Belcar: 10 Hours of Zolder preview

Belcar: 10 Hours of Zolder preview

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Belcar: 10 Hours of Zolder preview

Posted: 13 Nov 2010 04:35 AM PST

Porsche 911 GT3-R Prospeed

Photo: © 2010 Loek Pictures |

For the first time in its history, the Belcar Endurance Championship 2010 Saturday concluded with the famous 10 Hours of Zolder, a traditional New Year festival which this year promoted to national level. Because only one point difference between the Porsche 911 GT3-R Prospeed Marc Goossens and Maxime Soulet and the Audi R8 LMS WRT Anthony Kumpen and Greg Franchi, promises to be a grand finale, especially since it can earn double points which seven teams have a mathematical chance of winning the title. That is better than the F1 in Abu Dhabi the next day.

The 10 Hours of Zolder, the traditional final round at the Limburg circuit this season will decide on the various titles in the Belcar Endurance Championship. The pleasant autumn atmosphere remains a major asset for this meeting is closed in the dark. This year the spectators during the final of the season also can enjoy more free outlets and even comments from a speaker.

W Racing Team, Audi R8 LMS

Photo: © 2010 Loek Pictures |

On paper and given the results of the last game of 125 minutes at Zolder in the context of the FIA GT3, the Porsche start – often the party in 10 Hours – as favorites. We think in the first place to the car of the leaders in the standings, and Maxime Soulet Marc Goossens, who reinforced by Briton Richard Westbrook. Rudy’s favorite pilot of Pendleton reserves ready to step into the arena if needed. “On reliability and performance, we indeed start as a favorite,” confirms Maxime Soulet confident. “We have no fear, but it is important to avoid incidents, because in these games is a fast collision happened. Ten hours in Zolder, which is always a bit of folklore … We sell the skin of the bear yet. Especially because the Audi will do everything in there and you can count on support from the factory.

Greg Franchi and Anthony Kumpen, who points behind (75 against 74), realize that it is a difficult task. “It would be a different story if it were to be held 10 hours at Spa,” says the pilot of Liege WRT. “In this circuit, the Porsche an advantage. On one lap we can beat them, but over a longer distance we have problems with our brakes. We have other blocks and a new cooling system tested. There is improvement, but we can not fully attack. We will have to adopt a cautious approach and keep us up to speed, even running the 911 road front .

To increase his chances, WRT relies on strengthening the Swiss Marcel Fässler, one of the pilot plant. “If it rains, it will be very important,” continues Greg Franchi. “Our Audi behaves perfectly on a wet circulation and then the brakes are so hot. We therefore hope that it rains and the track there will be slippery. In these circumstances we can most truly for the top spot.

The fight for the victory Saturday at 9:45 p.m. (it can be deduced that starts at 11:45 is given …) no duel between two cars. The respective teammates of the favorites to fight for the podium. The second Prospeed Porsche is entrusted to Enzo Ide, Ruben Maes and … factory driver Marc Lieb. They take on the second WRT Audi Bert Longin and François Verbist, who joined by the young Benjamin Bailly. “Even if we yield no title (editor’s note: they have 17 points behind), we still achieved a first victory for Audi,” says François Verbist, who in the situation is a bit of Sebastian Vettel F1.

With only 40 points to distribute (half of a normal race after 2:30, another half of the points in a game after 5:00 and the equivalent of a normal race at the finish), seven teams are still mathematically win the title. Besides the two Porsches and two Audi is looking out for the Dodge Viper of Koen Wauters and Jeffrey Van Hooydonk, the Ferrari 430 that two years ago, won and entrusted to Frederic Bouvy, Damien Coens and Christian Kelders, and the Lamborghini Gallardo of Niels Lagrange and Danny De Laet (Kenneth Heyer as third pilot). However, their title chances are even smaller than that of Lewis Hamilton in F1.

The potential referees in the battle we mention the beautiful Aston Martin DBRSS9 Eddy Renard, Michael Schmetz, the Swiss Henri Moser and Stéphane Lémeret, and the only Silhouette S1 at the start as “guest”, the KIA Pro_Ceed run by Chad Racing The Iain Dockerill and Steven Kane.

Nice battle in the divisions

The divisions are also the titles at stake. GT Open is a battle between Porsches, because of the Mosler MExT team does not commence. The family Derdaele (Henk Haane a third pilot in the 997 of Belgium Racing) has the best credentials compared Bruynooghe-Van Beurden (Speedlover) and Matthew-Redant (Level Racing). The favorites have to watch out for a number of outsiders, like the brothers Thiers (registered with a 997 instead of their usual Ferrari 430 GT3) and Coster-Cracco (with the second car Speedlover).

Tourism in Division 2 is more exciting with a dozen cars at the start this weekend. It promises to be a fascinating battle between the BMW Motorsport 120d of Beliën Patrick Beliën Cuyvers and Dimitri, who have a favorable consumption, and the M3 GT3 Hamofa of the brothers Verhoeven, who has more power. But even in this category, there are other teams in the Slot racing in the spotlight like to drive as Lumbeek-Kenis-Schuybroeck-Smets (BMW 130i), Moisan-Loo-Heyninck (BMW 120d), the brothers Franssen ( BMW M3 E46) and the British-Moore-Flack Comes (registered at the last moment with a very fast M3 GTR).

In total, more than forty GT and touring cars will start Saturday for a finale that will be exciting to the finish. May the best win

- Translated

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Reading: Issue 2 Das Magazine

Posted: 12 Nov 2010 08:03 AM PST

Reading: Issue 2 Das Magazine from Volkswagen

Download link after the jump!

In the summer, Volkswagen successfully launched its new digital, international customer magazine ‘Das.’ As of today, the second issue of this ‘Digital Automotive Space’ can be found online at It features the dazzling new Volkswagen Passat, recently introduced at the Paris Motor Show.

Although it is only the second issue, the Das. formula is well established. A rich interactive mix of the latest product news, lifestyle items and backgrounds provides a surprising and exciting look at the Volkswagen brand. The magazine is informative as well as entertaining.

The Volkswagen Passat, recently unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, enjoys the spotlight in this new issue. Das. reveals all the ins & outs of the Passat, has a personal interview with the Head of Volkswagen Design Klaus Bischoff. Das. delves into the rich history of the popular model and takes an exclusive look at its home ground in the city of Emden in northern Germany.

The reader will also become acquainted with the newly revamped Touran and Sharan. Two true family heroes: sporty, spacious, sophisticated, versatile, and multi-functional. Both play a leading role in a heroic family epic.

Whether the Passat was unveiled there or not, Paris of course remains a global centre. In Lifestyle, Paris is featured as a cinematic city, with 800 film shoots taking place there each year. The most beautiful film locations are shown. In the City Guide, the reader can find the most interesting, delightful and alternative spots in Paris. All suggested by Das. readers.

Das. also crawls even further behind the wheel of the Scirocco GT24 of Volkswagen racing driver Peter Terting and of the Edge V3 of Red Bull Air Race pilot Matthias Dolderer. Why are they and their engines so perfectly suitable for the cutting edge of top-class sport? In the accompanying quiz you can see whether you have what it takes to become a speed devil. This time, the regular feature “Think Blue.” provides insight into the CO2-compensating effect of the Volkswagen BlueMotion forest. Other green and socially responsible initiatives from Volkswagen are also described: from a huge forest in the Mexican Puebla Tlaxcala Valley to the construction of a green factory in Tennessee and sustainable education in Brazil. All of this and more can be found in the second issue of Das., which can be read at

As with the previous issue, Volkswagen offers an iPad version of Das. along with the Internet version. The Das. app can be downloaded free of charge at the iTunes Store.

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  1. Reading: Bentley Magazine Issue 34 is now free and online

H&R Springs Jetta 6 from SEMA

Posted: 12 Nov 2010 07:15 AM PST

H&R Springs Jetta 6

Gallery after the jump!

The Volkswagen Jetta has long been a favorite of enthusiasts who appreciate the European focus on handling, fit and finish–but not necessarily the European price tag attached to other famous brands. The all-new 2011 Jetta 6, with its sophisticated styling and German engineering, sets a new standard in its class and is a perfect candidate for personalization.

To demonstrate what is possible with a few simple performance and styling upgrades, H&R Special Springs brought a new Jetta 6 SEL into their North American headquarters in Bellingham, Washington, and went to work. H&R Sport Springs were installed first, lowering the Jetta’s ride height approximately 1.3 inches. H&R Sport Springs improve handling characteristics, while their progressive spring rate design ensures excellent ride quality.

Of course, nothing changes the look of any vehicle more immediately–or profoundly–than a set of wheels, so the Tire Rack stepped in with a set of 235/35R19 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric tires mounted on silver 19 x 8.5 O.Z. Superturismo LM wheels. To fine tune the vehicle’s track width and to fill in any excess tire/fender gaps, H&R also fitted the Jetta 6 with H&R TRAK + hub centric wheel spacers, which are made from a proprietary aluminum/magnesium alloy. Available in sizes ranging from 3mm to 65mm, they’re an easy upgrade that can change the look and handling of any vehicle, whether fitted with stock or aftermarket wheels. For added bite and increased braking, the Jetta was also fitted with Brembo 14.4-inch, two-piece, cross-drilled rotors pinched by silver four-piston Monobloc calipers.

Thanks to the many accessories already available for the Jetta 6 directly from Volkswagen, the exterior has been fitted with a Volkswagen Accessory Body kit and rear lip spoiler, which is complimented by Sticky Jewel Graphics. Other enhancements include tinted windows, the engine now exhales through a Vibrant Performance custom cat back exhaust system, and oem floor mats from MacNeil Automotive.

With a base price of only $15,995, the all new Jetta is a great platform for those who want to break family sedan precedence with a vehicle that is as stylish as it is affordable. Come and see the H&R Special Springs constructed Jetta 6 at H&R’s SEMA booth, # 21402.

Base Vehicle
2011 Volkswagen Jetta 6, SEL

Volkswagen Accessory stainless steel cat back exhaust

H&R Sport Springs
H&R TRAK+® Wheel Spacers
Brembo 14.4-inch rotors with four-piston Monobloc calipers

Wheels & Tires
O.Z. Superturismo LM silver painted, size 19×8.5
Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric, size 235/35R19

Volkswagen Accessory Body Kit
Volkswagen Accessory rear spoiler
Sticky Jewel Graphics

Tinted windows
OEM MacNeil Automotive Floor Mats

- H&R Springs | VW vortex

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Continental Flying Spur Series 51 design options unveiled

Posted: 12 Nov 2010 06:30 AM PST


The Continental Flying Spur and its sporting stablemate the 200mph (322km/h) Flying Spur Speed are the most successful four-door Grand Tourers in Bentley’s history and among the best-selling ultra-luxury saloons in the world.

Since its launch, the Flying Spur has achieved extraordinary sales success across the globe in traditional markets like the USA, the Middle East and UK as well as emerging luxury markets such as China and Russia.

Advanced and intuitive touchscreen infotainment technology introduced on all Continental Flying Spur and Supersports models

The Flying Spur has attracted a new generation of luxury car buyers to the Bentley marque and has played a pivotal role in the company’s revitalisation. The Flying Spur’s blend of craftsmanship, dynamic performance, style and practicality appeals in equal measure to those who demand an exciting driving experience and those seeking refinement and comfort.

Now the luxurious style of the Flying Spur is even more compelling with the introduction of a range of dramatic Series 51 designs, first seen on the Continental GT and GTC. Customers of both the Flying Spur and Flying Spur Speed models may now select from a range of 14 Series 51 designs, recommended by Bentley’s colour and trim experts. In addition, all Continental Flying Spur and Supersports models are now specified as standard with a state-of-the-art, 30GB touchscreen infotainment system, seamlessly integrated into their handcrafted cabins.


Continental Flying Spur Series 51

Series 51 represents Bentley design at its most vibrant. It allows customers of both Continental Flying Spur and Flying Spur Speed to order ‘off the peg’ from an innovative and exclusive range of recommended combinations created by Bentley’s colour and trim designers at the company’s headquarters in Crewe, England, as Dirk van Braeckel, Bentley’s director of design comments:

“The Series 51 design concept is inspired by the spirit of the inaugural Bentley styling department in Crewe established by the gifted John Blatchley, who shaped the original and iconic 1950s Bentley Continentals. Today, it provides for a virtually bespoke ordering service due to the thousands of configurations available through Bentley’s expansive colour and trim catalogue.”

First offered on the Continental GT and GTC in 2009, Bentley’s colour and trim team has now created no fewer than14 unique Series 51 designs for the Continental Flying Spur and Flying Spur Speed, enabling customers to tailor their cars to their individual tastes as Melinda June-Jenkins, manager of colour and trim, explains:

“Each Series 51 Flying Spur is instantly recognisable – most notably in the cabin area – where the colour and trim team has created a wide selection of three-tone interiors demonstrating the full potential of the company’s vast colour palette.”

For Series 51 designs, the Bentley styling team operates on a ‘rule of three’ principle to create complex but harmonising colour schemes of depth and beauty, inspired by a customer’s simple choice of three contrasting colours. With luxurious wood veneers and leather hides as the main canvas, the colour and trim specialists begin with a main interior colour (typically a darker shade) and then select a second insert colour to provide an eye-catching contrast. A critical skill is identifying the third ‘accent’ colour for the stitching and piping.

The selection of wood veneers or aluminium panels for the dashboard either complements the overall look or provides even greater contrast if the customer so desires.

Bentley has reserved the limited-edition Sapelli Pomelle veneer (which provides a rare, naturally occurring quilted effect in the wood) for the Series 51 Flying Spur and a range of further options, including Bentley’s leather trimmed child seat and scatter cushions for the rear seats, may also be specified to further complement the exclusive design.

Whilst the 14 options for the Series 51 Flying Spur provide customers with the opportunity to select some of Bentley’s most eye-catching design work, the colour and trim team is also more than happy to create even more bespoke designs, knowing they have only shown a fraction of the possibilities, as Melinda-June Jenkins explains:

“One of the most exciting aspects of the Series 51 designs is the feedback from Bentley customers and their desire to explore further what we can offer. Series 51 provides just a starting point and now we are creating designs which make an even stronger and more personal statement.”

Striking range of Series 51 duo-tone paint options

The same imaginative use of colour is extended to the coachwork of all Series 51 Continental Flying Spurs. A range of striking John Blatchley-inspired duo-tone paint options, with one accent colour sweeping from the bonnet, over the roof and onto the bootlid, may be specified.

The paint range encompasses cool and crisp hues through to rich and fiery shades and everything in between with the Bentley colour and trim team recommending one of the three selected interior colours to complement and highlight the relationship between inside and out.

Bentley has also created a unique Series 51 graphite-finished nine-spoke, 19-inch sports alloy wheel, while twin Series 51 wing badges, positioned behind the front wheel arches, complete the bespoke look.

As a further sporting touch, all the latest Continental Flying Spurs, including Series 51 models, may now be specified with distinctive blue brake callipers and front wing vents styled by Bentley’s head of exterior design, Raul Pires. These sleek vents, positioned to the rear of the front wheel arches, are set into a uniquely tooled wing panel and feature a black or chrome mesh finish.


Advanced and intuitive touchscreen infotainment technology

All 2012 model year Bentley Continental Flying Spur and Supersports coupe and convertible models are now equipped with a new, highly-advanced touchscreen infotainment system that provides rich map imagery and a 30GB on-board hard drive.

An 8-inch screen displays the car’s audio system, telephone, ride and comfort settings as well as the very latest navigation system, which uses both an in-car hard-disc drive and a DVD player to access route data. It also utilises dynamic navigation to avoid heavy traffic spots, locates destinations using geo-tagged photos from an SD memory card and is Google Maps-compatible for most markets.

The infotainment system, with 7-digit postcode entry, combines touchscreen controls and classic Bentley knurled rotary switches to offer instant usability and crystal-clear feedback. The graphic interface of the screen was specified by Bentley’s interior design team to ensure its visuals are wholly in keeping with the classic, handcrafted interior. The ‘knurled’ switches on the screen for example, are ‘virtual’ echoes of the knurled texture of the jewel-like rotary switches below.

The latest Continental Flying Spur and Supersports models also benefit from telephone and music player connectivity, digital television (where available) and DVD movie playback. Music can be played and controlled directly from an iPod as well as from a six-disc CD changer, SD card reader or directly from the car’s hard-disc drive, which can store up to 15GB of music.

The new infotainment system is complemented by a new driver information panel (DIP) located in the main instrument cluster. The new wide-screen DIP employs TFT technology and enhanced graphics provide the driver with clear and easily accessible information about a wide range of car systems. These include the setting of head lamp ‘coming home’ controls, door locking and mirror functions while providing significantly improved control of such features as phone pairing and bluetooth media connectivity.

The new 2012 model year Continental Flying Spur, Flying Spur Speed and their Series 51 design options, together with the 2012 Supersports coupe and convertible models go on sale from March 2011.

- Bentley Motors

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Volkswagen Group delivers just under six million vehicles to customers for first time in period from January to October

Posted: 12 Nov 2010 05:23 AM PST

The Volkswagen Group again outperformed the global automotive market in the first ten months of the current year, delivering a total 5.98 (January to October 2009: 5.32; +12.4 percent)* million vehicles to customers. A record 612,200 (557,400)** units were delivered in October alone. While the market only picked up by 4.5 percent, the Group reported a 9.8 percent rise in the month of October. “We are continuing to gain global market share. We expect this trend to continue over the coming months as we systematically progress with our model initiative,” Group Board Member for Sales Christian Klingler said today (Friday) in Wolfsburg. “We are still monitoring the automotive market, which is evidencing different trends in different regions, very closely. We are on track to achieve a pleasing increase in worldwide deliveries for the full year.”

  • 12.4 percent rise in first ten months to 5.98 million vehicles; record deliveries also reported for October
  • Volkswagen brand grows 12.2 percent
  • Group Board Member for Sales Klingler: “The Volkswagen Group is on track for a pleasing increase for the full year.”

Group increases deliveries in established markets and growth regions

The Volkswagen Group reported continued high growth on key markets such as China or the USA. Deliveries during the first ten months grew 38.4 percent to 1.65 (1.19) million vehicles in China and to 295,900 (245,200; +20.7 percent) in the USA. Volkswagen Group deliveries in the Asia/Pacific region also increased, rising 39.1 percent to 1.83 (1.31) million units.

Deliveries on the European market were also up on the previous year. The Volkswagen Group delivered 2.78 (2.77; +0.2 percent) million vehicles, a slight increase compared with the period January to October 2009, while the overall market contracted by 3.1 percent. Europe’s largest automaker intensified its upward trend in Russia, where the Group delivered 105,000 (79,700, +31.8 percent) vehicles in the first ten months. The Volkswagen Group stayed on its growth path in West European markets as well, with deliveries increasing by 13.8 percent (Western Europe excluding Germany).

The German automobile market, on the other hand, continued to decline. The market contracted by 26.8 percent during the first ten months due to the effects of the scrapping premium. The Volkswagen Group performed noticeably better than the market, delivering 859,300 (1,070,300; -19.7 percent) vehicles to customers.

All volume brands grow deliveries

In the first ten months, the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand delivered a total of 3.78 (3.37; +12.2 percent) million units. The brand achieved very pleasing growth on key markets such as China (+34.1 percent), the USA (+20.3 percent) and Russia (+34.1 percent). Over the same period, the brand continued its rapid growth on the Indian market: Deliveries increased more than eightfold to 20,200 (2,400) units.

Audi delivered approximately 916,900 (787,710) vehicles worldwide from January to October, representing an increase of 16.4 percent. Deliveries in October alone ran at approximately 87,600 units. In the coming months, the new Audi A1 and A7 models in particular are expected to help drive sales.

The Czech automaker Škoda handed over 69,200 (65,600; +5.5 percent) vehicles to customers in October, thus continuing its growth path. In the first ten months of this year, Škoda grew worldwide deliveries by 11.9 percent to 638,200 (570,200) units.

The Spanish brand SEAT showed a stable trend from January to October, delivering 285,200 (285,100) vehicles to customers worldwide. During this period, the brand reported a further marked increase of 16.8 percent on its home market of Spain, with deliveries to customers there totaling 80,100 (68,600) units.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles reported an appreciable 17.4 percent rise for the first ten months, delivering 349,000 (297,300) units. On West European markets, the company reported a 21.4 percent rise to 106,500 (87,700) units (Western Europe excluding Germany), while the increase in South America was as high as 63.0 percent (91,700; 56,200).

*) excluding Scania, including Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Trucks and Buses for January/February 2009
**) excluding Scania

- Volkswagen Group

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Automobile trading business of Porsche Holding Salzburg to be sold to Volkswagen

Posted: 12 Nov 2010 05:21 AM PST

The family shareholders of Porsche Holding Gesellschaft mbH, Salzburg, have resolved to exercise the put option to sell to Volkswagen the operating business of Porsche Holding Salzburg (PHS). The put option to this effect was exercised today. The transfer of the automobile trade company will take place at a fixed price of €3.3 billion, probably during the first half of 2011 but no later than September 30, 2011.

  • Next planned step towards the creation of the integrated automotive group with Porsche lead by Volkswagen
  • Volkswagen CEO Winterkorn: “Porsche Holding Salzburg sets the benchmark in automobile trading”

This decision by the Porsche and Piëch families is a clear commitment to implementing the integrated automotive group. The sale of the automobile trading company was already foreseen in the comprehensive agreement concluded last year.

For Volkswagen, the acquisition now agreed significantly strengthens the Company’s own trade activities. “Porsche Holding Salzburg is a highly profitable and efficient automobile trade company. PHS sets the benchmark for our industry in key areas of the automobile trade such as customer orientation,” Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, commented.

“PHS will retain its status as a single organizational unit with its successful business model as well as all assets and all brands. At the same time we will be significantly strengthening our own trade activities in major markets and regions. Moreover, by combining processes in relevant sectors such as financial services or IT we are also leveraging synergies and raising our performance in automobile trading, thereby making an appreciable contribution to achieving the targets of the Volkswagen Group’s Strategy 2018,” Winterkorn continued.

PHS is Europe’s most successful private automobile trading company and has a particularly strong presence in Austria, Western Europe and South Eastern Europe as well as China. In the 2009/10 financial year (to March 31), unit sales of 421,000 new vehicles generated sales revenue of €12.2 billion, with profitability higher than the market average. PHS employs some 20,300 people.

- Volkswagen Group

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TRG Announces Second Entry for 2011 Rolex 24

Posted: 11 Nov 2010 06:57 PM PST

TRG Announces Second Entry for 2011 Rolex 24

Three-time Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona winners TRG announced its their second entry for the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season opener. The TRG/Black Swan/GMG Porsche 997 will take the green flag on January 29th for the 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona with a strong line-up of American and European drivers.

The brand new 2011 Porsche will be driven by American Le Mans Series GTC class champions Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen. Fellow ALMS GTC competitors James Sofronas and Bret Curtis join the team as well as a yet to be announced Porsche Factory Driver.

Pappas and Bleekemolen combined to win four races in the ALMS GTC class and went on win the 2010 series title in the Black Swan Racing (BSR) Porsche. Sofronas and Curtis competed in the ALMS as well as select SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge races in 2010 with Sofronas’ GMG racing team. The foursome, and the addition of a Porsche hot shoe, will be one of the GT teams to be reckoned with come the end of January.

Black Swan Racing, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Tim Pappas

Pappas is making a strategic season decision by combining forces with TRG and GMG for the Rolex 24.

“Black Swan is focused on defending its championship title in the American Le Mans Series and thus a partnership with my friends at GMG and TRG made a lot of sense to me,” Pappas said. “We can take a run at the 24 without losing our momentum elsewhere. We have a great driver line-up and my expectations are very high; of course we want to win, but I haven’t been a part of Grand-Am in many years so it’s difficult to gauge the competition. I have always wanted to compete in this prestigious endurance race, but at the same time I wanted to wait until a winning opportunity came along; this program is the right fit. With the combined experience of TRG, BSR and GMG, I think we can fight for a win. Daytona is a special place; I have been on the podium there in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and I would certainly like to add a Rolex class victory to my resume.

“In fact, the first time I ever drove at Daytona, or in any pro-racing environment was in a test with TRG back in 2000 at Daytona.,” Pappas added. “Paul Newman was there at the same time testing with another team – that’s a pretty cool intro to the legendary driver and race track. I want to add my name to the list of GT winners!”

Sofronas is melding his GMG team with TRG and Black Swan Racing for the grueling Daytona 24 Hour.

Black Swan Racing, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Tim Pappas, Petit Le Mans

“My expectations, like most teams running this race, are to win, or at least put us in contention to win,” Sofronas said. “We will have a new car with PMNA (Porsche Motorsport North America) right there supporting us and some excellent drivers behind the wheel, not to mention a strong infrastructure with TRG. My goal is to do what I was hired to do – drive the car with the strategy and experience that we will have and be there at the end. I would like to expand my experience in the 24 as I have only done it once before in 2009. That year, despite many setbacks, we never gave up and ended up finishing seventh. I remember my third stint early Sunday morning that started in pitch black darkness around 5:30 a.m. with the sun coming up an hour later and it was so peaceful as the sunshine started to blanket the track. I think I ran five laps with no one around me. I can’t wait to do it again! There is a ton of experience between GMG, BSR and TRG, so I thought it would be great to use the talents of all three teams to put forth this effort. GMG will run this race in the future, but we thought it best to go this route as TRG has a lot of experience in this race and BSR also puts together a great team. I have to thank Bret Curtis, a great client of GMG’s as well as a great friend, as he is the reason I am driving in this race for 2011.”

Curtis has one goal in mind at Daytona, winning.

“Knowing that we are running with a driver line-up that includes a two time Super Cup champion and current ALMS GTC champion in Jeroen Bleekemolen, a World Challenge winning driver in James Sofronas, a Porsche factory driver, as well as the other ALMS GTC champion Tim Pappas makes me feel pretty confident about our chances,” Curtis said. “From the stand point of driver capabilities and experience, we have it. This driver line-up, coupled with the very capable and strong team support set up we have, will be very exciting. Running at the Daytona 24 is a lifelong dream of mine. Some of my favorite drivers like Ickx, Gurney, Andretti, Elford, Merzario, etc., have all run the 24 and the history is amazing. Having this chance to run, and with our driver line-up and team is an incredible opportunity for me. I plan to take advantage of it!”

This is the second TRG entry to date for the 2011 Daytona classic, the first being the Racing for Research Porsche with Kenny Wallace, Ron Yarab, Daniel Graeff and Pierre Bourque. This is a record 63rd entry in the Rolex 24 for TRG. The team that has traditionally prepared as many as eight cars for the race has several more announcements pending.

Team owner Kevin Buckler started preparing for the 2011 race as soon as the checkered flag dropped on the 2010 event. As a two time winning driver in 2002 and 2003, winning the race overall in ’03, as well as finishing one-two in ’09, Buckler knows the secret to success at Daytona is proper preparation in every area.

“We are already well into the preparations for the 2011 Rolex 24,” Buckler said. “The line-up of Pappas, Bleekemolen, Sofronas, Curtis and strong fifth is one that can definitely contend for the win. We are honored that these guys decided to combine their efforts with ours for the Rolex 24. Tim, James and Bret could have put their own cars on the track, but decided to bring their driving talent and experience to our team and really make a strong run at winning the GT class. It only makes sense as we are very powerful when properly aligned. We offer a unique approach of being able to offer many benefits of aligning with TRG as well as allowing an existing team to maintain their identity and learn for the future throughout experience at Daytona. I am really looking forward to running this race as these guys are my racing friends and we are all on the same page with a common goal – winning. This is just the first of many cool announcements to come from TRG regarding the Rolex 24.”

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Saudis in Audis

Posted: 11 Nov 2010 09:35 AM PST

Volkswagen Golf blue-e-motion wins the inaugural Future Car Challenge

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 06:15 AM PST

Volkswagen Golf blue-e-motion winner at the Future Car Challenge

A Volkswagen Golf blue-e-motion prototype electric car is the overall winner of the inaugural Future Car Challenge.  The car also won its category, Most Economic and Environment Friendly Regular Passenger EV.
The Royal Automobile Club Gold Medal for the winning vehicle was presented to Jim Holder, Editor of What Car? and Volkswagen engineer Folko Rohde who shared the driving.  The pair joined a total of over 60 entrants in travelling from Madeira Drive in Brighton to Pall Mall in London – a distance of 57 miles – with the aim of consuming as little energy as possible.
The Challenge attracted a diverse range of entries, from pure electric vehicles such as the Golf blue-e-motion, to hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and highly efficient diesel cars such as the Polo and Golf BlueMotion.
Powered by lithium-ion batteries, the Golf blue-e-motion has an electric motor with a peak power output of 115 PS and a range of around 100 miles in normal conditions.  It can reach a top speed of 86 miles per hour and accelerate from rest to 62 mph in 11.8 seconds.  The car features regenerative braking that can activate when the accelerator is released and during the initial travel of the brake pedal.  This reduces the amount of energy that would otherwise be wasted during driving.  Despite its unconventional motive power the Golf blue-e-motion appears at first glance like any other Golf with a slightly reduced boot volume of 279 litres and space for five adults.
This is the first time that a Golf blue-e-motion has been brought to the UK.  It was found to have consumed the least energy of any of the diverse range of vehicles in the competition from Brighton to London which took in a challenging mix of country roads, and some severe London traffic jams.
On arrival in London the Golf blue-e-motion had its data recorder removed by the RAC scrutineers and then joined the Polo BlueMotion and Golf BlueMotion entries plus all the other competing vehicles for a special display in Regent Street.  Despite its conventional appearance this particular Golf attracted a lot of attention from members of the public, particularly when its bonnet was raised.
On receiving the award, Jim Holder said: ‘It’s a testimony to the abilities of the Golf blue-e-motion that it won despite the fact I’d never competed in any sort of eco driving challenge before.  Folko was a superb tutor in getting the best from the car, but the fact is that this was a challenge on real roads and, in my case, without an expert ‘eco’ driver at the wheel.  That just underlines how efficient the blue-e-motion is now – so to think how good it will be when it goes on sale in three years time is extremely exciting.
‘Better still, we made it to London without any hint of a worry about range, and in total comfort.  Already, this is a car that lives up to all the expectations that come with being a Golf; it’s refined, a joy to drive and supremely practical.  This should guarantee a great story for the readers of What Car? and’
The Golf blue-e-motion is currently in the development stage.  It is planned that it will be introduced to the market in late 2013.

- Volkswagen UK

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ILMC: United Autosports scores top 3 finish at Zhuhai

Posted: 09 Nov 2010 07:14 AM PST

Audi R8 LMS, United Autosports, Zhuhai

United Autosports wrote a new chapter in its very short but burgeoning history book when the Anglo-American team achieved a top-three rostrum finish in Asia.

Having contested races in Great Britain and mainland Europe throughout its maiden year in competition, the ambitious outfit made a strong Intercontinental Le Mans Cup race début with its brace of Audi R8 LMS sports cars at Zhuhai – a stunning GTC class victory being snatched from the team’s grasp in the closing stages.

Cruel late race transmission issue robs Anglo-American team of almost certain class victory in team’s maiden “fly away” race

Alain Li (France) and Henri Richard (France) piloted their #97 Audi in to third place with Richard Meins (England), Danny Watts (England) and Frank Yu (Hong Kong) sharing the #96 Audi that was ultimately unclassified but which looked set for a “LM” GTC category glory.

Watts and Henri Richard had set the second and fourth fastest GTC times in qualifying the previous day – Danny denied scoring the team’s maiden class “pole” in the final minute of the 20-minute session in which the damp track continued to dry throughout.

Audi R8 LMS, United Autosports, Zhuhai

The organizing ACO handed a 30kg weight ballast to the Audi R8 LMS sports cars for the race which started under hazy but increasingly warm sunshine with Watts pressurizing the similar class pole-starting #98 Audi for the lead for much of the opening hour in the 1,000km race. Danny took the lead when the #98 Audi pitted on 60mins while Meins took over the #96 Audi from Watts four minutes later, rejoining still in the class lead after the #98 Audi endured a lengthy pit-stop.

Richard in the #97 Audi moved up to third in class after 24mins and pitted 25mins later for Li but Alain was back in the pits 10mins later, the United Autosports crew replacing a wheel bearing in just 33mins after a superb effort by the crew in the hot and humid conditions.

Meins lost the lead approaching the two hour mark after a spin but was back ahead again 17mins later when the #98 Audi pitted, the class leading #97 United Autosports Audi pitting for Yu on 2hr 15m – the Hong Kong driver remaining ahead following another long stop by the rival #98 Audi.

Li handed back the recovering #98 to Henri Richard with almost three hours on the clock, still fourth in class, while Yu gave the lead Audi to Watts 3hr 22mins into the 232-lap race.

But with a near two-lap advantage and with just 26-laps remaining, Watts coasted to a standstill exiting Turn 12 when his Audi lost drive leaving Henri Richard to salvage a third place in the “sister” #97 R8 LMS at the checker.

The team undertook general maintenance on its cars post race and into Monday aiming to clear customs later that afternoon before its freight container embarked on its journey to Macau. Watts and Meins will compete in the GT race at the prestigious annual “street” event (Nov 19-21) – marking the race début for United Autosports and the Audi R8 LMS sports car at the world famous venue.

Audi R8 LMS, United Autosports, Zhuhai

#96 Audi R8 LMS

HOURLY OVERALL/GTC CLASS POSITIONS: Driver rotations DW/RM/FY/DW. Start Pos 13th/2nd (Watts); 1hr 12th/1st; 2hrs 16th/2nd; 3hrs 17th/1st; 4hrs POS/POS; 5hrs 17th/2nd; FINISH Not Classified

Richard Meins (GB). Age: 55. Born: Beckenham, England. Lives: Hong Kong:

“We hadn’t done much testing in the dry because of the wet weather the previous days so it took me a couple of laps to get into it. I had a spin at the end of the straight but apart from that, I concentrated on avoiding the quicker traffic while at the same trying to put in consistent laps. It’s been a fantastic experience driving the Audi – it’s a fabulous car.”

Danny Watts (GB). Age: 30. Lives: Thornborough nr Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, England:

“I was in full control of the race with almost a full two lap advantage when suddenly the Audi lost drive. I wasn’t pushing and was just looking after the car because at my last pit-stop, the clutch was slipping. Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of driving the Audi in the GTC category. It’s totally different to what I have been used to all year and I felt I adapted quickly. It’s a predictable car to drive. In qualifying, our engineer Alan Mugglestone made a great call and sent me out on cut slick tires on the damp but drying track in qualifying. But the track dried out totally for the final 10mins and I was bumped off class pole right at the end which was disappointing.”

Frank Yu (HK). Age: 47. Lives: Hong Kong:

“I thoroughly enjoyed my stint and first race in the Audi apart from the final result of course. I paced myself with the #98 Audi and just maintained the gap. The Audi is really an excellent car. It’s so easy to drive and ‘friendly’. The best thing about the R8 LMS is that it takes very little time to get accustomed to its characteristics. Within five laps of practice, in wet or dry conditions, I was up to pace.”

#97 Comtech Group / Roger Dubuis / WT Microelectronics – Audi R8 LMS

HOURLY OVERALL/GTC CLASS POSITIONS: Driver rotations HR/AL/HR. Start Pos 22nd/4th (Richard); 1hr 20th/3rd; 2hrs 21st/4th; 3hrs 21st/4th; 4hrs POS/POS; 5hrs 19th/4th; FINISH 17th/3rd

Alain Li (F). Age: 50. Born: Caen, France. Lives: Hong Kong:

“Early in my stint I knew there was something wrong. The team did a great job in repairing it and I quickly got in to a good rhythm. It took a little bit of time to get used to the pace of the LMP cars passing you but then I settled down. In my second stint I just tried to stay consistent. It was another level of experience for me after Spa. Henri did a sterling job and to finish third on the podium is a dream come true for me.”

Henri Richard (F). Age: 52. Born: Paris, France. Lives: Los Altos Hills, CA (USA):

“It was a shame that we had the bearing issue but that’s racing. The team nor the drivers gave up, we had great pace and pushed to the end. I was very impressed with United Autosports, especially considering it’s the team’s first year and they’ve gelled incredibly quickly in to a great outfit. Qualifying was challenging as I’d never driven the car on slick, dry weather tires due to rain throughout the Friday and Saturday morning practice sessions. The Audi R8 LMS is so easy and predictable to drive making it a great car for endurance racing.”

Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:

“I love Le Mans Series style endurance races so it was great for United Autosports to be involved for the first time. It’s been tough for our first ‘fly away’ race but we coped well. On track activities began on Thursday and we immediately encountered a gearbox problem which is puzzling as the same car finished our last race at Zolder without a problem. We effectively needed to get four out of our five drivers some experience of the Audi but two days of rain set us back. The repairs to the #97 cost 33mins but then the car ran faultlessly to the end with both Henri and Alain setting exceptionally good times. Our #96 car which was driven beautifully by Danny, Frank and Richard, led for so long then lost all drive. We believe its clutch failure but we’re not sure until we carry out a full investigation.”

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