Friday Video | Classic BTCC chaos

We’ve taken a close look at driving standards in the BTCC this week. Here’s a reminder that certain things don’t change.

BTCC Super Touring

After the controversy from last weekend’s Silverstone BTCC rounds, the question of how big a part contact should be allowed to play in a professional racing series is one which won’t go away. For some historic perspective, we’ve taken a trip back to 1999 and the peak of the Super Touring era, courtesy of this YouTube clip from Duke Video:

Collisions and questionable overtaking manoeuvres are nothing new to the BTCC, it just seems that 2017 has compacted several seasons of carnage into one neat package. We can only wait and see what the season finale will deliver on the 1st October.

Opinion | The BTCC needs to decide what it wants to be

The fallout from the recent Silverstone rounds of the 2017 British Touring Car Championship isn’t going to go away. ESM’s Editor gets stuck in to the debate.

Things should be perfect in the BTCC world right now. The grid is packed, fans are flocking to circuits, and ITV is broadcasting the entire race package live and free from subscription. It might not have the same number of manufacturers throwing huge budgets around like the peak of the 1990s, but all that aside, the British Touring Car Championship should be in rude health. But it’s not.

If you’ve read the report from our BTCC Correspondent on the events that took place at Silverstone last weekend, you’ll know that driving standards are a subject nobody can escape from. The fact that Mr. BTCC himself – and Series Director – Alan Gow had to wade in and release a statement specifically addressing the issue, suggests how serious this mess is. However, Silverstone wasn’t the only rounds which saw driving that could be classed as poor and unprofessional.

Both Snetterton and Knockhill saw races ended for drivers thanks to contact from other competitors. Andrew Jordan’s statement at the weekend that some drivers lack ‘spatial awareness’ may be true, but the carnage created by his mistake at Knockhill means that nobody on the grid can take a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude on this issue.

BTCC 2017 (C) BTCC

Gow asserts that the drivers themselves are the root cause of the problem which, of course, is the obvious assumption to make. Nobody but the 32 individuals out on track can decide whether to ‘bung an optimistic pass up the inside’ or perpetually nudge the back bumper of the car in front to unsettle it. Only they cause those actions, and there is only so much the race organisers and stewards can do. Yet if drivers are doing this, surely it’s because of the situation that has been allowed to fester. For some on the grid, the chance of being penalised seems low, and in many respects the BTCC likes to make hay from contact and controversy. (more…)

BTCC 2017 | Silverstone – What did we learn?

You certainly cannot accuse the 2017 British Touring Car Championship of being anything but controversial. Silverstone ratcheted the tension up even further, but is the BTCC reaching breaking point?

BTCC 2017 SilverstoneThe latest rounds of the British Touring Car Championship certainly did not disappoint in the drama stakes. Everything is still very much to play for as we now head to Brands Hatch GP for the final rounds on the opening Sunday of October. At times, Silverstone seemed to descend into chaos, but at the end of it, the gap between the two title protagonists, Ash Sutton and Colin Turkington, hardly changed. Sutton started the day with a twelve point gap, but only conceded two points to Turkington. However, what else did we learn?

One of the main talking points from the weekend’s action proved to further focus on driving standards, or the lack of. So much so, it would appear to have hit a nerve with Series Director, Alan Gow, who felt the urge to speak out on Monday.

BTCC 2017 Silverstone

The opening race of the day saw Turkington start in eighth and Sutton tenth as the whole of the field was separated by an astonishing 0.886s during qualifying. The short lap obviously helped lower the gaps, but it also helped increase the action. Turkington battled his way through the field as Matt Neal, Mat Jackson, Dave Newsham and Ant Whorton-Eales did their best to halt his progress. Unfortunately, from Turkington’s point of view, Sutton did likewise and come the end of the much curtailed race, they were a place apart in fourth and fifth.

BTCC 2017 Silverstone

Who knows what would have happened had the race gone to full distance plus three extra safety car laps, but sense prevailed with a red flag eventually coming after the damage caused by a huge shunt involving Rob Collard. Having already seen Neal punt Jackson around in the race, the incident involving Collard appeared to be less clear cut. Aron Taylor-Smith appeared to lean on a rival amongst a group of cars, which in turn, resulted in Collard being touched and spat out on to the wet grass with an apparent lack of steering. Collard skittled across the grass and back on to the track, where he was hammered into by Will Burns and Andrew Jordan.

The damage to Collard’s BMW was massive. Luckily, the damage to Collard himself seemed to be less, but he wouldn’t compete for the rest of the day. Burns, took longer to be extricated from the car and it was because of this, the red flag came out. Jordan, although his car was damaged, managed to limp back to the pits before complaining about others’ “spatial awareness” on track. This did appear to be a racing incident with unfortunate consequences. A small lean would generally be classed as acceptable, but the trouble was this time a series of events followed that never could have been predicted. The stewards also issued no penalties for the incident, again backing up the racing incident line.

The shortened race itself saw Tom Ingram take victory from pole sitter Jack Goff, after a better start, with Adam Morgan finishing third.

In the second race, Jordan’s own “spatial awareness” caught him out as he appeared to be at fault for a collision with Stephen Jelley, but again the stewards took no further action. However, action was to be taken at the end of the race against Sutton following an incident with Turkington. (more…)

Friday Video | Bugatti Chiron sets 0-400-0km/h record

Could Bugatti be trying to distract attention from a certain new hypercar revealed this week? If they are, this is a rather impressive feat to use as a diversion.

2017 Bugatti Chiron World Record

In terms of words written, the Mercedes-AMG Project One has probably swallowed up most column inches and online articles from the Frankfurt Motor Show. Almost enough to make Bugatti feel a little outshone it seems.

2017 Bugatti Chiron World Record

How do you get the attention back when faced with 1,000hp of F1-engined insanity? Set a new world record, and involve a high-profile motorsport legend to do it, of course. Which is exactly what Bugatti did, wheeling in Juan-Pablo Montoya to set an astonishing time for running from a standing start, to 400km/h (249mph) and back to a complete stop again.

The whole process took a slightly mind-bending 41.96 seconds, which is testament to the epic power and traction of the Chiron, but also the immense braking ability. The acceleration from zero to 400km/h took 32.6 seconds, but the Chiron needed just 9.3 seconds required to come to a halt. All of this was completed in 3.12km, 491 metres of which was used for stopping.

2017 Bugatti Chiron World Record

Consider our interest piqued, and not just because we happen to be big fans of Mr Montoya here at ESM. Had he driven in F1 at any other time than against the Schumacher/Ferrari combo, we have no doubts he would have been a World Champion. Instead, you can just watch him go from zero to almost 250mph in less than a minute:

Will Mercedes-AMG enter into the epic contest with the finished Project One? Who knows, but for now Bugatti has kept some of the limelight focussed on the Chiron, and plans for even more records to be broken in the near future.

New Metal (Carbon) | Mercedes-AMG Project One Concept

We’ve heard all the cliches before, but could this actually be the closest thing ever to a road-going F1 car? Well, it’s got the engine from an F1 car for a start…

2017 Mercedes-AMG Project One Concept

Yes indeed, powering the Merc-AMG Project One is the very same 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 used by Lewis and Valtteri every other weekend. Not exactly the same, as the one used here is tuned to use regular super unleaded fuel. will rev to only 11,000rpm. The latter being done to aid reliability – we imagine buyers wouldn’t be best pleased about receiving grid penalties for needing to change turbochargers and gearboxes several times each year…

2017 Mercedes-AMG Project One Concept

Like an F1 car, there’s electrical power as well. Four electric motors in fact, with two driving the front wheels, one added to the turbocharger and one directly attached to the V6 engine itself. All combined, the Project One has a power output in excess of 1,000hp. Granted that isn’t as powerful as a Bugatti Chiron, but lightweight construction and the instant torque hit of the electric motors make that a fairly moot point. For those who want to play Top Trumps, the quoted 0-124mph time of under 6 seconds is  quicker than the 6.5 seconds recorded for the Bugatti. Substantial downforce means a more normal top speed of around 220mph is estimated for the mega Merc.

2017 Mercedes-AMG Project One Concept

An eight-speed AMG Speedshift gearbox controls the power from the engine and, just like an F1 car, features paddles for manual shifting. Unlike an F1 car, ABS is standard for the carbon ceramic brakes, as is a three-stage ESP system which features a Sport Handling Mode, or even the option to turn the assistance off entirely. We imagine that will some serious guts, even with the aid of all-wheel drive and torque vectoring.

2017 Mercedes-AMG Project One Concept

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BTCC 2017 | Rockingham – What did we learn?

The 2017 BTCC title race is heating up, and the action on track at Rockingham was closer than ever. ESM’s BTCC correspondent gives his views on what we uncovered.

BTCC 2017 Rockingham

© BTCC

Rockingham is like no other track on the BTCC calendar and the sight of 32 cars heading towards the Dean Hairpin on the opening laps of the races was quite some spectacle. We, the viewers, were treated to yet another feast of close and highly competitive action over the weekend, but what else did we learn?

BTCC 2017 Rockingham

© BTCC

Most significantly, perhaps, there has been another important change in the championship standings.  After Knockhill, Colin Turkington was at the summit for the first time this season, but we learnt at Rockingham that this lead was to be short-lived. The man in form, Ash Sutton, produced yet another set of stunning drives to secure top spot ahead of Turkington. The question now is: Will he be caught? As previously mentioned in race reviews, Sutton has produced a series of brilliant drives recently, scoring high quantities of points, regardless of ballast penalties or even tyre selection. At present, it would take a silly person to bet against him winning his first championship.

Similarly, it would take a serious show of faith to now put your money on Gordon Shedden or Rob Collard after what for them, was a disastrous weekend, leaving the championship as now seemingly a two-horse race. The pair scored just four and eight points respectively. With their championship hopes in the balance as it was, this was a weekend neither could afford to go wrong. A poor qualifying session for both on Saturday set the tone for an unhappy Sunday. (more…)

Friday Video | Five cylinders of fun from Audi Sport USA

Even if you’ve only got twenty minutes for lunch today, this is probably the best way you can spend it. We promise.

1987 Audi Sport quattro S1

It’s now officially September, the holidays are over, the nights are closing in, and the world is still just as big a mess as it was at the start of the year.

But forget all that, as Audi USA has shared this video documenting the history of the five-cylinder engine. From the Ur-quattro, though to the awesome 90 IMSA GTO, and eventually the insane assault on Pikes Peak by Walter Röhrl – it’s all here in full competition glory. Add to that on-track action with the new RS3 Sedan Saloon and TT RS and you’ve got the perfect lunchtime entertainment.

1989 Audi 90 IMSA GTO

Just make sure you have your speakers turned up to appreciate the offbeat sound of the five-cylinder motor:

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BTCC 2017 | Knockhill – What did we learn?

The annual trip to Scotland produced three entertaining races, helped by more incidents of dubious driving standards. The series left Knockhill with a new leader at the top of the standings, but what else did we learn?

2017 BTCC Knockhill

Colin Turkington now leads the way following a hat-trick of thirds from Ash Sutton, while the former leader, Gordon Shedden, sits third and twelve points off top. Saturday’s qualifying saw a Subaru 1-2 with Jason Plato finally producing what we’ve come to expect of him, just ahead of the championship charging Sutton.

Plato duly converted his 50th pole position into a 96th BTCC victory and incredibly his first since the opening race at Knockhill twelve months ago. Although Sutton raced hard, and after a failed switch to try to gain an extra point for leading a lap, this race deservedly belonged to Plato. Their challengers, Turkington and Rob Collard, were a small gap behind the top two, but miles ahead of the rest of the field, which were headed by James Cole, who achieved a career best hat-trick of fifths over the weekend.

2017 BTCC Knockhill

The Subaru dominance continued in the second race, although the drivers switched finishing positions, further enhancing Sutton’s title credentials, while the three behind remained the same as before. The main talking point of the second race came within the first twenty seconds as a large crash, triggered by Andrew Jordan, wiped out several drivers. Jordan out-braked himself which meant he rammed Matt Neal, who in turn went into Senna Proctor who then collected Jordan. A few others had to take evasive action and ended up in the gravel trap, ruining their races too.

It was good to see Jordan admit his mistake afterwards, although it didn’t save him from a hefty fine and penalty points on his licence. Jordan has never shown championship form since winning the title in 2013 and this was a poor mistake. A championship challenge isn’t helped by moving teams each year, but he just doesn’t look as formidable as he was once.

However, the Subarus at Knockhill certainly looked formidable. In the second race, all four were inside the top seven – quite incredible. Just why did they go so well? Sutton’s looked great all season, but the other three have been nowhere to be seen. In Scotland, real wheel drive power was a huge advantage as the top five in the first two races were all powered from the rear. But then, why weren’t the BMWs seriously challenging? This could be down to the Subarus’ boxer engine which allows for a better centre of gravity and on a circuit such as Knockhill, this extra edge could well have been the difference. (more…)

Friday Video | BMW enters the future

Right now the BMW Concept Z4 is the garnering all the attention, as a thinly disguised version of next year’s production car. Yet something else from BMW caught our eye this week.2017 BMW Concept Z4

Yes, yes, BMW have plastered the word concept all over this Z4, but the reality is we would be amazed if the new roadster looked any different to this. It’s certainly not a bad-looking thing, with elements clearly influenced by the i8, but also some subtler homages to the ‘flame surfacing’ legacy of Chris Bangle. Oh how we laughed at his designs when released, yet now they still look modern. Sorry, Chris.

2017 BMW Concept Z4

Given the tepid nature of the current Z4, anything that makes BMW’s roadster more exciting can only be a good thing. The Munich firm promises a ‘stripped back’ experience, with the aim of creating an ‘all-out’ driving experience. Hopefully the finished car delivers on these bold promises, and keeps the Energetic Orange matt paintwork and minimalist interior.

However, it’s not the most exiting thing we’ve seen from BMW recently though, as we came across this video on YouTube:

In case you’re wondering, The Drone Racing League is a fast-growing competition, using high-performance drones capable of hitting 85mph. With major investment from companies like Sky, and F1-owners Liberty Media, the Drone Racing League is getting high-profile coverage. But a demonstration inside the BMW Welt exhibition centre and museum is another level. (more…)

BTCC 2017 | Snetterton – What did we learn?

A week is a long time. Here’s a reminder what happened last weekend when the BTCC circus rolled in to Norfolk. ESM’s BTCC Correspondent wasn’t too impressed with proceedings.

2017 BTCC Snetterton

The series returned following the summer sabbatical, but in all honesty, we didn’t really learn a great deal. After Croft, the championship looked like it was going to be a four-way battle and this weekend’s action confirmed this thought following heavy points hauls for the current top four.

Colin Turkington’s rear wheel drive power enabled him to make Jack Goff’s clear view of the track last no further than the first 100 metres or so and championship contender Turkington sped off into the distance, or so it seemed. An extremely rare mistake, or a slippery surface, halfway through the race caused Turkington to spin off, although he did eventually recover to seventh. Ash Sutton strengthened his championship position by hunting down Goff, who was set for his first win, and used his superior tyre grip to secure the victory.

2017 BTCC Snetterton

The day’s second race was again fairly dull until about half distance. However, this time it was a lights to flag victory for Sutton while all three BMWs hunted him down as a pack, although Goff ran second for quite some time. Rob Collard went into the weekend second in the championship and he needed a slight tap on Goff to achieve second in the race, although Turkington made a great move on him to secure the position for himself later in the race.2017 BTCC Snetterton

Sutton’s chance of winning all three races ended on an entertaining opening lap of the final race as a collision with Rob Austin ended both of their races, but Sutton later alleviated Austin of any blame, although it looked a rash move. Unlike the previous two races, most of the action in this race came at the start, rather than at the end. However, race leader Andrew Jordan suffered what appeared to be an electrical issue on the penultimate lap, whilst leading with a decent gap, which gifted the race win to championship leader, Gordon Shedden.

The victory meant that Shedden held on to his lead at the top of the standings, although with a reduced margin as the top four are now covered by eleven points. At the back of that pack, but most definitely in form is Sutton. Disregarding the retirement in the final race, Sutton had finished no lower than fourth in the previous eight races, winning four of them; serious championship form. (more…)