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Throughout The Car Industry

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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On: Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 2:26PM | By: John Welch

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Drayson Racing to campaign the 2010 ALMS calendar, LMP Challenge car a "Real Race car!", video of the epic Patron Highcroft ARX-02a rebuild, another F1 team signs up with Cosworth.

Penske/Saturn deal ends in terminal prognosis for Saturn; are the Hummer, Opel and Saab deals next?

9ff creates another wonderful Porsche-based road car, then decorates it with what is possibly the worst paint scheme ever devised. Hide your children, shield your eyes!

Just for kicks, let's start off with some videos documenting Patron Highcroft's resurrection of their destroyed Acura ARX-02a, a story we covered last week . . .



The crash itself . . .




Duncan Dayton explaining the task at hand . . .




 . . . and time lapse footage of the actual rebuild. Incredible.

The Good: The ALMS is only getting better. After a lackluster Petit Le Mans, there is one more race on the calendar this season, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The end of the season does NOT mean the end of exciting news. This also applies to Formula ueewwhh.

As we've mentioned before, Drayson Racing, the iconic British team owned by Lord Paul Drayson, a man who stood down as a UK Government minister in November 2007 just because he wanted to go racing. My kinda guy! Drayson Racing has screwed around with several marques and cars since, mostly Aston Martin products entered in the GT1 and GT2 classes. Last month, seemingly out of nowhere, Drayson announced that it would enter LMP1 with a brand new Lola B09/60 LMP1 Coupe. Drayson constructed the coupe using a Judd V10 and had it on the track within a month. Though not showing well at Petit, the car will have Laguna Seca and the entire off-season to be developed. Americans should be honored that Drayson chose the ALMS over the European LMS, and we should also marvel at the car's stunning paint scheme. One of the best liveries in racing — very dashing!

Other good news in motorsport: The current LMP classes will be combined into one class next year. The rules will be optimized in order to give LMP2 cars a distinct edge in cornering potential. The 2008 season could be considered a dry-run of this format, and it was a huge success. Several LMP2 cars took overall victories that year, from Acura and Porsche.

The LMP2 class will be replaced by a 'spec' class of sorts, the LMP Challenge class. Just like any other 'spec' series, competitors buy a rolling chassis and sealed engine from the ALMS, test, then compete. It's a cost effective way to get more 'Gentleman' drivers into the series, while also providing a way to test young sports car drivers against equal competition. The car, the ORECA-Courage FLM09, was tested by 14 drivers on Sunday at Road Atlanta. A day after the race was canceled four hours in.

“It’s a real race car!” exclaimed Gunner Jeannette, a former Panoz factory driver. “The aero is great,” continued Jeannette, “I raced a Courage P2 at Le Mans in ’04 and this is pretty similar. It’s a real prototype comparable to a P2 - a little pointy but not twitchy. I got a real good feel from the car. I really think the American Le Mans Series has got this right.” mmmm, 'pointy' . . .

Finally, an established team has signed up to run Cosworth engines in Formula One next season, Williams. Winners of many championships, some powered by Cosworth, the Williams team adds some much needed validity to the Cosworth engine program. Williams dumps Toyota to go with Cosworth, not a good sign for Toyota. The Cosworth engine will be used by the three new teams (USF1/GPE, Manor Racing and Campos) and has come under fire for being underpowered and heavy. Hopefully Williams will be able to campaign for some performance updates, as the Cosworth mill is basically the same design run by Williams in 2006.

The Bad: Stupid GM and all their stupid failures. Now it is clear that Penske is not going to purchase the Saturn name, so Saturn is going to disappear just like Pontiac. GM, uhm, you have to sell these useless companies of yours, remember how Wagoner got the ax at the beginning of all this mess? I wouldn't put it past Obama to can every white-collar worker within the company and start over. Hopefully beginning with that cheese-eater Fritz Henderson . . . As the news of Opel and Saab and Hummer gets wrung out over the course of the fall, I say to you: I no longer care. At all. All three of those brands are going to stay in a perpetual limbo; there are just too many caveats involved in each deal.

The Chinese Government doesn't want Tengzhong Heavy Industry to purchase Hummer. The German Government does not want Opel sold to any company other than Magna (who has a deal with a Russian company that would bring GM technology to an unnamed Russian auto firm; GM refuses . . .), and the Saab deal has taken more twists and turns then a roller coaster designed by a dyslexic. What a disaster. Frankly, a disaster I'm sick of hearing about. Personally, until one of these companies is actually sold and producing vehicles on its own, I will not be made an ass of anymore. My fellow Autoshopper editors may report on nonexistent GM deals all they want; I won't do it. GM can drum up its own free advertising somewhere else.

The Ugly: The 9ff GT3RS. Such a seductive recipe has 9ff wrought. The 911 GT3RS is pretty spectacular on its own. Razor sharp chassis, brutal 3.8 liter flat-six, complete with ACTIVE engine mounts, and an exhaust note that could wake the dead-motoring nirvana. 9ff wasn't satisfied, as is often the case with well-heeled tuning companies, and decided to take the GT3RS from merely "Perfect" to "Inconceivably Perfect".

Adding select motor mods, 9ff was able to extract 750 reliable, tractable, naturally aspirated horsepower form the burly Bavarian. As is the natural course of things, these engine upgrades come with a host of suspension and brake enhancements as well. Great. So WHY did they have to drape the most hideous paint scheme imaginable over their demo car?! This is the car everyone is going to be photographing, and it's straight up offensive. Who thought Flourescent Orange over Slate Grey was a good idea? Whoever it was, I'm sure he smokes crack... often. "Inconcievably Perfect" gives way to "Just Shy of Perfect" . . .

9ff GT3RS . . . I don't like looking at it; but listening to it is very nice . . .

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