by Dr. Iain Corness
Australian GT race
at Bathurst goes to Audi
Audi victorious at Bathurst.
The Mount Panorama track at Bathurst Australia is one of
the most daunting circuits in the world. Up and down a mountain, with a long
straight which will have the cars on the rev limiter. Not for nothing has it
earned its name as “Conrod” Straight. More than a few rods have made a dash
for freedom half way down Conrod.
Having won this event last year, Audi was again present
with a works backed team and they were rewarded handsomely, with the Audi R8
LMS remaining “King of the Mountain” at Bathurst. On Australia’s most
challenging race track the successful GT3 sports car from Audi Sport
customer racing defended its title at the 12 hour race. Christer J๖ns (D),
Christopher Mies (D) and Darryl O’Young (HK) won the endurance classic at
Mount Panorama in extremely difficult conditions. Rain, fog, several lead
changes and numerous safety car periods repeatedly interrupted the young
trio’s race rhythm. But in the end they won but with just a 1m 13s
For the second time in succession, the R8 LMS prevailed.
Conditions were far more difficult than they had been a year ago. Varying
intensities of rain and dense fog at times caused a number of spins,
excursions and yellow flag periods. The first four hours of the race alone
saw the three different vehicles take turns in leading the race. From the
fourth hour onward, Phoenix Racing prevailed at the front. Both R8 LMS cars
of the squad from Meuspath (Germany) fought a thrilling battle for the top
position. Even a spin and an excursion into the gravel trap that temporarily
relegated the black number “1” R8 LMS to third place could not prevent
J๖ns/Mies/O’Young from taking victory. On Saturday, the trio had already
been the measure of all things by setting the fastest time in qualifying and
capturing pole position on the grid. Victory on Sunday completed a perfect
weekend. The triumph at Bathurst marked as much as the 119th win in the
three-year career of Audi’s successful customer race car.
The second Audi R8 LMS from Phoenix Racing was less
fortunate. The Australian trio Warren Luff/Craig Lowndes/Mark Eddy had
initially shown a strong performance, advancing to the front of the field
after having started from fifth place. In the fourth and fifth hour of the
race the number “2” R8 LMS was even the leading car. A five-minute time
penalty for a severed refueling hose, though, caused the white Audi to lose
four laps at about the race’s mid-point. Afterward, on lap 157, Mark Eddy
lost control of his car in dense fog and heavy rain. He crashed into a
concrete wall with the left side of the car on “The Dipper” track section.
He was forced to retire with front and rear suspension damage. As early as
on lap 60 the Audi R8 LMS of Team United Autosports had become victim to the
treacherous conditions as well. Frank Yu from Hong Kong spun and damaged the
frame of the vehicle on hitting a wall. Neither of the two drivers sustained
Audi has now won four major endurance races within twelve
months, having recorded two successes at the Bathurst 12 Hours and one
victory each at the 24-hour races on the Belgian circuits at Spa and Zolder,
plus GT3 class victory at the Nrburgring 24 Hours. This year, the 24-hour
classics in the Eifel and the Ardennes are again on the R8 LMS’ agenda.
Natter Nosh and Noggin
The next car club meeting will be at Jameson’s Irish Pub on
Soi AR next to Nova Park. The meeting is on Monday March 12 at Jameson’s at 7
p.m. A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet
motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates. Come along and meet the guys who
have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials,
washed down with a few beers. Always a fun night.
Last week I asked what car has a sign that comes up on the
dash saying “Stop! Brake failure!” The clue was only the Europeans and French in
particular could come up with that concept. I wanted the brand and model. A
couple of early responders came up with the VW Passat 1.8 in 2000, but those
were German, and I wanted the French in particular. It was the Citroen CX 2200
So to this week. What has Rembrandt got to do with
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email email@example.com
Is Indonesia going to take over?
Reports of much glee from Indonesia, as their country took
over from Thailand as the largest automotive market in SE Asia in 2011. Perhaps
on paper that might be so, but the Frost and Sullivan report just overlooks the
fact that for almost three months at the end of the year, Thailand’s production
was almost universally at a stand still after the devastating floods on top of
Japan’s tsunami. Honda for example had zero production and is still not in full
However, Indonesia is having itself on if it thinks it can
out do Thailand in the big production stakes. Indonesia can continue to expand
its local domestic market with the cheaper end of the automotive sales spectrum,
but will never be considered the Detroit of Asia.
Indonesia also has to meet the oncoming domestic unrest in
the wage earners, who have had very low wages compared to other countries in SE
Asia. Thailand is currently between B. 200-300, whilst Indonesian workers are
getting between B. 100-200. Industrial unrest is on the horizon, and many think
that Indonesia does not have the necessary infrastructure or HR expertise to
meet the problems.
Amazing finds are still possible
Original 1971 Porsche 911 S.
An unrestored right hand drive matching numbers Porsche 911S
was recently unearthed in a barn in Ireland. Crucially, the low mileage ’72
specification Signal Yellow car, an early example registered in Nov 1971,
retains many original features together with unique characteristics particular
to just the early examples of the 911S for that model year. These include the
‘H1’ headlamp units, aluminium rear center panel and aluminium engine lid. The
discovery of the low mileage and full history car comes at a time when
appreciation of the S is rising, with prices for restored versions hovering just
As one of the most experienced Porsche specialist with an
encyclopedic knowledge of earlier 911s and their specifications, Autofarm’s Josh
Sadler was ideally placed to authenticate and assess the provenance of such an
exciting find. “The 1972 S is a brilliant specification with more power, the
better gearbox and was the first road Porsche with the front air dam. This car
had covered just 78,000 miles and all of the specific parts that usually rust
are still there,” says Sadler. “These include the seal flange on the front slam
panel that was a notorious corrosion point that was changed midway in 1973 to
solve the issue and the oil tank with the alloy oil lines and the external
filler that confused a number of petrol pump attendants. The rear ‘whale tail’
spoiler is the only significant change, no doubt a fashionable add-on in the
1980s but fortunately the original aluminium version was retained with the car.”
A substantial history file shows the car was genuinely built
in 1971 as one on the first 1972 specification cars to be produced. After a few
years in England, the car spent the rest of its life in Ireland with trips back
to the factory in 1976 and 1981, clocking up just 20,000 miles since its last
Stuttgart visit thirty years ago. “It has survived the last 37 years in Southern
Ireland in sufficiently solid order to pass its UK MoT first time,” adds Sadler.
“The underside being an excellent example of original factory finish.”
The new owner has commissioned Autofarm’s Project division to
oversee a sympathetic restoration with a clear aim to retain aspects such as
those specific to this early ‘72 model, ensuring it remains one of very few
‘period-correct’ S still in existence. “We have made a careful assessment and
the car is remarkably original,” adds Sadler. “We are delighted the new owner
plans to enjoy the special blend of performance and driving experience that the
S offers at a time when prices and interest remain strong.”
Rear-view cameras to be compulsory
Rear-view camera screen.
It looks as if safety regulators in the US are expected to
make rear-view cameras mandatory on all new cars from 2014.
The thinking behind this comes from the fact that in North
America, on average two children die and about 50 are injured every week when
someone accidentally backs over them in a vehicle, according to KidsAndCars.org,
a non-profit group that pushed the government to begin tracking such tragedies.
In other countries where good statistics are kept such as
Australia, between 12 and 18 toddlers die each year in driveway accidents and at
least three children per week are seriously injured.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which
proposed the mandate in late 2010, is expected to send a final version of the
rule to Congress on Wednesday this week.
Regulators predicted that adding the cameras and viewing
screens will cost the auto industry as much as $2.7 billion a year, or $160 to
$200 a vehicle. At least some of the cost is expected to be passed on to
consumers through higher prices.
US government statistics indicate that 228 people of all ages
- 44 percent of whom are under age 5 - die every year in driveway accidents
involving cars. About 17,000 people a year are injured in such accidents.
Car makers began offering rear-view cameras only about a
decade ago, by using the built-in navigation screens that first appeared on
luxury models. The feature has become increasingly popular as companies found
more inexpensive ways to display camera images to a driver, such as on a screen
hidden in the rear-view mirror.
Safety advocates said a mandatory camera was long overdue.
“We wouldn’t buy a car if we couldn’t see 10 meters going forward,” said Janette
Fennell, the founder of KidsAndCars.org. “We’re taking this big lethal weapon
going in reverse, and we can’t see.”
In anticipation of the 2014 mandate, car makers have been
designing models with camera systems in mind. Instead of including a camera in a
$2000 navigation package, many have made it standard or a stand-alone option for
a few hundred dollars.
Regulators studied other ways of improving rear visibility,
including the beeping radar-based sensors that many vehicles already offer. But
they determined that the sensors often did not detect moving people, especially
children. Drivers also responded better to the camera image than the audio
alerts, they said.
Whilst I agree that driveway fatalities are extremely
distressing, I am not convinced that looking at a screen is the best way to
avoid them. The radar reversing warning, in my Toyota at least, is very
sensitive, detects movement and even wire fencing, using hearing and leaving
vision for all the other tasks.
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