Asian Festival of Speed this weekend at Bira
The Asian Festival of Speed (AFOS)
combined with the Supercar Thailand meeting is being held at
the Prince Bira circuit this weekend. This is the most
professional meeting of the year with AFOS bringing over the
Asian Touring Car championships (both 2 liter and 1500) as
well as the Formula Asia 2.0 open-wheelers. These categories
are also being boosted by the local Supercar events,
including the highly modified SuperCup sedan cars which has
local drivers Thomas Raldorf leading and Jack Lemvard as
pensive Jack Lemvard
Jack Lemvard is very busy these days, running in the Honda
Racing Fest in Thailand where he is leading the Civic One
Make challenge, and he is also leading the Asian Touring Car
championship which rotates through several countries. The 23
year old driver was given a further boost by his team and
sponsor, Ocean 1, with a promise of a drive in the World
Touring Car Series should he win the Championship this year.
“We are far ahead in the points now and it would be hard for
anyone to catch up. So it looks like my dream is coming
true,” said Lemvard.
In the Asian championship, Lemvard drives a Liqui Moly Team
Engstler BMW and is looking forward to being home. “Bira is
my home track, I practice there almost every weekend so I
know every corner and every thing about the circuit. I will
also be racing in the Thailand Touring Car races there at
the same time as AFOS so it will be exciting.”
In the Thailand series, Lemvard will be kept honest by
Thomas Raldorf who has already managed to secure a berth in
the Macau GP meeting in November this year.
Rounds 8, 9 and 10 of the Asian Touring Car Series and
Rounds 6 and 7 of the Formula Asia 2.0 will be held during
the Asian Festival Of Speed at the Bira Circuit in Pattaya
August 15-17, 2008. The newly introduced Asian Touring Car
Super 1500 Max Challenge will also be in the line-up at the
Do you remember when you used to put a piece of
plastic on the front forks of your bicycle so that it made a
‘vroom’ noise with the spokes as you pedaled along? Well,
Lotus have seized on our childhood technology and adapted it
to electrically driven cars!
Full electric and hybrids have a slight problem in the fact
that they are veritably without noise when running along.
This means that pedestrians are unable to hear and
anticipate, so drivers will have to carry special polish to
wipe the nasty smears off the front of their cars before
they go home.
Lotus call it their “safe and sound hybrid technology” which
simulates the traditional noise of an internal combustion
engine. Stealthy hybrids and electric cars have come in for
criticism from groups representing the blind and partially
sighted, concerned that the low hum of the vehicles puts
those with imperfect sight at greater risk of being hit on
the roads. Some are almost silent at slow speeds.
Clive Wood, transport policy officer at the Guide Dogs for
the Blind Association, said, “Blind and partially sighted
people use the noise of oncoming traffic as a cue for when
it is safe to cross a road. If a quiet hybrid electric
vehicle is approaching, then they will no longer have this
cue and are immediately put at risk.”
One US study found electric and hybrid cars moving slowly
had to be 40 percent closer to pedestrians than conventional
vehicles before their location could be detected. They have
no noisy pistons, internal explosions or fan belts which
cause the roar we associate with the traditional car engine.
Hybrids pose the same basic problem. At low speeds, the
electric motor takes over, making them very quiet.
Lotus has already put the system into a Toyota Prius, one of
the most popular hybrid cars on the market, with over one
million of them whistling noiselessly past. The device kicks
in automatically to produce an artificial engine noise when
the hybrid car runs on its electric motor. When the car’s
combustion engine takes over, sensors fitted to the engine
and suspension turn off the sound.
The engine noise is produced by a waterproof loudspeaker
positioned next to the car’s radiator, making it appear as
if the sound is coming from under the bonnet. The system
produces a noise of the pitch and frequency designed to help
pedestrians identify the car’s speed and distance, says
It is claimed that Lotus adapted the system from technology
previously developed to block outside noise from the inside
of its cars; however, you and I know it came from our
Mike Kimberley, chief executive of Group Lotus said, “The
increased acceptance of greener vehicles such as hybrid and
electric vehicles is to be encouraged; they have an
important role in improving fuel economy and reducing
emissions. Our technology increases pedestrian safety, while
retaining the car’s environmental benefits.”
Lotus hopes that manufacturers of electric and hybrid cars
will adopt the technology, which it says can also be
retro-fitted at a very reasonable price. After all, how much
did it cost us with one piece of plastic poking out between
the wheel spokes!
Last week I asked who was the first
non-Italian driver to win the ‘proper’ 1000 km Mille Miglia?
The answer was the German Rudolf Caracciola (despite an
Italian sounding name) in 1931 driving a Mercedes-Benz. The
next ‘foreign’ driver to win was Stirling Moss in 1955 in
another Mercedes-Benz, the 300 SLR. A German crewed BMW won
the race in 1940, but this was a closed circuit event and
not the ‘proper’ Mille Miglia. First correct answer in was
Mo Bertrand. Well done Mo.
So to this week. Archie Scott-Brown was a driver of
incredible courage, competing at the top level with only one
usable arm. There was another driver, an American, who won
championships on both dirt and asphalt with one hand and a
hook. What was his name?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Nissan has indicated its intention of being at
the forefront of electric power technology, stating that
they will release an all-electric vehicle in 2010. This
looks like being a race between GM and Nissan, as both have
said that their electric vehicles will be in the showrooms
in 2010, but don’t stand hopefully outside their new car
showrooms on Sukhumvit Road. It will be a while before we
get them in Thailand.
Nissan has already developed two prototypes, developed under
the ‘Nissan GT 2012’ business plan. Nissan wants to be
thought of as leaders in the ZEV (zero-emission vehicle)
market and their technology will allow them to release the
ZEV cars in 2010 and subsequently launch it globally in
Nissan is using advanced lithium-ion batteries (similar in
principle to the types used in laptops) and the all-electric
EV-02 features a front-wheel drive layout, but its
propulsion is provided by a newly developed 80 kW motor and
The laminated compact lithium-ion batteries are installed
under the floor - an arrangement that means not having to
sacrifice either cabin or cargo space, according to Nissan.
Nissan’s lightweight compact lithium-ion batteries use
unique laminated cells. Power output is improved by 1.5
times while battery volume is reduced by more than half
compared with conventional cylindrical lithium-ion
Although Honda and Toyota are better known for their
hybrids, Nissan has long experience in electric-powered
vehicle development, commencing with its first EV ‘Tama
Electric Vehicle’ way back in 1947.
Nissan also claims to have introduced the auto industry’s
first application of lithium-ion batteries in the Prairie
Joy EV in 1996, followed by the ultra-compact Hypermini
electric vehicle, released in 2000.
There is no doubt in my mind that the future is plug-in
rechargeable electric power. We have made batteries for
mobile phones that fit in our pockets, remembering that just
a decade or so ago they were so heavy you needed weight
lifting training to carry one. Electric power also frees us
from the tyranny of the oil producers and refiners, which
has to be a step in the right direction.
The new Jaguar XF range has been released,
believed to be the car to revive Jaguar’s flagging fortunes.
However, with Jaguar having been bought from Ford by India’s
Tata Motors, there has now been enough money to put jam on
the table, as well as bread and butter.
Some pundits have described the new XF as the “best looking
and most daring Jaguar sedan in many years, conveying a
lithe, low presence that is both modern and elegant.” For my
money, it looks a little too much like everything else,
particularly the Lexus, rather than being a break-through
Jaguar styling exercise.
There are four engines for the XF models. A 2.7 liter diesel
V6 and 3.0 liter petrol V6, a 4.2 liter petrol V8 and the
4.2 liter supercharged V8.
Standard gear, includes leather upholstery, sat-nav,
dual-zone climate control, six-speed auto, keyless starting,
powered front seats with driver memory, power steering
column adjustment, an electric parking brake, cruise control
with speed limiter, six-CD audio, Bluetooth and aux and USB
interfaces. About the same as everyone else, when you break
it down. After all, sat-nav has been around for 10 years,
driver memory electric front seats for about 20 years,
cruise control for 30 years and leather seats for 70 years.
For Jaguar’s sake, I hope it is a huge hit, but it has some
very stiff competition from the Mercedes E500, BMW 550 and
the Lexus GS 450H. However, if the vindaloo can keep the
price down, there will be a market, albeit very limited.