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Archive for March, 2015

Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country: The Review

In the third (and unexpected) V40 to be parked in A Wheel Thing’s garage, due to a minor but potentially non road worthy sensor glitch in the scheduled S60 sedan, the newly released Cross Country version was offered as a replacement, with the S60 being rescheduled. As such, this review will look at the differences between the Cross Country and its stablemates, rather than a normal in depth look.Volvo V40 Cross Country profile

Powersource.
It’s the turbo four and six speed Volvo V40 Cross Country engineauto combination; that 180 kW top end and 350 Nm from 1500 to 4500 revs combine sweetly in the Cross Country. It provides plenty of acceleration, makes overtaking a breeze however there’s a hesitation with the gearbox engaging Drive from Reverse and some indecision on light throttle applications. Under way, the transmission responds to the engine’s demands with alacrity.

The Suit.
There’s an inch or two extra ride height, some truly good looking 18 inch charcoal and silver Volvo V40 Cross Country wheelalloys, some extra body work on the Cross Country, featuring black urethane panels at the rear, along the sides and in the lower section of the front bumper, plus brushed alloy look inserts under the doors. With the review car painted white, it’s an eye catching mix of Volvo V40 Cross Country rearStormtrooper toughness and a touch of bling.
The roof is the panoramic all glass style, with shade provided by a interior colour matched screen, that rolls in and out of its storage at the front of the window.

On The Inside.
It’s a standard V40 interior bar a copper coloured Volvo V40 Cross Country front seatsoverlay on the upright console section, between driver and passenger. It’s a striking colour and draws the eye to the control section of the car. This vehicle was as standard as you can get, meaning very few, perhaps no options were fitted.Volvo V40 Cross Country rear seats
Colour wise, the seats and dash were black with the roof and pillar lining a shade of light grey-blue, giving an airy and comfortable feel to the office space.

On The Road.
The torque of the four banger works hand in hand with the AWD system fitted to the V40 Cross Country; with more traction comes more control and it’s subtly noticeable in the Cross Country. Volvo V40 Cross Country frontIt feels more grippy, more able, yet the suspension is a touch jiggly at times. It never feels that a wheel will lose contact, there’s simply a hint of not quite enough compliance to start.
In turns the Haldex AWD system simply powers through; tight roundabouts and the torque removes doubt about how the car will power through.The steering is Goldilocks right, not heavy, not light, with a good weight and communication from all four paws Volvo V40 Cross Country cargoseems there and ready to advise.
Overtaking is a thought process; like the Cross Country up, measure instinctively the gap and press the go pedal. The foreground disappears and the horizon becomes a momentary blur before warp drive is disengaged. Fun? Oh, my, yes.

The Wrap.
As mentioned, it was unexpected to sample the V40 Cross Country; in no way was this an issue as the AWD system and the torque made it, perhaps, the best drive of the three. At $52K plus, it may be a scary price for some, however…
Check with your Volvo dealer for availability and head to http://www.volvocars.com/au/all-cars/volvo-v40-cross-country/pages/default.aspx

For A Wheel Thing TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAPwWGdFmuk&feature=em-upload_owner

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WTCC 2015: Return of the World Touring Citroen Championship

Nothing really has changed.. Image Credit: mascoche.net

Nothing really has changed.. Image Credit: mascoche.net

After months of waiting the World Touring Car Championship has returned with the opening round at the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina. The 2014 season was utterly dominated by the all-conquering Citroens, echoing the same consistent superiority as the Mercedes in F1. Towards the middle part of the season I had albeit given up on the WTCC. The close season filled me with a fools hope that 2015 would take the mistakes from 2014 and transform them into a thrilling year. As I sat ready to enjoy the return of touring cars for 2015, little did I know the massive disappointments that lay ahead.

Qualifying

While I was growing up, my parents would often tell me that I should not knock something until I have tried it. When it comes to motorsports, this is very much a mantra that I endeavour to follow. The close season promised that intense testing and new developments would bring the WTCC field closer together; I was adamant that these changes would bring results. It was when I saw the qualifying results that my new found hope came crashing down around me. The reigning champion Lopez took pole position, by a gargantuan 1.2 seconds. I can remember a time when entire grids of touring car series were separated by a similar margin. And if only to pour salt into the wound, the next three cars on the grid were all Citroens.

The reverse grid for the second race did put British hero James Thompson on pole in the new look Lada. Post-qualifying comments from Honda gave the impression that they were happy that they have managed to close to gap to Citroen. At first this may seem positive, but in reality the fact that they still have to close such a massive gap is somewhat depressing. But with race day still to come, perhaps the other teams were waiting to strike.

There was some drama even before the start of the first race due to the blistering temperatures at the circuit. With track temperatures reaching upwards of 60 degrees, tyres were going to become a deciding factor in the outcome of the races. Not only that, the exhausting heat created highly treacherous conditions that somewhat mirrored a wet track. By going off the racing line speed and handling were very much compromised. Well, for everyone except the factory Citroen’s that is.

Race One

Bennani made a name for himself over the opening weekend. Image Credit: fiawtcc.com

Bennani made a name for himself over the opening weekend. Image Credit: fiawtcc.com

Usually when I construct these post-race reports, I like to focus on the races themselves while providing my own insight into the action. The trouble is that this is rather difficult to do this when there really isn’t much action to speak of. The first race took processional to an almost new low with the Citroen’s driving out into a lead they would never lose. The gap covering the top 3 was around 5 seconds; at the chequered flag it would take 14 seconds before the 4th place Monteiro would appear. Criticisms aside for just a minute, it must be something special to return to your home track as reigning world champion and take a commanding victory in the first race of the season; Jose Maria Lopez has often been described as the people’s driver and this was very much evident on the podium following the first race. It was as much his victory as it was the 40,000 strong fans’ victory.

The first race was a harrowing start to the season for the new Lada Vesta, with both cars involved in collisions that would end their races prematurely. In the case of Rob Huff, his spearing by Bennani gave the Citroen privateer a drive-through and an infamous reputation that may last all season. My biggest sympathy in the first race has to go to Hugo Valente, who had only just repaired his car for the start of the race following a previous incident, only to crash out once more; this very much spelt the end to a miserable start to the year for the Chevrolet driver.

Race Two

Kind of sums up a disappointing weekend for Lada.. Image taken from: Eurosport

Kind of sums up a disappointing weekend for Lada.. Image taken from: Eurosport

The second race had a superficial sense of anticipation; could Thompson take the new Lada to victory from pole? However, as the revs began to build it my usual predictions came flooding out. By the end of the 1st lap there would be a Citroen leading, even though the closest Citroen was starting 7th. Low and behold, barely half way around the first lap there were two Citroen’s leading in the form of Loeb and Ma. After making a mistake in lap 2, Ma gave the lead to Loeb who never looked back and shot off to his first victory of 2015. How very exciting.

For some time Tarquini was holding his own from the rampaging Citroens, until finally succumbing to Lopez down the back straight. There was nothing else Tarquini could have done; the sheer brutality of the Citroen straight line speed makes defence an impossible task. Some of the only talking points of the race were provided by Muller and of course Mr Bad Man himself Bennani in his privateer Citroen. Following collision between the two, Muller was forced to pit and would finish the race last.

My Verdict

Monteiro is fast becoming my favourite driver in the WTCC. Image Credit: fiawtcc.com

Monteiro is fast becoming my favourite driver in the WTCC. Image Credit: fiawtcc.com

If I was to pick not only the driver of the race but of the whole weekend, it would have to be Monteiro. Dazzling consistency was the name of the game for the Honda man, who managed to keep himself out of trouble to finish the first race in 4th and the second in 3rd. Many people would give such an award to Lopez or Loeb, but for me I look for true driving skill over superior technology. Credit should also be given to returning Rydell who managed two solid points finishes across the weekend despite suffering with numerous problems. Finally, this may be a little out of character for me but I am developing a considerable soft spot for the pantomime villain of the WTCC field; Bennani may not always driver as cleanly as I would hope from a true touring car driver, but hey at least he provides some entertainment.

The World Touring Car Championship used to be the beacon in every aspect of tin top motorsport; the days of Priaulx, the Mullers, Farfus Jnr and Giovanardi contained nail biting action, drama and edge of the seat racing. Since the introduction of the Citroen team last year (but the fault does not lie entirely with them), it has become nothing more than a dull, lacklustre and highly predictable excuse for a championship with very little to offer the viewer; except perhaps the distant hope that Citroen might go the way of Mercedes in Formula One and begin an all-out civil war, paving the way for other teams to come through.

Part of the problem stems from the obsession of the FIA to take its championships to tracks that are simply too big; one of the reasons Argentina provided no excitement was a track so wide it made the Grand Canyon green with jealousy. If the WTCC followed the idea of the BTCC and had tighter, narrower tracks it would at least slow the relentless march of the Citroens through the field. Those I feel most for are the other non-Citroen teams who can do nothing but watch the Citroens drive off into the distance. This is what happens when you give FIA control of well, anything and secondly give one team a whole years extra development over everyone else.

The only way for WTCC to fix the mess it has put itself in is to quite simply start again. New rules, new regulations which would mean everyone start again from a clean slate. As it stands, the WTCC is set to lose a great deal of support from sponsors, fans and teams alike. Our only hope now rests on Honda and Lada to provide any form of resistance against the Citroens. It is almost like playing a racing simulator with the difficulty set to novice when it comes to the Citroens. Honestly, as it stands I could find more shock and excitement from the next X Factor winners single.

Welcome back everyone, to the 2015 World Touring Citroen Championship!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for all my latest updates @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

 

 

Idiotic Overtaking

overtakingOK, I might have to stick my neck out a bit and explore the gender differences in driving here a bit. But what is it with guys and overtaking?  Or, to be slightly more specific, why on earth do the driving men in my life (husband, son, father and brothers) feel compelled to overtake anything that’s in front of them if they’re out on the open road?  The only male I know who doesn’t is my elderly grandfather… who (a) is quite content to perform complicated mathematical operations involving the numbers on the licence plate of the car in front of him and (b) doesn’t do much open road driving.  They always say I’m far too patient when overtaking, but I say that safety is more important, and if I can’t get a nice open stretch of road with plenty of visibility and clear road to pass safely, then I’ll resign myself to being stuck behind that freight truck for as long as necessary.  Truckies are usually pretty considerate and if they can see you in the mirrors and a twisty hill’s coming up, they tend to find a shoulder to pull onto while you whip past.

However, I am happy to say, the men in my life are reasonably safe drivers when overtaking (with the exception of one leadfooted brother but that’s another story).  I wish I could say the same for other drivers on the road.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are some real idiots out there.  The most moderate of these idiots are the ones who overtake you when you’re doing the speed limit or possibly a shade over… but they still sweep past you and disappear into the wide blue yonder.  You shake your head and wonder what they’ll do if a cop on speed patrol is waiting just around the corner.

This happens around town, too, although the likelihood that the overtaker will get picked up by a cop is much higher.  Around town, there seems to be two main motives for pointless overtaking. Pointless overtaking around town involves whizzing past another vehicle and then stopping in front of the lights – a slightly risky manoeuvre just to gain a place in the queue at the lights, which will save that driver all of two seconds, if that.  Motive number one for pointless overtaking seems to be the “I’m in a hurry” mentality. A hurried driver cannot bear to be held up for the merest fraction of a second.  Any driver doing less than the posted speed limit will be overtaken, even if said person is only slowing down to turn into a driveway.  However, it’s pretty easy to sympathise with these drivers.  We’ve all been late at times and know what it’s like to be slowed by others when every second counts because you’re already late picking up the kids or getting to that appointment.

It’s a bit harder to sympathise with motive number two. Motive number two seems to be pride and badge loyalty.  It is best demonstrated by what happened one night back when we had our Ford Falcon.  We were quietly minding our own business and cruising along when a car roared past us.  We got a glimpse of a Holden badge.  The lights turned red in front and we and the Holden driver stopped side by side at the front of the queue.  My husband was driving and couldn’t resist switching drive mode to sport and putting the foot down (the traffic was only light, I must add).  We got away first but the Holden charged past at the next possible opportunity.  The pattern was repeated at the next three lights, a skirmish in the ongoing battle between red circle and blue oval.  Eventually, when we got to the motorway, the Holden driver had had enough and absolutely floored it.  We laughed and let him go.  I dare say similar battles could take place with other makes and models, depending on how passionately you are for or against a particular brand.  As long as this overtaking is done safely and legally, it’s harmless fun.  It’s a game that one of the Top Gear team dubbed “BMW Leapfrog” – i.e. find a posh, powerful car and overtake it. Wait and see how long it takes for driver of said posh car to overtake you.

However, there is nothing at all safe or harmless about the last sort of overtaking idiot – the sort that doesn’t allow him or herself enough room to pass properly.  There is no sort of excuse for this behaviour.  To quote the road rules , “Before overtaking another vehicle, you must:

  • be sure it is safe to do so
  • on a single-lane road, be sure that the road ahead is clear for a sufficient distance
  • be sure you have sufficient distance to return to the same lane or line of traffic without endangering the vehicle being overtaken or any vehicle coming from the opposite direction

 

gandalf_YouShallNotPassWhy do people not follow these simple rules?  Why do they put other road users at risk?  (Yes, I’m thinking about the driver of that grey Toyota last week that decided to overtake a scant 100 metres before a bend in the road… and I was coming in the other direction around said bend and had to slam on the brakes to avoid a nasty head-on.  I don’t know who you were but if I did, your name would be MUD! I hope you saw me glaring at you.  And why can I never find the horn at moments like this?).

 

I wish I could say that my near miss with that silver grey Toyota was an isolated incident.  Unfortunately, it isn’t.  There are jerks who try to overtake two B-trains at once.  There are those who start a passing manoeuvre, decide against it at the last minute and slam back into the left side of the road narrowly missing the person they were about to pass.  There are those who try to overtake not just the slow vehicle with the caravan but the whole conga line of patient drivers behind the caravan.  You see these sorts of things and you just have to wonder: WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?  WERE THEY THINKING AT ALL?

 

Safe and happy driving, even to you, driver of the grey Toyota,

Megan

2015 Tesla S 85: The Review

Tesla S 85 3Elon Musk is one far seeing individual; not only does he have his fingers in the space and mass transportation pies (Space X and Hyperloop) he wants electric cars in everyone’s garage. It’s a dream that many have had and many have failed at.
Sure, there’s hybrids and almost fully electric cars such as the Volt, but the Tesla car is fully electric, meaning there’s no petrol engine to supplement or charge. There’s a single or pair of electric motors, charged up at home via a modified power point to deliver three phase power or at a growing number of “Supercharging” stations that will line the east coast of Australia in a short space of time. A Wheel Thing was granted a (too few!) number of hours with the Tesla S 85 and commenced the journey from Tesla Cars Sydney’s HQ, in St Leonards.Tesla dual motor

On arrival, I was met by the courteous and friendly staff, immediately making me feel welcome. I was introduced to Will, who gave me a pretty thorough introduction to the Tesla S 85 I would be spending a few hours with.
The centrepiece of the Tesla is the enormous 17 inch, vertically inclined, touchscreen. It’s the powerhouse for all of the controls, from the aircon to the Google Maps navigation (voiceTesla S 85 control screen guided, as is the audio system), information about the car to being able to select how open you wish the sun roof to be…precisely! The layout is intuitive, user friendly and follows a common sense method when a window or tile is no longer needed, by having an X in a corner to be tapped to close.
The driver gets a hi-res screen too, with crystal clear info including an on the go battery usage chart; the battery itself can be charged at home with the charger supplied by Tesla and the system can be programmed to charge during off peak periods, such is the attention to the small yet important things.

As such, there’s exceedingly few “real” buttons inside, with just a couple located on the left and right spines of the tiller, with two rotary buttons that will double as hard reset buttons, should they be required. The wheel itself is of a good size and thickness, allowing an easy, relaxed driving position to be found, along with being electrically motivated for rake (up and down) and reach (in and out). Naturally the seats are electric, heated and LED lighting provides plenty of pure white light for all passengers.

Tesla S 85 2The Tesla S is a big car; it’s a touch over five Tesla S 85 interiormetres long, has a wheelbase in excess of three metres and is close to two metres wide. Interior room, then, is sizeable.
Exterior panelwork evokes hints of Italian and British muscle car luxury.It’s a proper five seater, as a result, with plenty of leg, hip and shoulder room. The seats themselves are nigh on perfect in comfort and support although the pattern, seemed, to my eyes, to look a bit retro, harking back to the days of hand-stitched covers in classic cars.
The steering wheel and controls are sourced from a German automotive company; the important part is the stalk on the right hand side, with PRND set into the plastic. It’s the now typical foot on the brake, move the lever and……nothing.

No noise, except what’s outside the Tesla (and inside if the superb audio system is on) as you move off. Insulation keeps any noise from the electric motor totally at bay; what isn’t hidden away is the astonishing acceleration and the seat Tesla S 85 rear seatsof the pants sensation of space shuttle like thrust. It’s quick off the mark (the go pedal does need more feedback) but rolling acceleration is unbelievable. The space of time between 80 and 110 is so small Dr Who would have trouble defining it. Again, it’s not neck snapping fast in the sense of the term, it’s that unrelenting wave, that ongoing surge which happens and continues oh so quickly that is the noticeable part.

The steering sometimes feels a touch heavy but never unmanageable, there’s a touch of numbness on centre however it’s communicative either side. Ride quality is superb, with no Tesla S 85 wheeltruly discernible dive under brakes, no roll when thrown hard into a turn and bump absorption is more than adequate. Rolling stock is simple but attractive 20 inch plus diameter alloys, in a turbine fan blade design.

Again, the only noise is what’s outside unless you turn the audio system up to 11 (yes, it is deliberately configured for that) but be prepared to bleed from the ears. It’s loud. LOUD! But there’s no distortion, the part of the sound that causes headaches. Activation of the search system is easy: you say “Play….” and it will search and then bring up a list of songs, artists etc from that command, if the rights to the songs etc have been authorised. You can’t play The Beatles, for example, from a search as they don’t show up. With only a few hours to try the Tesla, I found that I couldn’t get, for example, an album to play in order from start to finish. I would hope there’s a mechanism in the programming to do so.

Because of the flat floor, the aluminuim chassis holding the battery and engine on the single motor Tesla situated behind the rear seat, there’s ample interior room and storage space, front and rear. Tesla quotes over 740L for the boot and that’s without lifting the (subtly Tesla logoed) boot floor covering. And yes, there’s plenty of storage at the front as well.Tesla S 85 boot rearTesla S 85 front boot

There’s no doubt, no doubt, that this company, its founder and its products, is destined to push the boundaries of what’s acceptable in car technology further than what we expected just a few years ago. Elon Musk is a visionary, unquestionably. The Tesla S is the embodiment of his vision.

For details: http://www.teslamotors.com/en_AU/

A heartfelt thanks to Heath and Alex at Tesla HQ and to Will at Tesla Sydney.

Totally Pointless Driving Habits

Low bridge coming! Duck your head and shrink down in your seat behind the wheel, as this really helps your car fit underneath.

Low bridge coming! Duck your head and shrink down in your seat behind the wheel, as this really helps your car fit underneath!

We do some pretty funny things in our cars at times.  I’m not just talking about crazy overtaking, attempting to do fifty things while steering or cutting other people off.  Nor am I talking about the things we do at traffic lights when we forget that our car is not our own little bubble that makes us invisible.  I’m talking about the peculiar habits we have while driving (or being driven) that are completely pointless.

You know the sort of thing I mean.  We’ve all done them.  Things like turning the radio down when we’re looking at the road signs because if it’s quiet, we can see better.  Or if you’re the passenger being driven by someone who likes to put their foot to the floor just a bit too much, you try to stamp on invisible brakes.  Why do we do these things?  Do we even stop to think about them at all?

Here is a small sample of some more pointless in-car behaviour:

  • Ducking your head (whether you’re in the driver’s seat or in the passenger seat) as you approach a tunnel or anything with a clearance warning sign.  Because ducking your head will really make the car fit underneath that low bridge, won’t it?
  • Talking to your car to encourage it to get going on a cold morning.  “Come on, old girl, come one, come on! Get going!”  Or when you’re trying to tow a heavy load up a steep hill and are nearly at the top and don’t really want to change down all the way to second gear.  “You can do it, come on, nearly there, come on, old girl…” It’s a machine, not a dog or a horse.  Even if the car has voice activated this and that, the engine can’t hear you.
  • Shifting your centre of gravity depending on what you are trying to do, as if the car was a bicycle. This includes leaning back when going down a hill, leaning forward when trying to go faster, tilting your body from side to side to help it go around a corner, leaning right back when you want the driver to slow down…  We do this in spite of how we’ve spent oodles of cash on wheel alignments and ensuring that the suspension is just right, to say nothing of picking a vehicle with stability control.  This may be a hangover from when we rode bicycles but still…
  • Closing our eyes during a near miss or when we think a crash is inevitable.  OK, part of this is instinct kicking in to make sure that our vulnerable eyes are safe.  Part of it is an ostrich-like feeling of “I don’t want to look at what’s about to happen,” but it’s utterly insane.
  • Sucking our breath in as we negotiate a tight parking space or a manoeuvre in a tight turn.  This works fine if we’re on foot and trying to squeeze past the shopping trolley in the checkout aisle so we can finish putting the groceries on the conveyor belt and go to pay.  It doesn’t work quite so well when trying to park your big old Land Rover  in a narrow gap between two very new Audis .

Of course, some pointless behaviour is encouraged by car manufacturers.  Why else do they provide “chicken handles” for the passengers?  (I think they’re called “overhead grips” officially, but I’ve never heard this term being used outside an official blurb or description from the makers.)  You should be wearing your seatbelt, and your seatbelt is a lot sturdier than those little screws holding the chicken handle to the interior of the car.  It doesn’t take much to pull one of those off.  In a collision, rollover or similar disaster, hanging onto the chicken handle is not going to do much to protect you.  The G-forces involved are going to rip the handle off or dislocate your shoulder before they stop you flying if they’re all you’re relying on.  So why are they provided in cars?  What is the point of a chicken handle?  (Apart from providing a good place to hang up your best suit so it doesn’t get crumpled, that is.)

So, it’s confession time.  What pointless things do you do?  I’ll admit to stomping on invisible brakes as a passenger, ducking under low bridges and talking to my car (I also talk to other machinery, so I may be slightly insane).  What about you?

Safe and happy driving,

Megan

BTCC Dream Teams: The Sensation of Silly Season

Although silly season is drawing to a close, there is still a month of rumour, conjecture and speculation regarding the construction of the BTCC field for 2015. As such I decided to take what may be my final plunge into the silly season swimming pool. Across the close season on the various tin top communities, a common conversation topic is who people would like to see in teams. Therefore, what better way to end the silly season than to present my ideas for some BTCC dream teams!

Super Touring Super Group

Last time Menu and Rydell were in the same team, they dominated all before them. Image Taken From: TouringCarTimes.com

Last time Menu and Rydell raced together, they dominated all before them. Image Taken From: TouringCarTimes.com

Similar to those rock groups of years gone by that are formed by a selection of stars from across the music world, my first proposal would see the same thing done with icons of the BTCC. Most specifically, I would have a team comprised of some of the biggest names from the 90s. If we take a team the size of BMR it gives four slots to work with. Along the same lines as BMR from 2014, the team would run two makes of car; Volvo and Renault. What better way to bring back two classic manufacturers than in the ultimate super touring team? And why not have the cars built and engineered by Andy Rouse, who would of course fill in if ever a driver could not take part in a meeting.

For the drivers, only thorough-bred champions are right for this team. My favourite driver of all time is Alain Menu, so there is no doubt that he would get a place on the squad, followed closely by the Swedish superhero Rickard Rydell. Give that man a chance to return to the BTCC and I would hedge my bets that he would leave the WTCC in an instant! Next up, it is the animal himself Mr John Cleland. Part of me would feel strange putting him in a car that wasn’t a Vauxhall, but for the purposes of this I am willing to overlook that. My final choice may surprise a few, but the remaining slot in this team would go to Paul Radisich. He may never have won a championship, but he always drove like a champion. After all, in 1993 he only competed in the latter part of the season yet still managed to finish 3rd in the championship. It’s probably safe to say that if the Ford team had been ready for the start of the year, Paul would have taken the title in ’93.

The return of two legendary manufacturers? A team made up entirely of legends of the BTCC? An icon of touring car engineering?

That would be a dream team.

Bringing the Rock to Touring Cars

What a sponsorship deal this would be. Imagine this on a jet black car.

What a sponsorship deal this would be. Imagine this on a jet black car.

Across the many years of the BTCC, there have been all manner of companies that have taken up sponsorship of race teams. However, the one area that I have always thought could expand into racing is strangely, music. In 2002 there was the one-off Team Atomic Kitten that entered with the then rookie Colin Turkington and Gareth Howell. But speaking as a Queen fan, you can see where I may be going with this. I would love to see a Queen branded car take to the grid. Perhaps with Queen Sponsorship involved, the warm up lap music can be improved. Over the last few years, I have always found the dodgy dance track at the start of each race to be somewhat annoying.

Bringing in sponsorship from another successful sector would inevitably bring with it a growth in fans to the sport. In addition, it would be great to combine the race weekend with amazing musical entertainment. Do you remember the Queen’s Golden Jubilee where Brian May stood atop Buckingham Palace and played the national anthem? Imagine Brian May standing on the roof of the Queen entry, rocking out a solo to the fans around the circuit. And just in general, if more music was integrated into the BTCC then perhaps we would start seeing our favourite machines appearing in more music videos and more adverts.

If you have any funny band/artist based team names I would love to hear them!

Guest Drive

One former F1 driver. One wet race. True excellence. Image Credit: Motorsportretro.com

Remember the last time a guest car ran in the BTCC? Image Credit: Motorsportretro.com

One of the aspects of the Porsche Carrera Cup that I admire is their ‘guest drive’ addition to each round of the championship. Along with the usual contenders in the field, there is a driver running who does not compete for championship points as a one-off type deal. There was a time when this guest drive was often Tim Harvey who would then go on to enter the championship fully. Would this not be a great addition to the BTCC? Let us not forget last time Ford ran a guest car and a certain Nigel Mansell created one of the best touring car races there has ever been.

This would give drivers from across the motorsport spectrum a chance to race in what is now officially one of the best touring car series in the world (second only to DTM don’t you know). The ever increasing popularity of the sport will without doubt attract a whole new audience including other drivers. As the BTCC field is already at capacity it may not always be feasible to bring in more international or even celebrity talent for a full seasons’ drive, but having them compete in rounds throughout the year could work. Furthermore, it would give a whole range of drivers the opportunity to compete. I can imagine stars from the WTCC and V8SC in particular wanting in on the action.

After all throughout the 90s the BTCC did attract some big international talent such as Aiello, Biela, Tarquini and even F1 teams like Williams Touring Car Engineering. Personally, having a one off driver would definitely mix it up for the whole field; nothing to lose apart from a few wing mirrors and body panels. It could be a whole lot of fun. In 1998, Mansell only ran in select races, but if this became a recurring feature of the championship it could bring massive audience figures and sensational entertainment.

What or who would you like to see in your ultimate BTCC team?

Or on the flip side, what would be a hilariously explosive team would you have? Having Neal and Plato as team mates with equal number one driver status comes to mind…

Send your suggestions in!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for all my motorsport chats @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!