As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Motor Sport

Australia’s Solar Race

Solar Race Car

The ‘Nuon Solar Team’ continues to dominate the solar race across Australia that started in Darwin and will finish in Adelaide.  Racing without conventional combustion engines, the various teams from around the world converged on Darwin having built their vehicles as completely solar-powered electric machines.

There are three categories that are completing the journey.  The first being the quickest team to complete the 3000 km race distance – this race is known as the ‘Challenger Class’.

The second class is the known as the ‘Cruiser Class’, where there are points given to the teams for the number of passengers on board, the amount of energy that they are using in terms of the number of battery recharges that are occurring throughout the journey and the general practicality of the car.  Being a part of the ‘Cruiser Class’, the points aren’t all about speed.

Solar Race Cruiser Class

Finally, the third category is known as the ‘Adventure Class’ which is the non-competitive class, allowing cars built for previous races of the event to run again – usually with new team members.  The ‘Adventure Class’ can also be used as a catchment for those who, while meeting the exacting safety standards, may not have quite made full compliance with the latest race requirements.  This is the category with the more laid-back travel style.

At the end of day three: the quickest team competing in the ‘Challenger Class’ is the ‘Nuon Solar Team’ from Holland.

Nuon Solar Team

Second is the team from Tokai University.

Tokai University Race Team

Third is the team from Michigan University.

Novum Race Team

Just over halfway through the race and there will still be plenty of challenges ahead for all race competitors.  One of the major influences on how well a car performs in this race is the amount of sunshine there will be.  Cloudy days do impact the speed and progress of the cars.

This is an exciting race held here in Australia that is sponsored by Bridgestone, and it’s these sort of races that enable the evolution of production cars being run on electricity and solar energy.  If you can, get out and have a look at the cars as they silently run into Adelaide in a few days time.

End of an era: 2017 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

There should be a sense of occasion about the 2017 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. There should be a sense of majesty, of pride, of nostalgia…and perhaps there will be for those that follow what is now called, merely, Supercars, and for those that attend the yearly event that is seen as the pinnacle of motorsport in Australia, at the fabled Mount Panorama.

My earliest experiences of what was to become a significant part of my motorsport career were of watching highlights of the Hardie-Ferodo 500 on one of the just three tv channels available in Perth during the 1970s. Channel 7 would run a package from late Saturday night through to race start on the Sunday morning (early, Perth time) whilst I, bleary eyed and barely awake, would watch the blurry, grainy, images on our 48cm black and white tv screen.As times and technology changed, the quality would improve, colour was the norm, and the sound of the cars would be better. We’d have different camera views, more overhead shots from the choppers, in-car cameras, and people that didn’t follow motorsport would be able to name at least six of the drivers. We saw the racing move from Production Car style racing to the Group C to the international Group A to effectively Holden versus Ford to five manufacturers with racing cars loosely based on production cars.

Now…we have five main channels and a raft of subsidiary channels delivered digitally. We have pay television, we have internet capable access and we have a category so far from its heyday that the impact it once had on a viewing audience and the attraction that once had grandstands full of bums on seats simply don’t exist anymore. Yes, there are the dedicated followers of motorsport, and there are those that can still tell you at least six names, but for the everyday Mr and Mrs Jones, the Supercars, the racing, and the lure of the mountain just aren’t there as they were once.

Australia’s primary non free to air television source is delivering, in the days before “The Great Race”, replays of previous races and highlights of the sport. This gives us a great comparison of what was, what is, and eyes off the “what will be” because in 2018 the rules change again. Holden and Ford, as two of the three manufacturers still making cars in Australia until 2016, when Ford ceased local manufacturing, will have their final Aussie built look alikes on track. Nissan, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz once raced cars with five litre V8s, as per the category rules, even though two of the brands never released production based cars with that engine.

People knew that and some of the gloss wore off, the appeal waned, and the numbers of bums on seats diminished at tracks. The move towards a non free to air delivery diversified a once captive market audience and for many, the need to pay for access to a product once “live and free” was the stopping point. Advertising for the category seems almost non-existent but, again, for the dedicated follower they’d not need to have advertising because they’d know where to get information.

2018 sees Holden race a car with a design no longer based on an Australian based, front engined and rear wheel drive, V8 optional, production car. Instead they’ll race a turbocharged V6 engine chassis. The category rules have once again changed that having a V8 engine ONLY is now not the norm. The rules now also allow a non four door sedan, and with Ford selling just about every Mustang they’ve imported over the last two years, there’s a fair chance we’ll see that shape on race tracks. BUT, but, the rules stipulate cars MUST be built on a common chassis, effectively making the cars we’ll see on racing tracks in 2018 visually different outside but engines aside, the same (more or less) underneath.Nissan raced a chassis based on a car that wasn’t, in Australia, ever available with a V8. Volvo and Mercedes-Benz withdrew after the 2016 season, and Ford branded cars raced without Ford Australia factory support. So in 2017, at “The Great Race”, we’ll see, for the final time, a fully V8 powered field in Supercars, at Mount Panorama. But where’s the sense of loss, of sadness, of regret, the sense of pondering what was once a broad ranging appeal category?

Talk to anyone with a loose affiliation with motorsport and you’ll get a range of answers. You’ll also get a common theme….the cars that drew us to Bathurst every year are no longer relevant. Large sedans such as the Commodore and Falcon barely ripple the sales charts, SUVs and four wheel drive utes are what people buy and the win on Sunday, sell on Monday mentality that once (no pun intended) drove sales is no longer with us.Sunday the eighth of October, 2017, should be a day of occasion, a day of looking back at of over fifty years of history with an appreciation of what was, and a want for what will be. For me, that’s not the case and judging by the numbers of people that no longer show up at circuits around the country, it will really only be the dedicated and those that work with motorsport that may shed a tear.

Post event note: the 2017 event was won by David Reynolds and Luke Youlden after polesitter and expcted winner Scott McLaughlin and Alex Premat’s number 17 car had engine failure  and retired on lap 72. Viewer numbers weren’t vastly different from the years shown.

2007 1.357 million
2008 1.249 million
2009 1.182 million
2010 1.046 million
2011 1.212 million
2012 1.253 million
2013 1.263 million
2014 1.351 million

Private Fleet Book Review: How To Drive. The Ultimate Guide From The Man Who Was The Stig by Ben Collins

As we’re less than 100 days away from Christmas, it might be time to start dropping some hints as to what you’d like your nearest and dearest to get you. For most of us, a new car is out of the question in the Christmas stocking, but a new book is probably much more feasible as a present for the typical Australian.

How To Drive by Ben Collins is a book that satisfies a number of appetites whetted by the BBC TV show Top Gear – and I’m talking about the old version with the Unholy Trinity of Jezza, Richard and James. Firstly, you finally get to find out who The Stig really is: the author of this book, former racing driver and movie stunt driver Ben Collins.  Secondly, this is the closest you’re likely to get to being taught how to drive by The Stig like those Stars In Reasonably Priced Cars.

To say that this rather chunky book (269 pages, not counting the index) is comprehensive is something of an understatement. It is packed with tips and facts to make you a better driver, starting with some historical bits and pieces, such as the development of the tyre, and goes from the basics through to advanced stunt driving as you work your way through the book. And when I say “the basics”, I really do mean the basics: starting with the importance of good seating position and holding the wheel correctly. In the final section, you get all the really fun stuff you don’t want to do anywhere apart from a proper track or else a deserted field (with permission of the farmer, of course): doughnuts, burnouts, drifting and the J-turn… and the “don’t try this at home” 180-degree and 90-degree stunt turns into a parking space.

As most of us want to know more about The Stig and who he really is, the book is peppered with anecdotes, not just about Stiggy’s time with Top Gear but also the movie driving and race driving he’s done.  For the record, Ben Collins has been a stunt driver in Fast and Furious, Spiderman 2 and Quantum of Solace… at the very least. Those are the movies cited in the index, anyway.  And yes, he’s body-doubled James Bond for these stunts.  There are photos to prove it.  You also get glimpses of behind the scenes at Le Mans and NASCAR, etc.  The stories aren’t all “look at how good I am” showing off: there are a few “how I got it wrong” tales in there as well.

It’s also not just a how-to book, although there are tons and tons of step-by-step instructions and handy diagrams.  The physics of what’s going on is explained, as well as the psychology, and plenty of it.  Again and again, the importance of having being in the right headspace is emphasised, and it’s not all testosterone-fuelled drive and competition, which will come as something of a relief for those of us whom Nature didn’t give loads of testosterone, aka 50% of the population.  Collins provides tips not just from the motor racing world but also from Samurai warriors and jet pilots.  There’s even a diet to help you stay alert when expecting a long day’s driving.  The physics and the psychology – and the instructions – are all presented in a very readable way with a sense of humour.  It’s hard to forget the mnemonic for correcting oversteer, for example: Steer, Hold It, Turn (the initial letters are probably what you’re saying…).  The ebook version would certainly be great when you’re waiting in the doctor’s surgery and would pass the time very pleasantly (the hardcover is a bit hard to cart about in your pocket).

It’s a British book, so some of the explanations and complaints about roundabouts, give way rules, motorways and the licensing system may not (and in many cases do not) apply to Australia. However, the majority of what’s in there does apply (including, hooray, hooray, the keep-left rule).

This is a book that will keep plenty of drivers happy, as there’s something for everyone in there, whether the reader’s on their L-Plates or whether he/she has been driving for decades.  It’s a goldmine of motoring trivia that will make you chuckle as well as being a great practical tome that ought to be standard issue along with a copy of the Road Code to learner drivers.

How To Drive. The Ultimate Guide – From The Man Who Was The Stig
Ben Collins
Published 2014 by Pan Macmillan, ISBN 978-1-4472-7283-0 (hardback), 978-1-4472-7285-4 (paperback). 272 pages. Ebook available.

AWD v FWD v RWD

Traction

When it comes to buying your new vehicle, should it be FWD (Front Wheel Drive), RWD (Rear Wheel Drive) or AWD (All Wheel Drive)?  How the car gets shoved along might not matter to many drivers, however there are some differences between the driving layouts that are worth pointing out.  There are some changes occurring where car manufacturers are adopting a new layout for certain key reasons, and we’ll see why shortly.  What type of drive system you prefer really depends on what kind of a driver you are and the conditions you usually find yourself drive in.

Let’s take a look at the three types for drive trains and note the differences.

Firstly we’ll start with RWD, mainly because this can be lots of fun to drive.  A RWD car has a simple design where the drive shaft runs the length of the vehicle: from the engine to the rear wheels.  The design is generally simple and rugged.  It’s less likely to break when running over a curb or large pothole.  FWD vehicles are more complex, and with the added weight over the front axle the chances you’re going to break something in the FWD design is more likely.  FWD set-ups incorporate half-shafts and constant velocity (CV) joints that are more susceptible to damage than a RWD car’s solid axle.

RWD cars usually have a slightly better weight distribution (not as heavy at the front end compared with a FWD car), creating better handling because of this.  A RWD car spreads the weight of its drivetrain more evenly front-to-rear.  But an issue with the RWD layout can arise when the road conditions get slippery.  Rain, snow and ice create scenarios where loss of traction at the rear becomes more likely in a RWD car.

FWD cars do, however, provide better economy – not only in fuel consumption but also in manufacturing costs.  With fewer parts the drivetrain is easier and cheaper to mount into the car as it progresses down the assembly line.  FWD cars are often lighter than RWD equivalents thanks to the design not having to use separate transmission and axle assemblies used in a RWD car.  Reduction in weight leads to better fuel economy on the road, and this is a big draw card for new car buyers.

In certain conditions FWD offers better traction compared with a RWD car.  In the rain and snow, FWD gets better traction on the driving wheels because the front wheels have the extra engine and transaxle weight sitting on top of the front driving wheels – which helps to get better grip in slippery conditions.  Also, the front wheels are pulling rather than pushing the car along, aiding steering control in poor road conditions.

Being nose heavy, FWD cars aren’t usually quite as nimble and fast through the corners as RWD cars. When road conditions allow for higher speeds to be attained, FWD cars have to steer and drive the car with extra weight at the front.  This is why very few “serious” performance cars are FWD.  Maintenance costs are higher compared with RWD, so new bits like CV joints and boots will need to be replaced as the kilometres pass by.

This leaves us with AWD, and the best thing about AWD is that it gives some of the advantages of both RWD and FWD.  The number one advantage of AWD is excellent traction in dry and wet road conditions.  Some AWD designs lean slightly toward the front wheels doing more work, while others lean more toward the rear wheels doing more of the work.  The RWD-based versions are usually more performance-oriented but any of the AWD cars will do a top job of balancing the car’s handling and driving dynamics.

AWD cars do cost more to buy compared with RWD and FWD cousins.  This is because they cost more to produce with all the extra drive train components.  The extra running gear also costs more to maintain.  AWD systems are also heavier drive systems which makes for higher fuel consumption.  The higher fuel consumption, higher production costs and higher maintenance costs will put some buyers off, however a die-hard Subaru fan will have you think otherwise.  For ultimate performance, the AWD system can’t be beaten.

There are electronic traction control systems and driver aids that are getting better-and-better which do aid both the car’s handling and performance characteristics, as well as safety.  And, particularly in variable road conditions that might be wet and slippery, these extra electronic control systems can’t be beat.  These systems are widely used in many FWD, RWD and AWD cars.

The trend is that new car buyers are looking for more SUV and all-purpose vehicles to buy.  It has become simpler for automakers to reconfigure FWD models into AWD formulas where the AWD system is front-wheel power biased.  We are seeing more of these vehicle types on our road, which also means there is a decline in new RWD cars being bought.

Just for interest sake: Holden are still keeping the Commodore name, however the new Commodore won’t have a rear-wheel drive variant.  Instead, it’ll be offered in a front-wheel drive configuration for mainstream models, while a naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 AWD model will be the performance model in the line-up.  With a nine-speed automatic gearbox, no differential with dual-clutch control systems controlling front and rear wheels independently, and torque vectoring the AWD model will be a performer.

Holden Commodore AWD

Also interesting is that BMW Motorsport engineers are looking to produce M-badged cars with an AWD model as well as a RWD variant.  With BMW’s M cars getting so powerful, the boss of BMW’s M Division, Frank van Meel, said that it’s getting hard to sell M cars without AWD in markets like Canada and Switzerland where conditions are slippery.

BMW M5 AWD

There is only so much horsepower you can put through two wheels before obtaining the grip needed to accelerate fast is compromised.  Even with the best traction and launch control aids, 2WD systems are beaten by AWD systems, and when engines have such immense power now, AWD is the only logical step forward for performance car manufacturers like BMW.  Audi, Porsche and Nissan already have plenty of experience with AWD performance models.

BMW Goes Back To The Future With M4 CS.

BMW Australia has released details of the forthcoming M4 CS. With a whopping 338 kilowatt engine and packing a torque punch of 600 Nm, the hot two door will start from $211,610.00 with an expected release date of late 2017.
It’ll sit at the top of a refreshed M4 range, comprising the M4, M4 Pure, M4 Competition and also sources elements from the limited edition M4 GTS.The CS also harkens back to the 1960s, with the CS nomenclature first seen on the beautiful 3200 CS of 1962. It swapped to the 2000 CS in 1965, and the evocative 1971 E9 Series 3.0 CS. The current version uses BMW’s legendary straight six powerplant, with a 3.0L capacity. There’s two mono-scroll turbos strapped to the engine, which features a rigid closed-deck cylinder block, forged crankshaft and arc-sprayed cylinder walls, the six-cylinder is light and strong with minimal friction loss and outstanding high-rev capability, all the way to a 7,600rpm red-line.The turbos dump unwanted air via a dual-branch sports exhaust system with quad 80mm tailpipes which adds an aggressive acoustic while keeping back pressure as low as possible. Electronically-controlled exhaust flaps further contribute to exhaust volume and gas flow depending on the vehicle’s load state and selected drive mode.

Changes in the engine’s electronic management system leads to a 7kW power increase over the M4 Competition, with 338kW available at 6,250rpm. Vitally, peak torque is improved by 50Nm to a round 600Nm, a match for the legendary M4 GTS. According to the BMW M dynamometer charts, the M4 CS peak torque figure is generated from 4,000rpm to 5,380rpm.There’s a specific chassis tune for the M4 CS, with the aluminuim based structure allowing a driver to choose from Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. Up front is a lightweight double-joint spring strut layout, with the five-link axle featured at the rear. All suspension links and wheel carriers are made from forged aluminium. The M4 CS will ride on 10 spoke forged alloy wheels, with the front being 9 x 19 inches and weighing just 9 kilos, whilst the rears will weigh just under ten kilos and be 10 x 20 inches in size. Brakes are four piston fronts and twin pistons at the rear.The whole car weights under 1600 kilos thanks to lightweight carbon-fibre and carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), with an exposed carbon fibre diffuser that is specific to the CS and helps to substantially reduce front axle ‘lift’. The twin headlights are LEDs, the bonnet is CFRP, as is the roof and weighs six kilos lighter than a steel roof. The rear diffuser is also CFRP and is borrowed from the M4 GTS as is the exclusive Organic LED rear lighting system.It’s more track and sports focused inside than a regular M4, but there’s still plenty of luxury, with Alcantara trim on the door armrests, passenger side dash tim which includes an etched CS designation, on the centre console and mixed in with leather on the seats. A leather wrapped tiller is available as a no-cost option.

There’ll be a Head Up Display with M specific content, BMW’s Connected Drive Services, hands free Bluetooth, digital radio and parking distance control for the front and rear sensors. Two metallic paint options – Black Sapphire and San Marino Blue – are available as standard equipment, while the non-metallic Alpine White is a no-cost option.In addition, two special BMW Individual paint finishes are available for $4,400*, the bespoke Lime Rock Grey and the Frozen Dark Blue II.

M Carbon Ceramic brakes, roller rear sunblind, sun protection glazing, a headlight washer system, TV function and Apple Car Play integration are also optionally available.

For more information head to BMW Australia and you can follow BMW here: BMW Group on Facebook

(With thanks to BMW Australia for information and images.)

Lamborghini Huracán Performante Breaks The ‘Ring’s Lap Record.

The Lamborghini Huracán Performante has already proved its extraordinary capabilities ahead of its unveiling at Geneva Motor Show next week. On 5 October 2016, the Huracán Performante set a new production car lap record of 6:52.01 min on the Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany.

Following the day’s open sessions on the “Ring”, at 17.00 officials closed the track to other manufacturers. After official track checks this left just a
15-minute window for Lamborghini to make one attempt at the lap record with a production Huracán Performante, still in its development camouflage.

With Lamborghini test driver Marco Mapelli behind the wheel, who also drove the Aventador SV to its Nürburgring sub seven-minute lap time in 2015, the Huracán Performante warmed up its tires and made its rolling start, fitted inside and out with onboard cameras and telemetry to record the car’s lap. The Lamborghini team of R&D engineers, technicians and drivers, together with Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and Maurizio Reggiani, Board Member for Research & Development, watched the Performante disappear into the distance of the 20.6 km track.

In the sixth minute, the car was heard heading down the long straight with just three corners to go, and its audience counting down the seconds to watch the Huracán Performante pass over the line at 6:52.01 min.

“This was an incredible and emotional moment,” says Stefano Domenicali. “Together with Maurizio Reggiani we agreed during the car’s development that with the technical and performance prowess of the Huracán Performante, not only was a sub seven-minute lap at the Nordschleife possible, but the lap record too. We wanted to achieve the Nürburgring victory in advance of the Performante’s launch, which was a challenge in terms of weather and availability of the Nordschleife. Not only did we take the lap record, we took it by some seconds!

“To make this happen is something that every one of the R&D team who worked on this car can share in: it will forever be a defining moment in their careers,” concludes Stefano Domenicali. “I am so proud of everything achieved by Lamborghini people that day and extremely privileged to have witnessed it.”

The Huracán Performante features innovations in aerodynamics and lightweight engineering that, combined with its improved power plant, its four-wheel drive system, its Lamborghini Piattaforma Inerziale and a dedicated set-up, allows superior track performance to be maximized while delivering the most engaging and dynamic road drive.

Joining the Lamborghini development team at the Nürburgring were representatives from Pirelli, responsible for development of tires specifically for the Huracán Performante: the same Pirelli Trofeo R tires available on cars delivered to owners.

The Huracán Performante is revealed officially by Automobili Lamborghini at Geneva Motor Show on the first press day, 7 March 2017, 8.55 am at the Lamborghini stand. Follow the unveiling in Geneva at live.lamborghini and join the conversation with #HuracanPerformante.

(Republished by Private Fleet on behalf of Lamborghini Australia’s PR compnay, The Origin Agency)

Private Fleet Car Review: 2016 Peugeot 308 GTi

Hot Hatch. Two words that belong to some, are linked to many, but come from just one. Peugeot. The latest iteration of a hot hatch from the French car maker is the 308 GTi. Take a sweetly curved five door hatchback body, insert a grunty 1.6 litre turbo and bolt in a slick shifting six speed manual and there’s the basis of what is one of the most complete cars of its kind going. peugeot-308-gti-270-profilePeugeot have two GTi versions available, the full house 200 kilowatt (GTi 270) or slightly less manic 184 kilowatt engine (GTi 250). Torque is a level headed 330 Nm spread across nearly 3000 revs. There’s a 53 litre tank on board, however, which makes the quoted 8.1L/100 km around town equte to something like 650 kilometres in range if drivien to achieve that number. Combined it’s 6.0L/100 and for holidaying call it 5.0L/100.peugeot-308-gti-engineThese merge to provide a seamless mix of acceleration and driveability, aided by one of the best balanced clutch and gear selectors you can find. There’s plenty of pressure on the pedal, yet not so much that you need a leg of a body builder. The pickup point for the engagement of the gear is roughly mid travel but is balanced so it’s progressive from top to bottom, so there’s feedback all the way. The selector itself has just enough heft, enough spring pressure, to tell the driver there’s something alive there. It’s not loose or floppy nor is it rigid and inflexible or tough that strong arming the change is needed. It’ll ratchet through, a satisfying snick accompanying the movement and, importantly, the gate is so well defined that a racing change gets you to the next slot every time.peugeot-308-gti-cabinPeugeot quotes 6.2 and 6.0 seconds for the run to 100 kmh, depending on the engine spec. When given space to do so, the GTi eyeballs the horizon, tells the driver not to blink and then launches the 1200 kilo mass as if a solid rocket booster has been lit. That fluid combination of clutch and gear shift work so wonderfully well as first becomes second becomes third. There’s an enthralling, engaging note from the front and a rasp from the twin exhaust. Hit the Sports button and that changes, with a wider note that adds a harder edge to the sound. It’s a bit of trickery as that extra sensation is fed into the cabin via the sound system…The ride of the GTi is superb; again, Peugeot have found that balance between tight and taut as the car holds on to every ripple and curve in the road without sending messages of warning to the driver. Imagine riding a push bike over mildly unsettled surfaces and having the wheels roll over everything without any bumps banging and crashing through. Having said that, although the GTi is forgiving, it doesn’t tolerate rutted surfaces or broken tarmac. The dampers don’t respond quickly enough and the 308 gets skatey, wriggly as opposed to the flat and normally limpet like grip otherwise exhibited. The 235/35/19 rubber and alloys go a long way to helping that ride and handling mix in the GTi 270 or 225/40/18s on the GTi 250.
The steering is razor sharp, responding to the slightest movement of the smallish steering wheel. Given the average steering stetup is geared towards understeer, it’s a pleasant surprise and defines the market the GTi is looking for. A 2620 mm wheelbase inside the overall 4253 mm length aids the nimbleness of the car.peugeot-308-gti-front-profileThe brakes are the same. So quick is the response to the lightest touch on the brake pedal, it is almost an unreal feeling and defies expectation. There’s a real and instant feeling of slowing, rather than a soft press and a half inch of travel before there’s a semblance of bite. Here, the GTi lets you know straight away that the brakes from Brembo are engaged and that the harder you press the quicker you’ll stop or that if wish just a touch of slowing, a gentle touch is all that’s needed. the GTi 250 gets 330 x 30 mm discs up front, 268 x 12 at the rear. The GTi 270 takes it up a notch, gaining 380 x 32 for the front with the rear staying at 268 x 12.peugeot-308-gti-badgeInside it’s sports seats, a dash that glows red when Sports is selected, touchscreen and Bluetooth tech, a somewhat tame looking colour scheme that belies the ability of the engine. The seats are a measured mix of leather and charcoal cloth with brightwork in the cabin provided by chrome look surrounds for the centre console, binnacle and air vents. The tiller is a combination of vented leather look and non vented, with a red stripe sewn in to mark the twelve o’clock position. You’ll be protected by curtain, side and front airbags, side impact absorbing material in the doors, a collapsible steering column and pretensioning seatbelts.For comfort and cargo there’s auto windows all round, reverse camera, chromatic (auto dimming) rear vision mirror, parking sensors front and rear plus the driver gets an information screen when Sports is selected. For those that choose to buy the five door hatch and carry a little person or two around, there’s ISOFIX mounts for two. A pair of 12V sockets are in place front and rear also. There’s a handy 470 litres of cargo with seats up, increasing to over 1300L when all seats are lowered. Design wise outside it’s a sedate look, with LED driving lights, “claw” tail lights and a GTi specific grille as standard. There’s bespoke sill inserts for the door jambs, a sports diffuser at the rear that houses the twin tipped exhaust and bespoke GTi badging.peugeot-308-gti-rear-profile

At The End Of The Drive.
Mid November 2016 sees driveaway pricing for the GTi 250 at just under $50K. That’s a hefty ask as is the just sub $55K ask for the GTi 270. There’s an enticing eight year warranty for any 2015 model purchased to sweeten the deal though. As a car, the 308 GTi is an outstanding package, almost a complete driver’s car and that’s the strongest point the car makes. It’s a DRIVER’S car, involving the organic element of driving to a level unlike so many road cars. The rapidity of response, the level of response, the feeling of being the final component of a computer that makes it all just work when the final slot is filled and power is turned on brings the driver into play across all levels of ability the Peugeot 308 GTi has.
Drop by this link for more: Peugeot 308 GTi information

HSV Clubsport R8 Track Edition: Holden Special Vehicles Goes To Bathurst

There’s a calling that emanates from a relatively innocuous hill in the central west of New South Wales. But this bump in the earth’s surface, just to the south of the former gold mining town of Bathurst, is home to a road that doubles as a race track and, once a year, becomes the home of “The Great Race“. That calling, to a place known as “The Mountain”, to Mount Panorama, entices the faithful and the dedicated with their almost tribal allegiances to a driver or a team, and since the 1990s, has coloured their blood red or blue exclusively. You’re either a Holden bloke or a Ford bloke, such is the barrier.camp-mud-duds-track-edition-1Holden Special Vehicles, HSV, was born out of the breakdown in the relationship between car manufacturer, Holden, and its formerly favourite son, race car driver Peter Brock. Brock had taken over the running of the Holden Dealer Team and had formed an after market division, which eventually lead to Holden breaking off their supply deal. In 1987, Holden signed an agreement with Scottish born driver and businessman, Tom Walkinshaw, forming a joint venture that was named Holden Special Vehicles.2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-bonnet-badgeOne of the first products of that union was based on the Holden VL Commodore; HSV fitted an aerodynamically tested body kit, painted in a silver with hints of blue. Known colloquially as “The Batmobile” due to the add ons, the Holden VL Commodore SS Group A SV would set the tone for many of the following products.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-sill-badgingIn 2016, HSV unveiled two limited edition models. Using the Clubsport as the donor, there is the Limited Edition SV Black, available in both sedan and ute bodies. The other is a car that harkens directly to the history of motorsport and was driven in Bathurst, the HSV Clubsport R8 Track Edition. Clad in “Sting” red paint, with yellow AP Racing brake calipers visible through gunmetal grey “Blade” alloys at 20 inches in diameter, the Track Edition makes for an ideal way to nod at Australia’s diverse and rich motorsport history.camp-mud-duds-track-edition-2Mount Panorama is unique amongst the world’s motorsport circuits; its peak is 874 metres above sea level and there’s a height differential of 174 metres between the peak and the lowest point of the track, the starting straight. There’s slopes as tight as one in six and a corner said to have the highest tyre load of any race circuit in Australia plus the fastest corner in touring car racing. There’s a couple of cold facts.camp-mud-duds-track-edition-3What isn’t cold is the warmth the place generates for the fans of motorsport that make the annual pilgrimage “out west”. There’s good natured rivalry, with supporters of the red and the blue sharing campsites, gags, memories and, importantly, a love of a good V8.camp-mud-duds-track-edition-4The Track Edition packs a 340 kW/570 Nm 6.2L LS3 V8, pinched from Chevrolet. There’s a real transmission, a six speed manual, with an almost too light clutch. It’s unlike older cars, where the joke ran along the lines of being able to tell a HSV owner due to the size of the calf muscle in the left leg. It’s easy to push and balance on the throttle when required and it helps that the gear selector is couched in a definitive feeling gate mechanism. There’s a satisfying snick/snick/snick as you change up or down, as satisfying as the sound of a cold one being opened in the camping grounds.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-bootIt’s a big heart, the LS3 V8. There’s a bore of near as dammit 104 mm, a stroke of 92 mm, with a free revving nature to boot. That peak power comes in at a typically high 6000 rpm, and the peak torque at 4600 rpm. It’s a gentle upwards slope for that torque, though, with just over 400 of them waiting to be told what to do at just 1000 revs. Just like the denizens that pack The Mountain every October, it’s easy going, relaxed, unfussed…until it’s pushed. Leave it in sixth at legal speed and press the loud pedal. It’s called the loud pedal for a good reason. There’s a low, long, subterranean, growl that builds and builds and builds from the front, as the induction system sucks in litres and litres of air, mixing with dinosaur juice and spitting out the remains via the quad exhaust.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-engine-badgeThat quad exhaust is linked to a dial in the humble looking cabin. There’s a choice of Touring, Sport and Performance. Leave the dial on Touring and at idle you’d be pressed to say the engine’s running. Move it to either of the other two and a pair of baffles open in the inner banks of the mufflers, opening the throat of the LS3 and letting the world know it’s an eight in a vee. From a standing start and driven the way a muscle bound car should be sees license goodby speeds reached in a few seconds, a roaring, chest thumping snarl from both ends as you pluck the gears, easily finding each cog as the beautifully weighted selector falls to hand and the clutch and accelerator dance in unison. At Northern Territory legal speeds, the engine is barely ticking over at 2000 rpm.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-front-seatsThe MacPherson struts up front and multilink rear end are sprung with linear rate coil springs and for a car weighing over 1800 kilos it’s adept, comfortable in the ride, eats unsettled surfaces and totally undermines any perception that a muscle car should be uncoordinated in the way it drives. Even the electrically augmented steering is light, two fingertip light and responds instantly, changing the direction of the red machine instantly, as the Continental 275/35/20 tyres grip at either end of the 2915 mm wheelbase.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-boot-wingThe suspension is taut, specially engineered to give an intoxicating mix of Supercar inferring ride, a superbly flat stance into corners and that slow in/fast out response a track aimed driver expects. In fact, the whole package is genuinely one your gran could drive, it’s that docile to use when not exploring the outer limits of the ability the Track Edition has. The car industry uses the term “surprise and delight” to describe certain aspects of a car and that applies to the way the HSV flows on the road.2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-bathurst-hell-cornerInside, the lack of visual differentation is a surprise and not entirely a delight. HSV eschews the fabric stitched into the centre line that the donor vehicles have but has stayed with the dash mounted fabric found in the Holden SS. There’s the standard dash plastic and layout, with Holden’s MyLink touchscreen systen with Pandora and Stitcher apps. HSV’s EDI, Electronic Driver Interface, didn’t seem to be enabled in this car. There’s a thumping Bose sound system, beautiful in its clarity buck lacking a DAB tuner.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-touchscreenIt’s hard to suggest any changes however as 2017 beckons and with it the knowledge that Australia’s Own will close the doors as a big car maker down under.2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-pole-positionIt’s an engine of many personalities, the LS3, just like those found around the camp sites at The Mountain, especially those at the top, called Skyline. A Wheel Thing commentated from the tower there in the mid noughties, alongside the great Barry Oliver, with an enduring memory being watching Army helicopters doing aerobatics…below the level of Skyline. 2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-bathurstIt provides a sweeping vista north, across the circuit, over Bathurst itself and east to the western fringe of the Blue Mountains. Regulars will have their campsites setup with heaters, fencing, signs, and the obligatory ambers on ice. There’s jackets adorned with badges, faces adorned with beards, and kids faces wreathed in smiles when the HSV R8 Clubsport Track Edition visits the top of The Mountain.camp-mud-duds-track-edition-1We’ve got the dial set to Touring, so as to not draw the ire of the campers as we seek a suitable site for some pictures. Photo session over, it’s into the campsite and espy a site with both the blue and red colours on the flags. Photographer Scott grins and says he has an idea. Moments later the rear of the red car is up against the fenceline, with a horde of the curious swarming over the car. They note the working bonnet air vents, the lack of visual identification that it’s a Track Edition outside, door sill and centre console the only places Track Edition is mentioned.2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-front-left-wheelThere’s an eyeballing of the body coloured and black wing, the contrasting black inserts in the front bumper against the red and the slim black skirting along the sills of the near five metre long machine…a Ford bloke nudges his Holden mate and points towards the yellow six piston calipers from AP racing with HSV embossing, visible through those “Blade” alloys. Comments are made about the gloss black highlight of the bonnet badge, with the consensus being that it looks wrong. “Where’s the chrome?” asks one. Another in the crowd asks “Howsitgomateorright?” A nod, a smile and then the inevitable question…”Can we check out the donk?”2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-engineThe aluminuim bonnet is lifted and instantly the population around the car doubles, as does the number of cameraphones. The engine’s being quietly idling in the background, feeding the dual zone aircon a steady flow of cooling air inside, across the non heated or cooled leather seats and suede wrapped steerer.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-bonnet-ventsIt takes only a moment’s breath before “Goonmategiveitago!” The 6.3L alloy block snarls in response, effortlessly sending the mechanical needle spinning past the over emphasised numbers on the tacho, eliciting a cheer from the red lion faithful, an appreciative nod from some of the blue oval brethren, before one grins, walks away, and starts up his blue oval badged V8 to answer the challenge issued by the HSV. It’s no contest, say many, the red car sounds best.2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-tail-lightsThere’s a price to pay for that exuberance. You can’t call 6.2 litres of Chevrolet’s finest economical, unless you own Saudi Arabia. Even those few stabs on the throttle have shifted the fuel needle, as fuel is sucked in from the 71 litre tank, nestled near the 496 litre boot.. The LS3 prefers a liquid diet of 98 RON unleaded and will show nothing less than 12.0L of liquid gold being consumed for every 100 kilometres covered, and that on the return trip from The Mountain on a greasy highway after light rains.camp-mud-duds-track-edition-5The crowd have dispersed, with many words of thanks, plenty of pictures taken, and thoughts turn towards the coming weekend of endurance racing at the Mountain. HSV is inextricably linked with the history of the place, with Tom Walkinshaw himself having raced in a Jaguar XJ-S. The Track Edition, at $68990, is a wonderful nod and counterpoint to The Great Race, with Holden Special Vehicles building just 150 of the car for Australia and six for New Zealand, making it a rarity, unlike the variety of characters found around Mount Panorama.2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-left-front-quarter-skylineHSV was born, in a way, of The Mountain, so it was fitting to take the Track Edition there. The place is iconic, there’s names etched forever into the history of Mount Panorama and motorsport runs deep in the souls of those that journey there every year for their annual pilgrimage. That’s the allure of The Mountain and the allure of HSV.

Go here for the latest in HSV’s range: www.hsv.com.au

A Wheel Thing thanks Damon Paull at HSV and Scott Richardson for photos.

private_fleet_logo

Drag Racing Has Its Own Rewards

Sydney Dragway plays host to a variety of high speed events but September 10th and 11th were a little different. The Australian Nostalgia Fuel Association took to the quarter mile track to both showcase some truly classic drag racing cars and their drivers.

The event was backed by “Cruzin” Magazine, a publication dedicated to the hot rod and modified street car scene, and was also a celebration of the drivers and pioneers of the sport. The event itself is part of a series being co-hosted between Sydney and Queensland’s fabled Willowbank Raceway.

Based around ten different categories, including Vintage Gas and Nostalgia Superstock, the series is a first time set-up and was held as two one day events in Queensland. The Sydney Dragway event was a two day wrap-up and was held over a weekend where the weather wasn’t the best.

The event also saw, on the Saturday night, the hosting and presentation of awards to drivers as part of a get together for the Australian Nostalgia Fuel Association, (ANFA). Industry legends such as Bob Shepherd and Graham Withers were given Lifetime Achievement Awards to honour their decades of service to the sport. The presentation, known as Pioneers Night, was attended by close to eight hundred people and the camaraderie was on full display for all members that attended.224105-drag-racing

Drag racing seems to attract a distinct audience, one that is either fully attuned to the nuances of the sport or those that are there simply to enjoy the spectacle. There’s also a curious flow to a drag racing event, compared to how a circuit racing event would run. There’s distinct differences yet, as motorsport tends to do, there’s crossover as well.

A circuit event runs to a certain amount of time or laps, before a race result is declared. It’s generally a situation of who was fastest finishes first. There’s a saying in motorsport: to finish first, first you must finish. Drag racing is not unlike that but it’s in the racing results side that the disparity becomes clear.
Here’s how it works for the layman. In essence, it appears drag racing is about the fastest car to leave the start line (or staging area) and cross the finish line a quarter of a mile (400 metres) down. During the qualifying sessions, that’s effectively how it works. To make sure all races are equal, the staging area has to lights that become visible, one after the other, as an entrant moves their vehicle forward slightly. Ahead of them will be what’s been known for decades as the Christmas Tree, a set of lights mounted vertically that tell the driver when they can start the race. Reaction time, the time it takes the car to move from seeing the green light, can play a huge part as well.The_Edge_260013_Drag_Racing_Christmas_Tree.jpg_250x250

This is where terms such as dial in and elapsed time become important. Elapsed time is the gap between the car starting and then crossing the finish line, hopefully without the driver leaving before the green light. If they do it’s an instant red light and hands the win to the competitor.
Dial in is a time a driver nominates, as in how fast in seconds they believe they will go from A to B. This also becomes a form of handicap, in that a car can nominate a time of 12.3 seconds and a competitor 9.3. This gives the first car a head start of three seconds, however if the 9.3 second competitor goes quicker than the nominated time, he then loses.

Confused? That’s understandable, but that’s drag racing. Head to www.sydneydragway.com.au for details.

The_Edge_260013_Drag_Racing_Christmas_Tree.jpg_250x250

Soldier On Joins V8 Superlap Production Touring Cars

https://www.soldieron.org.au/ is an organisation that’s dedicated to helping and working with our returned armed services men and women. There’s a good reason why: there’s been more returned soldiers take their own life in a year than in the thirteen years Australia has had service personnel in the Middle East. It’s a tragic number and a tragic situation.

Depression. Physical wounds. Just two of the issues the soldiers must deal with and Soldier On is there to help.

But why mention them here? The V8 Superlaps Production Touring Cars Championship has formed an alliance with the organisation, with PTC President Gerry Murphy saying: “We are honoured to be able to craft this initiative with Tony Fraser and the Soldier On team, to afford us the opportunity to give back, to say thank you, to these brave men and women who have served Australia”.

Drivers from the PTC have already contributed to community support by taking special guests from the Make A Wish Foundation for laps at Sydney Motorsport Park. With members of the PTC already having strong links to the services, it’s a natural progression to form this alliance. Tony Fraser, Soldier On’s Sporting and Programs Manager, said: “Opportunities such as the chance to volunteer with the V8 Superlaps Production Touring Car Championship are important because they provide our veterans with purpose and social connectedness. We believe these two things are fundamental in helping veterans re-integrate back into civilian life once they leave the Defence Force, and volunteering opportunities play an important role in our transition program. Soldier On thanks V8 Superlaps Production Touring Car Championship for their support and for helping our veterans.”

The official start date for the alliance will be the MoComm Endurance Race, to be held at Sydney Motorsport Park, in September. The event will also see members of the Soldier On family taking part in the event including managing the running of a car in the race, category management and media production with More Driven Media.

Major-General John Cantwell, a retired Major General and a wearer of the AO and DSC medals, who has completed multiple operational deployments and commanded all Australian forces in Afghanistan and the wider Middle East, also shared his views on the new deal.
“Many veterans are interested in motor racing and this is a fantastic opportunity for veterans to once again be part of a high-energy team, focused on winning in NSW Production Touring Cars”.