Fresh from its podium finish in the season-opening round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship at Monte-Carlo, Hyundai Motorsport moves to Sweden where it will compete with three New Generation i20 WRC cars for the first time. The New Generation i20 WRC made a successful debut at Monte-Carlo helping the team to take out its first ever Monte stage win, Power Stage points and a third place finish. Last season Hyundai Motorsport secured a debut podium at Rally Sweden and will be looking for something really big this time around when it puts the three i20s through their paces on the snowy stages. Dani Sordo and Marc Martí, participate in their first ever Rally Sweden, will be joined by Monte-Carlo podium men Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul and Kiwis Hayden Paddon and John Kennard. Rally Sweden is the WRC’s only true winter round with Sweden’s frozen roads lined with deep snow banks that drivers lean into that produces a slingshot effect that push their cars around corners. In warmer temperatures, however, drivers must be wary as the banks disintegrate under pressure and catch cars, slowing or stopping them. Over a quarter of the special stage distance will be new and service will be available only at the start and finish of each leg, emphasising to drivers the importance of a consistent approach.
Closer to home, the Nismo Athlete Global Team came within seconds of securing back to back victories score in the Bathurst 12-Hour endurance race held this weekend at Australia’s famous Mount Panorama circuit. Drivers Katsumasa Chiyo, Rick Kelly and Florian Strauss powered the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 to the finish line a mere 1.276 seconds behind the winning Tekno Autosports McLaren 650S GT3 in what was more akin to a sprint than an endurance race. Nissan Motorsport V8 Supercar driver Rick Kelly started the race in darkness at 5.45am and advanced strongly through the field from a 13th-place grid position and former Nissan PlayStation GT academy winner Florian Strauss, who co-drove to victory in last year’s race, helped push the #1 GT3 further forward during the course of the day. But it was in the final hour that the race’s tension really rose, with Japanese driver Katsumasa Chiyo chasing the leading Tekno Autosports McLaren piloted by Shane van Gisbergen. The fast-finishing Chiyo, who has fast-built a reputation with Australian fans for his daring abilities in the thrust of wheel-to-wheel combat, showed incredible skill and daring as he closed the gap in the final laps, only to be thwarted by the smallest of margins. Second place went to Phoenix Racing Audi R8 drivers Markus Winklehock, Laurens Vanthoor and Alex Davison.
This year’s 297 lap – 1897 kilometres of world-class GT racing included a big field of local and international drivers and teams with the likes of Bentley Team M-Sport driver and Dayco ambassador David Russell joining GT star drivers Andy Soucek from Spain and Belgian Maxime Soulet in the number 31 Bentley Continental GT3. The first Australian to drive for Bentley, it is was probably not surprising that Dave was selected for the pre-dawn start and despite several wildlife-on-track warnings was able to move the Continental GT3 a couple of places up the field.
There was a scary moment when the GT3 blew a tyre when overtaking McLaren driver Rob Bell at the extremely fast Chase section. Following the unscheduled pit stop, Russell set a blistering pace that enabled the car to be handed over to Andy Soucek in fourth position who then drove brilliantly, showing some outstanding overtaking manoeuvres, to muscle No.31 into a dominating lead. In his second stint, Dave and Katsumasa Chiyo vied for the lead until a crippled Wall Racing Porsche lost drive at The Cutting, causing a crash that resulted in major damage to the GT3 and a lengthy pit stop. Further speedy stints by both Soulet and Soucek saw No 31 back in the top ten and the team finishing the race in seventh place. The team’s sister car finished the race in third position, with drivers Steven Kane, Guy Smith and Matt Bell delivering Bentley their first Bathurst 12 Hour podium result. The race was won by Tekno Autosports McLaren 650S drivers Shane Van Gisbergen, Alvaro Parente and Jonathan Webb. Second place went to Phoenix Racing Audi R8 drivers Markus Winklehock, Laurens Vanthoor and Alex Davison.
According to Dayco’s Dave Russell, competing with Bentley Team M-Sport was an incredible experience: “It was an outstanding experience to be a part of such a prestigious factory team at the Bathurst 12 Hour. Working with such professionals as Andy and Maxime was also a privilege. The Bentley Continental GT3 is a brilliant car and being given the duty of starting the race was exciting. I enjoyed the opening stint in the dark and got into a fast rhythm. I had a moment with Rob Bell at The Chase that caused a puncture and pit stop, so it was a case of running fast and consistent laps to get us back on track by the time I handed the car over to Andy.
“In my next stint I was having a good run in second place but I came across the limping Wall Racing Porsche at The Cutting and had nowhere to go. The damage proved to be a lot worse than I thought and it cost us some laps. The team did an awesome job to get us back out there, with Maxime and Andy bringing the car home 7th. While we Bentley Team M-Sport came here to win, we did the best we could in the circumstances. I also couldn’t be happier for our team mates to have gained Bentley’s first Bathurst 12 Hour podium. I really love these long distance GT events and look forward to doing more here and overseas in the future.”
Now here’s a nice little promo that some people believe conjures up all the usual sexual connotations used by the advertising industry without resorting to naked women. We suppose that depends on whether you see a motor vehicle as a male or female object, but somehow we can’t see the next Pirelli calendar featuring a Naked Ute. Yes, folks, a naked ute stripped of all exterior panels, no soft-touch plastics, no clever infotainment systems, not even a shred of fabric or cushioning on the seats! “What’s the point?” we hear you yell. Well, it’s all part of a multi-platform marketing campaign, encapsulating television, digital and print media, in which VW Australia has stripped back its award-winning Amarok ute to the bare bones exposing what the company says is a tough, reinforced and extensively engineered chassis, free from badges and class-leading Volkswagen design features.
The Naked Ute was then assessed by some of its toughest critics: working ute owners from rural Australia. This ‘blind’ road test saw it driven in a range of off-road environments, designed to test its core strength. At the end of the test, the Naked Ute’s pilots were, surprise, surprise, all impressed by its strength and composure but (Uh Hum!) still stumped as to the model (not the one in the picture). That is, until this week. The campaign started with a week-long tease period with a stripped-back ‘Naked Ute’ featuring in a 15” TVC that called on the public to ‘Guess the Naked Ute’. This was supported by a promoted social campaign that had separate content where viewers were introduced to four Aussie ute lovers who put the Naked Ute through its paces. New content was rolled out each day driving traffic to thenakedute.com to vote, or view more content. In the first week, tthe campaign received over 1.7 million views on Facebook and over 800,000 views on Youtube.
According to VW’s Ralph Beckmann: “We wanted to really challenge some of the myths and misconceptions around Amarok and develop a disruptive campaign to bring this to life. We believed many couldn’t see beyond the Volkswagen badge and the good looking exterior. So we decided to take it away and the response has been phenomenal. In our first week alone, the engagement far exceeded our expectations and it also showed us that a lot of people know their Amaroks down to bolts, suspension, stance and even the shape of the rear window.”
When you can’t justify terms like “the best selling” or “number one”, how about the “most liked”? A bit wishy-washy, but then this is the tyre industry and you’ve just got to have a slogan. So Nitto Tyres has gone for the ‘most liked’ bit in its announcement of a ‘relaunch’ (something you do when the consumer has completely forgotten you) of its tyre brand globally on Facebook and the announcement of a new nationwide distribution channel and website. And, to add a little much needed magic, motorsport stuntman Matty Mingay as been appointed brand ambassador. According to Nitto Tyres’ Jose Angeles, the 136-outlet Bob Jane T-Marts chain will have exclusive rights to sell retail brands’ range of ultra-high performance, 4×4, SUV and passenger tyres. “With over 11.7 million Facebook fans, Nitto is the most liked tyre maker in the world, exceeding the fan bases of prestigious automotive marques and Matty Mingay is Australia’s number one action sports athlete. He performs in front of 2.2 million people a year and pushes tyres to their limit, which aligns perfectly with the enthusiasm and passion the Nitto brand stirs with drivers.”
The ‘all-new’ Holden Spark goes on sale in April and Holden say that compared to its predecessor, it has a sleeker exterior appearance and lower profile, thanks to a slightly longer wheelbase, thinner pillars and a reduction in height, the wheels have been pushed closer to the edges of the fenders and the new package comes in a whole new range of colours. Under the bonnet there’s a new 1.4-litre engine capable of producing 73kW of power and 128Nm of torque, so essential for quick burst of speed often required in urban driving…what aaaaabout this interior….Only joking, Lambo.
As if it really matters, Holden engineers had a significant involvement in the development of the vehicle’s suspension and ride and handling tuning, during test trips in South Korea and extensive development in Australia. The company’s head honcho Mark Bernhard, drawing on all the latest autospeak, has described the vehicle as taking the micro-car segment to a new level with technological sophistication and composed driving manners.
“Compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Spark offers connectivity and infotainment features previously unavailable in this segment. These are technologies that the target customers of this car will love. Spark has been designed to be an extension of drivers’ lives and personalities. Aside from class-leading connectivity, Spark offers a wide range of genuine accessories to make this car the most individually customisable Holden ever.”
Anyone who’s been a long-term camper will tell you that not all thieves live in built up area. So whether it’s taking the kids camping, or hitting the road with friends, your gear needs to stay strapped down and out of the hands of crooks. Rhino Rack has designed what the company says is a new, safer solution that’s just as simple to use as any other fastening device. The big difference is that Rhino locking tie down strap has a security stop that snaps into place when the cap is tampered with making it extremely difficult for thieves to utilise anything to ‘jemmy’ the cap. Rhino Rack say that the LTDS locking cap can also be completely removed which is not possible with other cap locks that only partially slide out of the way and still restrict access to the cam buckle. The steel wire begins 250mm from the end ensuring easy installation of the webbing through the cam lock, a stronger grip, and the ease to pull it through the housing. The LTDS can handle loads up to 225kg, is corrosion and cut resistant and the tongue and housing won’t make contact with the vehicle.