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.

Five F1 teams to feature at FoS

This year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed will feature no less than five of the leading teams from this year’s Formula 1 World Championship series, and will be corralled in a new and expanded F1 paddock on the Goodwood grounds.

The teams this year are Mercedes AMG Petronas with current champ Lewis Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg; Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat; Williams Martini Racing, Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, and one would assume the lead drivers from McLaren Honda (Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button) and Williams Martini (Filipe Massa and Valteri Bottas).

The FoS is scheduled for June 25-28.

OFFICIAL RELEASE: GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED TO WELCOME FIVE LEADING FORMULA 1 TEAMS FOR 2015 EVENT

World Champion constructor MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 TEAM will be joined at Goodwood by Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Williams Martini Racing, Scuderia Ferrari and McLaren Honda, with a group of superstar drivers set to drive their respective cars during the June 25-28 event.

Read the rest of this entry »

A tractor, a WRC champ and a record

Scandinavia is home to various forms of ice driving - and using anything with a motor to drive on it. This is typical of regions like Sweden and Finland, which are covered in the stuff for many months of the year.

So it may seem as no surprise that a bunch of power-mad Finns employed fellow countryman and four-time WRC championship winner Juha Kankkunen to make a Guinness Book of World Records attempt at the tractor land speed record in February this year.

The Valtra T234, a new model released in November 2014, achieved the record with a 80.88mph run on a closed highway in northern Finland.

“I have done top speed tests earlier in several cars; this was the first time with a tractor and we immediately achieved a world record!” said Kankkunen.

The video is quite amusing - check it out HERE.

Did Lincoln blatantly copy the Flying Spur?

Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but Bentley is hardly impressed with the latest release from Lincoln.

Also called the Continental - though Bentley can hardly claim that one for their own, the new design has been hailed as a sleek and successful design language for Lincoln. But designers at Bentley are fuming, saying it bears an uncanny likeness to its Flying Spur.

In an article by Car Design News, Bentley’s design chief Luc Donckerwolke has blasted the carmaker for its unoriginal design copy.

“This behavior is not respectable,” says Donckerwolke.

“Building a copy like this is giving a bad name to the car design world.”

Another member of Donckerwolke’s team, exterior designer Sangyup Lee, also lends his opinion to the argument, saying: “It is very disappointing, especially for an exclusive brand like Lincoln.”

Donckerwolke also took to social media with his concerns. Lincoln is yet to strike back with any rebuff.

GTs banned from racing the Ring after fatality

Authorities have revoked the licence allowing GT3 and GT4 cars to run on the Nurburgring Nordschleife following a tragic accident in the opening round of the VLN Endurance Championship last weekend.

Jann Mardenborough’s Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 flipped over a crest and hurled into the crowd, killing a spectator on the hill. The horrific crash was captured by several spectators and uploaded to Youtube - out of respect, we will not post it here.

The governing motorsport body Deutsche Motor Sport Bund (DMSB) has suspended the license for categories SP7, SP8, SP8T, SP9, SP10, SP and SP-Pro-X until further notice, with DMSB General Secretary Christian Schacht stating: “We can not and will not be business as usual after an accident of this kind. We are all still deeply shocked and our thoughts are with the family of the victim.

“The security of the participants and especially the spectators must be a top priority. Therefore, we need to analyze the details of what happened, discuss and then implement the necessary consequences. Only after that vehicles can get back on the Nordschleife…”

Clarkson fired from BBC, Top Gear all but over

It may come as no surprise that the BBC has followed through with its tough stance on Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson, with the channel dropping the star as a result of the ‘fracas’ with a producer at the beginning of the month.

Sources say the star brings the BBC 40 million pounds in revenue every year, plus the badge of having one of the highest rating shows on television.

The findings of an inquiry have stated that on March 4 at a location shoot in North Yorkshire, a physical attack took place between Clarkson and producer Oisin Tymon. It was broken up by ‘a witness’ after 30 seconds, but the tirade continued with Clarkson using “the strongest expletives and threats to sack him.”

The inquiry goes further, saying: “The abuse was at such volume as to be heard in the dining room, and the shouting was audible in a hotel bedroom; derogatory and abusive language, relating to Oisin Tymon and other members of the Top Gear team, continued to be used by Jeremy Clarkson inside the hotel, in the presence of others, for a sustained period of time.”

Tymon was apparently shocked and distressed by the incident, believing he had lost his job, and also drove to a nearby emergency department to see to a split upper lip.

The only slightly redeeming action from Clarkson was a number of attempts to apologise to Tymon by way of text, email and in person; and it was he who reported the incident to BBC management.

Apparently, co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond have both iterated that they would not continue on the show without Clarkson, so despite the BBC saying they will look to 2016 for the series, this looks like the official, and rather sad, end of Top Gear.

Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General, released the following statement regarding the incident and the result of the inquiry:

It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts and after personally meeting both Jeremy and Oisin Tymon.

Clarkson’s fans send in the troops

Petitions to bring back presenter Jeremy Clarkson, and ultimately Top Gear, have gained momentum since the popular but controversial host was stood down by the BBC over a ‘fracas’ with a junior producer on the show last week.

Online signatures and tweets have now been reinforced with something more concrete (or rather, steel) with fans delivering one of the petitions by tank, complete with Stig, yesterday.

Reminiscent of traditional Top Gear fare, the tank was driven to BBC headquarters in London, apparently organised by blog Guido Fawkes, to hand-deliver a million signatures calling for the return of Clarkson. Check out the video HERE.

Unfortunately, there aren’t so many supporters of the poor junior who was allegedly punched by Clarkson for the horrendous crime of having no proper food prepared on set.

All remaining Top Gear Season 22 episodes are also on hold, including three in the can, until the BBC make a decision: see below for the latest from the BBC…

OFFICIAL RELEASE: Update on Jeremy Clarkson/Top Gear

The BBC today released the following statement.

Following last week’s suspension of Jeremy Clarkson, Ken MacQuarrie is now considering the evidence and will report to the Director-General on his findings next week.

Once this has been considered, we will set out any further steps.

The BBC will not be offering further commentary until then.

F1 season opener lacklustre; Red Bull threatens to quit

After waiting with anticipation for the start of the 2015 Formula 1 season opener in Melbourne, Australia, many fans may have been left with a feeling of uneasy disappointment.

It was a weekend of controversy off track, and predictable monotony on track.

Sauber apparently signed one too many drivers for its 2015 campaign, with Guido Van Der Guarde taking the team to court both overseas then in Melbourne to force them to uphold his right to drive, only to settle in the backrooms quietly before turning a wheel. Ironically stating on Facebook that his decision was in the best interest of the sport.

Then, after a last minute lifeline, Manor Marussia did not even make the start, line, relegated to the garage all weekend trying to make their software talk to their hardware.

Then after qualifying, Williams driver Valtteri Bottas was taken to hospital suffering from back pain, and was forced to sit out the race.

It left the grid sadly short of numbers, which dwindled further through the race as cars either crashed (Maldonado, of course), or simply stopped (Kmi and Kvyat), victims of what Red Bull is calling the ‘wrong powertrain for F1′.

These power units are the wrong solution for F1, and we would say this even if Renault were in the lead,” said Helmut Marko after the race.

“We will evaluate the situation again as every year, and look into costs and revenues… If we are totally dissatisfied we could contemplate an F1 exit.

And after Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who dominated last year’s Championship, finished a full 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the field, F1 head honcho is in agreement.

“Red Bull are absolutely 100 percent right,” said Ecclestone.

“There is a rule that I think [former president] Max [Mosley] put in place that in the event… a particular team or engine supplier did something magic - which Mercedes have done - the FIA can level up things.

“Mercedes have done a first class job which everybody acknowledges. We need to change things a little bit now and try and level things up a little bit.”

“What we should have done was frozen the Mercedes engine and leave everybody else to do what they want so they could have caught up.

“We should support the FIA to make changes.”

Clarkson, Top Gear, suspended after fracas with producer


He’s landed himself in hot water more times than we can remember, and now it would seem Jeremy Clarkson’s famous foot-in-mouth jibes have gone one step too far with the BBC - particularly as rumour has it that said foot-in-mouth was actually a fist-to-face.

The BBC has been forced to issue a statement explaining the suspension of all remaining Top Gear Season 22 episodes on the network and its global feeders, plus the official suspension of Clarkson himself, following a ‘fracas’ with a producer.

Rumor has it that Clarkson actually threw a punch at a male Top Gear producer, and it happened last week but has only now come to light and required action by the broadcasting giant.

But surely both Clarkson and the Top Gear show are too valuable a commodity to suspend for long. The BBC did reportedly threaten to sack Clarkson if he had one more strike to his name - but will they follow through with it? And if they do, is it the end of Top Gear?

OFFICIAL RELEASE: BBC statement on Jeremy Clarkson/Top Gear:
The BBC has today released the following statement regarding Jeremy Clarkson/Top Gear.
Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation. No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday. The BBC will be making no further comment at this time.