Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Tour of Epynt 2013

March 10, 2013

A selection of shots from today’s Tour of Epynt. By God it was cold, but the guys ‘n’ girls put on a great show, as ever.

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Soundtrack to the greatest show on earth

February 20, 2011

The spectacle that motorsport creates is one of its main draws. Fast paced, brightly coloured, flame spitting action ignites the passions of the devout and the casual alike. Human beings like to be excited, thrilled and a little bit frightened, it make us feel alive. The visual element only goes so far, for me, sound is even more important. You’ll hear the action long before you see it, sound carries boundless distances in the right conditions. The thrill of hearing this sound approach either in a forest stage or a race track is an addictive one. Below I’ve compiled a little collection of clips that illustrate how I get my aural kicks. I could have added more, but my eardrums are beginning to blister. Enjoy…

Ferrari F50 GT –

This is one of my favourite Ferrari videos. V12s have a wonderful rich baritone note to them in most road car applications but when tuned for racing or vehicle homologation, an ear piercing wail can be extracted. It’s all about the downshifts at 1:04.

Honda Integra Type R –

While I love my drifting events, I’m not quite as au fait with all the ins and outs of JDM culture as my brother (http://drivingspecna.blogspot.com/). The two-stage bark of a Honda VTEC unit has always appealed to me. Yes they lack torque, but that’s just an excuse from people who can’t keep it in right gear. This video alleges 10,000 rpm, I don’t know if this is true or not, but frankly it doesn’t matter, you get to play at being a touring car driver on the way to the shops. It is therefore, epic.

Honda RC 166

By the 1960s, the Japanese had established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the world of motorcycling. The Honda RC166 dominated the 250cc Grand Prix racing class, wining all ten rounds in 1966. Revving to around 18,000 rpm and generating 60bhp, the bike sang through six spine-tingling megaphone style exhausts. Surviving examples are rare and replicas hugely expensive to produce due to the level of engineering involved, it is truly one of the all time greats.

Austin Metro 6R4

The Metro 6R4 was introduced just before Group B rallying was stopped. It’s beefy, 3.0 L V6 generates a deafening wall of sound, the kind of sound that carries for miles (anyone who’s seen John Stone over Epynt in his 6R4 will testify to that). It’s got huge character and it can still embarrass newer machinery on tarmac with the right guy behind the wheel, say someone like, Kris Meeke…

BMW E30 M3

The BMW E30 M3, as I’m sure you know is a much revered and fondly remember machine. It took the world by storm in the 1980s with huge success in both Rallying and Touring Car racing. I love the hollow, metallic bark that these produce. While BMW are known for their six cylinder engines, but I think this four just screams pedigree and is always a joy to experience.

Ducati Desmosedici GP6

High revving bike engines are par for the course, however, Ducati’s Desmosedici MotoGP bike is one of those machines that comes along every so often and seems to turn everything up to eleven.  One of the most aggressive sounding engines that I’ve ever heard and a spiritual successor to Honda’s RC166

Mazda 787B

The rotary engine is a bit of a flawed gem, huge power, low weight but fragile and thirsty. It never the less sounds incredible, revving as if the engine has no inertia at all. I had the privilege to hear a rotary Group C Mazda at Silverstone a few years ago, sat in the grandstand on Pit Straight, each down shift in to the Abbey chicane was clearly audible, even over all the other Group C cars. A unique and very special car.

Porsche 997 GT3RS

I’m a sucker for 911s, yes the shear number of ‘different’ 911 variants is now getting ridiculous but I can’t help but love them. The GT3 is the one I lust after most, probably due to the fact that it’s as close to a roadgoing GT car as you’d probably ever want. No turbos to spoil the exhaust note, just a pure flat six growl that turns the M1 in to the Mulsanne Straight. You can keep your Veyrons, this would be my first choice if a long lost Prussian aunt ever left me her fortune.

BTCC Silverstone

August 22, 2010

Just a wee quick one.

I made a quick trip over to Silverstone for the Saturday of the race weekend. I couldn’t make race day and fancied a gander at Quali and the airshow that the circuit was laying on. I had a quick whistle stop tour of the Team Aon hospitality and pit garage then watched Qualifying from the Copse A & B grandstands.

Hello TC

The airshow was curtailed by the weather unfortunately. Both the Spitfire and the Vulcan had to cancel due to appalling fog in the south of the country, a real shame as I was very much looking forward to seeing the Vulcan (plane geek as well as car geek you see). The show was still good, the Yaks put on an interesting, display and the Extra 330 stunt plane was fantastic.

The Yak display team

An airborne handbrake turn.

For me the most evocative aircraft on display was the P51-D Mustang, probably the greatest single engined fighter of the second world war. The noise was wonderous, the P51 (D) used the same ‘Merlin’ engine as the Spitfire. It’s a 27L, supercharged V12 and it was spine tingling. The triumvirate of a deep, V12 roar coupled with the whine of a massive supercharger and the prop tips whistling as they went supersonic was breathtaking. I enjoyed that sentence.

I wish I could post the sound on here.

The Qualifying action was great, plenty of incident with the Fords looking imperious. So imperious in fact that due to being over 0.5s quicker than anyone else, TOCA once again reduced thier engine’s power output via a smaller air restrictor and lower turbo boost pressure.

James Nash slams on approaching Becketts.

I like qualifying days, I still maintain that they’re the best way to see F1 if you need to see it live. The atmosphere is relaxed and there’s simply more space to move about.

Matt Jackson

Full set of BTCC shots: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38587975@N00/sets/72157624658158795/

So yeah, a quick one like I said, next event will probably be Trax on 5th September. Hopefully see you then.

On Leave: Il Dottore

June 29, 2010

When Valentino Rossi broke his leg at Mugello in early June, I was stuck by a strange emotion. When I picked via twitter the extent of Vale’s injuries, I was gutted and quite frankly upset by it. I hadn’t felt like this before, riders and drivers have crashes all the time, we’re used to seeing it, but not with Valentino. The guy doesn’t get hurt, he always seemed bulletproof. Up to this point in his career, 230 races, he had never missed one through injury. Not one.

I’m not one to normally invest emotionally in sporting personalities. I wouldn’t say I’m a particular fan of any certain driver or rider in a given series. I have favourites, of course, but it’s rare that I’ll really root for a particular person to do well (unless a certain winner will close up the title fight for instance). I like to maintain a bit of distance and watch all the characters duff each other up, just putting on a show.

I don’t feel this way with Valentino Rossi. Ever since seeing him at Donington Park in 2001 on the famous yellow Nastro Azurro Honda he has been my favourite. When he overtook Max Biaggi at the Old Hairpin, it could have been a Brit on that Honda, the place went absolutely spare.

The quickest guys are always popular (Valentino, Schumacher and Loeb all have legions of fans). This may be down partly to the age old attraction of glory hunting, if you’re going to back anyone, why not back a winner eh? However Valentino is the only one I’ve ever really wanted to do well, even though he already won at everything he did.  I’ve had conversations with people who lump Vale and Schumi in the same boat. I won’t bash Schumi, but people have said to me that Valentino winning in MotoGP is ‘dull, boring and tedious’, like Schumacher was at the height of his success in F1. I disagree with the comparison because of the way that Valentino won those races and titles; he made plenty of mistakes.

While undoubtedly a genius, these errors proved that he’s human time and time again. Such indiscretions included ballsing up his starts, putting in a truly horrid qualifying effort on the Saturday or simply falling off in the race. At one point in the mid -2000s a 14th place qualifying position wasn’t uncommon for the Doctor, yet he still managed to pull the results out of the bag.

I’ll admit, in the 990cc period while at Honda, Vale had the best bike and he was rampant on it. Rivals came and went, only Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau ran him close in terms of ability. Unfortunately for them, Rossi was always two moves ahead in the mind games, which proved to be thier downfall.Valentino’s move to Yamaha mirrored Schumacher’s move to Ferrari and proved his class (and his crew’s class) beyond question. His charisma and the post race celebrations are also a key reason how he keeps the fans entertained, not many sportsmen, particularly successful ones have the sense of humour to pull such stunts off.

I think these two videos sum up Valentino well, the first one from early in his career and the second from about this time last year.

  • 2001,Yellow Honda 500, Suzuka. Rossi is dangerously wronged by arch rival and tosser, Max Biaggi. Valentino get’s his own back in supreme style.
  • 2009, Blue & White Yamaha 800cc, Catalunya. Rossi and Lorenzo fight in one of the greatest last laps of all time. (Foreign language vid to add to the excitement and, cos, well, I couldn’t find an English one).

So, get well soon Valentino, lets hope you are indeed back for Brno. The world seems a bit empty without you.

Playstation Generation?

March 25, 2010

I’m really looking forward to seeing some more Drifting and UK Time Attack this year. These two sports originated in Japan and have been growing rapidly in popularity over the last few years. The nature of this worldwide growth got me thinking.


I’m in my mid 20s and as a result I’ve grown up with the Gran Turismo games on Playstation and latterly Forza Motorsport on Xbox. I’m from a generation of videogame driving fans that can instantly identify the difference between an S13, 14 or 15 Nissan Sylvia or can name several  Japanese tuning houses even without any prompting. It’s an immersion in Japanese car culture that people like me have now had for over 10 years. Kids have spent 100s of hours tuning, prepping and racing their cars to compete in the events that the games offer.

Drifting and Time Attack are ‘tuner sports’ with a style all of thier own. Both require modifications to factory spec road cars for thier chosen purpose. With drifting, set up is key, you don’t need a million bhp to light up the rears, you do need a  predictable torque curve and finely tuned suspension. With Time Attack you seemingly do need to go mental on the power as well as a trick setup, as the top guys ably demonstrate. Has our exposure to Japanese car culture in games lead to us being interested in that kind of motorsport now we’re old enough to go out and spectate or compete ourselves?

This is our chance to see the real cars, similar to the ones in our Gran Turismo garages being tuned to the hilt and put through their paces. The languages of car tuning and car setup are intrinsic to these games and events, camber, castor, spring rate, ride height, final drive, high lift cams, balanced crankshafts, these are all terms that we are now familiar with. We may not have understood it all when we first ventured in to the upgrade shop in Gran Turismo 1, but that was released 12 years ago. There’s been regular iterations of the franchise ever since, the technical stuff must have sunk in along the way.

Maybe I’m looking at it in isolation, there’s probably other factors at work as well, the proliferation of videos and the like over the internet in the last 10 years has revolutionised how events are promoted. I grew up following rallying, mainly through my dad, so my world was Astra GTEs and Sierra Cosworths.  Personally speaking, before Gran Turismo 1, I’d never heard of a ‘Skyline’ or an ‘AE86’, but look at how much of a cult following those cars have now.  I dare say this is no different to kids in the 60s playing with Dinky toys then going on to compete in Escorts and Sunbeams once they grew up. I just think it’s cool that Drifting, Time Attack and other developing car cultures are being propagated around the world by the games that portray them.

The British Drift Championship begins at Silverstone on 10th & 11th April as part of the International Style & Tuning Show (ISTS) http://www.thebritishdriftchampionship.com/

The UK Time Attack Series opens at Oulton Park on the 24th April as part of Modified Livehttp://www.timeattack.co.uk/

WSBK – Super again

February 28, 2010

This weekend saw the start of the 2010 World Superbike Championship, hosted at Phillip Island, Australia. This year the entry list reads like a who’s who of motorcycle racers. The grid is littered with ex and current, national and international champions as well as few ex MotoGP riders thrown in for good measure.  It is the epitome of strength in depth, and a field that the organisers should rightly be proud of. 2010 promises to be a very closely fought and exciting season.

To describe the WSBK championship as being in the doldrums for the past few years would be overstating things. That said, it had lost some of it’s lustre since the heady days of the early 2000’s (the 2002 championship in particular was a classic). Manufacturers and teams have now returned to provide the variety and colour that a championship of this nature needs. Ducati, Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda, Kawaski, Aprillia and BMW all field bikes. All I’m missing personally is the odd idiosyncratic entry from the likes of MV Agusta (mainly because they build such an achingly pretty motorcycle).

This weekend provided two classic superbike races. Packs of between 4 and 6 riders knocking lumps out of each other for pretty much the entire duration of both 22 lap battles. Phillip Island can be a difficult track to overtake on, as through the fast sweepers there’s really only one quick line. It takes an inventive and brave mind to find a way past, fortunately there’s plenty of them about this season.

Long time campaigner (but still surprisingly young) Brit Leon Haslam got his maiden WSBK win in dramatic style in Race 1 by just 0.004s (see photo below). Race 2 went to ex MotoGP ace Carlos Checa, who at age 37 very much proved that there’s life in the old dog yet, beating Leon by just shy of half a second.

On to Portamao in Portugal for round 2 on the 28th March, welcome back World Superbikes, we’ve missed you.

Photo source – http://www.worldsbk.com/en/home.html

A Motorsport Blog

February 21, 2010

Flat In 6th stems from a sarcastic Twitter account that I set up in early 2010. It’s aim is to two-fold, to poke fun at but also celebrate motorsport in all it’s many forms. I go to a lot of motorsport events during the year, so I thought I’d create a blog to write about and show photos of what I’ve been up to.

I’m an enthusiast, not a journalist, in that I don’t just want to post up the results. There’s a lot of little stories that go on during a race/rally weekend that aren’t widely reported, it’s the experience of being there that’s important.

Last year was quite a busy one, but I want this year to be even busier. Highlights of last year:

  • Historic Motorsport Show – Stoneleigh
  • FIA GT Championship – Silverstone
  • Formula 1 British Grand Prix – Silverstone
  • Vintage Motorcycle Club Coventry Parade – Coventry
  • British Touring Cars – Silverstone
  • Trax Performance Car Show – Silverstone
  • Le Mans Series – Silverstone
  • British Superbikes – Silverstone
  • Britcar 500 – Silverstone
  • Cambrian Rally – North Wales

Lets see how 2010 pans out…