Posts Tagged ‘2010’

Review: Need for Speed – Hot Pursuit

December 19, 2010

At the end of November, racing game fans faced a difficult choice. Both the latest instalments of the NFS and Gran Turismo games were released within a few days of eachother. Normally this would be a no brainer, NFS games have been a bit crap in recent years right? Yes, but not so with this one. Ignoring Hot Pursuit for a moment, I was tempted by GT5, I really was but after sinking hundreds of hours in to Forza 3, I honestly didn’t fancy another deep experience like that. I wanted something that was pure driving escapism.

It's not very realistic and it's all the better for it.

Graphics

HP looks an absolute treat. It might not run at a silky smooth 60fps but when you’re barrelling along at 250mph, you’re far more concerned with on coming traffic than absolute graphical fidelity. Wet tarmac is particularly well realised and when it’s lit up by lightning flashes, it evokes real atmosphere. The car models look gorgeous, there aren’t 100s of cars in this, a select 60 or so (plus police versions) but they’ve chosen well.

Yeah, it's quite pretty in paces.

Handling

This is an arcade racer through and through, so the handling isn’t what you’d call ‘authentic’. The guys behind the game, Criterion made the excellent Burnout games, so if you’ve ever played one of them, you know what to expect. 200mph+ straights in to hairpins can be negotiated with a small lift and a touch of handbrake, with the speed never dropping below 120mph. It’s silly, of course it is, but it’s also challenging and satisfying, there’s enough subtlety in the controls for you to be able to alter the angle and direction of you drift with the throttle, key to maintaining the highest speed possible.

Gameplay

The crux of Burnout, sorry, Hot Pursuit is an underlying risk/reward system. Driving towards oncoming traffic and having near misses with other happless motorists builds up a nitrous system, use this to boost engine performance when required. However, the fact you have to drive more dangerously to get this boost can make for some very tense moments when you want to eke it out for as long as possible but you know that there’s going to be a camper van in your path at some point, that you’re going to have to avoid.

The game is split in two, Cops and Racers (you get to be both). Both have events such as time trials, but the main events are always the Hot Pursuit races. These are 4 Cops v 4 Racers, the cops have to wreck all the racers to win, the racers have to escape to win. This is achieved by ramming each other off the road or using the power ups that are available. These weapons range from spike strips and turbo boosts to calling in road blocks and helicopters. You only get so many of these per race, which makes using them a tactical decision, do you keep a turbo boost in reserve for near the end of the race or use it early to grab a lead at the start? It’s these decisions that makes the gameplay so compelling

Yes, there's a Police Veyron

Sound

The engine sounds are authentic and throaty. Each race is preceded by a short clip, as the race loads of the cars blasting through the countryside, being hounded by the cops, it sounds frankly awesome. The music is varied and comes from licensed bands and DJs, but I turned it off quite quickly, I’d rather pure engine sounds, but that’s a personal preference, not a comment on the quality of the tracks.

Longevity

Even with a brilliant Online multiplayer and ‘Autolog’ results posting system, this isn’t going to last like a Forza or Gran Turismo. It’s fantastic fun but, as with all arcade racers is pretty shallow. That said, you can pick this up, only 3 weeks after release for £24 online, so you can’t really argue with that.

I whole hartedly recommend it.

 

 

Wales Rally GB – End of an era

November 21, 2010

Last weekend I made the trip over to Wales for the final round of the 2010 WRC. Having lived in Wales, it’s always great fun going back (the roads are frankly incredible). This trip had an added significance however. With the driver’s title already wrapped up by a certain Mr Loeb, the championship fight wasn’t the draw. Instead, the pull was the fact that this would be the last time that we see the 2.0L World Rally Car in the hands of the quickest men in the sport, for this era is now at an end.

Remember when Loeb used to just be a Tarmac specialist? Me neither.

I’m a big fan of what is to come, so I won’t lament over the ‘slowing down of the sport’. The 1600 Turbos that are on the way look the part, sound the part and still go like something off a shovel. We needn’t fear for our sport losing it’s spectacle. That said, this was the last chance that we would have the chance to see works World Rally Cars. The plan was to do all three days, to get the most bang for our buck. Tickets were bought, cheap hotels were booked, the fuel tank was brimmed. We were going.

The shape of things to come.

The stages we chose were Sweet Lamb on Friday, Fourways & Halfway on Saturday and Resolven on Sunday.

Sweet Lamb is a natural amphitheatre were you can see the cars tackle jumps, hairpins and two water splashes, the cars being visible for well over a minute. The only teeny snag was the horizontal rain that battered us on the second running of the stage. It was certainly exciting, my iPhone overloading in my pocket made my coat feel like it had anti-lag. This didn’t dampen our spirits though, the cars were spectacular over both runnings, with Petter Solberg and Jari-Matti Latvala putting on the most flamboyant displays. Loeb was in ominous form but Petter was hounding him all the way.

Henning Solberg sprays some gravel on Sweet Lamb

Kimi kept it the right way up for the whole event!

Saturday took us back to Epynt. Regular readers will know my opinion of the Epynt military range, so the chance to see two stages there on the Saturday was a no-brainer. ‘Fourways’ was the first stage, a tarmac route, but with the stage directly after, ‘Halfway’ being gravel, the cars were up on gravel springs with gravel tyres. This created a huge amount of pitch and roll under braking and acceleration, fantastic to watch. It reminded me of the Grp A era in the early 90s when suspension technology wasn’t nearly as advanced as it is today, the suspension looked like it could barley cope with the demands. The cars looked far more at home on Halfway, the full gravel setup now far more appropriate. The speed that a top level car can carry over a loose surface is breathtaking to behold.

Mads Ostberg in the Adapta Subaru. Still my favourite car of this era.

Petter lobs it in, love the comedy suspension settings.

Ken Block had a solid run out in his Focus

Resolven on the Sunday morning was an early one, first car was at 7.38am. The road to the stage was absolutely brilliant. Uphill, switchback hairpins, in amongst the trees, it was a great way to get fired up before the stage started. We spectated next to a long downhill straight, the cars were absolutely flying past. The corner at the end of the straight was a tight 90 right, comparing the braking points was fascinating. Even compared to the other top guys, Loeb was so much later on the brakes than anyone else. He has so much belief in the car, it’s a joy to behold. There’s a reason he’s a 7 time champion.

Matt Wilson did his usual thing of finishing about 7th

Very slippery surface in Resolven, Kimi did well.

Andreas Mikkelsen beat several 'World' cars in his S2000 Fabia

I think it’s fitting that Loeb won it, even though Petter pushed him on all the way. Sebastian has dominated this period of the sport so convincingly, him taking the final win was predictable, but it felt right.

I was thoroughly impressed with the running of the event. I’ve only ever marshalled on it before, so I didn’t really know what to expect as a paying customer. I’d heard tales of tiny spectator pens ruining it for some fans in years past. Either this has been addressed in recent years by the organisers or the complaints at the time were simply blown out of proportion. I found the spectator areas to be huge and well marshalled. No heavy handed bossiness, just professionalism across all three days.

The National rally boys were keen to entertain!

Looks like next year will have to be a must see as well. I can’t wait to see what the new breed of cars can do in the hands of the factory drivers.

To finish I’d just like to add my voice to those lamenting the fact that Dave and Neil Cole won’t be covering the WRC next year. I think this is a real shame, the coverage has evolved and Neil has really grown in to the role of host. They really got the balance right this year, ditching the ‘celebrity guest’ element was a very welcome move. I’ve hugely enjoyed the coverage in 2010 and I for one am quite sad that Mr Cole won’t be venturing in to this new age of rallying with us.

Zen and the art of taking the piss

October 8, 2010

A most honourable activity.

As it’s Suzuka this weekend, I thought I’d indulge my literary side and think up some topical,
F1 themed Haikus. For those of us not aware (I had to Google it), a Haiku is a Japanese verse,
formed from 3 lines. Each line has a set number of syllables, in the following order 1st line 5, 2nd line
7, third line 5. Traditionally, they are used to ‘set a scene’ but can also be used for humerous
purposes.

Below is a compilation of some of my own and the best of those that I’ve seen others do over the
last couple of days. They come from a varity of places, Twitter, Facebook and Internet Forums. Some of
them are absolutely fantastic. Enjoy.

Generic F1:

Cars go round the track
They are all quite fast aren’t they?
Time for Sunday Roast.

hot places to be
are the cars in the grand prix
bound to get sweaty

poor sad safety car
always in front, never first
he cries petrol tears

zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom
zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom
zoom, zoom, chequered flag

out lap use mirrors
you block alonso badly
grid drop your reward

pitlane is busy
lollypop man brave hero
prime or option tyre

Title Fight:

Rivals fighting hard
will it end in tears for one ?
Bernies laughing hard

it’s a five horse race
title fight not yet over
except for massa

the season draws in
the sacred F1 tarmac
who will win this time?

Suzuka:

So now to Japan
Crazy Koby for the win?
Yeah, probably not

No Jake this weekend
Lee steps up to fill his shoes
We still have Ledgard

Suzuka racing.
Flying down the straights and bends.
Cars sometimes fall off.

Rain could make this fun
Japanese grid girls: do want!
Mclaren to win!

home race for sakon
no longer stopped by poison
he’ll arrive back row

wheel on a wet kerb
petrov off spectacular
majestic gravel

spoon 130r
track has magical corners
and a ferris wheel

2010 F1 events:

Webber, head long rush
Into the first corner, oh
What a fucking tit !

Alonso complains
he is the number one guy
fans roll eyes to sky.

And this is CRUCIAL
The battle has now been joined
Thus speaketh Legard

Ferrari redness
No need for those penalties
Choc ice Kimi Fest

Slow moving Lotus
Mark Webber far too hasty
Upside down Red Bull

made with CFD
the Virgin is elegant
it’s not that fast though

shark nose no sponsors
heidfeld’s hair luxurious
can nick finish well?

neat blue and white car
rubens fancies points finish
beware of hulk smash

red bull fast again
with mighty wings and aero
good newey design

cherryblossoms fall
like Schumi down the timesheets
he has understeer

Many thanks to @racing_waiting, Emily Phillips, Emily Evans and Rllmukforum users Myoozikk,
sidewaysbob, dayte, eighthours, p1nseeker, Arc’Tan’Gent, Iron Chicken for all their
contributions.

Can you think of any?

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.

Some Road Racing at last!

August 16, 2010

SOME ROAD RACING, AT LAST!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will have probably read about me going to Northern Ireland over the weekend to watch the Ulster Grand Prix. This is a huge deal for me, firstly because due to university or work commitments, I haven’t been able to get to the TT for years, and secondly because Irish Road Racing has to be seen to be believed. I went to the races with a mate, who’s family live in Tandragee, home to the renowned Tandragee 100 road race. They actually live on the same housing estate as TT legend Phillip McCallen, we drove past his house! It’s safe to say that the local community is totally integral to the running of the events, the local papers are full of info and the marshalls are locally sourced. It creates a wonderful atmosphere.

The TT and UGP are both essentially motorbikes tear arsing down closed, public roads. The distinction is that the TT is against the clock, whereas in the UGP (and other Irish road races) the riders are physically racing for position, oh and it’s mental. As at the TT, I’m always gobsmacked by the commitment on show. I think to myself, yes, they’re professional nutcases, but surely you can’t ride a 180bhp sportsbike at ten tenths down narrow B roads? But then they come screaming past, hard on the brakes, the rear wheel snaking around beneath the rider, barely kissing the tarmac, with the slipper clutch getting a battering as they stamp down the gears. Every lap is like this, even the privateers are awe inspiring in their bravery and skill.

A couple of 250s over Deer's Leap

We were stood no more than 10ft from the track at any time, getting so close is sure a rare event these days and it only adds to the thrill. We were in amongst groups of local lads (most of which were well in to their Buckfast or tins of lager by 10am) but everyone was very friendly and chatty. As you can expect, there was plenty of beautiful roadbikes lining the roads, parking where ever they could.

The lads next to us, see, Buckfast & Tinnies, good craic.

Photographic this event has a real challenge, panning needed to be incredibly quick and we were lucky with the weather being so bright so I could keep the shutter speed nice and quick. Initially, I was feeling quite cocky. On the Superstock sighting lap (race 1), I had my eye in by the time the last few bikes came though. I was feeling pretty confident as they really seemed ‘on it’ for a sighting lap. Then they came through on lap one at full tilt.

Oh. My. God.

What I thought was quick before was absolutely blown in to the weeds. The bikes were coming through so much faster, it was harder to comprehend. I had to quickly sort myself out and recalibrate, the races are only 7 laps at most, so I wouldn’t have that many opportunities to catch the top guys on camera. I’ve never panned so fast in my life, it was quite good exercise, but I probably looked a bit special while I was doing it.

My favourite rider, Guy Martin on a retro liveried Honda

Another feature that impresses about this type of racing is the variety of machines that the riders will compete on, in the same day. From 250s right up to the full fat Superbikes, some riders were very busy, but still quick in every class, incredible when the margins for error are so narrow, as you can see below, bales anyone?

Ian Hutchinson on an installation lap believe it or not!

With a sport this dangerous, there’s quite often serious accidents. This year a bike went off in the Superstock race and hit two spectators. The rider and one of the spectators are stable, with the other in a critical condition. I wish them all the best. Overall it was a brilliant event, the weather was nothing short of glorious, bar a short cloudy spell in the afternoon. The action was spectacular and cheap to watch. I got over there via BMI baby for £52 return so it can be a relatively cheap trip and I thoroughly recommend it. It will redefine what you think ‘fast’ is. Few more photos to finish? Why not, full set is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38587975@N00/sets/72157624611580775/

Eyes wide open!

Just stumbled across this from 2006:

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.

Nurburgring 24 hr 2010

May 27, 2010

I thought I’d stick this video up here, because, well, it’s wonderful. I stumbled across it via Twitter and was so impressed that I wanted to shout about it.

It’s by Tim Hahne, I hadn’t seen any of his stuff before but I’m really impressed. His site is http://www.stereoscreen.de/

I think the video (captured on a new fangled HD video capable Canon DSLR) captures the atmosphere of the race to stunning effect. I watched the race over the net with Radio Le Mans providing commentary via thier website (my German isn’t as fluent as it once was). I thoroughly enjoyed the coverage, but it’s videos like the one below that offer a perspective that TV coverage can’t match. It’s job isn’t simply to report what is occurring on track. Instead it instils the experience of being there, camped out with a BBQ at Flugplatz, drinking tins of lager at 2am. Heaven to GT racing fans.

I’ve made a promise to myself to visit the race in 2011 and it’s this vid that’s really spurred me on. Enjoy.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “24 HOURS IN 19500 FRAMES“, posted with vodpod

British Drift Championship (pro) Rd.2

May 24, 2010

British Drift Championship (pro) Rd.2

Silverstone hosted round 2 of the British Drift Championship on Sunday 23rd May. The drifting was running as part of the Japanese Tuning Show (more on that later). I was especially enthusiastic to see the drifting due to the track changes at the circuit. The drifting took place on the Brooklands/Luffield/Woodcote complex. Brooklands has been opened up during the recent circuit developments, creating a faster, wider corner. Before the event, the BDC organisers were predicting entry speeds of 100 mph, a pretty serious prospect when at this point, and speed one of the techniques to initiate a drift is to simply yank the handbrake. Oh yes, I HAD to see this.

The pro field offered a great mix of machinery. From Mk2 Ford Escorts and classic Toyota Starlets via a host of Nissan Silvias and a Toyta Supra, reported to be running 700 bhp. There was a clear gap between the tops guys and ‘the rest’, but that can be said of most motorsports. Throughout the day, the qualifying sessions whittled down the 40 or so drivers down to the top 16.

The top 16 battles (pairs of cars drifting together to nick points off each other) were thrilling to behold. The judges award a split of the points based on the drivers sticking to the lines and clipping points as instructed, but also on speed, angle, noise and of course, smoke. Every so often, one of the competitors would hit the perfect drift, a full 90 degrees to the corner, on full lock, but also on full power. Amazing precision and aggression. In one of his qualifying runs, Phil Morrison from Driftworks put the car so side ways at Brooklands that he entered the corner facing backwards, but he kept his foot in and achieved an incredible score. Vid here: http://vimeo.com/11972299

The battles between the differing cars was fascinating too. Declan Munnelly in the green Mk 2 got some impressive scalps, despite having ‘only’ about 250 bhp. When he came up against Shane Lynch, yes, him out of Boyzone’s Twin Turbo V8 powered Nissan however, his plucky run came to an end. Declan is always a crowd pleaser and was managing some insane angles all day, he eventually shared 3 place with Phil Morrison.

The end result was a 1-2 for Team Japspeed, both in S15 Silvias. The winner was Danny Eyles with the runner up, Shane Lynch a close 2nd. It was an afternoon of incredible action, I can’t recommend drifting highly enough. No it’s not for everyone, but it might be for you.

It’s a shame that the event was marred by a few other factors though. Crowd attendance was appalling, probably down to Japfest being held at Castle Combe only a week before and the fact that the tickets weren’t exactly cheap at £20 on the gate. The actual JTS show was very small, which after being billed as having ‘1000s of cars’ on show was particularly disappointing. There wouldn’t have been 1000s of cars if you’d included those in Silverstone village as well. While the car displays were small, there was a few gems hidden amongst them, but if it hadn’t been for the drifting, there wouldn’t really have been much reason to bother.

The other, main problem was the scheduling. The drifting finals were timetabled for between 4-6pm, so a 2 hr slot. They started pretty much on time but soon delays started to creep in with mechanical issues etc. The BDC have a ‘five minute rule’ whereby if a car isn’t at its start point within 5 minutes of its allotted time then it’s disqualified, a rule which works well.

However, it didn’t work well enough as before the 3rd place run off and the final battle could be run, 6pm struck and all track activity had to stop. They sent through Danny and Shane on one run to decide the final result (they’d normally do 2 runs, taking it in turns to lead). Declan and Phil had to share 3rd place as they didn’t even get a run. This was a disappointing end to the day, and one which needn’t have happened. I can’t understand the logic of running the feature event at the end of the timetable, meaning that any delays are likely to impact the main reason for the spectators attending. It’s lead to a bit of ill feeling amongst the fans, which is fair enough. That said, noise limits and curfews are there for a reason and must be adhered to . I’ve heard stories that in the past the circuit once broke the 6pm curfew by only 6 mins but was fined £45,000 for it. Why oh why wasn’t the drifting run an hour earlier, with one of the public track sessions run at the end of the day instead? Shame.

I don’t want to end on a sour note, so I wont. It was a brilliant day and the BDC goes all over the country, other, smaller venues are cheaper than at places like Silverstone, so if you want to experiment then maybe try elsewhere first.

That said, seeing a car entering Brooklands backwards at 90+ mph whilst in total control sure takes some beating.

http://www.thebritishdriftchampionship.com/

FIA GT WIN

May 3, 2010

I was back at Silverstone again this weekend because the FIA GT circus was in town. It’s an event that I always enjoy, even if the time of year that it’s held often leads to some pretty unpleasant weather…

Look, look! Sunshine AND overtaking!

Amazingly, the weather held all day bar a few spots mid afternoon, even the ambient temperature was quite pleasant. I gather it was far more typical on the sunday though. I could only make the Saturday this year, but fortunately, thanks to the event’s  multi-race format, we all still got to see some top class GT racing. The format has changed quite a bit these days. The GT1 World Championship now features two 1 hour races, each with a mandatory driver change. Now, an hour long race isn’t exactly in the spirit of ‘Grand Touring’ is it? That said, it does mean that the field is closer together for more of the race, so you get to see more overtaking than you would with a multi-hour race like before. I’m in favour of this, if I want strung out battles of attrition I’ll watch some Le Mans Series instead. It somehow seems right that these supercars get to have a right good dust up, they sound aggressive and muscular and just what the racing is like.

I'm totally smitten with with Sumo Power GTRs

SRO (the event promoters) have done a bloody good job in rejuvenating the GT1 class. We were down a car due to the qualifying accident in Dubai involving one of the Matech Ford GTs. However the grid still consisted of Aston Martins DBR9s, Ford GTs, Lamborghini Murcielagos, Maserati MC12s, Nissan GTRs and Chevrolet Corvette C6.Rs. The series is in rude health, great news given the recent financial climate and international level GT racing ain’t exactly cheap. I must also mention the GT3 class. This year it’s offering an enormous variety of machinery (even with the Ford Mustangs having to sit it out due to homologation issues). It’s another sign than international motorsport is putting the last 18 months behind it and really getting in to its stride again.

The All-Inkl Lambos did this all day. Brilliant.

I spent most of my time at the new Arena section of the revitalised Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. The response to the new layout was mixed, some in favour, some not. Though racing drivers moaning isn’t exactly news, there are some sizeable bumps on the way through the now super-fast Abbey right hander. These will need to be smoothed over before the F1 boys get here or Mr Ecclescake won’t be a happy chappy.

Abbey corner, a hell of a quick place to bin it now.

The tight new bends ‘Village’ and ‘The Loop’ provided some good overtaking throughout the day, so that’s a positive move for the circuit. If huge GT cars can have a tussle through them, smaller, nimbler cars should have a field day.

One of the Vitaphone MC12s engages reheat.

Most importantly of all, the racing was very good. I normally go to watch GT racing for the shear spectacle of the cars themselves. For my money, GT racing offers THE BEST noise you can possibly get from motor racing so that fact that the racing was close and exciting really made it a brilliant day all round.

Some GT3 love to finish:

*Hi-Res versions at my Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/38587975@N00/sets/72157623859122903/

Modified Live

April 26, 2010

Another weekend, another event. This weekend was Modified Live at Oulton Park, no wait, come back, don’t let the ‘modified’ bit put you off.

My brother's Touge style MX5, our chariot for the trip. Appropriate I thought.

When you go to a car modification/tuning show for the first time you run the gauntlet from really great to really shit, and it’s not always easy to predict which way it’ll go beforehand. Fortunately, Modified Live is more about tuning than styling, which makes it a Good Show. Personal taste blah, blah, blah but I can’t stand lurid, scissor-doored, 5 door Puntos with more power in their bass amp than the engine. Piss off back to McDonald’s car park you tit and stop drowning out wonderfully tuned V-Tec units with that shite spewing from your subwoofer.

Awe inspiring R34 Skyline, check out those rear wheels.

It wasn’t the biggest show in the world, but thankfully the Ripspeed crew only accounted for, at most 10% of the metal on display. There was a strong presence from Nissan, Mazda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, Honda and Subaru as well as a host of others dotted around. The overall standard was very high, with a few personal highlights that will stick in my mind. (This is going to get pretty photo heavy)

Re Amemiya RX7

This Wangan Warrior flew past us on the M6, potent.

There was loads of Scoobies around, but only one RB320

New bumpers are for suckers.

I love a good Saff'

Ironically, I wasn’t really there for the static displays, the main attractions for me were the European Drift Championship (EDC) and the 1st round of the UK Time Attack (UK:TA) series. I first noticed UK:TA about a year ago and it really captured my imagination. It’s a very simple sport, fastest time around a circuit in the final session wins. Like drifting it originated in Japan and is growing rapidly over here. It was the cars (there’s a shock) that piqued my interest. It’s like Forza Motorsport come to life, great variety of cars, silly wings, enormous horsepower figures, oh and road legal tyres. What’s not to like?

Now, is that wing really big enough?

We spectated at the Knickerbrook corner, a medium speed right hander after a chicane, that opens on the exit, encouraging the drivers to get on the power early. The top 4wd guys were generating some slip under power out of here but it looked very controllable, sign of a good setup. The top class was dominated by Skylines, RX7s, Imprezas and Evos. Turns out running it at about 700bhp, it finally makes an Evo entertaining to watch, who knew?!

Ear splitting rotary soundtrack

Old school performance that still cuts it.

The eventual winner was Gareth Lloyd in his black & orange Evo with a lap time of 1:25.493secs in the final. That’s an average speed of 93.73mph, seriously, seriously quick.

First blood to Gareth Lloyd

All in all it was a good event. The Time Attack series has a big entry this year so should provide some great action as it tours the country (I bet Knockhill will be ridiculous). Well worth the trip to Cheshire and watching at Outlon Park is always really good fun. I am now lusting after a well sorted R32 Skyline though…