Scouts Rally SA 2014

ROSA_2014_Saturday (46)Scouts Rally SA once again returned to the Mount Crawford Forest and the northern hills over the weekend of August 1-3 for three heats of intense gravel rally action on some of South Australia’s most challenging roads.

ROSA_2014_Sunday (12)Taking the outright event win and victory in round four of the Australian Rally Championship was Scott Pedder and Dale Moscatt in the Walkinshaw Performance prepared Renault Sport Clio R3. The pairing narrowly claimed victory in all three heats which was enough to snatch the lead of the ARC.

ROSA_2014_Saturday (50)Claiming second place was Brendon Reeves and Rhiannon Gelsomino in the quick little G2 Mazda 2. It was a close battle for much of the event however the Mazda 2 was struck with problems, including non functioning windscreen wipers in heavy rain and the loss of a rear wheel on SS20 when the studs broke, forcing Reeves to tripod back to service. Reeves was able to match the pace of Pedder when everything was working correctly, but these niggling problems kept him down at this crucial point in the championship. With two rounds remaining, Pedder managed to snatch the championship lead. Continue reading

Driving the APR supercharged Audi R8

R8 (18)They say you should never meet your heroes, and I think the same goes for the solving of the world’s seemingly great automotive problems. We curse and swear at the time, but unbeknownst to us it is often these problems that define the cars we love. Lamborghini’s, as a rule, have terrible rear vision and the owners of Lotus Exige’s are often far more acquainted with their chiropractors than they’d care to admit.

R8 (1)The obvious solution is just to build a supercar that somehow negates these dramas, right? We live in an age where we can 3D print exotic metals into any shape that our brains can concoct, so surely we can just build something that can be backed out of the shed without raising a sweat?

R8 (15)Audi (or more specifically, Quattro GmbH) should be commended for building the R8, for by any rational measure it is the best baby supercar you can buy. They have approached the R8 in a typical Germanic manner – calmly and efficiently solving the myriad of supercar problems to arrive at the mathematically best solution. It has the rock solid quality of an Audi, found from the carryover switchgear to the way the 4.2 V8 fires instantly, every time. It has good vision, usable ground clearance and a somewhat respectable boot. The navigation system is intuitive and the gated six-speed manual provides just enough of a challenge to reward but not so much as to put off a newcomer. Continue reading

Any Given Reason Burger Meet 3

BurgerMeet3 627The concept of Burger Meet is simple – a car park meet to get as many readers of Any Given Reason and their cars in the same place as possible. The emphasis is on diversity and informality, and the vague idea of standing around a car park eating burgers is about as far as the planning goes.

BurgerMeet3 525On the evening of Saturday 28th December, the readers of Any Given Reason descended on the Hagen Arms Hotel at Echunga in the Adelaide Hills to watch the sun set with burgers, beers, and of course, cars. And what a spectacular array of cars it was – but more on that later.

BurgerMeet3 518The thing that makes organising Burger Meet such an exciting, rewarding and completely terrifying experience is that I have absolutely no idea who actually reads and follows this blog. I get traffic statistics but they’re just abstract numbers and graphs, so when I put the word out that Burger Meet 3 was happening I had exactly zero idea who and how many people would actually come. I guessed about 80 cars and thought it would be pretty cool if we could fill the car park, but when streams of cars started pouring in and it wasn’t even the 6pm start-time yet, I started to get a little nervous/overjoyed. Continue reading

The VW Syndicate 10th VW-Audi meet, Kaufpark, Goettingen

DSC_0064The Volkswagen-Audi scene in Europe, and more specifically Germany, is quite unlike any other scene anywhere in the world. What’s impressive is the sheer size of it; the high quality of the cars and the boundaries that are pushed in trying to create something new. If you take a look at a lot of the trends influencing modified cars around the world, a fair percentage of them originated from the German Volkswagen scene.

DSC_0165Any Given Reason happened to purely stumble upon this show in Goettingen, central Germany. Whilst it was tiny compared to the likes of famous shows such as Edition 38, its approximately 300 cars still provided a good indication as to the trends currently influencing the scene. Given that the Volkswagen/Audi scene is all about trends, this is a perfect chance to take a look at a few of them.

DSC_0087The first trend that’s been around since the dawn of time and doesn’t look to be going anywhere soon is the classic Volkswagen Golf/BBS mesh combination. And why would want to change it? It’s a look that’s been honed to perfection. BBS could be found on everything from Mk1’s right up to the latest Mk6 and 7. Continue reading

The Goodwood Festival of Speed Forest Rally Stage

DSC_0103As the Goodwood Festival of Speed slowly expanded in size, so did the number of rally cars taking part. Until 2004 they had to be content with running up the famous tarmac hillclimb with everyone else, but for the past 9 years the rally cars have had their own special home in the Goodwood forest.

DSC_0504The Forest Rally Stage started as a one off but it proved so popular that it is now a permanent fixture, running every day of the Festival of Speed. The course was designed by none other than Hannu Mikkola, and for 2013 has been expanded with longer sections before and after the forest.

DSC_0532The stage starts in an open field right next to the holding paddock at the end of the tarmac hillclimb…

DSC_0537…where it snakes around the field for a few hundred meters…

DSC_0414… before delving deep into a tight and technical course through the forest. The rally stage is quite close to the hillclimb, and in some places it is almost possible to see both at the same time. It’s quite an odd sensation to be standing in the middle of a forest watching rally cars, and then have a Formula 1 car roar past at full throttle just behind you. Continue reading

Cité de l’Automobile Collection Schlumpf

DSC_0045Mulhouse isn’t the typical city most tourists usually visit. Located so far in the East of France that it’s almost in Germany (in fact it was a German city in semi recent history), it’s a lovely town, but with the famous Champagne producing regions on the Paris side and Switzerland on the other, it’s typically skipped by most travelers for its more scenic neighbors. But for over fifty years Mulhouse has been home to the largest automobile collection in the world, and for me it was one that simply couldn’t be missed.

DSC_0163The Schlumpf Collection is probably most well known for housing two of the world’s six Bugatti Royale’s, however its chequered history is arguably more interesting than those two large cars. The Brother’s Schlumpf, Hans & Fritz, were an odd pair. Their interest in cars was only beaten by their almost obsessive dedication to their mother, and the boys worked hard before the second world war building their textile empire, with Fritz finally acquiring his first Bugatti which he used in local races. All of that was put on hold with the outbreak of war, and once the war finished the brothers put everything they had into further building their textile empire in Mulhouse. By the time of the swinging 60’s, the brother’s had enough spare capital to acquire a couple of cars.

DSC_0034The term ‘a couple of cars’ is of course used very loosely as they built their collection at a fanatical rate from the early 50’s through the mid 60’s. The brother’s contacted the likes of Enzo Ferrari offering to buy cars, and with a particular penchant for the local Bugatti brand (located just down the road in Molsheim), they struck up a friendship and bought direct from Ettore himself. They famously sent a letter to every member of the Bugatti owners club with an open offer to buy their cars, which in 1963 resulted in the acquisition of an entire 30 Bugatti American collection in one hit along with several individual cars.They bought ten racing cars from Gordini, three Lotuses from racing driver Jo Siffert and several cars from the Mercedes Benz factory museum. With new prosperity after the war people were looking to upgrade their 1920’s and 30’s automobiles, and the Schlumpf’s used this wholly to their advantage.

DSC_0173Even as their textile business began to falter in the 70’s as cheaper production emerged in Asia, the boys kept building their collection in total silence. They employed 40 staff to work full time restoring and maintaining the cars, who were each sworn to secrecy and forced to sign non disclosure statements about their work. The collection grew as production at their factory further declined, so the Brother’s converted one of the disused warehouses into a museum to house their now 400 strong private collection. They employed yet more staff to lay red tiled floors and create grey gravel display areas and installed thousands of replica Parisian lamp posts. All of this was just for themselves – the collection was still top secret. Continue reading

The Goodwood Festival of Speed

DSC_0176Sometimes in life we are blessed by experiencing something truly incredible. Be it driving a particularly fast or rare car, making no mistakes on the perfect rally stage, finally hearing a favorite song live or witnessing the sun rise over a remote mountain range, these are the rare moments that are remembered vividly, never forgotten and used as comparison for everything that comes after.

DSC_0422These moments are bittersweet, because whilst experiencing them is something of a privilege, it is tinged with the knowledge that this is probably going to be the pinnacle.

DSC_0727Sitting back now and writing this post about the Goodwood Festival of Speed, I’m coming to terms with the fact that there’s probably not a lot out there that can compare to the magic of Goodwood. The sheer quantity and quality of cars, the peaceful forest surroundings, the relaxed and open atmosphere and the diversity is something impossible to replicate. Continue reading

24 Heures du Mans 2013

DSC_0910The number 2 Audi e-tron Quattro of Tom Kristensen, Alan McNish and Loic Duval has won the 90th running of the Le Mans 24 Hour, delivering Audi’s 12th and Kristensen’s 9th victory at the Circuit des 24 Heures in France’s Sarthe region.

DSC_0362Audi were always the favorite to win, however the challenge from Toyota was unexpectedly tough, enough to earn the Japanese manufacturer a place on the podium with the number 8 car of Anthony Davidson, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastian Buemi splitting the Audi’s to take second place.

DSC_0431Audi claimed the final podium position, with the number 3 car of Marc Gene, Oliver Jarvis and Lucas di Grassi claiming third place. The Audi’s clearly had more speed than the Toyota’s, but it was thought that the Japanese car would require less pit stops, thus evening out the field. That was true to some extent, however in the end Toyota competed mostly on speed, delivering lap times that surprised. Toyota would have claimed third place as well were it not for a wet weather accident late in the race that enabled the Audi past while the damaged Toyota was being repaired in the pits.

DSC_0527Any Given Reason was extremely lucky to be able to attend this year’s Le Mans in person. It has been a dream of mine for many years to attend the 24h, and 2013 was the year it finally happened. An in-depth race report is difficult because when you’re at the track you don’t actually have a great idea of what’s going on – you guys at home knew more about the race than I did. In addition, taking decent photos was difficult because I had no media access and was stuck behind the fencing, so instead this report will simply detail spectating at Le Mans – an endurance challenge in itself. Continue reading

Checking in from the Le Mans 24 Hour

DSC_0479A few years ago I remember sitting in the turn 1 grandstand at the Clipsal 500 on a Friday night, watching the hour long Australian GT race as the sun gradually dipped below the horizon. It was then and there that I made a secret pledge that I would one day attend the Le Mans 24 hours. After years of dreaming and months of planning, Any Given Reason is now finally in person at Circuit de la Sarthe.

DSC_0465And it’s absolutely everything I dreamed it would be.

DSC_0363AGR might not be posting for a few days, instead soaking in everything that makes up the most famous race in the word. But rest assured, camera is in hand, and posts will soon follow describing what it’s like to attend this race.

DSC_0367Are there any requests for anything you’d like me to chase down while I’m here? Let me know in the comments section and I’ll do my best. Obviously I don’t have the full media access and it’s almost impossible to bluff your way in when you don’t speak the language (I tried), but arguably what makes this race great is not what happens behind closed doors. Continue reading

Car hunting on the Isle of Man

IMG_4655It’s all about motorbikes on the Isle of Man during TT week, from sunrise to sunset. But at other times of the year motorsport of the four wheeled variety is also very popular, and the Isle of Man has a higher than average percentage of interesting cars given its small size. Whilst most of them stay hidden away during the two weeks of the TT, I did manage to spot a few interesting rides during my visit.

DSC_0434So why is there so much interesting metal on this small slice of land in the Irish sea?

The island seems to be a giant playground designed for the sports car. There’s over 500km of twisting roads, and outside of the big race weekends they are almost always deserted. Couple that with a very lenient and understanding police force and no speed limits outside of the towns, and you have a supercar dreamland. It’s probably the only place in the world where you can exercise these cars as their makers intended.

DSC_0270The Isle of Man also benefits from some very lenient tax laws making it a haven of a different kind also.  There’s plenty of money about on the island, so the proportion of people able to own something special is much higher. You move to the island to save on your tax bill, and the side benefit is miles of driving roads right at your doorstep. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

DSC_0331Another thing I noticed was the complete lack of poseurs. Cities like Singapore and Dubai are filled with supercars, but there’s nowhere to drive them properly. This is contrasted by the Isle of Man, where there’s no point trying to pose in a supercar outside of race week because there’s simply no one to pose to. Pure driving is the only reason you’d own one here, and that’s the way it should be. Continue reading