by Dr. Iain Corness
Nitto 3K race meeting this weekend
Kaeng Krachan circuit
Please don’t head out to the Bira circuit for the Nitto
3K meeting, as it is being held at the Kaeng Krachan circuit in Petchaburi,
315 kays from Pattaya and a four and a half hour drive, I am told.
The Securitas Retro Mk1 Escort is entered and we have
lowered the car at the front, changed the spring rates and built a fully
adjustable front suspension. The power from the engine remains the same, but
hopefully we will have increased the cornering speed with the new
suspension, and Kaeng Krachan has many more corners than Bira.
What did we learn from the Hungarian GP?
Did Jenson Button (McLaren) deserve to win the Hungarian
GP? Of course he did. Drove smoothly with very few errors, ‘raced’ when he
needed to and kept the pressure up on “The Finger” (Red Bull) until Vettel
cracked and was only able to raise two fingers at the end. Button’s driving
compared to his team mate Hamilton reminds me of the tale of the tortoise
and the hare. Unspectacular but consistent against the brilliantly fast but
Hamilton, however, was very unfairly dealt with by the
stewards, having been given a drive-through penalty for “forcing another
driver off the track” or similar nonsense. The real situation was that he
spun and was sitting in the middle of the track, waiting to be T-boned. He
then dropped the clutch, to spin in his own length, to face the correct way
and clear the corner. Di Resta (Force India) saw him in plenty of time and
took appropriate avoiding action. End of story. It is not as if Hamilton was
re-joining the race track and forcing another driver off. Quite frankly, the
stewards have far too much of a say these days.
The race was enlivened by the changeable weather with
drivers and their team managers double-guessing each other as to which tyres
to run. Get it right and you were a hero. Get it wrong and you looked like a
goose. Fifth placed Mark Webber (Red Bull) admitted it (while covered in
feathers), “It was quite an enjoyable Grand Prix up until when you make the
wrong decisions from the cockpit. I made the right one to go to the slicks
when I did, which worked out well, but you look completely stupid when you
are only on the intermediates for two laps.”
Alonso (Ferrari) is certainly showing fine form at
present, with another podium position, and could be a worry for Vettel in
this second half of the season. Massa, the Ferrari number two got it all
wrong again and consolidated his ‘runner up’ position in the Ferrari garage.
Young Scotsman Paul Di Resta in the Force India drove
another magnificent race to finish 7th. Adrian Sutil,
in the other Force India is being pushed backwards in the team. He’ll have
to eat more vindaloo to beat Di Resta.
Buemi (Toro Rosso) drove well to come from his rear grid
position to 8th, though the TV cameras missed most of
the action. In the process he passed Rosberg in the remaining Mercedes and
his team mate Jaime Algywotsit. Michael Schumacher in the second Mercedes
did not have a good day, retiring after 26 laps with a gearbox problem,
following a spin which he said happened while he was avoiding contact with
Massa. This new “Mr Nice Guy” is a little difficult to take.
Kamikaze Kobayashi was another to get the tyre strategy
all wrong and slipped from a fine 7th to 11th
at the flag.
Way, way down at the back of the field in the boonies,
new boy Ricciardo finished a lap in front of Liuzzi in the Hispanias. This
is just an experience year for the talented young Aussie, who will get a
better seat next year.
Finally we also learned that God does not fix ailing
engines. Rather, he drops a hand grenade down the inlet trumpets, with
Heidfeld’s Renault blow-up being a prime example. Heidfeld gets the high
jump of the year award for his exit from his car.
Three weeks till the next GP which will be at Spa in
Nissan the Asian leader?
Is there no stopping Nissan? Next time you are driving,
count the number of Nissan March, and compare that to the Honda Brio, the
vehicle that Honda was hoping would make it dominant in the eco-car class.
Sure, Honda have had supply problems since the Japanese tsunami, but Nissan
had prepared for the worst with stockpiling cars, and the gamble certainly
The future plans for Nissan include increasing the market
share to 15 percent, from the six percent where it currently sits, over the
next six years. That equates to tripling its sales to 500,000 a year. That
is quite an objective.
Not only does Nissan aim to a 15 percent market share in
ASEAN, but it also has the ambition to reach a global market share of eight
percent. Part of that will come from a bigger push in China, where Nissan is
already a strong player. Also on the global scale, Nissan is one of the few
manufacturers with its electric cars on sale now. This is the Nissan Leaf,
which has sold 8,000 cars since last December (not in Thailand).
With the intention to double its position within ASEAN up
to 700,000 units, this will also require output from Indonesia, with a
“green car” project about to be announced by their government.
As further proof of their investment in Thailand the
company will also step up education of staff through their technical centers
to increase the numbers of graduate engineers.
With Carlos Ghosn at the helm, Nissan has certainly
turned its fortunes around.
Jack be nimble, Jack B-Quik
B-Quik being quick.
Had occasion to use the services of the B-Quik service
center next to Big C, South Pattaya. The Retro Escort had been fitted with
adjustable suspension, but to align this properly required the use of some
hi-tech equipment, plus technicians who were conversant with its use. Having
met with B-Quik CEO Henk Kiks, he assured me that the Pattaya outlet had
everything we needed.
Having been subjected to dirty workshops in Pattaya in
the past, it was a pleasure to drive in and find the floor clean enough to
eat lunch on. The alignment equipment featured the latest technology to
allow all the variables (toe-in, castor, camber and axle alignment) to be
measured all at one time, and Khun Mai, the manager, was confident that his
technicians could handle this rather different alignment.
We drove in and very quickly the car was positioned on
the hoist, sensors applied to all four wheels and the visual read-out
displayed on the screen. It was then possible to see that the fabricated
suspension arms had resulted in the steering arms being too short.
This did not faze the technician, who went into the
machine shop end of the building and manufactured the items we needed to
complete the alignment. Having this facility, within the workshop, was
excellent, making it very much a one-stop shop and the speedy way the
problem was handled was impressive.
I was very happy with the way the car was treated
(plastic covers on the seat and steering wheel and covers over the
mudguards) and delighted with the final result. I will go there again.
You can contact the Pattaya B-Quik to verify my story on
038 374 988.
The most reliable cars in the US and the UK
Porsche topped this year’s J.D. Power and Associates
customer satisfaction survey, with Jaguar and BMW coming in second and
The influential annual survey asks consumers to rate the
performance, execution and layout of their new car or truck after three
months of ownership.
However, Ford Motor Co. posted the highest scores of any
Detroit manufacturer, with its Ford brand outperforming Toyota and Honda.
The outstanding model for FoMoCo was the Fiesta, the same one as built here
on the Eastern Seaboard.
In the UK, it was Honda all the way, having been rated
the UK’s most reliable manufacturer in the latest What Car? and Warranty
Direct reliability study for an unprecedented sixth year in a row. The 2011
survey result reinforces Honda’s reputation for building rock-solid,
dependable cars you can trust.
In the 2011 UK JD Power Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction
Study saw Honda retain the number two spot in the overall league table - and
the highest-placed volume manufacturer.
Singapore items I can hardly wait for
News has just come through that as an addition to the
Singapore Grand Prix (the boring high speed flood-lit event), racegoers will
be entertained by having Linkin Park (they can’t even spell their own name),
Shaggy and Glee starlet Clarice performing on different stages. Perhaps I am
getting too old for this nonsense, but it is certainly enough warning for me
not to attend. Hopefully, somebody who does go will tell me afterwards just
who or what Shaggy (Scooby Do’s handler?) and Clarice actually do.
Instead of this rubbish, the organizers should give us
more events with more classes of racing. If I want to listen to pop music I
go to rock concerts, not race meetings, where I go to see motor racing.