.  These cigar-like racers are synonymous with the important F1 meetings in Goodwood’s latter years, and the selection of cars taking part will focus on genuine F1 cars using fabulous-sounding V8 engines, making the race as noisy and exciting as ever.
For front-engined Formula Juniors of a type that raced between 1958 and 1960
This year’s Formula Junior race focuses on cars ran with rear-engines and drum brakes, which last appeared at the Revival in 2010.  With so many Juniors competing internationally, the specification of the race changes every year, to give it a new look and character.  This year’s ‘mid period’ grid will feature a wide range of cars from familiar manufacturers such as Cooper and Lotus through to rarer examples from De Sanctis and Lynx.
Circuit Parades
Tribute to Jim Clark
Our annual feature tribute will be to the legendary Scottish racer Jim Clark, on the 50th anniversary of his first World Championship.  A daily track parade will include a variety of his most famous cars, to honour the life and achievements of this incredible man, who achieved success as both driver and team owner.
100 Years of the Tour de France
This year sees the 110th anniversary of the first Tour de France race in 1903, and the 100th actual running of this most renowned of all bicycle competitions.  We will have a daily peleton of cyclists riding period racing bikes, joined on track by a suitably French cavalcade of support vehicles, period promotional vans, and much more.  There may even be the odd familiar face pedalling hard as well!
Special Race
Settrington Cup
Back by huge popular demand, after last year’s inaugural race, will be the Settrington Cup, for children in Austin J40 pedal cars.  The race will once again consist of a full field of J40s competing over two heats, with the result declared on aggregate timing.  Expect one of the most closely-contested races of the weekend!
Tickets and further information for the 2013 Goodwood Revival, plus Festival of Speed and Moving Motor Show, can be ordered by on the Goodwood website (, or via the Ticket Hotline:
Telephone: +44 (0)1243 755055
On-line via the Ticket section of the website

New Kia CUB to Spring a Surprise in Seoul

Kia Motors will reveal an all-new, compact, four-door coupe concept on Thursday, March 28th at the Seoul International Motor Show.

The new Kia 'CUB' is less than four meters long and is styled to appeal to trend-setting urban dwellers.

CUB is both sleek and small, with a super-smooth exterior, a cheerful face, a daring character and headlamps that feature two-point LED lights – similar to those on the Kia Quoris flagship sedan.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Range Rover Highland GTC

The Range Rover dynasty has a new heir. The 2013 five door SUV Estate. Merdad Collection believe that the Coupe version of this type should have also been on offer, just like the very first Range Rover built in 1971. Thus we have gone back to our drawing board to do just that.

We call it the Range Rover Highland GTC. This will be our most luxurious and powerful coupe yet. Coupe cars are about style and performance, of which this car is a great candidate for their work, Merdad says. The Highland GTC will combine this spirit with supreme luxury.
Merdad himself declares this to be his most treasured project yet; "when you can't wait to wake up in the morning to drive your car, it is a good indicator of how special your car is."  His father owned a 1979 original Range Rover 2 door for 22 years. 

With Merdad cars increasingly replacing the standard as a means of self-expression, we are learning those demands of customers who settle for nothing but the best.

Our Porsche Cayenne Coupe was a world's first; an unprecedented supercar with unparalleled performance and quality.
By adding dramatic and beautiful design along with high performance, the all-new 2013 Merdad Coupe is a fitting follow-up to our Porsche Cayenne 902 Coupe, launched in 2010.
Merdad adds, ‘Our involvement in the Porsche Cayenne Coupe project gave us invaluable knowledge through research and development, which we are now applying to the Range Rover Highland GTC, to deliver a perfect supercar, inside and out’.   

We have released official pictures and specs of the new package with prices for the 2 and 4 door versions. The most noticeable change to this vehicle is the new larger doors, a complete overhaul of the interior, and an aerodynamic body kit. You will only love what it is going to be done.

The wheel arches, similarly styled to our Cayenne Coupe, are extend by 92mm overall in width, this further emphasises the front and rear axles. This flows in with an extended series of side-skirt running panels, and twin air-vents to give the Merdad SUV flair. There will also be a full carbon rear bumper, diffuser and tailpipe deflectors, along with an extended roof spoiler and a smaller spoiler below the tailgate. The interior will be as equally remarkable, which will include 4 sports seats or luxury seats.

Additionally, we have implemented a sport suspension module, which will bring the SUV 40mm closer to the ground, while the Range Rover's 5.0-litre V8 power has been increased from 510, to 700 Bhp. We will also include bigger front and rear sport brakes to accustom the dramatic engine upgrade, Merdad's specialised custom exhaust system and your choice of 22" or 23" Merdad design wheels.

The Merdad Range Rover Coupe comes in four versions:

1- Range Rover 3.0 Litre: $209,000
2- HSE 4.4 Litre: $228,000
3- Supercharged 5.0L: $239,000
4- 700 GTC Range Rover Coupe Racing 4 Seater: $485.000

Friday, March 22, 2013

In action for the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship™: SLS AMG GT and C 63 AMG Estate. Mercedes-AMG helps to ensure safety in Formula 1

In the new 2013 Formula 1® season, Mercedes-AMG will once again help to ensure safety at all Formula 1® races forming part of the FIA Formula One World Championship™. For the 18th year the performance brand of Mercedes-Benz is providing the Official F1® Safety Car and the Official F1® Medical Car. The SLS AMG GT with 435 kW (591 hp) and the C 63 AMG Estate with 358 kW (487 hp) will be deployed at the direction of Race Control officials usually when weather or incidents are considered to impact on the safety of a race. The two AMG high-performance cars had their first appearance at the opening race of the Formula 1® season in Melbourne/Australia (14 to 17 March) the 2013 FORMULA 1 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX. The second race of the season, the 2013 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix will take place this weekend.
The main reasons for intervention by the Safety Car are poor weather conditions or accidents. The Official F1® Safety Car is driven by Bernd Mayländer (from Germany) and his co-driver, the FIA‑employee Pete Tibbetts (from Great Britain). Bernd Mayländer: "We are on standby in the pit lane in the Official F1® Safety Car, waiting for a radio message from Race Control." When the need arises, the aim is to guide the field safely around the track until the danger no longer exists. The racing driver from Schorndorf has been the official driver of the Safety Car for the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) since 2000. As a former DTM driver he is also active as an instructor for the AMG Driving Academy and as a Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador at selected events.
Perfect super sports car genes as the basis for dynamic performance
The SLS AMG GT is the perfect car for the exacting requirements of Formula 1®. In keeping with the philosophy of Mercedes-AMG, the Safety Car does without technical modifications or retrofitted lightweight design measures as far as possible. The SLS AMG GT's outstanding driving dynamics come courtesy of its thoroughbred super sports car heritage: thanks to an aluminium spaceframe body, the Official F1® Safety Car tips the scales at just 1620 kg (DIN kerb weight). Thanks to the dry-sump lubrication system, it has been possible to install the V8 engine very low down, giving the vehicle a low centre of gravity. And as a result of the engine's positioning behind the front axle and the transaxle arrangement of the dual-clutch transmission on the rear axle, the car also has a favourable weight distribution ratio of 47:53 percent (front/rear). As is customary on super sports cars, aluminium double-wishbone axles to ensure high cornering speeds, precise turn-in characteristics and superb agility, as well as low mass inertia during sudden changes of direction are all part of the package with the SLS AMG GT.
The 6.3-litre V8 front mid-engine with a maximum output of 435 kW (591 hp) and 650 newton metres of peak torque is also the series-production version, as are the AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed sports transmission, the AMG RIDE CONTROL Performance suspension, the AMG high-performance ceramic composite brake system and the weight-optimised AMG 10-spoke forged light-alloy wheels painted in matt black with a high-sheen finish. The rear silencer specially developed for the Safety Car generates an even more exciting V8 sound signature to thrill Formula 1® fans watching at the circuit as well as at home on TV. The SLS AMG GT accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, and reaches the 200 km/h mark after just 11.2 seconds.
Aerodynamically optimised roof light bar incorporating LED technology
The major distinguishing visual feature between the standard production SLS AMG GT and the Official F1® Safety Car is the roof light bar. It boasts an aerodynamically efficient profile and sits on a special carbon-fibre hood which ensures the most efficient airflow over the rear aerofoil, which automatically extends at speeds above 120 km/h. All of the bar's light functions are handled by LEDs which offer a fast response time and low power consumption.
  • Green: the two centrally positioned green lights on the front and rear are lit up when the gullwing model joins the field at the start of a Safety Car phase. Permanent green is the signal for all Formula 1® drivers to overtake the Safety Car.
  • Orange: as soon as the Safety Car has positioned itself in front of all of the Formula 1® racing cars, the green LEDs are switched off and the orange LEDs are switched on. The flashing orange lights on the outer ends of the bar indicate that no overtaking whatsoever is allowed.
The roof light bar also incorporates a TV camera, and a second camera located next to the rear number plate allows the driver and co-driver to keep an eye on the Formula 1® cars behind via a monitor in the cockpit. The special number plate on the rear, with "Safety Car" lettering and 700 green LEDs, provides additional safety in darkness or wet weather. Another important feature is the stroboscopic lights in the headlamps and tail lights. They are activated permanently and provide a general signalling function while the Safety Car is being deployed.
In action 13 times during nine races in the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship™
In last year's Formula 1® season the Official F1® Safety Car went into action in nine of the 20 races. In 2012 the SLS AMG GT took to the track 13 times, covering 53 laps and a distance of 281 kilometres. The SLS AMG GT celebrated its Formula 1® debut at the 2012 FORMULA 1 SHELL BELGIAN GRAND PRIX, replacing the SLS AMG. As in previous years, the SLS AMG GT Official F1® Safety Car will be operational at all rounds of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship™..
C 63 AMG Estate: the Official F1® Medical Car
To accompany the Official F1®Safety Car in the 2013 season, Mercedes-AMG
is once again providing the Official F1® Medical Car. As in the previous years since 2008, the C 63 AMG Estate will be responsible for ensuring a rapid emergency response in the event of an accident. The Medical Car follows the Formula 1® field during the initial lap, as the racing cars are still bunched extremely closely together during this critical phase of the race.
The 6.3-litre V8 engine of the C 63 AMG has the AMG Performance package and delivers an output of 358 kW (487 hp). High performance is also ensured by the variable coil-over suspension, the AMG high-performance braking system, AMG light-alloy wheels with tyre sizes 235/35 R 19 (front) and 255/30 R 19 (rear), the differential lock and 3-stage ESP®. Visually, the Medical Car is similar to the Safety Car: the light bar on the roof, the FIA and F1®logos, the stroboscopic LED lights at the front and rear, and the rear number plate illuminated with LEDs and with "Medical Car" lettering, distinguish the special Estate model from the standard production vehicle. To ensure the best possible airflow to the radiator, the AMG front apron also has larger intake apertures and side air vents.
Plenty of space in the boot for emergency equipment
The Official F1® Medical Car is driven by racing driver Alan van de Merwe (from South Africa); his co-driver is the official FIA Chief Medical Officer Dr Ian Roberts (from Great Britain). Two assisting medical personnel from a specially selected clinic near the race track sit in the rear. Four AMG sports bucket seats with six-point seat belts, two monitors integrated into the centre console for monitoring the race and a radio set for communicating with Race Control distinguish the interior of the Official F1® Medical Car from that of the standard production C 63 AMG Estate. There is plenty of space for all the emergency equipment – including a defibrillator and respiration apparatus – in the 485-litre luggage area of the C 63 AMG Estate.
18 years of Safety Cars and Medical Cars from Mercedes-AMG
Mercedes-AMG has extensive experience in the design, development and deployment of the Official F1® Safety Car and Official F1® Medical Car. The Affalterbach-based company has been active in the top echelons of international motorsport since 1996.
All the Mercedes-AMG Safety Cars at a glance
1996:C 36 AMG (W 202)
from 1997:CLK 55 AMG (C 208)
2000:CL 55 AMG (C 215)
from 2001:SL 55 AMG (R 230)
2003:CLK 55 AMG (C 209)
from 2004:SLK 55 AMG (R 171)
from 2006:CLK 63 AMG (C 209)
from 2008:SL 63 AMG (R 230)
from 2010:SLS AMG (C 197)
since 2012 (Belgian GP):SLS AMG GT (C 197)
All the Mercedes-AMG Medical Cars at a glance
1996:C 36 AMG (W 202)
1997:C 36 AMG (W 202); E 60 AMG (W 210)
from 1998:C 55 AMG Estate (S 202)
from 2001:C 32 AMG Estate (S 203)
from 2004:C 55 AMG Estate (S 203)
since 2008:C 63 AMG Estate (S 204)
The F1 FORMULA 1 logo, F1, FORMULA 1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX and related marks are trade marks of Formula One Licensing BV, a Formula One group company. All rights reserved.


Renault UK Clio Cup organisers are delighted to confirm 22 registered cars for the championship opener at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit next weekend, 30th/31st March, with the strong likelihood of more to follow as the 2013 season gets into full swing.
In addition to the already announced line-ups from reigning champions Team Pyro, Scuderia Vittoria, Westbourne Motorsport, Total Control Racing and JHR Developments, four other squads have now officially named their entries for rounds one and two of the 16-race season at the Kent venue.
Lithuanian team Juta Racing returns with cars for Ignas Gelzinis and Tautvydas Barstys Jnr, category front-runner Aaron Williamson (Spalding) will compete with his family-run Team AWR operation and Jake Giddings (Wisbech) will race for his family’s Finesse Motorsport squad.
Multiple Renault UK Clio Cup podium finisher Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), who will be part of the KX Akademy driver programme this year, will run under the KX Racing with Scuderia Vittoria banner and 20Ten Racing makes a welcome return with a car for Graham Field (Southwell, Nottinghamshire) who debuted in the series during the final two events of the 2012 season.
Exceeding 20 cars for the Brands Hatch curtain-raiser, championship manager of the Renault UK Clio Cup, Simon North, has praised the teams for their hard work and is looking forward to a thoroughly action-packed season of vintage Clio Cup racing.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have 22 confirmed drivers for the start of the season”, he said, “It’s a great testament to the tireless efforts of all of our teams we’re able to begin the 2013 campaign with such a healthy grid, one featuring both quality and quantity.
“There’s a fantastic mix of experienced racers and talented young rookies and, as always, we’re set for a terrific season of the best in one-make saloon car action. We’re also very much looking forward to the first year working with our new official tyre supplier, Dunlop, and we’re hopeful of even more additions to the grid as the championship progresses.”
Williamson fastest in Silverstone official test
As a pre-cursor to the championship opener next week, the bulk of the Renault UK Clio Cup teams gathered at Silverstone National Circuit in Northamptonshire yesterday, Thursday, 21st March, for the official pre-season test session and Media Day.
Category returnee Aaron Williamson, the 2011 Renault UK Clio Cup Winter Series Champion, made the perfect start to his season by posting the fastest time of the day overall with a best of 1m05.847 seconds (89.68mph) during the third of four sessions.
Little more than 0.1 seconds covered the top six drivers on combined times with Westbourne’s James Colburn (Worthing) second fastest, thanks to a lap of 1m05.866 seconds (89.65mph), and Jake Giddings only a fraction further adrift in third – less than 0.04 seconds shy of the top spot.
Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) ended the day fourth quickest for Westbourne, 1m05.956 seconds (89.53mph), JHR Developments’ Josh Cook (Bath) was fifth with a session four best of 1m05.969 seconds (89.51mph) and Total Control Racing’s Rob Smith (Telford) rounded out the top six with a time of 1m05.981 seconds (89.50mph).
Next up for the Renault UK Clio Cup contingent will be officially timed pre-event practice at Brands Hatch on Good Friday, 29th March, for the opening race weekend of 2013. Qualifying for rounds one and two is scheduled to take place at 12.00 on Saturday, 30th March, with both encounters following on Easter Sunday, 31st March, at 10.20 and 15.35 respectively.
Live coverage of the second of the Brands Hatch races will be screened on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channels ITV4 and ITV4 HD. Live streaming will also be carried at  

'My wide trousers for a car!'

Jensen Centre of Excellence, Cropredy Bridge welcomes its own Seventies’ hero

Meet Spencer Haze, Jensen FF owner, dealer and fixer, back from 1973’s deep freeze

Renown consumer journalist, TV broadcaster and artist James Ruppert (Bangernomics, Autocar, The Independent, London Evening Standard) teams up with Jensen Centre of Excellence, Cropredy Bridge, to unleash the only automotive-focused, time-travelling, cartoon character ‘Spencer Haze’: real, ordinary hero Spencer Haze drives a fast Jensen FF, fights crime, enjoys adventures in a uniquely 1970s style, and of course lets Cropredy Bridge take care of his Jensen.

Ruppert’s alternative to Sweeney’s Jack Regan has taste: perhaps Spencer’s own Jensen FF is one of the four FFs (the all-wheel-drive version of the famous Interceptor) currently at Cropredy Bridge’s workshops being serviced, maintained or undergoing full restoration.
With only 320 FFs ever built during a five-year period (1966-1971) and allowing for the inevitable losses over the years, to find four of them at Cropredy Bridge is testament of the UK restoration centre’s main role in preserving, protecting and contributing to the British marque’s everlasting allure.         

Spencer Haze’s appetite for life and fast cars is reflected in a series of Cropredy Bridge-inspired cartoons featuring in all of Cropredy Bridge’s advertising and promotional material.

Wholly-owned by Gama Cars Limited since 2011, the Oxfordshire-based Jensen restoration and car sale centre has been carrying out mechanical, bodywork, servicing and restoration work for over forty years; a modern version of classic Interceptors has also been built at Cropredy Bridge.   


Le Mans 24 Hours: The N°36 Alpine breaks cover…

Alpine's return to endurance racing after an absence of 35 years plays a part in the brand's re-emergence ahead of the launch of the first car to be designed by Société des Automobiles Alpine-Caterham, planned for 2016.
- Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues, the two drivers who will share the car at every round of the ELMS, will be joined for the Le Mans 24 Hours by Tristan Gommendy.
- The N°36 Alpine will make its first track appearance at the official ELMS test days at Paul Ricard, France, on March 26-27.
It was a little less than 35 years ago that the 1978 Le Mans 24 Hours-winning Alpine-Renault A442B paraded down the Champs-Elysées in front of a cheering crowd who turned out to show their appreciation for the car's success in the hands of Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi. Today, the Parisian public and visitors to the French capital have another chance to discover the A442B, since it is one of the centrepieces of the ‘No Limit!' exhibition which is currently running at L'Atelier Renault (until April 7).
The Champs Elysees premises consequently provided the ideal backdrop for the revelation of the new Alpine prototype which is poised to compete in this year's endurance racing season. Société des Automobiles Alpine-Caterham's CEO Bernard Ollivier and Philippe Sinault, Signatech-Alpine Team Principal, lifted the veil to reveal a striking blue and orange livery which recalls the colours sported by the Alpines which raced at Le Mans some five decades ago.
"Since the announcement of Alpine's revival on November 5 last year, we have been moving forward step by step," said Bernard Ollivier. "The unveiling of this splendid car marks the beginning of another phase. It will turn a wheel for the first time very soon, and its maiden race will follow shortly afterwards. The news of our endurance racing programme received a very positive welcome, not only from diehard Alpine enthusiasts, but also from the world of motor racing in general. We can hardly wait to see our brand's colours in action!"
"I am extremely proud to be representing Alpine, but it as an honour which goes hand in hand with significant responsibilities," noted Philippe Sinault. "The next step is to take the car to Paul Ricard where our work will begin in earnest. Our aim is to be competitive in endurance racing's highly competitive LMP2 class. We will use the different test sessions that are planned, as well as the first two rounds of the ELMS, to prepare for June's Le Mans 24 Hours which is clearly the focal point of the season."
The drivers who have been named to share the N°36 Alpine-Renault form a blend of experience and youth, and all three are keen to get behind its wheel. Nelson Panciatici, 24, and Pierre Ragues, 29, who were confirmed at the time of the programme's original announcement, will be joined for the Le Mans 24 Hours by 34-year old Tristan Gommendy. The three Frenchmen all rose up through the ranks of Renault's single-seater formulae and, between them, total 10 previous participations in the world's most famous motor race. Another French youngster, Paul-Loup Chatin, has been chosen as the car's reserve driver.
Chassis Alpine
Engine Nissan V8 (type VK45)
Maximum power 500hp
Fuel and lubricants Total
Transmission Six-speed sequential X-Trac gearbox 
Steering Hydraulic, power steering
Brakes Brembo carbon brakes
Tyres Michelin
Length 4,610mm
Wheelbase 2,870mm
Width 1,995mm
Weight 900kg
Top speed 330kph

Born Reims, France, on September 26, 1988 (age: 24)
Single-seater debut 2005 (Formula Renault 2.0)
Endurance racing debut 2012
2012: FIA World Endurance Championship (Signatech-Nissan), fastest race lap at Fuji / 10th overall and 4th in LMP2 at Le Mans / podium finish at Silverstone
2010: FR3.5/WSR (KMP Racing)
2010: FR3/WSR (Junior Lotus Racing)
2009: One of the youngest drivers in GP2
2008: 2nd, Spanish F3 Championship
2005 Formula Renault 2.0 debut
1998-2004: Karting

Born Caen, France, on January 10, 1984 (age: 29)
Single-seater debut 2003 (Formula Renault Campus)
Endurance racing debut 2006
2012 World Endurance Championship (Signatech-Nissan LMP2), 4th in class at Le Mans / 3rd in class at Silverstone / 5th in class at Bahrain.
2011 5th (LMP1), Intercontinental Le Mans Cup
2010 Le Mans Series and Le Mans 24 Hours (Signature Plus, LMP1)
2009 7th, Le Mans Series (Signature Plus)
2008 Le Mans Series (Groupe Pescarolo Automobiles / Team Saulnier Racing)
Le Mans 24 Hours (Groupe Pescarolo Automobiles / Team Saulnier Racing)
2007 International Formula Master (Euronova)
Le Mans Series (Paul Belmondo Racing), LMP2
Le Mans 24 Hours debut
2005 FR 2.0 (Epsilon), French Championship and WSR
2004 FR 2.0 (SG Formula)
2003 2nd, French Formula Campus Renault Elf Championship

Born Chesnay, France, on January 4, 1979 (age: 34)
Singles-eater debut 1999 (Formula Renault)
Endurance racing debut 2003

2011-2012  Development driver (Ligier)
2008-2012  Superleague Formula (Team France-Olympique Lyonnais, Girondins de Bordeaux, FC Porto, Galatasaray), 5 wins, 11 podiums
2010 8th (LMP2), Le Mans 24 Hours (WR Salini)
Development driver (Audi Team Joest, Audi R15+)
2007  Champcar World Series (PKV Racing), 1 pole position, 5 top-five finishes, 2 fastest race laps and 6 top-10 finishes
2006 GP2 Series (Team Is Sport), 5 races, 4 top-five finishes and 1 fastest race lap
2005 4th, World Series by Renault FR 3.5 (KTR), 2 wins, 5 podiums
Le Mans 24 Hours (WR)
2004  World Series by Nissan (Team Saulnier Racing), 5 pole positions, 6 podiums
2003 Formula Renault V6 (Signature), 6 wins, 5 podiums, 6 fastest race laps
Le Mans 24 Hours (factory driver for Dome LMP1 / Racing for Holland), 8th in qualifying
2002  1st, French Formula 3 Championship (ASM), 5 wins, 10 podiums, record number of pole positions in French championship (10), 1st in Macau F3 GP
2001  Formula 3 (ASM), 3 pole positions, 4 podiums
1999 4th, French Formula Renault Championship (Team Mygale), ‘Rookie' of the Year

Signatech's expertise is founded on 22 years of experience in top-flight single-seater racing, and four years in world class endurance racing. It has emerged as one of international motor racing's leading players, with the following results to its name:
§  76 victories
§  47 pole positions
§  472 podium finishes
§  48 fastest race laps
§  15 titles

§  Fastest race lap (LMP2), 2012 6 Hours of Fuji
§  2nd (LMP2), 2012 6 Hours of Bahrain
§  3rd (LMP2), 2012 6 Hours of Silverstone
§  10th overall, 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours (4th in LMP2)
§  2nd (LMP2), 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours
§  1st (LMP2), 2011 ILMC
§  2nd, 2010 LMS
§  2nd, 2011 F3 Euro Series
§  2nd, 2011 LMS
§  1st, 2010 F3 Euro Series
§  1st, F3 World Cup (2003, 2009 and 2010)
§  1st, FIA European F3 Cup (1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003)
1st, Formula Renault V6 Europe (2003)

SIGNATECH in brief:
§  Two race team workshops totalling 2,500 sq. metres
§  Total Group turnover: €10,000,000
§  A staff of 40
§  Engineering office (Solidworks prototyping platform)
§  Composites workshop
§  Machine shop
§  Ellip6 simulator for driver training and technical programme development (six-axle full motion driving simulator with three-screen panoramic display).

  • March 26-27 Official ELMS test, Paul Ricard, France
  • April 13 ELMS (round 1), Silverstone, GB
  • May 18 ELMS (round 2), Imola, Italy
  • June 9 Pre-Le Mans 24 Hours test, Le Mans, France
  • June 23 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours, Le Mans, France
  • July 20 ELMS (round 3), Red Bull Ring, Austria
  • September 14 ELMS (round 4), Hungaroring, Hungary
  • September 28 ELMS (found 5), Paul Ricard, France

Audi gets to grips with its five millionth quattro model

Audi has just proved that there really is safety in numbers by producing its five millionth quattro all-wheel-drive-equipped model - an A6 allroad. The rugged, air-suspended Avant is just one of over 140 variants across the Audi range currently benefiting from this invaluable all-weather grip enhancer, which made the pioneering transition from rally stage to road courtesy of the Vorsprung durch Technik brand back in the Eighties.
"quattro is one of the key pillars of our brand and has been a critical factor in our successful history," said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. "The quattro permanent all-wheel drive system makes it possible to directly experience our ‘Vorsprung durch Technik.' We are committed to our pioneering role and will continue to develop this advantage with new technologies."
An instant hit at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show, the 200PS Audi quattro showcased the first mainstream four-wheel-drive system. It triggered the intensive development that has culminated in today's leading edge Audi all-wheel-drive technology, which instils impressive all-weather traction and exceptionally high limits of adhesion in the latest quattro variants.
Last year, more than 43 per cent of Audi customers opted for the added reassurance of quattro, and the Neckarsulm plant in Germany - home of quattro GmbH - equipped one car in every two on the production line with the technology.
Audi quattro: the latest incarnation
A rear axle-mounted multi-plate clutch version of the quattro system currently safely contains Audi models with transversely mounted engines from the Q3 through to the TT, and a further developed version will soon return to the all-new A3 and 300PS S3. Models with longitudinally mounted engines, including the A4, A5, A6, A7, A8 and Q7, divide their torque across all four wheels by way of a self-locking centre differential, the most advanced version of which is the crown gear differential used by RS 4 Avant, RS 5 Coupe and RS 5 Cabriolet models, and soon to feature in the forthcoming RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback models.
The advanced crown gear differential channels power to where it is needed, and away from where it isn't, more quickly than ever before in the interest of optimal handling composure and agility. Up to 70 per cent of torque can be apportioned to the front axle, and up to 85 per cent channeled to the rear, where in the RS models a sports differential is also on hand to divide power between the rear wheels in the most effective proportions possible.
The latest generation R8 incorporates another variation - a viscous coupling capable of diverting between 15 and 30 per cent of torque to the front wheels, depending on conditions. Located on the front axle, the coupling is powered through a cardan shaft that runs to the front from the transmission through the engine's crankcase.
Motorsport domination
Since its humble beginnings in 1981, quattro all-wheel drive has monopolised motorsport with formidable performances on track and tarmac. Four titles in the rally world championships (Driver's & Manufacturers'), three overall victories at Pikes Peak, a championship win in the TransAm (Driver's & Manufacturers'), two DTM titles, almost 20 national touring car championships (Driver's & Manufacturers') and the FIA Touring Car World Cup have been notched up by Audi thanks in no small part to the supreme control and grip supplied by quattro.
Audi quattro in detail - the road to success
The origins of quattro can be traced back to the winter of 1976-77, when a group of Audi engineers conducted test drives in the deep snow in Sweden. A Volkswagen Iltis was also participating for comparison purposes, and despite its mere 75PS output, the leggy all-terrain vehicle easily outran the much more powerful Audi prototypes with their front-wheel drive systems. A few weeks later a small team of engineers led by Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, then the Audi Board Member for Technical Development, began developing an all-wheel-drive car.
Their tour de force, which made the possibility of series production genuinely viable, was a seemingly simple hollow shaft, the integration of which permitted construction of an all-wheel drive system that was virtually tension-free, light, compact and efficient, and that operated without the need for a heavy transfer case or second cardan shaft.
The hollow shaft was a drilled-out secondary shaft in the transmission through which power flowed in two directions. It drove the centre differential from its rearmost end. The other half of drive torque was transferred to the front axle's differential along an output shaft rotating inside the hollow secondary shaft.
The revolutionary technology made its world debut at Geneva in 1980 in the new Audi quattro, a 200PS sports coupé which was originally destined for production in low volumes. Such was the demand for this now legendary four-wheel-drive crusader, though, that it remained in the model line-up right up until 1991. In 1984 the compact, short wheelbase Sport quattro with 306PS was also added, and in 1986 the first generation model's manual-locking centre differential was replaced with the Torsen differential (Torsen = torque sensing). This worm gear transmission was capable of variable distribution of drive torque. The next big step came in 2005 with the planetary drive that offered asymmetrical, dynamic distribution of the power.
In parallel, Audi further expanded its line-up of quattro models, and early on in the 1980s elected to offer the system in every model line; the new models were important milestones on Audi's path to the premium segment in the market. The first TDI with permanent all-wheel-drive appeared in 1993; four years later the technology moved into the compact segment.
Audi quattro - the motorsport connection
In early 1981 the quattro was launched headlong into the world championship scene, and quickly dominated it. Hannu Mikkola of Finland won the first six special stages in the snow on the Monte Carlo Rally, but unfortunately, despite a lead of almost six minutes, had to concede defeat after his car made contact with a wall. By as early as 1982, the quattro had proved itself unbeatable; Audi redefined the benchmark with seven victories and captured the Manufacturers' Championship. The following year Mikkola took home the drivers' title.
The 1984 season also started off with a bang - the newly recruited two-time world champion Walter Röhrl won the Monte Carlo Rally ahead of his team colleagues Stig Blomqvist (Sweden) and Hannu Mikkola. At the end of the season, Audi took the world Manufacturers' title as in 1982 and Blomqvist won the drivers' title.
The final car was the Sport quattro S1. It celebrated its greatest triumph in 1987: Walter Röhrl stormed up the 156 curves of Pikes Peak in Colorado, USA, in absolute record time with about 600PS of power at his disposal.
In the following years, Audi shifted its focus to racing touring cars. Starting in 1988 the brand raced in the TransAm series and won the title on its first attempt. In 1990 the brand switched to the German Touring Car Championship, or DTM, and Hans Stuck also took the title here in the first year with the large and powerful V8 quattro.
Audi became the first manufacturer in the history of the German Touring Car Championship to stage a successful defence of its title.  Frank Biela rounded off an impressive first season for Audi with a double win in the last race of the season at Hockenheim, succeeding his team-mate Hans-Joachim Stuck - placed third - as champion. In 1996 the A4 quattro Supertouring, with its two-litre, four-cylinder engine, entered seven national championships on three continents - and won them all.
Two years later the European ruling bodies banned all-wheel drive almost completely from touring car races. The Audi balance sheet up to that point read as follows: four titles in the rally world championships, three victories at Pikes Peak, a championship win in the TransAm, two DTM titles, eleven national touring car championships and a touring car world championship. All-wheel-drive didn't reappear again in racing until 2012. The hybrid-diesel Audi R18 e-tron quattro interpreted the formula in a new and groundbreaking way - and immediately celebrated a dazzling one-two victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours.


Coming off a  solo-driven victory in the 2012 Baja 1000, Joe Bacal and his JTGrey Racing team are ready to race the Lexus  LX 570 with full Lexus backing again in 2013, kicking off the season with the Mint 400 this Saturday, March 23 in Las Vegas.

The Mint 400 is one of the oldest and best known desert races—a marquee event for the Best In The Desert racing series and made famous by the likes of Parnelli Jones, James Garner, Ivan Stewart, Steve McQueen and Mickey Thompson.

"The Mint 400 is always exciting and a great test for any bona fide off-road racer," said Bacal.  "With Lexus supporting us again this year and the LX working so well, we'd like to show what we can do together at the Mint."

With a fully sorted and quick truck under him, plus Lexus' full support and a seasoned crew behind him, Bacal will also tackle the toughest races on the off-road calendar this year: The Baja 500 and 1000, both of which he and Lexus have won.  The beefy LX, despite its generous dimensions, has proven a smart choice on the rough Mexican terrain. It's fast and tough, which comes as no surprise to Lexus.

"Joe and his team have proven the capabilities of the LX 570," said Lexus Vice President of Marketing Brian Smith.  "Joe has great skill and true grit as a driver, and the LX is fast and seems unbreakable, so it's a hard-to-beat combination."

Bacal and Lexus began their racing partnership in remarkable fashion with a class victory in the 2009 Baja 500—both as Baja rookies.  Perhaps equally remarkable, Bacal, a Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor, drove the entire race distance, a feat Bacal repeated twice at the grueling Baja 1000.  The team continued its amazing start by capturing the SCORE Stock Full class championship in 2010, its first full season of racing.  The squad has since notched wins at the Baja 1000 (twice), the Laughlin Desert Challenge, the Primm 300 and the San Felipe 250.


One of the race cars American racing legend Dan Gurney is most closely associated with is the Ford Mark IV that he and A.J. Foyt took to a historic victory at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Gurney will get a chance to become even more familiar with the car he helped make famous when his All-American Racers shop in California takes possession of the car’s conservation on behalf of Henry Ford Museum, it was announced today.
“I don’t think we could have found a better person or better organization to conserve this very special race car,” said Christian Overland, executive vice-president, The Henry Ford. “Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt made this Mark IV famous with their win at Le Mans, and to have Dan, his son Justin, and their employees take on the job of conserving it for future generations seems so right. There is no doubt in our mind they will take the upmost care in this job because of what this car meant to their family’s history.”
Gurney and Foyt teamed with legendary car owner Carroll Shelby to run the Mark IV at Le Mans. Their victory in 1967 remains the only time an All-American built car (built by Kar Kraft), powered by an All-American engine, driven by American drivers and fielded by an American team has won Le Mans overall.
“I am looking forward to getting re-acquainted with one of the great cars from my career,” said Gurney, chairman, All American Racers, Inc. “After all those years, we are still loyal to Ford, and our company cars all bear the blue oval.”
“The younger generation of engineers, fabricators and mechanics at All American Racers is excited and proud to help conserve this car, which is of such great historical significance,” said Justin Gurney, president and CEO, All American Racers, Inc. “We thank Ford and Henry Ford Museum for entrusting this special task to us.”
Justin Gurney was in Dearborn recently to see the historic racer, and it will soon be on its way to California to start the project. The Mark IV recently returned from Europe, where it was on display for several events last year marking the 45th anniversary of the Le Mans win. While in transport, the car sustained some minor damage, which will be repaired during the conservation.
The famous red No. 1 car, powered by a 7.0-liter Ford V8 engine, was specifically designed for endurance racing. It had a NASCAR-style roll cage around honeycomb panel construction. It was one of only six Mark IV’s built for competition, and this one featured what became known as a Gurney-bubble, a round indentation on the roof to accommodate Gurney’s head and helmet.
The car was known to hit approximately 220 mph on the Mulsane Straight at Le Mans, an incredible speed even today. Gurney and Foyt took the lead at 90 minutes of the 24-hour event, and ended up winning by four laps.
This will be the second major conservation in recent years of a historic race car from Henry Ford Museum’s “Racing in America” collection.
The Lotus Ford 38/1 Indy car that Jim Clark drove to victory in the 1965 Indianapolis 500 recently was conserved by Classic Team Lotus in England, led by Clive Chapman. Clive is the son of Colin Chapman, who fielded the car at Indianapolis.
The Clark Indy-winner was the first rear-engine car to ever win the 500-mile race, and is considered one of the most significant Indy cars in history.
After being conserved, the Lotus 38/1 was first run at the 2010 Goodwood Festival of Speed, before returning to Indianapolis in September 2010 for a demonstration run by three-time 500 winner Dario Franchitti.
The Lotus 38/1 is now on display at Henry Ford Museum.
To follow news about the conservation of the Mark IV race car, follow Racing in America on the web:, on Facebook and on Twitter.


The third Poppy Regularity Rally in Ypres, Belgium, was won for the first time by a Belgian crew who came in first over 60 classic cars. The event was organised by the Classic Rally Association (CRA) during the weekend of March 15-17th.
Jeremy Dickson, CRA’s Event Director, said: “This was the first event we run since becoming part of the HERO group and would like to thank the team at HERO for their support leading up to the Poppy Rally. As part of a combined organisation we will be able to provide a better experience for classic rallying enthusiasts and remain as the leading organisers of European Regularity Events.”
The event that attracted crews from ten different countries, including Japan, Canada, the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands served as the first qualifying round of the 2013 HERO Cup, in association with EFG International, as well as being once again a round of the FIA Trophy for Historic Regularity Rallies,.
Patrick Burke, Managing Director of the Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation (HERO), competed in the event and said: “We had a variety of cars and a good mix of international crews taking part. Participants came extremely well prepared as well which made the rally and tests very competitive. It was fantastic, pure classic rallying!”
Bad weather with snowfall in the days leading up to the event had led to fears that many sections of route would be lost but sterling work by the local organisers and event course cars minimised the changes to the route.
The event started well on Saturday morning from the main square in Poperinge, near Ypres, with great support from the local people who stopped to watch the great variety of classic cars setting off, which ranged from a 1955 Austin Healey 100/4 through to a 1981 Mercedes-Benz 380.
At the end of the first leg on Saturday evening the leading crews were separated only by seconds, which indicated that battle for the top places was going to be fierce on the following day.
The Sunday leg included public road driving and eight tests run on closed roads, in this case in a former kart circuit and at a banked oval circuit. Crews demonstrated great driving skills and an outstanding performance along the tests, which left very small time difference between them when they arrived at the finish back in Ypres.
Jeremy Dickson, CRA Event Director, said: “It was a great demonstration of classic rallying. Crews were very competitive and we didn’t know who the winners were until the last car crossed under the finish arch in the Grote Markt.”
For the first time, the Poppy Rally was won by a local crew formed by Eddy D’Hoe and Bjorn Van Overschelde from Zele, Belgium, in a 1968 MGB GT V8. British team and 2009 winners, Peter Horsburgh from Docking and Anthony Preston from Didcot came in second place in their 1965 Mini Cooper S, just six seconds behind the winners. The podium was completed by John Bateson from Santon and FIA Champion Navigator Iain Tullie from Cumbria who came further eight seconds back in a 1968 MGB.
The Japanese crews, called Team Samurai, were from the University of Tokyo and came to Europe to visit various manufacturing facilities and compete in three different rallies across Spain, Belgium and Italy. Even though they struggled at times with an event that was very different to anything else they had done in the past, they were worthy winners of the ‘Spirit of the Rally’ award.
Patrick Burke added: “We would like to thank the locals for their good spirit and support. At one moment, I got lost and was gently helped by a woman who offered me a cup of tea and pointed me towards the right direction.”
The next Classic Rally Association event is the 25th Pirelli Classic Marathon in June this year, running from Ypres to Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Italian Alps.
Overall winners of the Poppy Rally
1Eddy D'Hoe (BEL) / Bjorn van Overschelde (BEL)1968 MG MGB GT
2Peter Horsburgh (GBR) / Anthony Preston (GBR)1965 Morris Mini Cooper S
3John Bateson (GBR) / Iain Tullie (GBR)1968 MG MGB
Picture captions:
1) Winners Eddy D'Hoe and Bjorn van Overschelde in their 1968 MG MGB GT
2) 2009 Winners Peter Horsburgh and Anthony Preston in their Morris Mini Cooper S

 Pictures “© Photo Rastrelli”


Following a successful return to the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) with a new 1.6-litre turbo engine last year, SEAT Sport has announced that it will support four teams for the 2013 season. The SEAT Leon WTCC – one of the most successful touring car racers in recent years – goes under starter’s orders once more.
Running the SEAT Leon WTCC this year are four teams: Campos Racing (Spain); Tuenti Racing Team (Spain); Special Tuning Racing (Great Britain); and Münnich Motorsport (Germany). Reigning World Touring Car Champion Robert Huff will drive for the latter team, in the cockpit of the Leon WTCC bearing number 1.
And he’ll be supported by another reigning world champion in Team Münnich: Marc Basseng, who took the 2012 title in the FIA GT1 World Championship. The current European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) champion, Fernando Monje, also enters the fray this season at the wheel of a Leon WTCC for Team Campos Racing.
“Motorsport is deeply embedded in SEAT’s DNA and also on-going proof of our technical expertise. With the experience and know-how of experts working at SEAT Sport we have been able to offer a very competitive vehicle for all our customers,” says Dr. Matthias Rabe, SEAT’s Vice President for Research and Development. “I would particularly like to thank the mechanics and engineers at SEAT Sport, who have worked with enormous motivation to prepare the teams’ race vehicles.”
SEAT Sport is supporting the four customer teams with extensive assistance derived from enormous know-how garnered over the years. Specialists from SEAT Sport will be on-site at each of the 24 races on twelve race tracks around the world.
“SEAT fans around the world are thrilled by every single exciting race,” says Jaime Puig, Head of SEAT Sport with responsibility for the brand’s motorsport activities. “We are supporting the customer teams with the full weight of our combined experience and I am certain they will achieve outstanding success this year, too.”
At the heart of SEAT’s touring car racer is the 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine with an output of 310 PS and a maximum torque of 410 Nm. Last season, the turbocharged powerhouse – developed by SEAT Sport – made it very obvious that it possesses all of the performance and endurance called for in every single WTCC race. The Leon WTCC is based on the five-door Mk II SEAT Leon CUPRA and has been modified by SEAT Sport engineers in accordance with the official rules laid down by the FIA for international competition.
The SEAT Leon WTCC is one of the most successful touring car racers of recent years, with SEAT twice bringing the world title home to Spain – in 2008 and 2009. The Spanish brand caused quite a sensation with these achievements: in 2007 the Leon TDI was the first diesel-powered car to enter the World Touring Car Championship, before going on to win successive titles over the next two years. The vehicle and engine were both developed by SEAT Sport.
Motorsport has been a fixed part of SEAT for many decades – sport is part of the brand DNA. The two wins at the World Touring Car Championship in 2008 and 2009 with the SEAT Leon TDI WTCC and the triple victory in the World Rally Championship in the 2-litre class from 1996 to 1998 are just two outstanding examples. Alongside its commitment to customers in the WTCC, 2013 will also see SEAT Sport support its customers in the FIA European Touring Car Championship (ETCC), a number of single-brand race series like the SEAT Leon Supercopa in Mexico and the SEAT Ibiza Cup in Italy and Spain.
Race calendar, 2013 World Touring Car Championship (WTCC)
24 March Monza, Italy
7 April  Marrakesh, Morocco
28 April  Slovakia Ring, Slovakia
5 MayBudapest, Hungary
19 MaySalzburg, Austria
9 JuneMoscow, Russia
30 June  Porto, Portugal
28 JulyCuritiba, Brazil
8 September Sonoma, USA
22 SeptemberSuzuka, Japan
3 November  Shanghai, China
17 NovemberGuia, Macau