Sunday 31 January 2021

Road - Purr-fection

From the ridiculous to the sublime ... if the previous post enthused about an outrageous machine, then this one is all about pace with grace. To mark the 70th anniversary of the C-type sports racer Jaguar Classic is creating a strictly limited production run of new C-type 'Continuation cars', which will be hand built by Jaguar in Coventry.

This will allow historic motor racing enthusiasts to purchase a new factory-built example of the ultimate 1953 disc-braked ‘works’ C-type direct from Jaguar for the first time.

The C-type, which was originally made between 1951-53, was famed for its exceptionally fluid shape by Jaguar Cars designer, aerodynamicist and artist Malcolm Sayer. The C-type won the Le Mans 24 Hours on its debut in 1951, scoring the first of Jaguar’s seven outright wins at the French endurance race.

From 1952, the C-type pioneered the adoption of innovative disc brake technology in motorsport, with a revolutionary system developed by Jaguar and Dunlop scoring the first win for a disc-braked car with Stirling Moss at the Reims Grand Prix in France.

The C-type won the Le Mans 24 Hours again in 1953, another first for disc brakes, and also enjoyed success in the hands of private owners, which contributed to Jaguar finishing vice-champion in the inaugural World Sportscar Championship.

Of the 53 Jaguar C-types built in the 1950s, 43 were sold to private owners, but the production C-type specification was limited to drum-braked cars with twin SU carburettors and 200 bhp, in the style of the 1951 works cars.

Eight new C-type Continuation cars will be built ahead of a racing-inspired celebration event for their owners in 2022. Each example will reflect the 1953 Le Mans-winning works team car specification, including 3.4-litre straight-six engine with triple Weber 40DCO3 carburettors for 220 bhp and disc brakes.

Building on the experience gained with previous Jaguar Classic Continuation programmes for Lightweight E-type, XKSS and D-type, Jaguar Classic engineers have used scanned data from an original C-type in conjunction with the latest computer aided design technology.

Using original engineering drawings and company records created by the original C-type development team – including Malcolm Sayer, competitions manager Lofty England, and engineers William Heynes, Bob Knight and Norman Dewis – will ensure authenticity.

Not just for show, these authentic new C-types will be eligible for historic racing, track and closed-road use. And no, I don't know the price. But if you've got to ask, then you know the rest. It will be awfy, awfy dear, eh?

Just imagine for  a moment. Sitting in an open cockpit with the wind whipping through your long flowing Covid lockdown locks and listening to a straight six being fed by triple Webers while a side exhaust bellows its mellifluous mechanical music just inches away from your ears. Bliss. Utter purr-fect bliss!


Saturday 30 January 2021

Road - Crazy Horse Saloon

BMW has revealed details of its soon to be available "fastest and most powerful BMW M production car" - ever. Their quotation marks, not mine!

As you would expect, the BMW M5 CS will be searingly fast yet eminently usable on a day to day basis. This limited edition model offers genuine 'supercar' performance  – 0 to 62 mph in 3 seconds and a blistering 124 mph from rest reached in 10.4 seconds, and onwards to an electronically limited top speed of 189 mph.

It might even be regarded as the ultimate 'Q' car. There are no big wings and no tarmac scraping airdams. Just slight bulges over the  275/35 R 20 Pirelli P Zero Corsa track tyres at the front and 285/35 R 20 at the rear.

Well hidden from view is the nuclear powerplant under the bonnet. The twin turbo 4.4 litre V8 engine delivers a stonking 635hp. Add that to the lightweight design, bespoke chassis tuning and the xDrive system with an intelligent Active Differential.

Machine management comes with a choice of three modes - Efficient, Sport or Sport+ . For added enjoyment there is an M Sound Control button! This changes the engine note in the Sport+ setting, but it can be used at any time to soften the car’s acoustic presence – for example when driving through a residential area.

Carbon ceramic brakes are fitted as standard with six-piston, fixed-calliper units at the front and single-piston floating callipers at the rear. These are 23 kgs lighter than the brakes on the BMW M5 Competition!

Inside the car there are four lightweight individual bucket-style seats, with the outline of the Nürburgring circuit imprinted on the head restraints. The  heated front seats are electrically adjustable for height, tilt, seat cushion length and backrest angle, while the backrest width can be altered pneumatically, so there's no sacrifice with regard to personal comfort.

Alcantara is used to wrap the steering wheel with carbon fibre paddles behind it.

A 12.3 inch central display provides access to driving dynamic systems allowing drivers to swiftly access the various Road and Sport settings. Keeping the M Mode button pressed engages TRACK mode which also brings up M View in both the instrument cluster and the Head-Up Display. The 12.3‑inch instrument display adds an M-specific rev dial, shift lights, digital speed readout and the gear currently engaged.

Drivers can also choose to view additional information including coolant temperature, charge pressure, tyre condition and longitudinal/lateral acceleration in the instrument cluster.

When M View is active, a rev counter with colour-coded warning zones appears in the Head-Up Display alongside shift lights. Navigation instructions, distance warnings, current gear, vehicle speed and any speed limits or overtaking restrictions detected by the Speed Limit Info system are also displayed here.

And there's more. Pressing the Setup button brings up a menu for programming an individual configuration for the powertrain and chassis options. This allows the driver to choose his or her own different settings for the engine, suspension, steering and M xDrive system.

Variable Damper Control (VDC) offers a choice of Comfort, Sport and Sport+ settings so that this track monster can be tamed (temporarily) for the weekly shop or school run. Then at  weekends you can just poke the beast with an electronic stick and go have fun - but only at a licensed track.

Now, if I just had a spare £140,780, or a JCB backhoe to dig a cash machine out of a wall.

Also, now you know what the letters BMW stand for - Bonkerz Motoren Werke !!


Tuesday 26 January 2021

Rally - Brits in Monte

If last year's Rally Monza event provided a rather different but nevertheless entertaining rally to round off the 2020 WRC season, then this season's opener at Monte Carlo marked a return to some form of recognisable normality. With 258 kms (160 mls) spread over 15 stages, it was a little shorter than last year's 16 stage, 304 km (189 ml) event although the competitive challenge still managed to retain the more familiar mountain road format.

A bold effort by all involved considering the severe restrictions imposed on organisers, officials and competitors - and a notable absence of spectators!

One thing didn't change. A man named Sebastien won it. Again. Methinks Elfyn will need to have to change his name by deed poll, eh?

Still, a remarkable achievement. This was Ogier's 50th world rally win and a record 8th victory on his home event. Half a minute behind was Elfyn Evans scoring a sold 1-2 start to the season for the Toytota Gazoo Racing team. For a while it looked like a Toyota podium lock-out till Hyundai's Thierry Neuville woke up and demoted third placed Toyota youngster Kalle Rovanperä to 4th.

It was also good to see Taka Katsuta getting a decent result with 6th in his Toyota, co-driven by Daniel Barritt - once again proving that his time spent on the Mull Rally was time well spent!

Gus Greensmith finished a sensible but encouraging 8th place in the M-Sport Fiesta after team mate Teemu Suninen crashed out. Ott Tanak's retirement in the Hyundai was unfortunate but regardless of what you think of the rules, they still have to be obeyed. Can you imagine what the Scroots would have said had he turned up at the pre-rally technical inspection on three tyres and a bare rim?

Praise too for young Tom Williams who overcame his disappointment in Monza with a  strong finish in Monte Carlo which included a double puncture on SS10. He finished 31st overall and 2nd in class in his M-Sport Fiesta Rally2 with co-driver Giorgia Ascalone proving that rallying at this level is not entirely a man's game.

Four days to tackle 15 stages may sound like a shadow of the event's former self and there did seem to be an awful lot of hanging about for the crews but that was down primarily to Covid-19 restrictions and TV schedules. The upside was we got some great TV coverage with scintillating driving, spectacular spills and some really scary hair-raising incidents.

If the rest of the WRC season can match this then all is not yet lost despite the complete lack of rallying action back home in the UK.

With news of more domestic events being cancelled coming in every week, it looks very much as though there will be little in the way of stage rallying in the UK before July, and even that looks doubtful if the Government is looking at an Autumn target to inoculate the majority of the population.

The big problems here are two people sharing the same car, complying with the physical restrictions on organisers getting out and about for a route recce and then again on the weekend of their event, and getting sufficient numbers willing to turn out on the day with many folk not keen until they have been vaccinated. Plus of course the rules regarding mass gatherings (spectators) outdoors! Understandable.

On that basis the immediate future is all about 'elite sport' and the amateurs will have to wait a wee while longer. So, feet up, sit back and watch the action on the telly, or read about it here on social media.

(Note: Thanks to Toyota Gazoo and M-Sport for the pics)



Wednesday 20 January 2021

Rally - Obituary

Farquhar Finlay MacRae, 1937 - 2021

The new year started badly again with news that rally driver and retired garage proprietor Farquhar MacRae passed away a couple of weeks ago in Raigmore Hospital after a short illness. The 'restricted' family funeral was held in Inverness yesterday.

A very quiet, intelligent, practical and resourceful engineer, Farquhar was a rally driver who went rallying for fun. His name very rarely appeared in the top ten results on Scottish national events but he was a regular class winner in the early days when he drove a 1 litre Hillman Imp.

Like most of his generation he was reared on navigational road rallies but unlike the many who opted for a Mini, he chose the Hillman Imp. Following a gradual progression towards special stage rallies in 1961, so too did Farquhar, although it wasn't until 1967 that the Scottish Rally Championship decided to become an 'all-stage' affair.

Even so, contesting a full championship season wasn't for Farquhar, he simply picked and chose events which were either near his home base at Inverinate near Kyle of Lochalsh or just appealed to him. Perhaps that's why he wasn't better known. It wasn't for lack of talent. On the 1967 Hackle Rally there was only one Imp in the top ten results behind a flock of Cortinas and Coopers - and one VW Porsche. Farquhar finished 10th. He was 15th on the Border Rally later that year, again in the Imp.

With just four scores to his name in 1968 from the 7 round series, he finished 8th overall in the Scottish Championship but this was the time that the ubiquitous Ford Escort started to appear in private hands. He also finished 4th overall on St Andrews & DMC's Tour de Stages in his Imp behind one Mike Hibbert Esq! In 1970 he won Highland Car Club’s Autumn Rally which was held in treacherous wintry conditions.

Concentrating on his garage business meant little time for rallies, but the urge was a still there and he appeared sporadically at events where his lack of regular mileage was marked by unfortunate, and often undeserved lowly, seeding positions. I never heard him complain. That's not why he went rallying.

1978 marked the final appearance of the Imp. It bowed out with 54th overall and 18th in class on the Granite City which prompted a trial with an Avenger on the same event the following year and scored 50th overall and 2nd in class. This change of cars may have been prompted by the appearance of a new co-driver, and partner, Fiona Kennedy who matched Farquhar's competitive nature but with the same limited enthusiasm for championships.

A Davrian with an Imp engine appeared for a few events but Farquhar quickly appreciated that although fast, it was just a bit on the fragile side, but not before he scored class wins on the 1981 Heron Rossleigh and John Wilson Bedroom Stages rallies and non finishes on the Snowman and Granite.

Time for a change, and the duo opted for a Toyota Corolla for the rest of the season, the car that was to bring them most success and a higher national profile. Running under the 'Team Castrol' banner they scored 19th overall and 5th in class on the Blane Stages. That was followed with a 24th on the Arbroath Stages, 15th on the Tom Dickson Cameras and 17th on the end of season Trossachs.

1982 opened with 16th on the Snowman and three 14ths overall on the trot on the Hackle, JW Bedroom Stages and the Forth Electrical. A puncture on the penultimate stage of the Border Counties dropped them to 42nd overall and they bounced back on the Arbroath with a superb 10th place overall before rounding off the season at the Trossachs with 18th. That resulted in a very satisfying 10th overall in the 1982 Esso Scottish Rally Championship.

The duo's rallying tailed off after that but the Corolla was still delivering top 20 finishes when Farquhar hung up his driving gloves.

He wasn't a regular at after rally prizegivings despite his class winning performances and often winning 'marque' awards and 'mixed crew' awards, but that wasn't because he was averse to drink and parties. Yes, he was on the shy side, but he was really good company when you had time for a sit down and chat. No, the real reason for missing out on trophy presentations was as he once said: "Kyle is an awful long way from everywhere" and there was always the need to get back to the business.

Our sincere condolences to his wife Fiona, son Finlay and daughter Janice. All those who knew him will miss him too, and for those of you who didn't know him - you missed out.