Friday, October 11, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What to watch this Weekend (Oct 10th - Oct 16th)

  • Mecum Auto Auctions. Muscle Cars and More 2013. From Chicago, IL (Part 1). Thursday @ 5pm - 9pm (Velocity/VelocityHD) new - replay @ 9pm
  • WRC. Rally action from France. Thursday @ 7pm - 8pm (MAVTV) delayed airing from 10/6
  • Formula 1 - Japanese Grand Prix; from the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Japan. Practice. Friday @ 1am - 2:30am (NBCSN(HD)) live
  • Mecum Auto Auctions. Muscle Cars and More 2013. From Chicago, IL (Parts 2&3). Friday @ 3pm - 9pm (Velocity/VelocityHD) new - replay @ 9pm
  • Formula 1 - Japanese Grand Prix; from the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Japan. Qualifying. Saturday @ 1am - 2:30am (NBCSN(HD)) live
  • FIA European Rally Championship. Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles. Saturday @ 2pm - 3pm (VelocityHD) new
  • Mecum Auto Auctions. Muscle Cars and More 2013. From Chicago, IL (Parts 4&5). Saturday @ 3pm - 9pm (Velocity/VelocityHD) new - replay @ 9pm
  • Formula 1 - Japanese Grand Prix; from the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Japan. Race. Sunday @ 1am - 4am (NBCSN(HD)) live
  • Top Gear (UK). Marathon of past episodes. Monday @ 4pm - 3am (BBC America/BBC America HD) great replays
  • Motorweek. 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Tuesday @ 8pm - 8:30pm (VelocityHD) replay
  • Chasing Classic Cars. Chance of a lifetime. Tuesday @ 10pm - 10:30pm (VelocityHD) new
  • Wheeler Dealers. Mini-marathon. Wednesday @ 4pm - 11pm (VelocityHD) replays
We have a boatload of entertainment this weekend; auto auctions from Chi-town, rally action from two different continents, regular shows with the headline being another week of F1 action in Asia. This weekend the usual suspects will take their talents to Japan's Suzuka Circuit to essentially see who will make their mark on this season. Before that, lets recap the action from Korea...

Latest news is that Massa is being considered for the Mercedes DTM program. He's still all 'team' in public comments despite earlier comments stating he wasn't going to help Alonso with the championship chase, but in the grand scheme everything Massa does from this point forward is advertisement for his next gig. Do your thing Massa, Ferrari won't give a sht when you're gone. Adrian Newey's exhaust blown diffuser is a work of engineering art, if you haven't been watching. In addition to the new turbo v6 power-plants in the F1 cars next year, the new minimum weight limit for 2014 is 690KG/1520lbs. This is important to think about due to the size of some of the better drivers out there, who won't be competitive as long as horse jockey sized drivers still have the wieght advantage. Webber's retirement from Singapore was due to a water leak (coolant). The FIA wasn't to pleased with him getting a ride from Alonso in Singapore (Alonso stopped slightly impeded Hamilton's cool down lap) and due to accumulation with previous reprimands (three to be precise) he'll be docked 10 grid spots at the start of the Korea GP. Boo. Kimi's back is still bothering him, but he won't have surgery on it, just treatment.

Kimi got into the tire wall during P1, but was back together and for P2. Hams was tops in P2 with Vettel following. Medium tire endurance testing went well for Mercedes so in addition to the difference in track layout We'll see if Mercedes can capitalize on this this opportunity. McLaren's were both throwing out big black soot from the fronts in heavy braking areas, so this is something to watch out for.

Q1 goes by with Raikkonen up top. Q2 moves along pretty slowly, then next thing you knew there was no time left and guys were running flyers to make the top 10. McLaren's both missed the cut (Button held up on his flyer by a Lotus), along with Ricciardo. Vettel (137.5xx), Hamilton (137.7xx), Webber, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Rosberg, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Massa and Gutierrez round out Q3 qualifiers. Q3 begins with Webber dipping to 137.464 and Vettel besting him with a 137.202. The drivers do thier tire saving pit stop then come back out with 2mins left for fireworks. Rosberg takes the first flyer, finishing with a 137.8 not bettering his previous time (P5). Hamilton (137.420) can't get closer to Vettel, but jumps Webber to take P2. After a few more times come in Webber skips the finish line and hits the pits (P3), accordingly Vettel gets off the gas to save the supersofts for the race (P1). After the grid penalty to Webber (P13) the starting 6 are Vettel, Hamilton, Grosjean, Rosberg, Alonso, Massa.

The race starts with Vettel getting the jump on Hams and Grosjean getting the jump on Hams. At the end of lap one Vettel has a 2 second gap. Going into turn 3 there's a mild pileup resulting in some busted front wings and Massa getting turn around...after further review it looks like Massa locked up his cold rears when going in about 4 wide and trying to avoid contact. After things get going again, Massa is second to last place. Webber and his small rear wing is working his way through the field, getting to P11 by lap 3. Button has to box for a new front wing on 4/55. By lap 8 Webber is in 8th. The Pits get active with those who have cooked thier front rights or had damage from the Massa incident.

Alonso pits on 10/55 for mediums. It seems the supersofts are lasting as long as what was expected. Vettel's pit tells him to watch his fronts as he stays out. Grosjean pits on 11/55 for mediums. Rosberg does the same. Grosjean comes out just in front of Hams and just about pulls a double move to keep him behind him in the DRS zone. Vettel pits on 12/55 as his fronts are going; he comes back out in first. Webber stays out until 12/55, going from P2 to P9. Daniel Ricciardo is still out on mediums at lap 15/55, so it's unclear if he's trying to go for a two stopper or less.

Hulkenberg is still having a great race, ahead of Alonso in 6th on 16/55.  By lap 17 everyone's front right tires are noticeably grained, especially Alonso. Vettel still has a big gap, but its obviously being managed due to the race tire wear that's being experienced. Hams is losing a bit of time to Grosjean; more than likely he's managing his tires. Vettel meanwhile has a terrible front right by lap 19. It seems like the mediums have gone faster than the super softs...pretty surprising based on the practice and qualy data. Mixing it up for position on this track is leading to some advanced tire wear, so drivers are trying to maintain gaps for the best air possible. Then all of a sudden in lap 22/55, the graining on the mediums starts to go away and the mediums come into their own.

Button pits for another set of mediums on 23/55 with an odd stop and go after leaving his pit. Nico Hulkenberg's tires are starting to go off, but his pit tells him he needs to stay out. Hamilton tells his pit his fronts are toast on 25/55, and they tell him about the passing of the graining the others have experienced. Lewis makes clear that he's already gone through that progression and his fronts still blow. Kimi pits on 26/55, coming back out in 10th on mediums. Paul Di Resta retires again (sound familiar?) with an odd rear end lockup mid-chicane. Local yellow.

Rosberg is up Hamilton's ass as Rosberg's tires are in much better off (28/55). As Rosberg passes Hamilton on the long straight, sparks start flying from the front of his car. Somehow his nose has partially come unclipped and under front downforce load the front wing is dragging on the track. I'm not even sure how that's possible, but it happened. Now Rosberg takes up the pit time for this lap and Hams stays out on his crap fronts; he lets the pit know about it. The nose swap on Rosberg's car didn't look that clean, but we'll see how that goes. Hams comes in the following lap 30/55 for mediums on a quick stop; comes back out in 5th.

Vettel is running in 1st, but is now up on lap traffic behind the last two cars. He weaves through smoothly not to wear his tires down with drama. Perez is running in 4th, locks up hard with Kimi behind him into a corner, then his right front tire delaminates in a small explosion tearing up the side of his car; smoke comes out the back while the carbon fiber undertray grinds while he steers off track. He limps the thing around the track on kevlar belts, the carcas is still on the straight. sergio makes it back and Grosjean and Webber pit as well. Webber had to pit more than once as he ran through the debris and was called back in; he's back out on supersofts (35/55)...he's out of medium tires. If you thought Webber was up against insurmountable odds with having one set of supersofts to finish 20 laps in, have no fear, because his streak of bad luck continues when Sutil loses his rear end and slams into Webber's side exhaust on turn 1. Shortly afterwards the car goes up in flames and Webber gets out. Then things get interesting on the track. For some reason the circuit officials take forever to get a extinguisher on Webber's car. Then they release a fire safety vehicle on the track before the safety car comes out. Meanwhile the rest of the field that passed this incident earlier are working their way around the track at full race pace, Kimi passing Grosjean for 2nd and then Vettel ahead comes to a halt behind this Jeep Compass fire safety car that shouldn't have been on the track. Then the real safety car comes out (SLS AMG), the the fire safety car pulls off.

The melee subsides with the green flag on lap 41. Everyone makes a mad dash for position with the remaining 14 laps; if everyone stays out until the end it'll be survival of the best on tires. If everyone has to pit, then position is even more paramount. Raikkonen is holding onto 2nd with both hands, his tires are old. Some really good action is going on mid-pack; Massa gets the benefit of Gutierrez and Perez battling each other to move forward. Hamilton is trying to get past Hulkenberg without success; he can't beat him out of the exits and Alonso is looking to pounce on Hamilton. Ham's finally passes Hulkenberg on 48/55 for 4th, but he gives it back on the straight in the DRS zone. Too much pace for the Mercedes at this point in the race.

52/55 and everyone's front right tires are looking like crap. Hamilton tells his pit how much more traction Hulkenberg is getting out of the corners. Grosjean's lead engineer tells him to stick it to Kimi, but his Team Principal tells him to back off. Vettel's pit tells him to watch the right front then they tell him something cryptic as if something has failed on the car (53/55). Rosberg swerves to keep Button from passing, Vettel's pit tells him to make it home and Daniel Ricciardo retires off the side of the track on 54/55. Hams tires are going but Alonso doesn't have enough grip to catch him. Vettel takes the checkered flag, followed by Raikkonen, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Alonso and Button. Nico Hulkenberg had a hell of a race. The current top five standings are as follows: Vettel, Alonso (-77), Raikkonen (-105), Hamilton(-111), Webber (-142).

Suzuka is a legendarily difficult circuit and the fireworks should continue. Make sure to start your F1 meal with Practice on Friday morning; set your DVRs. Enjoy your weekends.

Video hosting courtesy of WRCforeva.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Neo-Vintage: This Saab 900 Was Built to Last (PetroliciousCo)

Despite the semi-misleading title, Petrolicious delivers another solid piece on one of those new-classic Euro's that has spoken to most of us in years past. I always wanted a Saab 900 Turbo as a kid growing up in the 80's, even drawing them during class in Elementary School, but never got one. I'm happy to live vicariously through owner Jordan Melville, though, as I have enough projects on my hands these days.

Video courtesy of PetroliciousCo.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Neo-Vintage: Magnus Walker's '66 Irish green Porsche 911 (XCAR)

XCAR interviews Magnus Walker about one of his favorite Porsche 911's -- his Irish green 66'. Not heavily modified at all, but sometimes that's the point. I feel like the 993 generation 911 will be as nostalgic for me when I'm in my 50s as the 66' is for Magnus. Tape deck,

Video courtesy of XCARfilms.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Car Pron: Alfa Romeo 4C First Drive, Road and Track. (CHOC)

After years concept reveals and promises of a production version, the Alfa Romeo 4C is finally drivable in the flesh. Chris Harris gets to check out this new ultra light, carbon-fiber tubbed, 4-cylinder turbo powered, mid-engined sports car in Italy. Pretty awesome little car imo, but I was hoping there would be a manual option to compliment the double clutch automatic as this car was spec'd out to be much like a modern Lotus'(i.e., Elise). Regardless, I think that driving enthusiasts everywhere benefit from the existence of the 4C.

Video courtesy of Drive.