Posts Tagged ‘990cc’

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 ( 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.


Faster – DVD Review/Retrospective

August 1, 2010

I recently bought the MotoGP documentary ‘Faster’ from, for a fiver it would have been rude not to. I first saw this in University soon after it had been released (2004 ish). I remember being impressed but not bowled over. This feeling has changed in the intervening six years, considerably. This is a difficult film to look at objectively for me thanks to my love for the subject matter, and due to the fact that there aren’t many films like this, on this subject matter around. However I think it’s a great display of what MotoGP was and can be.

The DVD was filmed in 2001/2002, the two pivotal seasons in MotoGP of the last few decades;  the last hurrah and then death of the 500cc 2-stroke. The archive film included is particularly relevant to someone of my age (26). When I was very young I had posters on Kevin Schwantz on the bedroom wall, these then became Valentino Rossi as I grew in to me teens, this is ‘my era’.

The due to the timescale involved, this film focuses on Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi, frankly it had to. At the time these two were the top dogs in motorcycle racing. The clips of these two knocking lumps out of each other are simply thrilling, especially given the incredible tension between them both on and off track. Bar the Rossi/Biaggi battles, the other main interest is the Red Bull Yamaha with star riders Gary McCoy and John Hopkins, showing the pain and elation of going from being a top 500cc team in 2001 to merely giving the odd 990cc 4-stroke a bloody nose in 2002.

The film is augmented with several smaller sections. Lots of little asides like features on, Dr Costa – the genius who fixes up mangled riders, the 500cc bike – a simply evil machine with a wafer thin powerband and bad temper, Rossi’s celebrations – displaying the sharp wit of the man, even at a tender age, the animosity fuelled rivalries – Rainey vs Schwantz (early 1990s), Rossi vs Biaggi, as well as many more delightful clips. It’s a very easy film to watch, as it doesn’t get bogged down in the technicalities; you don’t need to be a bike nut to enjoy this.

The film is above all a celebration of the sport but is also unflinching in its portrayal of the damage the riders can do to themselves. While this might be sobering in isolation, it underlines the skills and risks involved in racing these machines.

Nostalgia is an odd thing, I blown away when it first came out, as I said earlier.  I put this down to those memories being too fresh in the memory, they lacked context. Seeing this footage, 8 or 9 years later and when put side by side with the current MotoGP format, makes me feel like the wide-eyed teenager again, sitting there in awe of what these guys got up to. Regardless of whether you’re a ‘bike person’ or not, I would implore you too seek out this DVD. Racing is racing and this displays that in its absolute purest form.