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Classic

Partrick Dempsey and rare Porsches tackle the Ennstal Classic

No less than twelve vehicles tackle the Ennstal Classic for the Porsche squad from 16 to 18 July in the mountainous Styria region.

Taking on the challenge is actor and race car driver Patrick Dempsey. The American recently notched up the greatest achievement of his racing career scoring second place in the GTE-Am class at the Le Mans 24 Hours with his Dempsey Proton Racing squad. Also joining the action is Richard Lietz, who signed on as a Porsche works driver in 2007 and has to date claimed three Le Mans class wins. Lietz teams up with co-driver Angelique Kerber for the three-day event, Germany’s current number one tennis player.
Impressive scenery. Porsche 550 Spyder at Ennstal-Classic.

The Porsche grid lineup is not only unique in terms of the drivers: the vehicles that will tackle this important car racing event are extraordinary classics that represented the benchmark of development and technology in their day.

Several rarities are amongst the vehicles from the Porsche Museum. Dr Wolfgang Porsche takes the wheel of a 356 B Carrera 2 Cabriolet of which only 34 were built. The 550 Spyder that Patrick Dempsey and Bernhard Maier will navigate through the Alpine region secured a class victory at the Carrera Panamericana in the year 1954. Up until it tackles the Ennstal Classic, the vehicle is an integral part of the exhibition of the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. Walter Röhrl contests the Racecar Trophy at the wheel of the “Grandmother”. In the past, the 718 W-RS Spyder competed in the Targa Florio four times, raced at the 1000 km on the Nürburgring three times and crossed the finish line at Le Mans twice.

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Historic

Historic Sports Car Club’s annual Wolds Trophy

The challenging Cadwell Park circuit in Lincolnshire delivered some great racing as Formula 3 topped the bill at the Historic Sports Car Club’s annual Wolds Trophy (Saturday/Sunday 27/28 June).

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Notable winners in the pair of Historic F3 races were James King, who won on his return to the track 38 years after winning a round of the British Formula 3 Championship, and James Denty who won in the ex-Mo Nunn Lotus 41 on the car’s racing return after more than 20 years in storage.

The opening race for the HSCC Historic Formula 3 Championship featured a great lead battle between Denty and Dean Forward (Tecno) which only ended when Forward was slowed by a rear puncture and forced to retire to the pits. In their wake, Simon Armer (March 703) just got the better of King (Chevron B17) as the American racer made his first visit to Cadwell Park since 1977. From a three-car lead battle in the second race, Forward and Denty both had spins and King came through to win from Armer. “It’s a lovely track, but 1977 was a long time ago,” said King.

“Sunshine, Cadwell Park and a fantastic car: I was allowed 20 minutes to enjoy myself,” said a jubilant Simon Hadfield after victory in the first Classic Formula 3 Championship race. While Hadfield took the ex-Rupert Keegan March 743 to two clear victories, Paul Dibden (Argo JM6) and Ian Pearson (Van Diemen RF83) battled for second. Pearson topped the URS Classic FF2000 contingent, which joined the Classic F3 cars for the weekend.

Benn Simms was another driver to make it a weekend double in the Historic Formula Ford 2000 Championship in his Reynard SF77. However, in both races he was pushed hard by Tom Smith (Royale RP27) as Andrew Park (Reynard SF79) and Callum Grant (Delta T78) ran close behind and took a final podium position apiece.

Simms made it an even better weekend at the end of Sunday’s programme when he took his rare Elfin 600 to victory in the second Classic Racing Car Championship race. Ian Jones (Lotus 59) won the first race by just half a second but Simms went clear in the second race.

Weekend double winners also included Tim Davies (Lotus Cortina) in Historic Touring Cars, Richard Mitchell (Merlyn Mk20) in Historic Formula Ford 1600, Roger Waite (Lotus Elan) in Historic Road Sports, Peter Shaw (TVR Tuscan) in 70s Road Sports and Mark Charteris (Mallock Mk21) in Classic Clubmans. John Turner (Cooper Mk9) won the 500cc Formula 3 race on Saturday as the early years of Cadwell Park were remembered.

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Formula E

Formula E – season finale in London

Now we know! Nelson Piquet Jr. is the first Formula E champion. The Brazilian took the title at the end of an incredible day, with the excitement building as everyone was left holding their breath until the final lap. Piquet drove in a very determined fashion from start to finish, making up a lot of places, thanks to a very aggressive strategy: his courage was rewarded with seventh place, enough for him to triumph in the title fight, which also means that, for the first time, a Chinese team, NEXTEV TCR, has produced the champion in an FIA series.

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Apart from Piquet, the other hero of the moment was Englishman Sam Bird, who took his second win of the season in front of his home crowd. It was a well-deserved, if not unexpected victory, given that Bird actually took the chequered flag right behind Stephane Sarrazin, but on the slowing down lap, the Venturi driver was informed he had exceeded the permitted energy allowance. The inevitable penalty dropped him to fifteenth place. Bird’s great day also included setting the fastest race lap, which was worth not just the two bonus points in the classification, but also the Visa Fastest Lap Trophy in the very race in which Visa Europe was the title sponsor.

Even the cleverest of thriller screenwriters could not have come up with such an incident packed script as the one delivered at the eleventh and final round of the season. A fantastic crowd flocked to Battersea Park: once again today, over 25,000 spectators packed the grandstands and the eVillage, bringing the total number of people through the gates over the duration of the event from Friday to Sunday, to around the 60,000 mark. They were treated to two equally thrilling scenarios. The first was the fight for the win, which apart from the two aforementioned drivers, also involved Belgium’s Jerome D’Ambrosio and France’s Loic Duval, who both finished on the podium. The result means that Dragon Racing has finished second in the teams’ championship, right behind newly crowned champions e.dams-Renault.

The second big story of the day was the title fight, with three contenders, Buemi, Di Grassi and Piquet, who went on to cross the line in that order. However, only the last of them was smiling about his finishing position, because the six points that go with seventh place were enough to finish just a single point ahead of Buemi in the classification. The Swiss driver paid the price for a spin shortly after his pit stop: the mistake meant Bruno Senna got ahead of him to finish fourth, his best result of the season. The Brazilian proved to be an unshakeable opponent for the e.dams-Renault driver, who tried his best in the final few metres to take back the position that would have given him the title.

Lucas di Grassi would have needed a combination of favourable circumstance to take the title and, in the end, sixth place was not even enough to allow the Audi Sport ABT team to hang on to second place in the teams’ classification.

The remaining points places were filled by the Mexican Duran (8th), Englishman Turvey who finished ninth just as he did yesterday in his debut weekend in Formula E and Nicolas Prost, the only driver who has always finished in the points this season.

The day got off to a dramatic start, as the battle for the Julius Baer Pole Position was hit by rain, just as the second group of drivers were out on track. Therefore, for the first time ever this season, the special all-weather tyres supplied to all Formula E competitors by Michelin, were given a stern test. Paying the highest price for the drops of rain that hit that track was Piquet, who was in the third group and thus found himself in 16th place on the grid, behind fellow countryman di Grassi (11th) but more importantly, a long way off Sebastian Buemi, his closest title rival, who was sixth fastest. Quickest was Sarrazin who beat D’Ambrosio by a whisker with Duval third and Bird fourth.

It was a closely fought and tense race, which was very exciting for the spectators in the park and for those following the race on television and the Internet. It was a great end to the inaugural season of the first FIA championship for fully electric single-seaters. “Not even in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the final would turn out like this,” commented Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag. “It was an incredible day and we achieved what we set out to do; putting on a great motorsport show in one of the most important cities in the world. We did it!”

Categories
Formula 1

A maddening Monaco F1 Grand Prix for Lewis Hamilton

Imagine the world’s fastest cars roaring down Regent Street and heading around Piccadilly Circus. That would be the English equivalent of the madness that is the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix.18081085412_2bd7494e2f_m

by Keithe Photography

Monaco is one of the original F1 tracks and remains the most exciting street circuit race weekend in motorsport. With many stars in town for the Cannes film festival just down the road the race is only part of the glamorous event.

As cars have got faster it has become harder and harder to overtake on the circuit. As ex-F1 driver Gerhard Berger commented before the race, ‘Who has the first corner is half way done.’ That’s a slight exaggeration, and this year it wasn’t to be proved true. Not through any fault of the driver on pole who made it to the first corner in the lead.

Lewis Hamilton was the victim of a strange pitting decision by his Mercedes team. When the safety car came out after a spectacular crash by the young rookie Max Verstappen, Mercedes brought Hamilton in from the lead for new tyres. They had though miscalculated his advantage over his rivals and when he returned to the track he was in third position.

Ouch. That’s called throwing the lead away. Mercedes could relax slightly as their other driver Nico Rosberg won the race, giving him a hat-trick of Monaco wins. But they lost a 1-2 finish and demonstrated what happens when you rely too closely on data and simulations instead of what is actually happening in front of you on the track.

Hamilton had a race to forget. But Monaco retains the charm of its narrow track painted with every-day road markings and traffic signs to Nice and Menton. Blue skies, the Mediterranean and extremely fast racing cars jostling around a town centre. It’s a unique experience.

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Endurance FIAWEC

Highlights of the FIAWEC Spa-Francochamps six hour race

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Endurance FIAWEC

Motor-racing and Tetris – the logistical challenges for Porsche of worldwide motorsport

Entering the two highly complex Porsche 919 Hybrids at the overseas races of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship does not just pose new sporting challenges for the Porsche Team. The logistics are a race of their own for the LMP1 newcomers from Weissach.

The travel itinerary for the second part of the World Championship, with Austin (Texas, USA), Fuji (Japan), Shanghai (China), Sakhir (Bahrain) and Sao Paulo (Brazil) as the destinations, adds up to around 40,000 kilometres – which is almost exactly equivalent to a trip around the globe. The team’s air freight for this enterprise is 35 tons. Nevertheless, only indispensible items are taken on board. The team’s hospitality, for example, isn’t one of the essentials. The works team eats in the paddock canteen.

M14 4969 finePorsche Team, LMP1, air cargo preparation, Weissach

Air cargo is complex. Like in the classic computer game Tetris, items have to be stacked without gaps, using the aircraft’s hold including any sloping sections. The area for the Porsche freight is limited to 12 units. Each of them measures 304 by 230 centimetres and, when fully loaded, should not be heavier than 3000 kilograms, otherwise the basic costs increase. Months ago it was calculated 12 units would be needed. The cargo list contains several thousand items. In order to ensure that everything fits into the limited space, the team always had the air freight requirements in mind when making decisions over what to purchase – whether for a tool cabinet, packaging for the drivers’ helmets, or an engine box. Furthermore, similar to moving house, the rule is: whatever is needed first at the destination, must be immediately available. Perfect organisation is essential to build up the garage on time, and once a three-ton container has been unloaded in a freight packed pit lane it sits there until it is empty.

The air freight goes on an Atlas Air 747 cargo plane, chartered by DHL and shared with other WEC teams. It took off on September 11 from the Frankfurt-Hahn airport in Germany to fly to Austin, Tokyo, Shanghai, Manama and Sao Paulo.

Each of the 12 units has a unique worldwide number plate and each component packed inside the containers has a QR code, so that by using a scanner everything can be located. This painstaking organisation doesn’t just achieve labour and cost efficiency. Customs offices, too, have a need for information. Whether the serial numbers of the 120 radios, the number of chassis components, packets of screws, or rolls of tape – Porsche puts a lot of effort in reliable documentation. Everything imported into the various countries has to be exported out again. The containers are x-rayed, and customs officers may, of course, want to unpack them. Time for this is factored into the schedules.

The two race cars don’t fit into containers. The Porsche 919 Hybrids travel securely strapped down onto extra car racks. All of their fluids have been drained, fragile body parts, such as the wing mirrors and front and rear wings, have been packed safely elsewhere. Fitting a set of used tyres is just right for travelling around the world. Between the races some components go back and forth. For example, the two-litre four-cylinder engines for rebuilding in Weissach.

Hazardous materials go separately. These include adhesives and resins, as well as spray cans and the lithium-ion batteries for the hybrid drive systems. These batteries even require permission from federal aviation administration offices in the various countries. The fact that Porsche possesses considerable expertise in hybrid matters helps the race team, but the procedures are time-consuming nonetheless. The hazardous materials also have to stay in a secure room for 48 hours before and after every flight without being moved. Fuel is shipped by Porsche’s partner Shell, and ExxonMobil brings all the oils and lubricants to the tracks. Michelin sends the tyres.

The team also ships some items by sea, which is considerably less expensive, but also much slower. Equipment shipped in August will only return in January. But then this doubles or triples what is needed. Because of the long distances there are three sets of sea freight on the high seas. The contents consist of relatively inexpensive but heavy equipment. Metal posts, for example. Instead of flying 20 of those heavy Tensator barriers around the world, it is cheaper to buy sixty of them and load them onto three vessels. It’s all about efficiency.

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Historic

This weekend – The London to Brighton Veteran Car run includes steam engines!

It’s time to put the spanners down and for the fettling to stop: the world’s longest running motoring event is about to begin. On Sunday (2 November) 440 veteran cars will line up in Hyde Park ready to tackle the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

As tradition dictates, the first car will set off on the 60-mile trip to the coast as dawn breaks… regardless of what the weather is doing. Very few of the veterans offer any protection against the elements, showing that the pioneer motorists were a hardy bunch.

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As well as petrol-powered cars there will be veterans powered by steam and, proving there’s nothing new under the sun, even some battery-powered electric vehicles. Open to cars built in 1904 or earlier, all the entries are at least 110 years old.

Famous names taking part include former Grand Prix team owner Ross Brawn, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, MP Robert Goodwill, Olympic gold medallists Sir Ben Ainslie and Sir Steve Redgrave, Jonathan Montagu from Beaulieu and TV baker Paul Hollywood.

The traditional finish is on Brighton’s Madeira Drive on the seafront, with the first cars expected at just after 10am with the event officially closing at 4.30pm.

The Run is the culmination of three days of motoring activity in London: Friday 31 October marks the annual Bonhams Veteran Car auction while many of the London to Brighton stars take part in the annual Regent Street Motor Show on Saturday (1 November).

The Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run celebrates the original Emancipation Run, held on 14 November 1896, and which marked the Locomotives on the Highway Act. This landmark Act raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 to 14mph and abolished the need for a man walking ahead of the cars waving a red flag.

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Historic

Ross Brawn enters his 1904 Wilson Pilcher in the London-Brighton Veteran Car Run

…the braking takes anticipation, shall we say.

Motor racing star Ross Brawn is taking part in his first Bonhams London to Brighton Run Veteran Car Run. He will be driving his own veteran car, the only known surviving British-built Wilson Pilcher.

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Manufactured in 1904, it was created by engineer Walter Gordon Wilson who went on to invent the army tank; for years the Wilson Pitcher car was displayed at the British Tank Museum.

“It was a very advanced car for its day,” said Brawn. “It has a 2.7-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine which is suspended in a cradle in the chassis. It also has a sophisticated semi-automatic gearbox which, I believe, was a forerunner of the famous Wilson Pre-Selector ‘box. But compared to a modern car the suspension is crude and the braking takes anticipation, shall we say.”

The Wilson Pilcher joins a number of other cars in Brawn’s private collection and after the Run will rub shoulders with a few Jaguars, including a very early E-type, and some significant Ferraris including the 250 SWB used by Stirling Moss to win the 1962 Tourist Trophy.

The Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run celebrates the original Emancipation Run, held on 14 November 1896, and which marked the Locomotives on the Highway Act. This landmark Act raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 to 14mph and abolished the need for a man walking ahead of the cars waving a red flag.

The Run is the highlight of a long weekend of motoring nostalgia in the capital, much it of it free to view. Other events include the popular free Regent Street Motor Show (Saturday, 1 November) and the annual Bonhams Veteran Car auction (Friday 31 October).

For more details of the Veteran Car Run, the entries and the route visit www.veterancarrun.com.

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Formula E

Electric racing Formula E starts with the Beijing ePrix

The build up has lasted years but at last the new all-electric racing Formula E has started. The Beijing ePrix was the world’s first ever fully-electric single-seater race. The race, officially called the Beijing Evergrande Spring ePrix, was held on a spectacular temporary race track built around the city’s iconic Olympic ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium and was won by Audi Sport ABT’s Lucas di Grassi.

A large accident on the last lap showed the strength of the cars – which in this inaugural year are all the same Spark-Renault designs. On the last corner of the race Nick Heidfeld attempted to overtake race leader Nicolas Prost, who appeared to turn into him. Heidfeld’s car was shunted left and then launched into the air by a kerb, the design of which will have to be rethought. After hitting a wall Heidfeld crawled out of the twisted car unharmed.

Formula E has several new features not seen in motor racing before. Not only is it all electric, but fans can vote for some drivers to have extra power boosts during the race. More importantly the race meet takes place in city centres, with the practice, qualifying and race all  on the same day. This concentration of the action makes for an exciting day for fans. Tyres are not the same issue they are in F1, with the only pit stop being to change cars rather than tyres – the battery does not last long enough to last a full 25 lap race.

The formula does have problems that have to be overcome. The track was too narrow and bumpy. The artificial chicanes looked peculiar and didn’t create a pleasing track. Worst of all though is the current sound of the electric engines. It is a high pitched whine. Until it becomes bearable it could be disguised – maybe every car could play its own music as it comes round. Fans could hear their man coming round the track…

Podium:

1. Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT)
2. Franck Montagny (Andretti)
3. Sam Bird (Virgin Racing)

The next race is in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on November 22 2014

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Formula E

Formula E – the electric car, city-centre race series with direct fan involvement

t’s only three months until the new electric car racing series Formula E begins in Beijing on September 13th. It will visit ten countries before the season ends in London on June 27th 2015. On Monday the new formula launched officially with the ten teams announcing new drivers and displaying their cars for the first time.

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Purple lights and deep bass beats started off the party, before CEO Alejandro Agag spoke about the upcoming season and the journey Formula E had already taken. Three years ago it was only an idea (‘not even a power-point!’). Not only did teams, manufacturers and tracks have to be found, but the completely new technology had to be developed. Now Formula E is an FIA series.

The brand-new, as yet untested cars circled the Camden Roundhouse in their individual liveries. The cars are single-seaters, with some additions to make them safer for city racing, including a big element behind the back wheel to prevent collisions resulting in airborne cars. Two wings stick out of the side of the cockpit, which aid aerodynamics but also add some impact protection. F1 teams Williams and McLaren have helped with the technology, and Sir Frank Williams was present to lend his support to the new series.

Formula E has two big aims. To popularise electric cars and to be a testbed for their development. One of its strengths is that it will bring electric racing right to people’s doorsteps. Rather than ready made racetracks, Formula E will race at temporary tracks around city centres. Lower levels of pollution and better air quality is a real challenge for big cities and Formula E will travel the world showing the advantages of electric-power in cities.

Past champions Emerson Fittipaldi and Alain Prost added some F1 glamour to the launch. Prost is a team owner, as is ex-F1 driver Jarno Trulli. His team TrulliGP announced its second driver (Trulli himself is getting back in the driver’s seat). They will be employing one of the two female drivers in the formula, Michela Cerruti.

In one of the biggest changes to the way a race formula works fans will have a direct, crowd-sourced input into the results of the race. Whether this innovation will dilute the racing we will have to see, but before each race fans can vote for their favourite driver. During the race this driver will have access to a #fanboost, allowing them extra power for overtaking.

The street races of F1 are always amongst the most popular of the season. Formula E will go street racing every time it heads out of the pits. It will be like the Monaco GP every month – even more so on May 9th when Formula E hits the streets of Monte Carlo a fortnight before the F1 circus.

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