Kevin Mackrell has thundered his way to another consecutive 4WD outright victory in the Mount Alma Mile hillclimb, held recently at Inman Valley on the scenic Fleurieu Peninsula. Behind the wheel of his all-conquering V8 powered Datsun 260Z, Mackrell held a firm grip on the two-day event, overcoming a five second penalty to take the win.
The 2WD category was won by Clinton Faustmann in the REVS/Faustune prepared FD RX7, who wrangled the flame spitting rotor up the hill slightly quicker than Jason Unkovich, who claimed third outright 2WD in the same car.
The big battle all weekend was between Mackrell and the Supaloc Racing Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera of Kevin Weeks, now sporting a fresh twin turbo setup. Weeks was still a fraction off Mackrell’s times, but the noise of the forced induction Italian V10 outclassed the 260Z in every way. It was spine tingling and worth coming just to listen to it alone. Continue reading →
Somewhere in AMG’s headquarters deep in Affalterbach, there’s a team of engineers responsible for the recently updated AMG G63. A team of engineers who looked at the old model, the supercharged V8 G55, and thought ‘that needs more power’.
Let’s just put this into context for a moment. The G-Wagon is Mercedes-Benz’s entry to the military off-roader market and was released way back in 1979. It’s still used by armies all over the world, by the likes of NATO and the UN, and it even saw duty for many years as the official Popemobile. It was transformed into a civilian off-roader at the request of a group of cashed up Arab sheiks and since the early eighties has gained a reputation as the most unbreakable, hard core off-roader there is.
The world cracked a wry grin when AMG announced their intention to cram a 370kw supercharged V8 into it, at which point the new G55 simultaneously became the most awesome and pointless vehicle on the planet. Any Given Reason came to this conclusion when tarmac rallying the G55 a few years back, which is why the notion of an even faster G-Wagon seems even more hilarious right now. Continue reading →
The official tuning arm of Mercedes-Benz, AMG, has a reputation for building slightly bonkers cars. It began back in the early 70’s with the 6.9 V8 500SEL built for the European Touring Car Championship and continues today as the company stuffs gruff V8’s, usually with a supercharger or twin turbochargers added for good luck, into whatever Mercedes-Benz product they can lay their hands on. So what exactly is the AMG badge now doing on the side of a medium sized four cylinder hatchback? It may be turbocharged and have four wheel drive, but still…
Rest assured, this is still a proper AMG and one look at the numbers reinforces that. The turbocharged 2.0 engine produces 360hp (265kw) and an astounding 450nm of torque, making it the most powerful four cylinder production engine, ever. 100hp/litre used to be the old benchmark – the A45 smashes that out of the ballpark with 180hp/litre and it races to 100km/h in just 4.6sec. The Haldex 4WD drives the front wheels around town for fuel economy, but can divert up to 50% to the rear when the pace picks up.
Hmm… a fast, turbocharged, four cylinder, all wheel drive small car – haven’t we seen this before? Well, yes. The concept isn’t exactly new, but the A45 brings a lot more to the table than the others. It offers style, build quality and levels of refinement that makes an Evo X or STI look and feel quite crummy in comparison, and the AMG brand brings benefits you don’t get with a Golf R or BMW 1M. It may be keenly priced (on the AMG scale), but make no mistake – the A45 is a legitimate AMG. That means your hand crafted engine bears the name and signature of its builder. You also have access to the same program of customer benefits, like drive days and product launches, that SLS buyers get which is possibly one of the greatest marketing ploys ever. The A45 will attract new buyers to the brand and when it comes time for them to upgrade, of course they’ll buy another, more expensive AMG. Who’d give up the lairy track days you now look forward to? Continue reading →
Dangerous. Challenging. Rewarding. Unique. The last of the proper old school race circuits, the Nurburgring Nordschleiffe is all of these things.
Formula 1 stopped coming here in the 70’s because it was too dangerous, which seems oddly juxtaposed against the thing that today makes the Nordschleiffe, or North Loop, so famous today. Anyone, and I mean actually anyone, can simply turn up and drive it as fast as they like.
Buy a lap ticket for 26 Euro…
…validate it in the boom gate and you’re away. Here’s the worlds most challenging racetrack – go nuts! No scruitineering, no helmets, no license checks, no speed limits. And, uh, try not to kill yourself.
It doesn’t matter what you drive. Obviously a GT3 RS is probably the best tool for the job…
…but if you’re just with your mates on a campervan road trip, well then that’s cool too. Continue reading →
Dubai is known the world over as a hotbed of supercars and vehicles of the mega rich. Whilst the country officially claims that just 6% of GDP comes from oil revenues, one look at the place seems to suggest otherwise. I guess it’s all in the accounting.
Whatever the case, its still fun to walk around camera in hand, and see what you find. I had a 12 hour stopover in Dubai the other day, so with stories of the legendary abandoned Ferrari Enzo fresh in my mind I decided to head out and see what I could find.
Other than a passing McLaren MP4-12C, there wasn’t a whole lot happening this particular Tuesday morning so I decided to visit a few dealerships I’d spotted from the train. I ended up walking for over 2 hours, which I can tell you isn’t a lot of fun in the Dubai heat. Continue reading →
After what felt like a week of waiting, Saturday was finally race day for Australian GT and the Koala Motorsport team.
However the first race wasn’t until 530pm on Saturday, which left a little time in the morning to get out and do some spectating.
Everyone seems to have their favorite spots to watch from around the track, and mine is the tight series of corners from Turn 4 to Turn 7. The only real downside is the lack of big screens, however free grandstand seating, lovely shade trees, nice surrounding houses and for some reason fewer bogans than other parts of the circuit make it top of my pick.
The slow corners also give you time to get a good look at the cars.
It also gives you the opportunity to have the most interesting conversations with other punters. I met one guy, drinking a beer at 930am, who told me he’s going to buy an Aussie Racing Car as soon as his work compo payout comes through, and another chap who informed me that some of the V8 Supercars have CD players so the drivers can listen to music to ‘get them in the mood for racing’. At Turn 7 you can stand practically right on the apex of the corner. As a normal spectator, it’s about as close to the action as you can get.
The Saturday crowds were huge, and the majority of our morning was spent letting people look over and sit in the 360. I have a memory as a 12 year old kid of a race mechanic letting me sit in one of the Ferrari’s at Clipsal, probably in about the year 2000. This time, a 12 year old kid came up to me and started asking about the Ferrari. First thing I did was ask him if he wanted to sit in it, and he jumped at the opportunity. I see it as just paying back the favor! Continue reading →
After the relaxing day that was Wednesday, we approached Thursday with a great deal of excitement. Everybody was sick of waiting around, and just wanted to get out on track and get the event proper underway.
Yesterday’s post highlighted that we were one of the few crews who made the driver take his own tires to the Pirelli truck. This morning we even made him clean his own windscreen!
But before we could get out on track, we had a drivers briefing to attend. It was actually a bit of an interesting experience. The only circuit racing drivers briefings I’ve been to have been for low level club events, and they seem to feel the need to go through everything in the most minutest of detail. This one was different – the race officials assumed a basic level of competence and experience to be racing at this level, and kept the briefing short and sweet with just the points relating to this specific circuit.
However it was still a drivers briefing, which by default means the drivers have to show at least some level of boredom.
The briefing was finished by a talk from driving standards observer Steven Richards. Most of his talk focused on the notorious Turn 8, which has been responsible for more than its fair share of wrecked vehicles over the years. You can really only go single file around that corner, so it was decided that whoever has the nose in front at the 150m braking marker gets the corner, and the other has to back out. Continue reading →
Coolness is always more special when it’s unexpected. The element of surprise, combined with time and place has a way of etching an experience into your memory in a way that nothing else really can. For example, discovering a new band on the Internet is great, but just think how it makes you feel when you’re at a city pub with some mates and you randomly discover them live. A 360 Modena at a show is good, but it’s more special when one unexpectedly blasts past you on a country road at dawn.
And so it was with the AMG G55. I always knew what the G55 was, but to be honest it was never really the type of car that piqued my interests. That ignorance just served to make its impact on me all the more profound. Continue reading →
The father and son team of Matthew and Dennis Sims have stormed to outright victory in the recent Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally, Round 2 of the CAMS Australian Tarmac Championship, held from 18-20th May in the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula area.
Matt Selley and Hamish McKendrick fought hard in Selley’s new Evo and finished a credible 2nd outright. Despite a potentially worrying electrical issue that had them sidelined on the transport for a short time after Friday’s last stage, the Evo displayed serious speed but never realistically challenged the Sims’ R35. However it was a fast, consistent drive from Selley and McKendrick – they finished 2nd outright in 16 of the 22 stages, even winning two of them.
Just 47 seconds behind Selley, and claiming the final podium position, was the pair of Andrew Booker and Chris Edmondson in their Nissan 180SX. The boys punted it hard all weekend and it was quite a sight to see. From the outside it looks just like any 180 you see around the streets, but lurking beneath is a comprehensively prepared and setup tarmac rally car.
The quickly-becoming-famous Jones Brothers claimed first place in the Classic Outright category. It’s really quite an incredible story – brother’s Peter and Bryan Jones built the Torana from scratch themselves, even down to making a makeshift spray booth in their carport so they could paint it. The car looks immaculate, it sounds like a V8 should and has plenty of pace to back it all up. What more could you want? Continue reading →
For me, the term ‘support categories’ at the Clipsal 500 is just a little ironic. I think the V8 Supercars are the support category, and that Australian GT, Carrera Cup, Formula 3 and Touring Car Masters are where it’s at. I was tempted to report on the Clipsal 500 weekend and completely ignore the V8’s, but I’ll write a separate post about them later. For now, let’s look at the good stuff…
The Touring Car Masters provided good racing, as usual. Sadly the Porsche’s didn’t end up figuring in the results although in Sundays handicap race Greg Keene started on pole and managed to hold off John Bowe and Brad Tilley to stay in the lead for more than an entire lap. Sadly Amanda Spark’s 911 was punted off into the wall here when John Nelson attempted to pass on the inside and locked a brake. The poor 911 looked heavily damaged, but a closer inspection revealed it was just mostly fibreglass damage to the front guard and bumper. I have no doubt it will be repaired and back out for the next race. Continue reading →