When Barry met Cameron

Cameron Smith and Greg Murphy

Cameron Smith has just been appointed to a new role as an HSV ambassador. To help him get into his new gig HSV sent him along to Sandown to a drive day where members of the public could pay for a few fast laps behind the wheel.

The rugby league legend shared his car with some bloke called Barry Ford. Watch the clip below to see what happened next.

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Things are not over yet

Alex Zanardi

It’s not news to tell you how much of an inspiration Alex Zanardi can be to us all. But every now and then we may need a reminder. So, when you’re next feeling a bit crap about things, watch this video. Not only will it give you some perspective, it will help you prepare to tackle whatever challenges you face with humility and grace.

Thanks also to filmmaker Tim Hahne for bringing us yet another excellent motorsport-related short film.

[via Tim Hahne]

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Rally Australia fighting for last place

2014 WRC Rally Australia

Rally Australia organisers are planning to bump Rally GB from the last event on the WRC calendar from 2016 onwards. The 2015 calendar has Rally Australia in the same September slot as this year, with Rally GB in its traditional finale position.

However, Rally Australia boss Ben Rainsford, who is negotiating with the FIA to secure the event until 2018, reckons a warm Aussie summer would make the perfect send off for the WRC year.

“We’re pretty open about wanting to be the last event in the championship and we’ll push hard for it, very hard,” Rainsford said. “We’re looking at putting on a gala dinner, an end-of-season party in Sydney. The city’s ripe for it and Sydney’s good at that kind of thing.

“An Australian summer is a very good place to be, especially when you’re in a European winter. We’ve run as the final round in Perth a few times and it was very popular.”

Rally GB has hosted the final event of the WRC season 33 times since the series began in 1973 and organisers are keen to maintain that spot.

“Rally GB has always presented a unique and demanding challenge to the teams and a fitting climax to the championship,” said Ben Taylor, Rally GB managing director. “Over the years it has thrown up some thrilling finishes and it makes sense for the key WRC markets for those to be played out in a European time zone.

“We certainly don’t presume the right to hold the final event, but Wales Rally GB is on an upward curve and we are committed to working with our partners, the FIA and the promoter to deliver the best possible rally with which to end the next two seasons and beyond.”

[Source: Autosport]

2014 Singapore GP post-race press conference

2014 Singapore Grand Prix

It’s always good to read the post-race press conference, you get a chance to see the thoughts of the drivers without any spin. The transcript from the Singapore Grand Prix presser is available for you after the break.

Of course, there’s a lot of talk with race winner Lewis Hamilton, but it’s also interesting to hear Daniel Ricciardo discuss some issues he had during the race.

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Lewis Hamilton wins 2014 Singapore GP

2014 Singapore Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has put himself back atop the drivers’ championship tree with a dominant win at the Singapore Grand Prix. It follows his victory in the last outing in Italy and is the 2008 world champion’s seventh win of the year.

Hamilton’s day started brilliantly when his teammate Nico Rosberg was wheeled off the grid before the parade lap with technical problems relating to his steering wheel and gear selection. Rosberg eventually started from pit lane but had a horrid race, unable to make any serious progress through the back markers, and retired after 13 laps with a faulty wiring loom. Hamilton’s maximum points haul in Singapore now gives him a 3 point lead in the championship with five races to go.

Fighting over the scraps in the wake of Lewis were the Red Bull pairing and Fernando Alonso. The order ended up with Sebastian Vettel in second, his best result for the year, followed by Daniel Ricciardo and Alonso. It’s the first time this season two Red Bull drivers have been on the podium.

Vettel enjoyed a brief moment in the sun leading the race with under 10 laps to go, but this only came about due to Hamilton’s tyre strategy and the fancied Briton was easily able to reclaim his lead on fresh rubber. Second was the best Vettel could hope for and despite losing the place to Alonso earlier in the race he was able to regain his position during the pit stop rounds under the customary safety car period, which came midway through the race to clean up debris on track after a kerfuffle between Adrian Sutil and Sergio Perez.

Ricciardo had to fight hard late following a long stint on increasingly fading tyres to save P3 from Alonso, but was able to prove his mettle again to add yet another trophy to his increasing stash.

Felipe Massa managed to avoid most everyone else to claim a seemingly untroubled P5 while the soon to be unemployed Jean-Eric Vergne reminded everyone he’s actually not that bad by employing an aggressive tyre strategy and rounding up a few drivers late in the race to charge to P6. This was despite incurring the wrath of the stewards for exceeding track limits.

The top 10 was rounded out by Perez, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen. Hulkenberg’s points for Force India were enough to demote the once mighty McLaren down to sixth in the constructors’ standings.

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Volkswagen updates 6R Polo GTI

2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI

Volkswagen has given us a pictorial update for its facelifted Polo GTI. We already think it’s the little hot hatch that could, but it’s now even better; for two reasons: 1. it has more power, and 2. you can buy it with a proper 6-speed manual gearbox!

Power is only up by 9kW to a new peak of 141kW but it has been achieved by ditching the technical and sometimes troublesome 1.4 litre twincharged engine for a 1.8 litre turbo unit usually seen in the Audi range.

Details for the new Polo GTI are thin on the ground at the moment but we know torque has also been given a boost and it’s now up to 320Nm, a pretty healthy nudge from the previous model’s 250Nm.

It’s okay, Playstation nerds can still get their fix through the option of a 7-speed DSG transmission, but the fact the Pogo is now available with a proper manual box is a great score for trad hot hatch fans.

We’re expecting full details once the Paris Motor Show is underway and we’ll update you when we can. Meanwhile there’s a few more pics for you after the break. It’s always been a nice looking car the 6R Polo, and this facelifted GTI is perhaps the best looking iteration yet.

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Choppy sees

Martin Brundle in F1 helicopter

Hopefully the content of this video will make up for that dreadful pun in the headline. What you’re looking at here is a behind the scenes ride by Sky Sports F1 presenter Martin Brundle in the FOM chopper which brings us spectacular television footage from grands prix around the world.

As the image above indicates Brundle took his joy ride during the Italian Grand Prix. These guys would pull come serious Gs as they move around trying to keep in touch with the F1 rockets at ground level. This is definitely not a job for those with a squeamish tummy!

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2014 Rally Australia in pictures

2014 WRC Rally Australia

In our biggest WRC gallery yet—there’s 88 photos in all—here’s your chance to relive Rally Australia. If you’re a Volkswagen fan this might be one to bookmark becuase for the first time in their WRC existence the German juggernaut claimed a clean sweep of all three podium positions.

Also taking a clean sweep were the photographers plying their trade down under. These are some of the best rally pics we’ve seen all year and we’re chuffed to be able to share them with you all.

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Schadenfreude isn’t supposed to be ironic

MINI Cooper S (F56)

Here at AUSmotive, despite generally being big fans of all things MINI, we think the F56 is, well, a little bit ugly. Over time we expect our dissatisfaction with its design will fade, but right now, we think those lower air intakes at the front of the Cooper S are just ghastly.

Over in Germany, though, readers of Auto Motor und Sport have voted the MINI as the best looking car in its class. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. Even so, we’re amazed those crazy Germans could come up with such a result.

“We at MINI Design are particularly proud to have won this award. Positive feedback from customers and fans is very encouraging to us in our day-to-day design work for the MINI brand,” explains Anders Warming, Head of MINI Design. “We very much look forward to pursuing this work further.”

So just sign-off on the bloody Rocketman, then, Anders. Now, that is cool!

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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.

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]