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Renault may use KERS at Monza

On: Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 10:48AM | By: John Welch

Renault may use KERS at Monza test 1-1

Kinetic Energy Recovery systems were a hot topic before the 2009 F1 season got under way. Every team wanted the advantage of extra horsepower, but the drawbacks associated with the system proved to be insurmountable for most teams. BMW-Sauber went so far as to run KERS on Nick Hiedfeld's F109 chassis but not on Robert Kubica's car. Kubica you see, is not the size of a jockey, like most F1 drivers, and it was determined that managing weight distribution would be to difficult with him in the car. Kubica is a measly inch taller and fifteen pounds heavier than Hiedfeld. In a Formula one car that could be considered the difference between a thimble and an elephant.

Ecclestone releases 2010 F1 schedule

On: Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 9:48AM | By: John Welch

Ecclestone releases 2010 F1 schedule test 1-1

The schedule for the 2010 Formula One season was confirmed yesterday. As per the demands of most of the major teams, Formula One will return to North America next year. Most the manufacturer-based teams (Ferrari, Mclaren-Mercedes, Toyota) consider North America to be their most important consumer market. They certainly sell more passenger cars in the United States, for more money, than any other country.

After the debacle that was the 2005 US Grand Prix, interest in F1 supposedly waned in our country. The race was canceled after 2007, and the Canadian Grand Prix canceled after last year. (Robert Kubica won that race, bringing the only win to the BMW-Sauber team. I was pleased).

The F1 circus is going to return to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Contrary to popular rumor the European Grand Prix will be held on the Valencia street circuit, as it was last week. Eh, this track makes for a boring race, but hey, they have a bridge!

Personal beefs aside, the race schedule increases to 18 races from the 17 races scheduled this season. For more info you can visit Speedtv.com.

Audi announces return to Petit LeMans

On: Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 2:55PM | By: John Welch

Audi announces return to Petit LeMans test 1-1

. . . All of my wildest dreams are coming true. Last week, Autoshopper reported that Peugeot and ORECA will both contest the Petit LeMans this year, with no immediate word from Audi. Well, that word has been given; Audi will campaign two R15 Diesels in this years Petit.

Following this announcement, the LMP1 field is now so populated with awesome cars and teams that I don't think I can stand it (I'm excited; can you tell?). Along with Team Joest Audi, LMP1 will feature both Peugeot 908s, ORECA's Courage-derived prototype, De Ferran and Patron/Highcroft Acura ARX-02s, as well as the Intersport Lola, the Zytek Hybrid prototype, and several other private entries. Somebody pinch me, I'm dreaming.

Joining the LMP1 fracas are the LMP2 cars, BP Lola/Mazda coupes, as well as the Fernandez Acura ARX-01b. I've already gushed wildly about the GT2 class, featuring BMW, Corvette, Porsche, Ferrari, Panoz, the Robinson Ford GT, and many others. This is literally shaping up to be the best Sports Car race, on American soil, ever. If you'll excuse me, I have to go hyperventilate into this paper bag for a minute . . . I wonder if this ridiculous 'Joker Smilex' grin will ever leave my face?

The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Mobil 1 Presents Grand Prix of Mosport at 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 30. The race will air live on SPEED.

The ALMS release can be found here, on americanlemans.com

Samoans change lanes

On: Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 1:46PM | By: John Welch

Samoans change lanes  test 1-1

Here is an interesting story. The island nation of Samoa has enacted legislation to officially change which side of the road commuters drive on. This is the first such major 'right of way' policy change by an industrialized nation since Ghana switched lanes in 1974.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, the Prime Minister of Samoa provides some decent reasoning for the change: Australia and New Zealand, Samoa's two largest neighbors, both drive on the left, a-la Britain and Japan. Until now, Samoa has been a right hand-driving nation, like the U.S. and Germany. In order to benefit from the thousands of used right-hand-drive autos available from its two large and wealthy neighbors, Samoa is altering its 'side of the road', if you will. There is civil unrest, of course, but this seems like the right idea for the country.

This story was taken from The Wall Street Journal


GM procrastination, Re Deux

On: Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 1:10PM | By: John Welch

GM procrastination, Re Deux test 1-1

Boy, New GM may have shed plenty of toxic debt, but they've retained every bit of the arrogance they've compiled over the years. In an earlier post we outlined the "Saab/Koenigsegg" deal for you, a financial transaction that is moving at a snail's pace. Well, GM likes to spread the procrastination around. Opel, a long time subsidiary of the General, is currently up for bids. It has been since GM declared bankruptcy, and there have been several bidders. Why hasn't it been sold already? Simple; GM wants to maintain a stake in the company so that it can regain management of Opel should the capital become available. "Hedging their bets," so to speak.

Web Review: Cadillac

On: Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 5:45PM | By: John Welch

Web Review: Cadillac test 1-1

Last week we examined Porsche's impressive website. This time I'd like to exercise my unrealistic auto fantasy by checking out an American manufacturer. Cadillac, to be specific. If there is an American company producing desirable cars (even after all of Detroit's marketing puffery, this is still debatable), it is Cadillac. The Cadillac V-Series line has produced some interesting offerings, from the original CTS-V to the XLR-V, with its Bvlgari-designed dash and gauge cluster. Everything I have read regarding the new CTS-V makes me a little hawt under the collar. Let's see if Cadillac has done an acceptable job with their web campaign.

Barrichello, BrawnGP take the win in Valencia

On: Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 3:19PM | By: John Welch

Barrichello, BrawnGP take the win in Valencia test 1-1

The European Grand Prix was held in Valencia, Spain this weekend. As far as I'm concerned the show could have been better, but the result was nothing short of inspirational. Rubens Barrichello, at age 37 the oldest driver on the grid, performed flawlessly to take his first win in over five years. This win is also the first for him since leaving Ferrari to join the Honda F1 team (Now 'BrawnGP'). His win Sunday has changed Barrichello's view on his future in the sport. During the current season he has expressed dismay at what he perceived to be unfair "team orders," stating that he felt the team was concentrating more effort on his BrawnGP stablemate Jenson Button. Barrichello had also alluded to retirement after after the 2009 season, stating that he "didn't really see the point in racing in 2010" which would be his eighteenth consecutive season at the top level of motor sport. He has changed his mind, after the race expressing his desire to stay on with Brawn.

We don't want more Buicks—bring on the Caprice!

On: Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 12:01PM | By: John Welch

We don't want more Buicks—bring on the Caprice! test 1-1

New GM, Old GM, same dummies, different titles. First Fritz Henderson blasts my hero, Bob Lutz, publicly, stating that "Lutz may have his opinions, but he works for me." That's pretty pompous right there. Then Henderson turns around and tries to pitch a re-badged Saturn Vue as a Buick. Fortunately NEW GM has to listen to potential customers, who all verbally retched at the idea. Twitter officially killed the Vue-ick ('ick' being the operative suffix there . . .).

Here's the real crime: The G8 chassis is already re-badged as a Chevrolet, for the MIDDLE EASTERN market!! You scumbags!! Introduce a vehicle that I actually drool over, that actually stands its ground against the German competition, that can be made into a Chevy EASILY, but you're still stuck on the SUV/Crossover gravy train. I thought you didn't like 're-badging,' Fritzy? Or does that apply only to cars that aren't completely cost effective to produce? Or are you just laughing in the face of the American public because we are to stupid to notice? It's obvious that no one is going to buy crap, so why talk to us as if we are still falling for the 'Super Rebate' Ponzi scheme of the late Nineties . . . also, why isn't Lutz in charge instead of this 'Washington Puppet' Henderson? Age probably has a lot to do with it; Lutz is in his late seventies . . .

sigh . . . Edmunds accurately explains the Vue-ick debacle . . .

Toyota to boost engine production Stateside

On: Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 10:48AM | By: John Welch

Toyota to boost engine production Stateside test 1-1

In a surprise announcement Toyota has made it clear that they plan on increasing four cylinder engine production at their Huntsville, Alabama plant. This is a surprising announcement considering Toyota completely abandoned its NUMMI plant earlier this month.

The original (rather short) story ('blurb,' if you prefer) comes from The Wall Street Journal

New Buick Regal Apes Vauxhall/Opel VXR

On: Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 10:27AM | By: John Welch

New Buick Regal Apes Vauxhall/Opel VXR test 1-1

We may be looking at the next Buick Regal, assuming Fritz Henderson doesn't invent some reason why it offends his 're-badging' sensibilities. The 2010 Vauxhall Insignia VXR seen here is about as striking as a GM product has ever been. (I'm still keen on the '89 era IROC-Z, spent my entire childhood lusting after that car; until I discovered it was making an earth shattering 195 bhp, sigh.) It's from GM's current German arm, Opel. It rides on the same Epsilon II platform that underpins the Chevy Malibu and Buick LaCrosse.There is an interesting assortment of parts that go into the VXR, including bits from Saab, Opel, and GM's Korean subsidiaries. The 321 bhp 2.8-liter twin turbo V6 is sourced from Holden, those same wonderful Aussies who brought us the GTO and G8 before Fritzy decided DESIRABLE cars were not on the docket for GM . . . eeerrr, Government-installed CEOs rub me the wrong way . . . my thoughts on Henderson and his 'rebadging' hypocrisy in a later post . . .

Anyway, here we feature a brief gallery of Insignia VXR images, as well as a link to the origninal story in Edmunds Inside Line.

Wiedeking In Hot Water!

On: Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 2:54PM | By: John Welch

Wiedeking In Hot Water! test 1-1

And the Porsche/VW saga gets deeper and deeper. Now it looks like high ranking officials within Porsche may have traipsed around the law when attempting to acquire a majority share in Volkswagen last year. Several offices in Porsche's Stuttgart headquarters were raided this morning, including the office of former chief executive Wendelin Wiedeking. Is it just me, or is it impossible to trust a man named 'Wendy'? Almost as egregious as 'Fritzy' . ..

The full write up can be found at The Times Online