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Update May 2018

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

May 26, 2018 - June 1, 2018

“If you’ve got a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet!”

 The slogan “If you’ve got a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet!” was the advertising catch-cry of the Bell helmet company about 50 years ago.  To keep it simple and to bring that to today and to Thailand, I will change that to “If you’ve got a Bt. 100 head, wear a Bt. 100 helmet!”

What started me on this was the sight at lunchtime of five motorcycles on the Number 7 Freeway, driven by (perhaps if they were lucky) 15 year old schoolboys in uniform, with similar aged girls on pillion, and none of the 10 was wearing any helmet at all.  Not even a Bt. 100 helmet.

I do find it saddening that parents, who presumably love their children, will allow them to ride motorcycles without protecting their brains.  I have even seen a policeman on his motorcycle, wearing the police regulation issue helmet, with his daughter of about 10 years of age with no head protection, on behind him.

Mind you, I will admit that the commonest motorcycle injury is not brain damage (though that can change your life for ever), but is bone fracture and lacerations and abrasions.  Those injuries don’t change your life for ever, but they do make the present not much fun!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a “thing” against motorcycles, and actively raced Moto-X for four years.  However, I did wake up one day that I never fell off my car and went back to four wheels.

Seeing the injuries experienced by a mate of mine a couple of weeks back, who was on a social bike ride with friends, makes me think that body armor might not be a bad idea, especially in Thailand where other road users can be more than somewhat negligent.

Now the interesting thing is I wrote this piece six years ago.  Nothing has changed.

Monaco this weekend


Rudi Caracciola.

Whilst the Monaco race is one of the oldest races in the world, it has become more and more of an anachronism, with the numbers of the rich and famous parking their yachts in the harbor overshadowing a race circuit which is totally unsuitable for today’s F1 cars.

However, it was not given “Grand Prix” status initially but as the race quickly grew in importance Monaco was formally recognized the most important race of each of its affiliated national automobile clubs as International Grands Prix, or Grandes …preuves, and in 1933 Monaco was ranked as such alongside the French, Belgian, Italian, and Spanish Grands Prix.  That year’s race was the first Grand Prix (GP) where grid positions were decided, as they are now, by practice time rather than the previous method of balloting.  That would certainly spice up the first lap. But then even more of them would crash into each other!

That GP saw Achille Varzi and Tazio Nuvolari exchange the lead many times before being settled in Varzi’s favour on the final lap when Nuvolari’s car caught fire.  The race became a round of the new European Championship in 1936, when stormy weather and a broken oil line led to a series of crashes, eliminating the Mercedes-Benzes of Chiron, Fagioli, and von Brauchitsch, as well as Bernd Rosemeyer’s Typ C Auto Union.  Rudolf Caracciola, proving the truth of his nickname, Regenmeister (Rainmaster), went on to win.  In 1937, von Brauchitsch duelled Caracciola before coming out on top.

It was the last prewar Grand Prix at Monaco, for in 1938, the demand for £500 (about US$2450) in appearance money per top entrant led the fore-runner of the FIA to cancel the event, while looming war overtook it in 1939, and the Second World War ended organized racing in Europe until peacetime was firmly settled.  (The bulk of this can be found in Wikipedia.)

Breakfast with Automania


Pascal’s BBQ.

Where is the best breakfast in Pattaya?  In my opinion it is the Casa Pascal BBQ breakfast buffet (which actually goes right through to lunch as well).  The scope of Pascal’s breakfast defies description and currently there are over 50 items on offer covering Bakery and Pastry, dedicated breakfast items like waffles, pancakes and cereals and yoghurts, cold delicacies with smoked herring (from Pascal’s own smoker), pickled fish, ham, salami, pepper ham and mushroom, ham, cheese and several salads., many salad bar items, and the BBQ Grill on the terrace with bacon, ham, sausages, chicken and pork steaks, the egg station, hot dishes including two soups, one Asian and one Western, poultry, fish, pasta, hash browns (roesti) even baked beans.  If you can fit it in, there are also desserts with caramel custard and the Oh so British Bread and Butter pudding amongst others.

This BBQ breakfast can be yours at no charge with a voucher from Automania for being the first correct answer (Pattaya residents only I am afraid.)

How much does all this cost with no voucher?  Bt. 235 plus 7 percent VAT, and this is for an all you can eat deal, making this a fantastic bargain.  Quite honestly it is almost impossible to beat these breakfast and lunch offers, and while you are there, take a look at the a la carte menu which will surprise you with its very reasonable prices (and you can also eat a la carte during the buffets if you wish).  Casa Pascal has always been one of our favorites, and comes Highly Recommended by the entire Automania Gerry-at-Rix Team.

Casa Pascal, 485/M10, Pattaya Second Road (small soi next Ruen Thai and opposite the Avani Resort’s Dicey Reilly’s Pub) Pattaya City, reservation 061 643 9969, email [email protected]  Secure parking.  Breakfast and Lunch Buffet from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., dinner 6 p.m. until late.

The reason we can do this is because Casa Pascal has become a sponsor in the Gerry-at-Rix Ford Escort Mk 1, so next time you feel like a great dinner, as well as breakfast, remember Casa Pascal.

A well-spoken, polite policeman

I went into a police road check the other night.  I had just come from dinner with the children and had one glass of white wine.  I was asked whether I had any alcohol to drink and was politely told to park my car off to the side.  He then asked for my driver’s license and told me it would be a couple of minutes as they had a couple to test before me.  I congratulated the policeman on his command of English and then it was my turn.  I was not apprehensive as I knew that with just one glass of white I would be well within the 05 limit.  My result was 011, so now you know what one glass of white will register.  The policeman thanked me and gave me my license back.

In the meantime the two in front of me were being helped into the back of the police pick-up.  “They failed” said my friendly policeman.  Legless would have been my description, one of them with a motorcycle weighed down with vegetables from the market plus wife and children.

I should have got the policeman’s number, but they are not all the confrontational upholders of the law that one often does meet.

F1 scrutineering – the ‘real’ situation

I asked a Formula 1 scrutineer just what was the procedure at race meetings.  The answer which I have placed here is very interesting.

“Not all cars are checked at the track before they race.  The weigh station (which also has the templates for height width and wing measurements etc) is open for the teams to use at all times.

During Practice there is no real scrutiny but that changes at the start of qualifying.  All vehicles are then considered to be in Parc Ferme and in race condition.  From here though, the testing is ad hoc and at the whim of the FIA officials.  After each qualifying session, various cars are selected for testing and have the templates run over them.  At the end of qualifying all of the top 10 cars are tested with several getting the royal treatment.

After the race the top three get the serious treatment and then the rest of the point winners get a less serious going over but a going over all the same.  From there all of the remaining cars running get a run over the station and this is where illegalities (height, width, weight etc.) should show up as the cars can’t be touched after the race until released by the FIA.

The scrutineers jobs are mainly to look after the vehicles during Parc Ferme (this also means going out on the start line with the cars) to ensure no parts are changed or adjustments are made that are not on the “allowed list” during the Parc Ferme period.”

The factor that stands out for me is the fact that the really serious testing is done ‘after’ the race.  Surely it would be better to have this done ‘before’ the race rather than after.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned an item that was used in many cars, tanks, and planes, but was actually patented in the early 1900’s after having been invented in the late 1800’s and is still in use today.  What was this?  It was disc brakes.  Development of disc-type brakes began in England in the 1890s.  In 1902, the Lanchester Motor Company designed brakes that looked and operated in a similar way to a modern disc-brake system even though the disc was thin and a cable activated the brake pad.

So to this week.  What car suffered from ‘hexagonitis’?  Clue 1967.

For a free beer at the next car Club meeting, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] .  And as an additional treat, you can win a Casa Pascal BBQ Breakfast Buffet voucher as well.  Good luck!

May 19, 2018 - May 25, 2018

Brabham name resurrected

Brabham BT 62

Jack may have passed on, but his memory is still fresh.  Just months after the end of Australian car manufacturing, Australia says it is back in the game.  Granted, it’s only a track car and, agreed, there are just 70 examples to be built, but the mid-engined Brabham BT62 coupe just might be the start of something big.

At nearly $2 million, plus options and taxes, the BT62 is far and away the most expensive car anyone has tried to put into series production from this country.  But it doesn’t appear to be one of those pie-in-the-sky prototypes regularly unveiled around the world in the hope of attracting backers.  The Giocattalo was one of those.

The funding is already in place, and the car has been in secret development since early 2016.  The long-term plan is to build a series of Brabham models out of a 15,000 square meter facility in Edinburgh Parks, northern Adelaide, as part of a plan to develop a new transport manufacturing and technology hub.  This newly acquired site is just a stone’s throw from Holden’s recently shuttered Elizabeth factory.

Production of the Brabham BT62 is ready to start, according to the company’s director of manufacturing, Christian Reynolds.  “One of the things that we wanted to do from a brand perspective is not necessarily come out with a concept prototype and then try and keep the media fed for 18 or 24 months while we get ready to deliver a production tested vehicle.  It is tested, is demonstrable in performance, and we’re able to commercialize in terms of taking deposits now.”

These types of one-off’ supercars have had a checkered history in Australia, but you never know, with the Brabham name, it might just make it.  Certainly a wild looking car.

Pattaya Mail scores a third at the Bira Circuit

Dr. Iain and his ancient Escort.

The Toyo series May 5th and 6th was held at the famous Bira Circuit, on Highway 36, coming from Rayong, the circuit is on the left about 300 meters after the 331 flyover.

This was an important meeting for the Gerry-at-Rix team (say it quickly) competing in the Retro Class (Pre 1985 cars) with their 1973 Mk 1 Ford Escort.

This was the first race back for both the car and its driver Dr. Iain, after a huge crash last November in which the car looked to be a total write-off and the driver was more than slightly secondhand.

However, Thai panel shops are amazing with what they can do.  It took three months to pull the twisted shell into shape, and then reinforce all weak points.  It was then delivered back to us in Pattaya as a bare shell, whereupon every item had to be checked before bolting back into the shell.  At that stage we found that even the rear axle was bent, as well as the front, the steering rack, radiator, intercooler, all glassware, parts of the roll-cage, wiring harness, fuel tank and pumps and lots more that I can’t remember!

In the crash Dr. Iain suffered a 15 stitch laceration to the groin, a fractured tail bone and a couple of ribs, so the driver needed some repairs as well.  Fortunately Dr. Iain works at Bangkok Hospital Pattaya so personal repairs began immediately.

The car turned a wheel in anger for the first time on the 5th May and it was with some trepidation that Dr. Iain climbed into the driver’s seat.

Minor problems were expected and firstly the car’s brake pedal locked on increasing the trepidation!  Next problem was a leak from the new radiator.  To add to the drama, the heavens opened making the track very slippery.

Sunday 6th saw car and driver heading out on to the circuit, with crossed fingers if I am to be honest!  The Escort made progress through the field, stayed on the bitumen, didn’t hit anything and was awarded the trophy for third.  When we reached the podium, the drivers insisted Dr. Iain take the top step as it was felt by all that to even be there and racing was a fantastic effort.

The Escort is now back in the workshop for a full (unhurried) spanner check and will be taken out for private practice in a couple of weeks.  This, no-pressure running will settle the car, and the driver!  In that time, the sponsor’s logos will be laser cut and then applied to the car.  And yes, Pattaya Mail is one of the sponsors.

A ‘real’ Jaguar

Jaguar XK 120 C.

For those who need reminding, the Jaguar C-type (officially designated the Jaguar XK120-C) was a racing car built by Jaguar and sold from 1951 to 1953.  With an aerodynamic body designed by Malcolm Sayer and a lightweight, multi-tubular, triangulated frame designed by Bob Knight, a total of 52 were built.  (No wonder there is a thriving market amongst enthusiasts worldwide for replicas of exceptional quality.)

Mechanically, the C Type used the running gear of the contemporary XK120 sports car (the C stands for ‘competition’).  The twin-cam, six cylinder engine was tuned to around 153kW rather than the 134kW of the road car.  The custom, tubular chassis and aluminum body-panels, along with the elimination of creature-comforts, helped the car to shed nearly 454kg compared to a comparable Jaguar road car.  The later C-Types were more powerful, using triple twin-choke Weber carburetors and high-lift camshafts.  They were also lighter and better braked, by means of all-round disc brakes.

The Jaguar C-Type won the Le Mans 24 hours race at its first attempt in 1951, driven by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead and in so doing, became the first car to win a major race using disc brakes.

In 1952 Jaguar, worried by reports of the speed of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL, modified the aerodynamics to increase the top speed.  However, this necessitated a rearrangement of the car’s cooling system, and subsequently all three entries retired due to overheating.  In 1953, the car won again, in a lightened, more powerful configuration, driven by Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt.  This victory marked the first time the race had been won at an average of over 100 mph (105.85 mph - 170.34 km/h, to be precise).

I remember those halcyon days when the Border Rievers team raced their C-Type Jaguars at the Charterhall circuit.  Included in the team were a certain J. Clark and J. Stewart, as well as Ninian Sanderson and Duncan Hamilton.

No rain in Spain?

The current crop of F1 drivers has not improved since the previous outing in Azerbaijan.  The simple lesson that you don’t win the race on the first lap – you only lose the race on the first lap, has yet to be learned.  Remember too, that these drivers (the ‘best’ in the world) have come through the ranks of Go-Karts to lesser formulae and then won their places on the F1 grid.  That journey takes about 10+ years, so you would imagine they have learned the lesson by now.  Grosjean in the Haas has not, taking out Gasly (Toro Rosso) and Hulkenberg (Renault) with his ineptness.  This is one driver who was suspended a few years ago for his ability to crash on the first lap.  He should stick to authoring cook books with his wife.  You will not see him in F1 next year.

The remaining 17 drivers were there only to show just how good is Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), as he was never challenged over the remaining 65 laps.  His team mate Veltteri Bottas has confirmed his talent as a capable journeyman and nothing else.  Second place while driving the best car.

Third was ‘Mad Max Crashstappen’ in the Red Bull, who (almost) got through a complete race without hitting anybody, but did manage to lose half his front wing on the way to the checkered flag by tapping Stroll in the Williams.  Come back Maldonado, all is forgiven.

After jumping Bottas, Vettel (Ferrari) gave the impression that he would take the fight to Hamilton.  He did not and despite changing tyres under a Virtual Reality Safety Car he could not even get close enough to Max to be in the position of a challenge.

Ricciardo (Red Bull), despite setting a new lap record, was not his usual exciting self and a lonely fifth did nothing for his previously lauded reputation.  Out of contract at year’s end he will have to smarten up and defeat Max or he may find that nobody needs him.

Magnussen (Haas), Sainz (Renault), Alonso (McLaren, Perez (FIndia) and Leclerc (Sauber) enlivened the mid-field, but it was not enough to elevate the overall race to a bit more than soporific.

Driver of the day was again Leclerc despite this being his first season in F1, beating Stroll (Williams and Daddy’s money), Hartley (Toro Rosso), Ericsson (Sauber and his team mate), Sirotkin Williams and a sack of Rubles).

The next GP is at Monaco, 27 May.


1 L Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.29.972 - 192.945 km/h

2 V Bottas Mercedes 1:35.50.565 - 20.593

3 M Verstappen Red Bull 1:35.56.845 - 26.873

4 S Vettel Ferrari 1:35.57.556 - 27.584

5 D Ricciardo Red Bull 1:36.20.030 - 50.058

6 K Magnussen Haas - 65 laps

7 C Sainz Renault - 65 laps

8 F Alonso McLaren - 65 laps

9 S Perez Force India - 64 laps

10 C Leclerc Sauber - 64 laps

11 L Stroll Williams - 64 laps

12 B Hartley Toro Rosso - 64 laps

13 M Ericsson Sauber - 64 laps

14 S Sirotkin Williams - 63 laps

Non Finishers:

R S Vandoorne McLaren Gearbox - 45 laps

R E Ocon Force India Oil pressure - 38 laps

R K Raikkonen Ferrari Mechanical - 25 laps

R R Grosjean Haas Accident - 0 laps

R P Gasly Toro Rosso Accident - 0 laps

R N Hulkenberg Renault Accident

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I drew attention a man known for keeping vehicles on the straight and narrow, or even just around the bend.  His principle was patented by his manager, but is still used today, more than 200 years later.  I asked who was he?  This related to Ackermann steering geometry which is a geometric arrangement of linkages in the steering of a car or other vehicle designed to solve the problem of wheels on the inside and outside of a turn needing to trace out circles of different radii.  It was invented by the German carriage builder Georg Lankensperger in Munich in 1817, then patented by his agent in England, Rudolph Ackermann (1764–1834) in 1818 for horse-drawn carriages.

So to this week.  This item was used in many cars, tanks, and planes, but was actually patented in the early 1900’s after having been invented in the late 1800’s and is still in use today.

For the free beer at the next car Club meeting, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected]Good luck!

May 12, 2018 - May 18, 2018

What did we learn from Azerbaijan?

Charles Leclerc F1 Rookie.

Well, we learned that today’s F1 drivers are a bunch of clowns, with only a few notable exceptions. Seven retirements with seven crashes plus other scrapes but managed to continue with new noses, wheels and tyres. And these are the best drivers in the world?

This sentiment is not just mine from the front of the TV screens, but is echoed by some F1 drivers themselves. Fernando Alonso saying, “Today’s race was very complicated – right from the very first lap,” Fernando said. “The first lap in the midfield is the same old story; people preferring to crash into other cars rather than lifting off.” Quite frankly, this is the standard of driving I see in the mid-fielders in local club racing and not what I expect from our F1 multi-million dollar drivers.

Top of the heap in the crashing department was Red Bull, with Mad Max (Verstappen) solidly blocking his team mate Daniel Ricciardo until he finally got shafted from behind. And what did the FIA do to temper Mad Max? Nothing, told the two drivers not to do it again. Pathetic, 40 slaps on the wrist with a wet tram ticket.

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko, who has encountered problems with team-mates before when Vettel was partnered there with Mark Webber, pulled no punches as he assessed the catastrophic accident. “I don’t care who is to blame,” he growled. “Both drivers should have enough brain to avoid such an accident. We will take measures to guarantee it won’t happen again.”

The final few laps were just mayhem, with leader Bottas (Mercedes) suffering a puncture with two laps to go and being classified as a non-finisher, Vettel (Ferrari) who was 2nd outbraking himself and ending up 4th, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) keeping his nose clean (auto and personal) and inheriting 1st and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 2nd and the midget Mexican Perez (FIndia) squeezing onto the podium in 3rd.

Driver of the day was Rookie Charles LeClerc in the Sauber who brought his Sauber home in 6th and in one piece. A great effort on a difficult track.


1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:46.842 51

2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 2.460s 51

3 Sergio Perez Force India 4.024s 51

4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 5.329s 51

5 Carlos Sainz Renault 7.515s 51

6 Charles Leclerc Sauber 9.158s 51

7 Fernando Alonso McLaren 10.931s 51

8 Lance Stroll Williams 12.546s 51

9 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 14.152s 51

10 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 18.030s 51

11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 18.512s 51

12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 24.720s 51

13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 30.663s 51

Did not finish

Valtteri Bottas Mercedes puncture

Romain Grosjean Haas crash

Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull crash

Max Verstappen Red Bull crash

Nico Hulkenberg Renault crash

Esteban Ocon Force India crash

Sergey Sirotkin Williams crash

Ford manufactures orphans

Ford Mustang.

Ford America has announced that it plans to drop its passenger sedans and hatchback lines from the North American range in the next few years.

In the United States, the only passenger models to be retained will be the Mustang and a crossover version of the all-new Focus, called Active, due next year.

Gone will be the Taurus large sedan – once America’s top-selling car – plus the mid-sized Fusion, Fiesta light hatchback and most of the Focus small-car range will be given the chop, along with some slow-selling models from Ford’s premium Lincoln range. Guess what is happening to the resale value of those vehicles, now effectively orphans.

The new Focus/Active will be built in China so it will only be Mustang being built in the US, as other plants in the US, Canada and Mexico will be turning out SUVs, trucks and vans.

It is thought that Ford is also planning to put most of its marketing effort into popular vehicles such as the Ranger pick-up, SUVs – Everest, Escape, EcoSport and upcoming Endura – plus the Mustang and Transit commercial van.

In a statement released from Ford Motor Company’s global headquarters in Dearborn, Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett said his company was committed to taking appropriate actions to drive profitable growth and maximize the returns of the business over the long term.

“Where we can raise the returns of underperforming parts of our business by making them more fit, we will,” he said. “If appropriate returns are not on the horizon, we will shift that capital to where we can play and win.”

Ford said that by 2020, almost 90 percent of the Ford portfolio in North America would be trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles.

“Given declining consumer demand and product profitability, the company will not invest in next generations of traditional Ford sedans for North America,” the company statement proclaims.

“Over the next few years, the Ford car portfolio in North America will transition to two vehicles – the best-selling Mustang and the all-new Focus Active crossover coming out next year.

“The company is also exploring new ‘white space’ vehicle silhouettes that combine the best attributes of cars and utilities (SUVs), such as higher ride height, space and versatility.”

Ford has also re-committed to electrifying its range, adding hybrid powertrains to high-volume vehicles such as the F-150 pick-up, Mustang, Explorer large SUV, Escape and Bronco.

“The company’s battery electric vehicle rollout starts in 2020 with a performance utility (SUV), and it will bring 16 battery-electric vehicles to market by 2022,” the statement says.

This is a fairly brave mission for Ford, as if the SUV bubble bursts, then the company is left with very little to attract the buying public, and will end up like GM a few years ago, offering cash-back to attempt to gain market share again, while at the same time endangering profit margins.

New Mazda - BT-50

New Mazda BT-50.

Mazda has updated its locally built BT-50 with a new front-end that was designed by Mazda Australia and will be rolled out exclusively for the local market.

The Japanese car-maker’s design team opted for a more squared-off front bumper, eschewing the more rounded, upswept look of the outgoing model that was updated back in September 2015.

Mazda’s design update project began in mid-2016, and has resulted in a boxier look, and redesigned frontal aspect.

A new grille has been introduced across the range, with horizontal stripes finished in chrome on XTR and GT and black on the XT.

Dual-cab variants are tipped to make up nearly 60 percent of sales, with the 4x4 driveline to be the more popular option with nearly two-thirds of sales.

Unlike some of its competitors, which are selling more top-spec variants than base grades, Mazda is expecting the entry-level XT grade to make up 60 percent of sales, with only eight percent coming from the range-topping GT.

The carry-over engines include the 110 kW/375 Nm 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel with consumption between 8.0 and 8.6 liters per 100 km and the 147 kW/470 Nm 3.2-liter five-cylinder turbo-diesel that uses 8.9-10 L/100 km.

The BT-50 is the first Mazda model in Australia to be offered with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is standard across the range following Mazda’s decision to fit a 7.0-inch Alpine touchscreen system on the base XT grade.

Standard equipment on the XT includes halogen headlights, power windows and mirrors, black cloth upholstery, 16-inch wheels (alloy on some variants), air-conditioning, cruise control, six-speaker sound system, steering wheel-mounted controls, six airbags and a locking rear differential on 4x4 versions.

Moving up to the XTR adds a chrome grille, grey bumper insert, 17-inch alloys, chrome door handles, rear step bumper and power mirrors, front foglights, automatic headlights, tubular side steps, locking tailgate, auto-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, carpet floor covering, auto-dimming rearview mirror, sat-nav, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter and 8.0-inch Alpine multimedia system.

Standard safety equipment includes six airbags, ABS brakes, dynamic stability control, emergency stop signal, hill launch assist, roll stability control, traction control and trailer sway control.

Natter Nosh and Noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday May 14 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers. Always a fun night. The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!

Tired of tyres?

The tyres for F1 have reached the height of stupidity. Pirelli supply three compounds, which come in linear degrees of softness. The softer they are, the better the grip, but the quicker they wear out. Years ago we called them ‘gumballs’ and they would only last about four laps. These were then used for qualifying and the normal tyres for the race.

Does the spectator really care which tyre compound is being used? Not in the slightest, let me assure the FIA. Let’s get on with RACING and forget about tyre strategies.

The public would like to be able to ‘see’ the drivers at work and ‘see’ the drivers working their way around problems and not ask the pit wall how things are with his car.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I drew attention to a man who won nine world championships, a feat not equaled since. His record is just outstanding, look him up. He died in April this year. I asked, who was he? It was Ivan Mauger, the speedway rider, and while a ruthless competitor, he was a very intelligent and nice chap. I stood in for him as on-site medico for some of his speedway events in Brisbane, Australia.

So to this week. Known for keeping vehicles on the straight and narrow, or even just around the bend. His principle was patented by his manager, but is still used today, more than 200 years later. Who was he?

For the free beer at the next car Club meeting, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . Good luck!

May 5, 2018 - May 11, 2018



Much ink being used all over the world to discuss whether the MG ZS cross-over is a “real” MG or not. I can fix that. Quite simply, it is just another small SUV wearing an iconic badge in the center of the grille.

For people such as myself, the MG ZS is not an “MG”. Forget all the tommy-twaddle of shared DNA. Human beings have DNA passed down through generations. Cars do not.

MG enthusiasts such as myself have problems calling the new line-up of MG’s from SAIC and CP anything even vaguely resembling an MG. As to my own bona fides, I present the fact that I have owned several MG’s from T-Types to the last MGB which I raced for the factory. The name MG had a certain mystique about it, and even though they were not particularly fast, the owners were always well represented at club level motoring events. MG made sporting motor cars.

The engine and transmission of this offering from SAIC and CP Group is a 1.0 liter Netblue turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, producing 82 kW of power at 5200 rpm and 160 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 4,700rpm.

One tester wrote that these outputs translate to lack-luster performance. Stick the boot in and progression is less than rapid. Off-the-line pace is reasonable, but the powertrain runs out of puff at speeds above 60 km/h. It is also one noisy unit, requiring plenty of revs to get going, particularly given that peak power doesn’t come on steam until near the redline.

The slogan of the MG Car Company was Safety Fast. The ZS may be safe, but it certainly isn’t fast.

Lots of goodies if you are actively looking for two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels, power windows and side mirrors, roof rails, chrome trim, dusk-sensing halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights, front and rear foglights, 3D-effect tail-lights and a space-saver spare wheel.

All the usual electronic gizmo’s with a six-speaker Yamaha 3D sound system, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay support, manual air-conditioning, a monochrome digital instrument cluster, a leather steering wheel, synthetic Knight Black leather upholstery with contrast stitching and satin-chrome trim feature.

Specifications are 4,314 mm long, 1,809 mm wide, 1,644 mm tall with a 2,585 mm wheelbase, making it larger than several of its competitors but then you are left with the wheezy underpowered engine trying to get some performance to drag 1,245 kg around by the front wheels.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the ZS a four-star safety rating in December 2017. A result of 10.46 out of 16 in the frontal offset crash test at 64 km/h meant the MG was ineligible for the maximum five stars.

However, safety features in the MG do extend to six airbags, anti-skid brakes with electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability control, hill start assist, cruise control, rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and tyre pressure monitoring. Nothing breathtaking in all that lot.

Is it really an MG? Not if looked at in the historical overall scheme of things, and quite frankly should not be compared to the memory of the MG TC. I believe it would be better to just call it an SAIC and be done with it.

Rivals (not all available in Thailand).

Mazda CX-3 Maxx FWD: One of the more stylish offerings in this segment, the CX-3 does not put a premium on safety. However, its smaller dimensions mean the second row is cramped and boot space is lacking.

Mitsubishi ASX LS FWD: It might be getting long in the tooth, but the ASX continues to sell like hotcakes. Value and practicality remain strong points, but a noisy powertrain and stiff ride hurt matters.

Nissan Qashqai ST FWD: A runaway success for the Japanese brand, the Qashqai is still on top of its game. A premium interior, oodles of safety kit and sharp steering are countered by a gutless engine and frustrating CVT.

Is Endurance Racing the way to go?

Endurance Racing.

The Bira Circuit, Bang Saen and the Chang International circuit at Buriram are not strangers to Endurance races.

After a 4 hour race at the Bira circuit in Thailand in 2007, the organizers extended it to a 6 hour race at the same circuit this year. Since then, Endurance races have featured on the calendar each year.

Having numerous drivers had many advantages for everyone. For the entrant, it meant that the cost of running in an endurance event could be split between many, making it easier to finance an entry into an endurance event, remembering that one endurance event can equal the number of laps some sprint race cars do all year. The now reasonable cost per individual driver was also good for the racers who now had the opportunity to experience endurance racing at a very attainable cost, and in fact, many were able to interest personal sponsors to cover the cost of getting them a seat for the event.

For long distance racing, it isn’t how ultimately fast you can go, it is how fast you can go without over-stressing the car. The trick is to find the 95 percent where nothing is being stressed, lap times are only slightly slower and both car and driver remain fresh.

I honestly believe that endurance racing has an enormous future in Asia. Overseas, endurance racing has been part of the racing calendars for many years, be that 4 Hours, 6 Hours, 1,000 km, 12 Hours or 24 Hours. However, it needs much forward planning by the promoters, including rigid adherence to the dates of the events. If the racing fraternity knows that there will be an endurance event in mid January in Thailand, then arrangements can be made months ahead to come here to compete.

With an international formula adopted, then entries are expected from other SE Asian countries. From Malaysia in particular, which already has an endurance event run at Sepang each year, so has endurance-prepared vehicles ready to compete.

Deficiencies in preparation led to two common problems being cracking wheels and broken wheel studs, and in both instances this can come back to over-tightening of the wheel nuts. In endurance racing in particular, any team that does not use a torque (tension) wrench to tighten wheel nuts is asking for problems. Having crew men jumping on a bar slipped over a wheel brace is not the way to go! One year at the Bathurst 1000 km endurance race in Australia, all the Alfa-Romeo team cars cracked wheels. The cause? Wishing to have the cars looking pristine, they spray painted the wheels before the event, but did not clean the paint from the seats in the wheels for the wheel nuts. From the resultant fretting caused by the stresses of cornering lap after lap, the nuts became loose and the studs or wheels consequently broke.

The degree of preparation for an endurance race is also more exacting than for sprint racing. If the engine pumps out a bit of oil over a 20 lap race, that doesn’t matter. But over 40 laps this can lead to oil starvation and eventual mechanical failure, as well as all the extra time spent in the pits checking and topping up the oil.

Sprint racing tends to be just for the driver, whilst endurance racing is much more a ‘team’ event. Not just a team of drivers, but a team of mechanics and a team (and sometimes also a pit) manager. Endurance racing expands the number of people involved in motor sport, and the winning teams are those which can bring together their entire group of members to work as one. Increased numbers are good for our motor sport, and I applaud all those who are trying to provide endurance events in Asia. Asian has its own 24 hour event. We should get behind it.

Natter Nosh and Noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday May 14 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers. Always a fun night. The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!

Westfield for sale

Westfield Sports car.

Here is a very rare opportunity to own a truly ‘Fun’ automobile. Richy Rhodes has a 2 liter Westfield (a Lotus S7/Caterham clone). There are only two in Thailand. He has owned this one for only a few years, but has reluctantly realized that he doesn’t have the time to drive and enjoy it.

I have actually driven this car on a test day at the Bira circuit and driving it is Fun, with a capital F. The enjoyment in driving a vehicle which is responsive to the desires of the driver almost defies description.

Selling price 990,000 baht, though Richy will haggle if you are an enthusiast. If I had the money spare, it would be in my garage by this evening and not in yours or his.

Contact Richy on 081 723 8402.

Autotrivia Quiz

Bug-Eye Sprite.

Last week I asked you to identify a British car which began manufacture in 1959. Enormously popular. Blistering top speed of 120 km/h. No locks, no boot lid and no real windows. Enough clues! An easy one with it being the Bug-eyed Sprite. Nippy and fun without being ‘fast’. Yesterday’s equivalent to the Westfield sports on sale this week.

So to this week. This man won nine world championships, a feat not equaled since. His record is just outstanding, look him up. He died in April this year. Who was he?

For the free beer at the next car Club meeting, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . Good luck!

April 28, 2018 - May 4, 2018

Mercedes commits to eVito, eSprinter


Mercedes-Benz is committed to offering full-electric RHD (Right Hand Drive) versions of its Vito and Sprinter vans for its fleet customers but must wait until European production schedules switch to export markets, including Thailand.

This means that the mid-size eVito and larger eSprinter might not be seen here until later next year, or even further afield.

Mercedes-Benz Vans Aust/NZ PR and corporate communications manager Blake Vincent said, “The global plan is that it is firstly a European launch for both those models, and as production starts to ramp up the idea is that they’ll branch out to other customers (markets).”

Mercedes has invested around $233 million to electrify its commercial-vehicle range and has secured a major deal with Hermes in Germany to produce 1500 full-electric mid-size and large vans by 2021 – this deal has helped guarantee series production but means that RHD models will not be seen for a couple of years. The eVito has been available for order in Europe since November last year and first deliveries will take place in the second half of 2018.

Full specifications are not yet available, but Mercedes has confirmed it will be installed with a 41.4 kWh battery and offer a driving range of around 150 km.

It is claimed that even in unfavorable circumstances, the van will have a range of 100 km available.

The electric motor will produce 84 kW of power and up to 300 Nm of torque, and the vehicle will have a top speed of up to 120 km/h. Customers will have the option of a lower maximum speed of 80 km/h which conserves energy and increasing range.

The capacity as a delivery van has a payload of more than one tonne and a cargo volume of up to 6.6 cubic meters.

No official details as yet on the eSprinter, but in launching the redesigned large van earlier this year the German manufacturer said it was developing appropriate charging infrastructure to use on operators’ premises and that the vehicles could be “precisely adapted to the relevant operating purpose with respect to range or payload”.

Operating costs with Mercedes’ electric vehicles are also described as being “roughly the same level as for comparable models with a diesel engine”.

Wonderful old joke but brought up to date


A lady walks into a Porsche dealership. She browses around, spots the Top-of-the-line GT2 RS and walks over to inspect it. As she bends over to feel the fine leather upholstery, she inadvertently breaks wind.

Very embarrassed, she looks around nervously to see if anyone has noticed her little accident and prays that a sales person doesn’t pop up right now.

As she turns around, her worst nightmare materializes in the form of a salesman standing right behind her. Cool as a cucumber and displaying complete professionalism, the salesman greets the lady with, “Good day, Madame. How may we help you today?” Very uncomfortably, but hoping that the salesman may just not have been there at the time of her accident, she asks, “Sir, what is the price of this lovely vehicle?”

He answered, “Madam, if you farted just touching it, you are going to s*&t yourself when I tell you the price.”

How’s the Escort? Not out of the woods yet

Racing Mk 1 Escort.

The now straight body shell is back in the workshop in Pattaya and looking amazingly straight. The panel man has done a fantastic job, even replacing the floors where Ferric Oxide was starting to make them resemble lace tablecloths. 45 year old cars can have additional problems.

The time frame is our next hurdle, with the race meeting at Bira, May 4, 5, 6. The car was completely stripped to allow the panel shop chap access to every part of the body. This meant wiring harness, fuel tank, pumps, lines, new radiator, intercooler, fuel tank, door cards, secure towing hooks, instruments, side windows (made of shatterproof Lexan-polycarbonate) and laminated windscreen.

Thomas Raldorf, who is in charge of fettling the car, puts the likelihood of our being on the grid at 90 percent. I get the feeling that it will be a runner, but not necessarily 100 percent finished. Desperate race drivers have been known to use a screwdriver as a gear shifter when the gearbox wasn’t fully assembled in time. The final work is to “sticker” the car, to show off our sponsors.

A new sponsor is Casa Pascal restaurant, which came just at the right time. Fortunately, Pascal won’t fit into my race suit, so his position will be lap scoring or timing or ‘gopher’. All very important in getting the message through to the driver during the race. In the Retro Class we don’t have all the F1 style electronics, the driver takes note of frantic hand signals from pit wall.

What a bottler!

The Chinese GP was one of the best we have had in a long time with the Red Bull team tops in the action. Daniel Ricciardo, the last of the late breakers, came out on top with a well judged race to claim the top step of the podium. This was after a turbo breakdown required an engine change with only two hours available, leaving Ricciardo two minutes to qualify.

His team mate, the very fast, but reckless, Max Verstappen was right in the action at the front, but let himself down with more ill-timed passing maneuvers eventually being penalized with a 10 second penalty for the collision he had with Vettel (Ferrari) dropping himself down 5th.

The once all-conquering Mercedes team must be wondering what has gone wrong, with Bottas (the number 2 driver) out-qualifying the expensive number 1 driver Hamilton, and coming in second on the podium to Hamilton’s fifth on the road (later elevated to fourth following Verstappen’s 10 second relegation).

Upsets were also experienced in the Ferrari camp with series leader Vettel finding himself on unsuitable tyres and unable to resist challenges by the Red Bulls, leaving his number 2 Raikkonen to fly the flag from 3rd on the podium.

Further mixes came with Hulkenberg’s 6th in the Renault, Alonso 7th in the McLaren, Sainz in the second Renault and Team Haas 10th with Magnussen.

This was the best GP so far this year, apart from Martin Brundle’s “Grid Walk” which was a great idea a few years back where Martin would shoulder anyone aside, but it has now got to the embarrassing stage where he is running up and down the grid looking for someone, anyone, to interview. Just another victim of PC.


1 D Ricciardo Red Bull

2 V Bottas Mercedes

3 K Raikkonen Ferrari

4 L Hamilton Mercedes

5 M Verstappen Red Bull

6 N Hulkenberg Renault

7 F Alonso McLaren

8 S Vettel Ferrari

9 C Sainz Renault

10 K Magnussen Haas

Autotrivia Quiz

Gabriel in the Mors.

Last week I wrote on F1 drivers coming from the rear of the field and winning. One of the best was John Watson who made up 22 places in a U.S. Grand Prix West in Long Beach harbor. But that pales into insignificance, compared to a Frenchman who won a Paris-Madrid race by passing several cars. Just how many did he pass? I suggested guess first then do your research. I said you will be surprised.

The answer? It was Fernand Gabriel in an 11.2 liter Mors. He started in position 81 and was the leader at the end of the 1903 Paris-Bordeaux race.

So to this week. I’d like you to identify a British car which began manufacture in 1959. Enormously popular. Blistering top speed of 120 km/h. No locks, no boot lid and no real windows. Enough clues!

For the free beer at the next car Club meeting, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . Good luck!

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

“If you’ve got a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet!”

Monaco this weekend

Breakfast with Automania

A well-spoken, polite policeman

F1 scrutineering – the ‘real’ situation

Autotrivia Quiz

Brabham name resurrected

Pattaya Mail scores a third at the Bira Circuit

A ‘real’ Jaguar

No rain in Spain?

Autotrivia Quiz

What did we learn from Azerbaijan?

Ford manufactures orphans

New Mazda - BT-50

Natter Nosh and Noggin

Tired of tyres?

Autotrivia Quiz


Is Endurance Racing the way to go?

Natter Nosh and Noggin

Westfield for sale

Autotrivia Quiz

Mercedes commits to eVito, eSprinter

Wonderful old joke but brought up to date

How’s the Escort? Not out of the woods yet

What a bottler!

Autotrivia Quiz



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