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AUTOSPORT INTERNATIONAL - 10-13 JANUARY 2013, NEC (Part1)


Dazed and Confused

The Autosport Show is always a good bit of fun at the start of the year. As has happened before, AON invited me to join them, for which acknowledgement and thanks. If the show is a sign of what's happening in Motorsport then I'm concerned. Apart from one Formula 3 car that I saw, there was little sign of what was once the UK's premier single seater series. At our end of the market, the few single seaters were generally by way of stand decoration rather than anything substantial. Sports cars seem to be growing, and one make road car based club series look strong. Of course, if you go back to the 1950's, sports car racing was much bigger then than single seaters so maybe we are just reverting to what's normal.

The price of stands may explain some of it - as an ex-hillclimber I know that the sport is still popular but you wouldn't have known it existed at the show. By way of contrast, modified road cars and the track day market looked to be popular. This is interesting, because there's little doubt that it's vastly more expensive to get a given time in a modified modern car than it is in a basic single seater like ours.

The most significant new cars at the show were, to me, the competing Formula Ford 200 and Formula 4 cars. Both were tube frames, with anti-intrusion in the driver area provided by carbon sheets. The latter didn't seem to be used to add any rigidity, just protection. An added safety feature of both was tethered wheels, in the F1 style. Both exceeded the FIA standards. MSV were a bit too busy to speak to casual rubber neckers, but I did have a chat with the FF man. The 1.6 EcoBoost turbo gives 200bhp (hence the name) and runs through a Hewland NTR flat shift 6 speed box. The downforce is estimated at around 200kg maximum, rather than the 500-600kg obtainable with a modern F3, the idea being a little bit of movement to develop the drivers' car control, though not as much as the FF's of old.

I've picked out below some cars I found interesting or beautiful, and some which I found intriguing, surprising, or horrible.That would be just the one.

     
Mygale FF200 looked neat and purposeful, though seemed much more low key than...   ...Ralph Firman designed, Cosworth Duratec engined MSV F4   This was the F3 car I saw.   Pretty 1973 Lola T340 Formula ord, in a discreet Martini livery
     
There were many colleges and Universities offering Motorsport courses. University of Dundee had this Formua Student car...   ...Oxford Brookes had this one. Formula Student specs and design requirements give rise to the characteristic short wheelbase.   Ben Bowlby has always been an innovator and the Nissan DeltaWing, shown by Aurora Bearings, is brave, dramatic and unlike anything else. It attracted much comment, puzzlement and admiration. Built on the tub of the Aston Martin AMR-One which brilliantly combined ugliness and uselessness, unlike DeltaWing.  

I say unlike anything else....a car comic modified a Reliant Rialto* to have a big rear wheel weight bias and hence improved stability.

*No, not a Robin.

Did I ever mention how somebody in a Bangor NI car spares shop called my Ralt RT1 a Rialto?

     
The modern pastiche Morgan 3 wheeler copies the real thing and of course that derives stability of sorts from weight distribution. Here on MiniGears stand.   If a modern 3 wheeler seemed unlikely a few years ago, a GT3 based on a Bentley - or even a Passat, being cynical - still seems a bit odd. This is a "concept", not a real racing car. Does "concept" mean "paint job"?   Mind you, a racing saloon using as its inspiration a Chinese sourced MG sounded unlikely, but it came close to winning the BTCC...   ..in the hands of Jason Plato who appeared on the Autosport Live show with Louise Goodman and a bloke who looked like the veg man on Masterchef
     
The quintessential GT3 is in my mind the Porsche, seen here in 996 or 997 form (I'm sure somebody will tell me) for the Porsche GT3 Cup   2 sometime Monoposto drivers battle in their GT3 996s at Mallory Boxing Day. Not relevant but it's close racing isn't it? And I needed a bit of fresh air in this report. Back to the hall.   Another one off Monoposto racer now in GTs was Matt Draper, a name on this MP4/12C which races in the BlancMange series. Apparently BlancMange are posh watches. Sorry, BlancPain.   Aimed at the GT market, the curiously named Sin01 has a 6.2L Chevy engine, a spaceframe chassis and weighs 1200kg
     
Aimed at the European Supercar Challenge and shown by Rollcentre, the carbon Praga has a 210bhp 2L Renault engine. It is built in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, the country that gives us Up!s and Cayennes.   A speed event Royale RP31 Zetec 2L had been doctored to have faults; Go Motorsport invited people to scrutineer it and find them. Interesting, since Go Motorsport don't like single seaters.   1981 Lotus 87, chassis 4 as driven by the unique talent that was Nigel Mansell appeared in the Thur/Fri only engineering hall. Designed by Martin Ogilvie who has recently penned hillclimb cars.   DeTomaso 505 appeared alongside the Lotus. This 1970 car was an early Dallara design
     
Tribute to Sir Jackie Stewart showed an Elan Coupe...   Tyrell 006, 1973 Champion   Tyrell 003, 1971 Champion   BRM P261, 1.5l, 1965
     
Alan Mann Racing Lotus Cortina   Classic Team Lotus showed a naked 23. Interesting, but much prettier fully dressed.   Similarly semi-naked was a 94T, designed by Ducarouge and used in the second half of 1983 when the 93T proved to be an unwieldy shed. Thought svelte at the time, the carbon chassis looked bulky by today's standards.   Wolf VdeV car
     

Classic Pirelli colours on 2 models. Why are Pirelli girls always very pretty but also look like your Mum would take to them?

To finish, 3 of the world's most recognisable and beautiful liveries.Gulf on an Aston Martin...   Momo on a Nissan NTP90 GTP car.   Classic Martini colours on a Lancia LC2. There were no less than 3 LC2s on show.  

Part 2 to follow.

Tony Cotton

 

 

Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover. Subheadlines and captions are not originated from the named author. We are unable to reproduce results due to copyright reasons. If any pictures are copyright and the owner wishes them removed please email us.