Is Lamborghini about to make a four-seater?

Lamborghini four-seater teaser

As the Paris Motor Show draws near Lamborghini has sent out this invitation to the world’s media. It doesn’t give too much away, obviously, but perhaps we are about to see a new four-seat concept that would take on the likes of the Porsche Panamera and the Aston Martin Rapide.

The key difference here being the four-seat Lamborghini is expected to be based on the mid-engined Aventador. So finding a way to put seats where the engine would normally go could be a bit of a trick for Sant’Agata to pull off.

In October 2012 Car magazine speculated on a four-seat Aventador GT and maybe now we’re about to see that Lamborghini can make a car with even less room for rear seat passengers than Porsche and Aston Martin.

Rocketman could be set for relaunch

MINI Rocketman Concept

The little Rocketman concept is the coolest thing MINI has made in recent memory and it’s a real shame we’ve not really had much to report on in the last couple of years. That’s all changed in the last few days, thanks to a report from Auto Express.

We were big fans when the original Rocketman concept was shown back in 2011 and talk of it becoming a production model put a broad smile on our faces. That was soon taken away when production costs for the small city car were deemed too high to turn the plucky concept into a shiny reality.

However, MINI head of design, Anders Warming, is erm, warming to the idea of putting the Rocketman back on the agenda.

“For sure, a MINI should always be a small car, so [a new city car] would be appropriate for the brand,” Warming told Auto Express. “At the moment, we don’t have the right tech solutions, but we are working on it. We don’t yet have a final solution, you could say.”

Warming has also hinted at the direction some of those solutions may take, saying carbon fibre is not the way forward for the Rocketman.

“I don’t believe carbon fibre is the route to a superlight MINI,” Warming added. “Our concepts have had carbon parts, but aluminium is more likely. We want to reduce parts, to do more with less.”

The funky and minimal interior of the show car should remain if the production model gets approved.

“To have a great cabin, all you need is a great steering wheel, a seat and a great user interface. We want no superfluous parts. Driving in the city is stressful enough, so we need a reduction in the number of elements… True luxury is now simplicity.”

It would make sense for the Rocketman to be made as part of the BMW-Toyota agreement and we’re told to cross our fingers for a 2016 launch date.

[Source: Auto Express]

2015 WRC calendar announced

2014 WRC Rally Germany

The 2015 WRC calendar was announced at the recent FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting held in Beijing. It’s largely a carbon copy of this year’s calendar with the only change being the sensible swap with Rally Argentina and Rally Portugal, meaning the South American rally will follow after Rally Mexico.

RoundDateCountryRally
125 JanuaryMCORallye Monte Carlo*
215 FebruarySWERally Sweden
38 MarchMEXRally Mexico
419 AprilARGRally Argentina
524 MayPRTRallye de Portugal
614 JuneITARally d'Italia
75 JulyPOLRally Poland
82 AugustFINRally Finland
923 AugustDEURallye Deutschland*
1013 SeptemberAUSRally Australia
114 OctoberFRARallye de France*
1225 OctoberESPRally de España
1315 NovemberGBRRally Great Britain

* Subject to Promotion Agreement

F1 teams ready to go radio ga ga

2014 Belgian Grand Prix

As we head into the Singapore Grand Prix the FIA has decided it will crack down on pit to driver radio communication. Charlie Whiting, Formula 1 Race Director, has reminded teams that “the driver must drive the car alone and unaided” as outlined in Article 20.1 of the sporting regulations.

“No radio conversation from pit to driver may include any information that is related to the performance of the car or driver,” Whiting added in his letter to the teams. “We should also remind you that data transmission from pit to car is specifically prohibited by Article 8.5.2 of the F1 Technical Regulations.”

Adam Cooper has seen further correspondence and has a comprehensive list of what can and can’t be said. We’ve included a limited selection of samples below and recommend you follow the source link below for more detail.

What can be said

  • Lap or sector time detail.
  • Gaps to a competitor during a practice session or race.
  • “Push hard,” “push now,” “you will be racing xx,” or similar.
  • Number of laps a competitor has done on a set of tyres during a race.
  • Information concerning a competitors likely race strategy.
  • Dealing with a DRS system failure.
  • Driver instructions from the team to swap position with other drivers.

What can’t be said

  • Adjustment of power unit settings.
  • Adjustment of gearbox settings.
  • Information on level of fuel saving needed.
  • Start maps related to clutch position, for race start and pit stops.
  • Burn-outs prior to race starts.
  • Answering a direct question from a driver, eg “Am I using the right torque map?”
  • Any message that appears to be coded.

Further topics of prohibited communication will be added to the banned list in time for the Japanese Grand Prix as well. You can certainly expect this new enforcement will be a major talking point over the next couple of races.

[Source: Adam Cooper | Pic: Mercedes AMG]

Tanner goes bananas

Volkswagen Andretti GRC Beetle

Rallycross is a fast emerging category of motorsport. Volkswagen is taking it very seriously and will soon be competing with this 540hp+ GRC Beetle in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series. It has been developed in conjunction with Andretti Motorsport.

As you can see, we’re not talking about back yard operations here. These are some of the biggest players in world motorsport.

In this teaser video drift king Tanner Foust puts his skills to work, while the numbers do the talking. And they are impressive numbers too. Take a look at the clip and let us know what you think.

[Thanks to Adam for the tip]

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Sebastien Ogier wins 2014 Rally Australia

2014 Rally Australia

Sebastien Ogier led a dominant Volkswagen team to victory at Rally Australia on the weekend. Volkswagen drivers filled all three podium steps in order of seniority, with Jari-Matti Latvala finishing just 6.8 seconds behind Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen a bit over a minute further behind.

With that Volkswagen successfully defended its manufacturers championship and in record time too. There’s three rallies left in the season and with a 50 point lead Ogier is favourite to claim his second world championship, ahead of teammate Latvala.

On the forest tracks around Coffs Harbour Citroën driver Kris Meeke showed good early pace fighting for a podium position until a 61 second penalty was handed to him for cutting a corner illegally. That left him back in fifth battling with Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen, a three time winner down under.

Meeke’s pace was still strong and he was able to claim one position back by the end of the rally, finishing over eight seconds ahead of Hirvonen.

Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon continued his good efforts with Hyundai coming home in sixth place, his best WRC finish to date and one place ahead of team leader Thierry Neuville.

Australia’s Chris Atkinson finished tenth for Hyundai after finding conditions difficult on the first day.

“It’s not been the easiest of weekends as I struggled to get into a rhythm early on in the rally,” Atkinson said. “That has had a knock-on effect for the remaining days, as I was first on the road. That has dictated the extent I have been able to push so instead we just focused on finishing the rally. It’s nice we’ve been able to get all three cars inside the top ten.”

Volkswagen’s press release is available after the break and we’ll have a photo gallery for you later in the week.

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Remembering Bjorn Waldegard

Bjorn Waldegard, 1973 RAC Rally

While Rally Australia is in full swing its timely to remember the passing of Bjorn Waldegard, who in 1979 became the first official WRC champion.

Waldegard died on 29 August at the age of 70. Judging by the number of tributes following Waldegard’s death he was a much loved member of the international motorsport community.

Over at Motorsport Retro a wonderful gallery encompassing Waldegard’s career has been compiled. We recommend you take the time to have a look and learn a bit more about the likeable Swede.

We especially liked the image of Bjorn in a very mangled BMW 2002, caputred during a liaison stage of the 1973 RAC Rally.

[Source: Motorsport Retro]

2014 Italian Grand Prix in pictures

2014 Italian Grand Prix

We’re a little bit later in the week than usual with our Formula 1 photo smorgasbord, but here we are ready to help you relive Lewis Hamilton’s win at the 2014 Italian Grand Prix. How good is that lead image?!

Hopefully you will forgive our lateness, the 120-plus images for you after the break should help with that. And they’re in new 2560x1690px mega sizing too. Oh yeah!

Even more beautiful.

Thanks to Marussia for images of the famed Monza banking right at the end as well.

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Mercedes-AMG GT revealed

Mercedes-AMG GT

After a long build up the Mercedes-AMG GT is here. Mercedes is talking itself up with this car and AMG has lofty ambitions for its latest model. Just look at the first sentence from the press release below:

The first Mercedes was a racing car, its most recent successor carries this heritage forward: with the new Mercedes-AMG GT, the Mercedes-AMG sports car brand is moving into a new, top-class sports car segment for the company.

To help achieve its aims the AMG GT features a curvaceous coupé body with most of the curves in all the right places. It’s a classic two-seat sportscar look, with a long bonnet and the cabin pushed back towards the rear wheels. It does look pretty good from most angles, although we do think this car would look more impressive before our eyes than it does on a computer screen.

Powering the AMG GT is a 4.0 litre V8 biturbo engine. The new M178 V8 is provided in two states of tune, for the entry level GT model there’s 340kW/600Nm on tap, while the GT S gets a modest boost to 375kW/650Nm.

Perhaps inspired a little by the innovative turbo configuration from the F1 W05 the M178 V8 features what’s been labelled as “hot inside V” whereby the turbos are mounted inside the V layout, rather than outside the engine. The use of a dry sump also means the engine can be mounted lower, helping to provide a lower centre of gravity for better handling.

In true AMG tradition, this V8, even with turbos, sounds as raucous and thunderous as the company’s previous normally aspirated offerings. Thankfully!

Motorsport-inspired double wishbone suspension has been used for superior road holding, cornering and feedback, well, according to Mercedes anyway. A 47:53 front to rear weight distribution should also give the GT a classic sportscar feel, with that extra weight at the rear to keep the driving wheels better planted to the road.

The GT has a kerbweight of 1540kg and sees off 100km/h in 4.0 seconds, while the more powerful GT S weighs 1570kg but is quicker to triple figures with a sprint time of 3.8 seconds. Both models have had their top speeds electronically capped, 304km/h for the GT and 310km/h for the GT S.

Meaningful buzzwords like forged alloy wheels, carbon ceramic brakes, 7-speed dual clutch transmission, rear-axle locking differential and more can be found lurking in the detailed press guff below, along with a few videos and enough photos—in new 2560px mega sizing—for you to form a judgement on the AMG GT that we’d love you to share with us.

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No changes at Williams

2014 Austrian Grand Prix

While Ferrari is making heads roll off the track Williams will go into 2015 with the same driver pairing doing the business this year.

It’s great timing for Felipe Massa who stood atop a Formula 1 podium at Monza for the first time in over a year. While Valtteri Bottas who has collected four podium finishes so far this season looks every bit a grand prix winner in waiting.

You can read the team’s official statement after the break.

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Big changes at Ferrari

Luca di Montezemolo

Ferrari is having a bad year in Formula 1. Mind, in living memory, they’ve probably had worse years. But with the total dominance of Schumacher era still in recent memory the big wigs demand success and they aren’t happy with what they’re seeing. And by big wigs, we mean, big wigs.

There’s not too many people higher than Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, but Sergio Marchionne, boss of parent company Fiat, is one of those men. And he has spoken.

The pair have had a public spat in the wake of a terrible Italian Grand Prix. As a result Luca di Montezemolo is leaving Ferrari. The legeacy he has left for the road and racing cars from Maranello cannot be underestimated and this is a massive day for the company.

“Ferrari is the most wonderful company in the world,” di Montezemolo said. “It has been a great privilege and honour to have been its leader. I devoted all of my enthusiasm and commitment to it over the years. Together with my family, it was, and continues to be, the most important thing in my life.”

Sergio Marchionne will step in as the boss of the F1 team after di Montezemolo departs in mid-October. This change follows the removal of Stefano Domenicali earlier this year.

Marchionne has put his money where his mouth is, his reputation is at stake here, and he’d better hope he can deliver the results he demands.

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McLaren could test with Honda engine this year

Eric Boullier, McLaren

The McLaren-Honda reunification could make its track-based return this year, just days after the end of the 2014 season, according to Eric Boullier.

“The safe side is that we’ll obviously be in Jerez with a McLaren-Honda car,” said Boullier, McLaren Racing Director. “But it keeps open to maybe the possibility that if everything is matching in our schedules to run it earlier.”

The only earlier opportunity for McLaren to run with its new Honda power unit would be the post-season Abu Dhabi test which is scheduled for 25–26 November.

“We won’t give a definite answer now because we actually don’t know yet exactly. It’s very likely to be before Jerez. We’ll see,” Boullier added.

Only last week Honda’s Yasuhisa Arai said the company was on track with the development of its V6 power unit and that its debut was expected in the first pre-season test at Jerez in 2015.

[Source: Sky Sports F1 | Pic: McLaren]

Aston Martin Virage Shooting Brake Zagato revealed

2014 Aston Martin Virage Shooting Brake Zagato

Normally, if you put the words Aston Martin, shooting brake and Zagato into the same sentence we’d be drooling with excitement. And, now that somebody has put all those words into the same sentence, we’re left a little bit disappointed.

It’s nice and all, the detailing on the C-pillar is beautiful, but overall it’s just not as appealing as one might have thought it would be. In two-dimensional form at least.

Maybe we’re just being picky. One thing is clear, with their long association, we hope this is not the last time Aston Martin and Zagato get into bed together.

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