Seat wagon its tail at the Ring

An estate has set a sub-eight minute time at the Nurburgring; and believe it or not, it’s a Seat.

The Leon ST Cupra 280 made the sprint in 7min 58.12sec. This is three-tenths faster than their hot hatch, the latter having the same drivetrain but the advantage of a much smaller boot(y) and 45kg less weight.

The record was set with the 276bhp 2-litre TSI engine matched to the DSG gearbox, put through the front wheels.

With half the paws and half the cylinders of the previous record holder, the Audi RS4, and shaving 11 seconds off in the process, theres no doubt the Germans will hit back hard, and soon.

Formula 1 hits reverse on refuelling

Following a spate of sadly boring races so far this year, Formula 1 is again looking to change their rules and regs to keep the crowds interested.

A number of changes for the 2017 season have been voted on by F1’s Strategy Group, including the re-introduction of mid-race refuelling.

While the latter is undoubtedly exciting, it was taken out of the F1 show five years ago to reduce costs or the teams. Flying fuel rigs and specialty staff around the world was a cost many could do without, particularly the second tier teams who still struggle today.

However, much criticism has been thrown at the current regs; with teams only allowed the fuel they start with, the starts themselves are slow with the cars fully laden with gas, plus the conservation tactics needed to finish mean the longer races are more reminiscent of enduros than sprints. The fastest cars and drivers in the world should be doing just that: going as fast as they can.

The new turbo sixes, which are slower than the previous generations of cars, will also get  “aerodynamic rules evolution, wider tyres and reduction of car weight” to whittle off the seconds, plus higher rev ranges and exhaust freedoms to make more noise.

These are still only proposals, which now need to go through the F1 Commission and the World Motor Sport Council and meet approval before they will be enstated.

Miller Motorsports Park to close in October

While it is not necessarily the end of the road, it’s not a good sign; Miller Motorsports Park will cease operations as its namesake in October this year (on Halloween, no less).

The Utah track, which always boasts a deliciously rich and diverse calendar, not to mention driver training and race coaching, will be let go by the Millers, who have decided not to renew their lease of the property with the land owners. The decision has been left to the late Larry H. Miller’s wife, following his passing in 2009.

Hopefully another wealthy motorsport lover will jump on the lease and keep the track alive - particularly as the track, originally conceived as a $5 million project by Miller 10 years ago, grew into an $85 million investment with some of the best corners in the country.

OFFICIAL RELEASE: (May 8, 2015) – The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies has elected not to renew its lease with Tooele County and will cease operation of Miller Motorsports Park at the end of the racing season on October 31, 2015. A full schedule of racing events, driving schools, public karting and group activities will be held this summer as planned.

Gail Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, stated: “On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all of those who have supported the track over the years, both locally and worldwide, for their enthusiasm and use of the facility.”

A tip of the hat to the would-be F1 cars at Goodwood

A new category will be introduced to the famous hillclimb at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, giving a nod to the teams that tried everything to make it to the Formula 1 grid, but running out of fuel at the final hurdles.

Given the monikers of ‘Flat-Out and Fearless’, and the more humorous but aptly titled  ‘Fearless but Flat-Broke’, will feature drivers such as Chris Amon, arguably one of the best F1 drivers to never win a Championship in the sport.

The New Zealander, who raced in the ’60s and ’70s, most notably for Ferrari, will bring his Tecno E371 and Amon AF101 cars to the Hillclimb; cars which never made it past F1 practice.

A unique six-wheeler, the March 2-4-0 (pictured), is famed for winning the British Hillclimb Championship in the ’70s so will no doubt suit the Goodwood run, but originally the car was meant for the 1977 F1 Championship. It never made it due to its profound lack of reliability in testing.

Other cars include two Lec CRP1s and two Bognor Regisbuilt cars, an ex-Roberto Moreno Coloni C3, a Minardi M189 which led one lap of the 1989 Portuguese GP, the Simtek S951 raced by Jos Verstappen, and the Pacific PR02in the hands of former British Formula 3 champion Robbie Kerr.

Hopefully, these almost-rans and never-was cars will get the results and acclaim at Goodwood that they could not quite attain at the pinnacle of motorsport.

Are these the new Top Gear UK hosts?

Some say there will never be a replacement for Jeremy Clarkson - or any UK Top Gear presenter, for that matter. In fact, the Top Gear trio have proved so inseparable, that the sacking of Clarkson after a scuffle with a producer in March saw all three hang up their helmets from the global hit show.

Unwilling to let the top grossing franchise die out with them, and seemingly unfazed by other country’s failed attempts at recreating the magic that is UK Top Gear, the show’s producers are scouting around for replacements to bring the show back, as they promised, in 2016.

According the UK’s Daily Express (pic cred, above), a conversation overheard between the show’s producer Andy Wilman and Jay Kay, aka Jamiroquai at a restaurant recently has placed the frontrunning celebs as Philip Glenister, Guy Martin and Jodie Kidd.

While it’s all complete hearsay, the lineup does seem fairly solid.

Motorsport enthusiasts will know Guy Martin from his insane Isle of Man TT appearances, and the motorcycle racer has done a doco on the latter and proved a natural television presenter and a fairly likeable character.

Jodie Kidd is a racing driver in her own right, as well as presenting a UK show called The Classic Car Show. And as an ex-model, she presents well, in more ways than one.

Philip Glenister is more Brit-centric, best known for his detective drama roles on BBC, though he does do hosting duties on various programs for the channel.

Lets hope the producers also freshen up (read: totally change) the format for the show for 2016, for if the Aussie Top Gear franchise is anything to go by, it is a huge mistake to try and replicate the relationship between Clarkson, Hammond and May. Better they follow in the wake of the US version and have similar whacky stunts and off-beat stories with a trio of different personalities with varying strengths.

Webber walks through an LMP1 wheel

His years in Formula 1 may now be behind him, but Mark Webber’s driving life is still surprisingly complicated.

Now a factory Porsche driver on the World Endurance Championship, Webber is adjusting to life behind the wheel of the insanely fast LMP1 cars - and what a wheel it is.

Check out this official video from WEC, where Webber demonstrates the many functions of his Porsche wheel, saying it takes months to learn the functions by heart, and even then, the wheel can be modified; buttons changed and screens altered.

F1 may be the pinnacle of motorsport, put these days, the elite endurance cars are only a whisker behind… Check out the short video HERE.

Carbon fiber is the good gear

Plastic Gears Reinforced With Carbon Fibre Could Replace Metal in Cars

We’ve coated cars in carbon fiber, even made the entire chassis out of the stuff, but moving parts and mechanical bits are a bit out of bounds, particularly in sports cars and high-end vehicles.

Bit of a shame, really, as metal is heavy and carbon fiber is often equal or even better in tensile strength, particularly once you try to shave weight by using alloys and lighter, thinner metals.

But researchers at Japan’s Gifu University have developed a plastic gear reinforced with carbon fibre that could prove strong enough to replace moving metal parts such as gearsets.

They have added a thin layer of carbon fibre running through each tooth of a planetary gearset to reinforceand strengthens the part. While the cost could feasibly blow out, it can’t be worse than when your metal gears grind out and destroy the entire ‘box. Plus, of course, its a lot lighter than metal.

We could see it as a commercially available product as early as 2017.

Dog nearly dies at Moto GP, nails awesome new home and moniker

Dog Who Interrupted MotoGP Practice Session Has Found A Loving Home

From the random feelgood files: stray animals are often the lucky escapees (or sad victims) of race events, but it is more unusual for said animal to be bigger than a bird.

At the recent soggy MotoGP of the Americas race in Austin, Texas, a stray dog managed to not only get into the circuit, but race across the track at jus the right time for the cameras.

Cue the plucking of the American audience’s heartstrings. The dog was caught and taken to the local shelter, where he was dried off and given the apt moniker of Moto.

The one-year-old puppy was almost immediately adopted with the help of social media and global TV fame. On the Animal Center’s Facebook page, the new owner said he has renamed the dog Rossi.

Does the world really need an eleven speed gearbox?

My first Ford had four speeds. It was a good ole ‘box: a bit clunky and hard on the gas, but it did the job and never gave me any problems, no matter what heavy loads I towed with it.

My second Ford had the ZF six-speed in it, and it was admittedly like stepping from a dark room into soft light, transforming the humble Aussie Ford Falcon into something far more sophisticated.

But is eleven speeds stepping from the sublime to the ridiculous?

Ford has just submitted a patent for an 11-speed gearbox - twelve, if you count reverse. The actual modus operandi is a bit mind-blowing, with Ford’s patent desribing three different ways of making all of the gearing possible: one with four planetary gear sets, four clutches, and two brakes; one with four planetary gear sets, four brakes, and two clutches, and one brainbender with two axis transfer gear pairs, three simple planetary gear sets, four clutches, and two brakes.

Today’s climate of emissions awareness, and the ever-increasing number of autos versus manuals may demand continued refinement and abilities in gearbox technology, sure. But how many gears will be enough?

You can check out the diagrams on patent site freepatentsonline.com, but have a stiff drink in hand before viewing - it may make understanding them easier.

The Beast of Turin to monster Goodwood’s hill

Late last year, a video of the resurrection of a certain famous land-speed record vehicle circulated and quickly went mega-viral.

The Beast of Turin, or the Fiat S76, was a four-cylider 28.5L engined monster built in 1910 by the Italian carmaker to whip the land speed record, which it did. With 16 valves, overhead cam ad that massive displacement offering near 300 horses (remember, this is over a hundred years ago, when near 100 horses was a beast), the S76 lived up to its name.

Only two were ever built, and this example is the result of both coming together and being rebuilt by its resurrector, Duncan Pittaway.

It’s been rumored that Pittaway will run The Beast of Turin up the Goodwood Hill at this year’s Festival Of Speed, and if this video of a quick jaunt around the estate with Lord Goodwood is anything to go by, it would appear the rumors are true…

Check it out HERE.