News: CIVIC TYPE R WINS BBC TOPGEAR MAGAZINE CAR OF THE YEAR

News has just arrived up on the top floor of MotorMartin Towers that the Honda Civic Type R has triumphed in the coveted BBC TopGear magazine Car of the Year awards, taking a hat-trick of honours. Picking up the hot hatch of the year, international editors’ car of the year and then going on to claim the overall prize, car of the year. Blimey!

It’s been explained to MotorMartin that the awards issue of BBC TopGear Magazine is their annual celebration of the very best cars of the year. As the world’s largest monthly car magazine, this year their awards went global with the editors of all 22 of their international editions voting for their favourite cars of the year.

Built in Swindon, the Civic Type R shares the same fundamentals as the new Civic hatchback and has been engineered from the ground up to deliver the most rewarding drive in the hot-hatch segment – both on road and on the race track.

“The Civic Type R isn’t just the best Hot Hatch of the Year, it’s the best Car of the Year,” said BBC TopGear magazine. “It’s addictive, rhythmic and devastatingly rapid; a true hero for the masses delivering accessibility and madness in one package. The thrill comes from the sheer single-mindedness of it.”

“This is absolutely outstanding to pick up three wins at the BBC TopGear magazine car of the year awards,” added Phil Webb, head of car at Honda UK to MotorMartin. “And it is a truly global award with the international editors voting for the car as well. The kudos for picking up all three honours needs to go to the designers, the engineers and the associates at the factory that build the cars –without them none of this would have happened. This is a fantastic way to round off 2017!”

Available for under £300 a month, the Civic Type R has a top speed of 169mph and can do the 0-62mph sprint in just 5.7 seconds. The power comes from the 2.0-litre VTEC TURBO engine that has been optimised and refined to produce 320 PS with peak torque of 400 Nm.

And MotorMartin can confirm from personal experience, the Civic Type R is truly awesome.

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News: ELECTRIFIED: AUDI TO CELEBRATE FORMULA E PREMIERE

Following on from NEWS: AUDI DRIVER DI GRASSI EXCITED ABOUT THE NEW FORMULA E SEASON it really is time to start getting excited about the Formula E kicking off this weekend especially as Audi will be competing in motorsport as a factory team for the first time with a fully electric race car this weekend (December 2/3). The two races in Hong Kong form the opening event of the new Formula E season in which Audi is the first German automobile manufacturer to be involved. For Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Daniel Abt and Champion Lucas di Grassi will be at the wheel of the Audi e-tron FE04.

“The past few weeks were intensive and exciting for the whole squad,” shared Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass with MotorMartin recently. “Our agenda included the meticulous preparation of the four race cars, computer simulations of diverse strategies and situations, fine-tuning of all processes and perfect preparation of the entire equipment, to name just a few items on the completed checklist. Now, everyone is happy to finally be traveling to the race track and competing for points and trophies again.”

It’s been explained to MotorMartin that for the first time, a Formula E season will start with two races on one weekend, a so-called double header. On Saturday and Sunday, the fans will experience two near-identical event days with practice, qualifying and races. Including the additional points for pole position and the fastest race lap, a total of 58 points will be awarded. “We aim to be perfectly positioned from minute one and manage a good start of the new season,” says Lucas di Grassi. The champion is looking forward to Hong Kong: “The city is great and the fans enthusiastic – the whole event is a fantastic spectacle.”

The 1.860-kilometer race track is routed directly along the waterfront and past the famous Ferris wheel. The temporary circuit uses streets that are normally public and has a very long straight that offers a good overtaking opportunity. It is followed by a technically challenging section with many tight turns. The track surface poses an additional challenge, as it changes from tarmac to concrete. On Saturday, 43 and on Sunday, 45 laps will be driven.

Driver Daniel Abt can hardly wait for the start: “We’ve been working hard in recent weeks – during tests on the track, in the simulator and in our preparations with the engineers. Obviously, we’ll only know in Hong Kong where we stand compared with the competition. But we’ve done our homework.” While his teammate as the reigning champion will be entering the race in car number one, Abt will keep his proven number 66. Celebrating his 25th birthday on Sunday will be additional motivation for him to achieve a good result.

In Formula E’s Hong Kong debut last year, the German team experienced a chaotic race. Both Daniel Abt’s and Lucas di Grassi’s race cars were damaged as early as on lap one. While Abt had to park his car, di Grassi fought back from the end of the field to second place. His comeback drive was possible thanks to a bold strategy of his team and sophisticated energy management.

Both races in Hong Kong will start at 3 PM local time (8 AM CET). In Germany, Eurosport will start to air live coverage on both days at 7:45 AM. Internationally, about 70 channels will cover the Formula E races. A full list can be accessed on the internet at www.fiaformulae.com. Current information about Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler is available on Twitter at @audiformulae (Hashtags #e-tron #FormulaE #HKEPrix).

Facts and figures

Date: December 2/3, 2017

Track name: Hong Kong Central Harbourfront Circuit

Track length: 1.86 kilometers

Turns: 10

Top speed: approx. 200 km/h

Fastest/slowest turn: approx. 95/30 km/h

Previous winner: Sébastien Buemi (2016)

Best result of Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler: 2nd place, Lucas di Grassi (2016)

Lap record, qualifying: Nelson Piquet jr., 1m 03.099s (2016)

Lap record, race: Felix Rosenqvist, 1m 02.947s (2016)

We can’t wait for the start!

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News: LEON CAMIER IMPRESSES ON DEBUT TEST WITH RED BULL HONDA WORLD SUPERBIKE TEAM

The season has only just finished but already Honda’s WSBK squad are back testing so that they can start next season on the front foot.

Leon Camier has therefore completed his first-ever test with the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team at ‘Circuito de Jerez’ in southern Spain, in which he got to grips with the team’s Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machine for the first time. Honda have explained that the 31-year-old Briton finished with an impressive best time of 1’39.333secs lap time after lapping the 4.423km fast-flowing Andalusian track 217 times over the course of the three days.

On the opening day of action, Camier got a first taste of Honda’s superbike machine with the bike in the specification used in Qatar for the 2017 season finale, in order for him to understand the character of the bike and make some small adjustments to improve riding position and comfort. Leon and the crew then began making more drastic changes to the set-up of the Fireblade on day two, which helped him get up to speed to break the 1’40secs barrier for the first time.

The final day saw Camier evaluating some new items developed for the 2018 season, which included a new swingarm and a differently reinforced chassis, and both positively welcomed by the new rider.

The team will now return to its headquarters in the Netherlands for what will be a busy winter before they return to the track on January 23-24 – once the testing ban draws to a close – for a two-day private test which will again take place at Jerez.

Leon Camier 2

I’m really, really happy with this three-day test. I managed to get up to speed quite quickly, and yesterday I was able to set decent lap-times on race tyres. Today it was more about understanding how the bike reacts to different changes – what works for me and what doesn’t. By the end of the day we had just about figured out how the bike needs to be set up, and we also tried some new components. Overall I think we found a really good base from which to develop, but obviously we need to see how it will work on different tracks and over race distances. But it’s been a great start, nonetheless, and I’m delighted.

– Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team

Kervin Bos

Team Manager

We are more than happy with this first experience with Leon here at Jerez. It didn’t take him too long for him to get used to the Fireblade – which was exactly as it was when it left Qatar earlier this month – and step by step he was able to build a feel for it. He was pleased with what he found and pinpointed some really strong areas of the bike, something we were quite glad to hear. On the second day we made some bigger changes to the set-up by cross-referencing his feedback with the data we had, and his times improved a lot – along with the mood of the team! Today we worked on some new solutions for 2018, which again brought some positives. The main goal for the test was to make sure Leon could get comfortable with the bike and the team, but also to find a direction for the development of the package during the testing ban, which is going to be an extremely busy one for us!

– Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team

It’s going to be a cracking new season in MotorMartin’s opinion.

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News: VOLKSWAGEN up! GTI IS NAMED BBC TOPGEAR MAGAZINE’S ‘POCKET ROCKET OF THE YEAR’

Volkswagen have explained to MotorMartin recently that even before its official UK debut, set for early 2018, the forthcoming up! GTI is already a winner – scooping the charismatic title of ‘Pocket Rocket of the Year’ from BBC TopGear Magazine.

Describing the soon-to-be-launched smallest member of the GTI family, the BBC TopGear Magazine experts shared with MotorMartin that the up! was: “As unserious and playful a car as Volkswagen has made this decade.”

Volkswagen are rightly proud of the littlest member of their hot hatch family, created, they say, as a tribute to the iconic original Golf GTI, and coming 41 years after the first Golf GTI made its debut, the new up! GTI promises the same sense of driving fun as its famous forefather.

The up! GTI is a compact hot hatch that broadly follows the format of the original ‘hot’ Golf. The vehicle concept and power output of 115 PS put the up! GTI approximately in line with the Golf GTI Mk 1, launched in 1976, that had an output of 110 PS.

The up! GTI further pays tribute to this icon via its compact dimensions, low weight, powerful engine, greater downforce on the rear axle, sport suspension and, of course, the typical insignia of a GTI including red stripes in the radiator grille, red brake calipers, ‘Clark’ tartan seat covers and a unique wheel design.

Indeed key data for the new up! GTI does read somewhat similarly to the stats of the Golf GTI Mk 1 with a sub-one tonne weight figure (997 kg); a maximum speed of 122 mph, and a 0-62 mph time of 8.8 seconds.

What is certain is that the up! GTI, with its 1.0 TSI engine, will add a new dimension of driving fun to the smallest car class. UK pricing and specification information will be announced closer to the car’s launch and MotorMartin just can’t wait.

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News: AN INSIGHT INTO THE UNIQUE SYMPATHETIC RESTORATION OF THE ‘HOUSE FIND’ BENTLEY 4½ LITRE

William Medcalf Vintage Bentley have shared with MotorMartin that they are celebrating bringing one of the greatest Bentley treasures back to its original glory from the brink of extinction – the ‘House Find’ Bentley – after more than 1,800 hours of preservation work.

It’s been explained to MotorMartin that in 2014, William Medcalf received an almost unbelievable call about a dismantled Bentley in a house in the middle of London that had to be cleared. Even as the world’s premier vintage Bentley specialist, this was going to prove a challenging project.

Upon arrival, Medcalf discovered a scene like no other even with his decades of experience working with vintage Bentleys. A mountain of parts were haphazardly strewn throughout the house, garden and garages which would prove a logistical challenge if nothing else.

When he found the original coachwork on the roof of a local lock-up garage, things really got interesting. It turned out that the 1928 4½ Litre puzzle before Medcalf was one of only eight 4½ litre Bentleys bodies by coachbuilder Victor Broom, and the only known survivor.

The car was purchased in 1962 by a student for £350, but having found it expensive to run, he decided to lay it up and dismantle it ready for a restoration that never happened.

The disassembled 4 ½ litre Bentley that had been resting for more than 50 years in London was re-patriated to the West Sussex works of William Medcalf Vintage Bentley, where the talented team got to work on preserving the car’s originality. The engine still wears its original lead seal as fitted new in 1928, as well as its original finishes. The interior wood and gauges have all just been pain-stakingly cleaned. The car also sports some original leather features such as the sump guard and spring gators. Every nut, bolt and washer was present and correct and the whole car kept as original as possible.

Everything that was original and in full working order was left alone for future generations, with only necessary overhauls being made. The chassis, for example, was coach-painted as it would have been back in 1928, and the body was returned to Saxe blue over cream as finished in period.

The car’s first outing in 50 years was to the 2017 Concours d’Elegance, where its incredible journey from borderline extinction to pure and pristine Bentley ownership captured the hearts of thousands of guests.

Medcalf believes that the over-restoration of this car would have been sacrilege. Being one of the most original vintage Bentleys in the world, he felt it was his duty to keep all of the original finishes where possible, to lightly overhaul as required so that this car could serve as a benchmark to all future sympathetic restorations.

Concours d’Elegance organiser Jeremy Jackson-Sytner thought that UP was a testament to the skill and the ability of British craftsmen today to execute such a sympathetic and detailed preservation, the likes of which is rarely seen on a car of this era.

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News: JAGUAR E-PACE NAMED TOP GEAR MAGAZINE CROSSOVER OF THE YEAR

So here we go with today’s award news and it’s come to the attention of MotorMartin that the all new Jaguar E-PACE has been awarded BBC Top Gear Magazine’s 2017 ‘Crossover of the Year’ in one of motoring’s toughest categories.

The Crossover sector, Top Gear say, is the fastest growing and toughest sales market in motoring with every manufacturer vying for customers.

It’s been explained to MotorMartin that Top Gear’s expert judges crowned the E-PACE top of the pile and highlighted its outstanding design saying: “The design sells the E-PACE at 50 paces” and “Even if the E-PACE didn’t out-drive or out-ambience its rivals, it would out-want everything”.

Ian Callum, Jaguar Director of Design, shared with MotorMartin recently: “We are absolutely thrilled with Top Gear’s recognition of the new E-PACE so soon after its launch. The E-PACE brings an unmistakable extra character to the Compact Crossover sector – it’s a Jaguar with sports car looks, designed for the whole family. It has an incredible package of practicality geared for everyday life, but it’s also lots of fun to drive.”

The exterior design of the E-PACE was inspired by the F-TYPE sports car, characterised by the distinctive Jaguar grille, muscular proportions, short overhands and powerful haunches.

It also comes with the latest in car connectivity, including a 10-inch touch screen as standard. At under 4.4 metres the E-PACE has exceptional interior space and can seat five in comfort.

The E-PACE joins the World Car of the Year F-PACE in Jaguar’s growing line-up of SUVs that will be joined in 2018 by the all-electric I-PACE.

Jeremy Hicks, Jaguar Land Rover UK Managing Director confirmed to MotorMartin that: “We are honoured by TopGear Magazine’s recognition of the new Jaguar E-PACE and believe it will be a hit with UK buyers too. Its combination of sports car looks with a practical, spacious and connected package as well as strong residual values make it the perfect vehicle for the next generation of Jaguar owners.”

The Jaguar E-PACE is available with a range of powerful and efficient Ingenium petrol and diesel engines. The 300PS Ingenium petrol turbo engine powers the sporting SUV from 0-60mph in just 5.9 seconds before reaching an electronically-limited top speed of 151mph. For customers who want the ultimate efficiency, the front-wheel drive 150PS Ingenium diesel delivers CO2 emissions of 124g/km.

The Jaguar E-PACE, priced from £28,500, is available to order now at Jaguar UK retailers.

You can configure your preferred specification at: www.jaguar.co.uk.

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Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ4: Sing To The Sky

The following is a re-edit of a piece posted by MotorMartin on DriveTribe under The Junk Yard banner run by Tony Yates, perhaps better known as @Xinterceptor.

Here we are, at the tale end of 2017, testing the latest iteration of the ever youthful Jimny, a SUV before we knew what an SUV actually was, perhaps even more surprising is the fact that that the little Suzuki has barely changed since launch.

The Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ4 on test is a striking piece of design and a perfect example of function dictating form. The Suzuki comes with smart front fogs and vertical grille, 15” alloy wheels, tough looking side panels and wheel arches, rear privacy glass and that iconic spare wheel perched on the rear door as it should be.

Inside and the functional dashboard offers clear dials and a central information panel highlighting fuel and temperature as well as the drive mode selected. The interior is a comfortable place despite the compact exterior dimensions whilst the large expanses of glass allow the driver and passengers an airy cabin in which to enjoy the drive.

Practical features include a pair of handy cup holders, lockable glove box, pockets in all four doors and a decent size storage compartment in the centre console, all of which combine to make journeys of varying length not only possible but positively encouraged. When you need additional boot space there are 324 litres of space with the back seats folded and 113 litres when they’re not, enough room for the supermarket or a weekend away.

As standard, this SZ4 edition comes with driver and front passenger airbags, remote central door locking, front fog lamps, black roof rails, spare wheel, CD tuner with DAB digital radio, air conditioning, a 3-spoke leather covered steering wheel, 2-tone black and silver roof rails, 15” alloy wheels and rear privacy glass that really completes the car and brings it stealthily into the 21st century.

Pulling away in the Jimny brings about the first surprise of the day with the throttle unleashing a satisfying amount of ‘go’ allowing the Suzuki to squeeze out into gaps in the traffic whilst making the most of it’s compact exterior dimensions, dimensions that allow the Suzuki great manoeuvrability so that getting into and out of tight spots is easy.

With 84bhp @ 6000rpm and torque of 81lb/ft @ 4100rpm, this is not an engine that will intimidate meaning you can use all of the Suzuki’s performance out on the open road. The Jimny is able to traverse town centres with ease, using the pull from the 1328cc engine available from low in the rev range whilst it’s raised driving position and immediate steering mean that effective progress can be made. Outside of town and the Suzuki is more than capable of holding it’s own on both A-roads and Motorways whilst a potential combined mpg of 39.8 is more than acceptable.

The Suzuki enjoys a selectable 4-wheel Drive system adapting to any terrain you come up against at the push of a button. Options available are 2WD: for normal on-road driving, with all engine torque going to the rear wheels. 4WD: splits engine torque between the front and rear wheels, for normal off-road conditions or driving in difficult conditions like snow. 4WD-L: engages low ratio gears for maximum off-road performance when needed and the price for all of this? The Jimny starts at just £12,999.

Overall the Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ4 is a retro off roader that just so happens to find itself on the road in 2017. It offers fantastic value for money, especially when you consider that the Suzuki is able to perform so superbly off road. It is equipped with exactly the technology needed and is just a genuinely great little car.

I loved it.

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News: RENAULT WINS ELECTRIC VEHICLE MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR AT GREENFLEET AWARDS 2017

There’s no doubt that something needs to be done regarding sustainable options for powering our personal vehicles in the future and some manufacturers are further ahead than others when it comes to offering ‘real life’ solutions. One such manufacturer is most definitely Renault, who have shared with MotorMartin recently that they have been awarded the title of Electric Vehicle Manufacturer of the Year at the 2017 GreenFleet awards held at a ceremony in Coventry last night.

Renault explained that they were was also commended in the City Car Manufacturer of the Year category. Renault offers a range of affordable all-electric cars and vans – including the ZOE with its 250 mile (NEDC) range, the most of any mainstream electric car on sale today, and the recently-upgraded Kangoo Van Z.E.33 with a near 60 per cent improved range of 170 mile (NEDC). Renault is Europe’s leading electric car and van manufacturer.

It’s been explained to MotorMartin that every year, the GreenFleet Awards recognises organisations which have successfully adopted low emission vehicles and innovative fuel saving solutions into their fleets, along with the manufacturers and innovators of low carbon technologies.

Angela Pisanu, editor of GreenFleet magazine, commented to MotorMartin that; “The winner this year has had their experts come up with new battery technology that has enabled them to increase the range on their small car and van EV offering… With the capability to go for 250 miles on a single charge in the car, and 170 in the van, they are set to revolutionise the EV market with a new larger offering in 2018 too”.

Vincent Tourette, Managing Director, Renault UK, said of the result: “Renault has an affordable range of all-electric cars and vans with class-leading ranges that are available, not in a few years’ time – but today. And this latest award of Electric Vehicle Manufacturer of the Year from GreenFleet is a fantastic recognition of that. Renault was a pioneer of the all-electric market and is Europe’s leading EV manufacturer. With one in four EV sales in Europe a Renault, it’s clear that our range of affordable all-electric vehicles is resonating with buyers and we’ll be expanding our line-up with the new Master Z.E. panel van next year.”

Renault have confirmed to MotorMartin that the ZOE was upgraded in 2017 with the new Z.E.40 battery, increasing the ZOE’s range by 50 per cent to 250 miles (NEDC) – Renault estimates that in real-world driving conditions that this equates to around 186 miles in summer and 124 miles in extreme cold winter conditions. ZOE can charge from zero to 80 per cent full in as little as 60 minutes thanks to its patented Chameleon Charger™ that allows it to make the most of the widest range of power supplies and also keep charging times to a minimum. Renault’s Range OptimiZer technology ensures ZOE is highly efficient with its heat pump – as standard – a bi-modal braking system and Michelin ENERGY E-V tyres.

ZOE is available to purchase in two ways. Firstly, under a battery hire scheme, where ZOE pricing starts at £14,245 (OTR) after the Government Plug-in Car Grant with battery leasing from £49 per month. New for 2017 is the ‘Unlimited’ option with no mileage cap, priced at £110 per month. It is easy to purchase a used ZOE with a battery lease – the new owner simply chooses which leasing option suits their needs the best and starts monthly payments based on their lease plan. You can also buy the ZOE outright. ZOE i ‘full purchase’ models start from £18,995 (OTR) after the Government Plug-in Car Grant, giving the buyer full ownership of the car and battery and no monthly battery lease payment.

ZOE is the best-selling electric vehicle in Europe and more than 4,500 ZOE have been sold since launching in the UK in 2013. ZOE is one of three models in Renault’s diverse electric vehicle range which also includes the Twizy quadricycle, the Kangoo Van Z.E. and the forthcoming Master Z.E. large panel van.

The Renault Kangoo Z.E.33 was upgraded in the Autumn. With the new Z.E. 33 battery, range was increased by nearly 60 per cent to 170 miles (NEDC) – the longest range of any electric van currently available for delivery. The New Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. 33 range is priced from £14,194.67 (after Plug-in Van Grant, excluding VAT).

This award from GreenFleet adds to other recent awards Renault has received for its all-electric line-up:

What Car? Best Electric Car 2017 – Renault ZOE

What Car? Best Used Green Car 2018 – Renault ZOE

Autocar Game Changer 2017 – Renault ZOE

Parkers Eco Car of the Year 2018 – Renault ZOE

Pure Electric and Hybrid Cars Green Apple Champion 2017 – Renault ZOE

For more information on the Renault vehicle range MotorMartin recommends you visit www.renault.co.uk

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News: AUDI DRIVER DI GRASSI ABOUT THE NEW FORMULA E SEASON: “NUMBER ONE IS TREMENDOUS MOTIVATION”

For the first time, MotorMartin is intending to be following and reporting on the new season of Formula E, a series that is most definitely on the up with new manufacturers, tracks and drivers all getting involved as the season draws ever closer and one who’s season starts this upcoming weekend from Hong Kong. Exciting racing ahead then.

It’s been confirmed to MotorMartin on the brink of this new season that preparations have been completed and the race cars of Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler are on their way to Hong Kong where the opening race of the new Formula E season will take place on December 2 and 3. In an interview, the reigning Champion, Lucas di Grassi, talks about his expectations, the new team and its key competitors and is well worth reading.

Who are the favourites in the title race this season from your point of view?
“That’s hard to answer in Formula E – especially before this season. I have very strong expectations of Renault and Mahindra. At the same time, we should have Virgin, Andretti and Jaguar on our radar as well. There are at least five or six teams in contention for winning races. In addition, in André Lotterer, Edoardo Mortara and Kamui Kobayashi there’ll be some strong new drivers, so it’s near-impossible to make any predictions. The only thing we can be sure of is that this will be the hardest fought season in Formula E history to date.”

What does contesting the season with number one displayed on your car mean to you?
“It’s a good feeling because it shows that we did a good job last season and achieved something exceptional. You don’t get points for that in the new season, but it’s tremendous motivation to give everything again for success.”

Now that São Paulo, Brazil, is on the Formula E calendar we probably don’t need to ask about your favorite race …
“The race in São Paulo makes a dream come true for me. The city is my home and my whole family and my friends are going to be at the race. Still, there are other cities I very much look forward to – such as Rome and Zurich. With new attractive race locations and new manufacturers Formula E is experiencing a real boom at the moment. For me it’s already the second-most relevant racing series after Formula 1. It meets all the prerequisites for further growth in the future.”

In a few days, you’ll be traveling to Hong Kong. How much are you looking forward to the event?
“We’re looking forward to the new Formula E season opener with huge anticipation. We worked hard in the last few months to put another car on the grid that’ll be in contention for victory. The transition from an Audi-supported team to a full-fledged factory-backed commitment was exciting and went smoothly. Now we’re wishing for a good weekend in Hong Kong – preferably with as much success as the one we ended last season with.”

How did you spend the summer break since the Formula E season finale?
“Directly after the finale in July, there were a lot of PR commitments that I wouldn’t describe as work, though. It was nice to see how great international interest in Formula E and in our title win was. Shortly afterwards, the first tests and the work with the engineers and in the simulator started. Particular highlights for me were the two races I contested for Audi during the summer break: the legends race in the Audi Sport TT Cup at Hockenheim and the participation in the GT World Cup in Macau.”

Has the race on the city street circuit in Macau been helpful in preparing for Formula E?
“In spite of the cars and tracks being different, every race sharpens a race driver’s senses and trains body and mind. Macau is special and a tremendous challenge in motorsport. I’m very thankful that I had opportunity to race there again – even though we’d have wished for a different result.”

How happy are you with the preparations for the new Formula E season?
“I’m very happy. Compared with the years before, we’ve created a good starting base with hard work and huge commitment. Next week in Hong Kong we’ll see how that’s ultimately going to pan out in the race with our competitors.”

Can you share the improvements with us that the team has made compared with last season?
“The powertrain, the development of which is free in Formula E, is completely new. In addition, we changed the transmission – from three speeds to just one speed. With Audi’s entry, we now have even better opportunities, especially in terms of working in the simulator. This is good and necessary. I’m convinced that, as a result, the level in the entire field will be raised once again.”

You experienced a crazy race in Hong Kong in 2016, having started from the far rear and finishing on podium nonetheless. What are your expectations of the season opener this time?
“I’m expecting another crazy race! The track in Hong Kong is long, has an exciting layout and offers many overtaking opportunities. The fans are going to see two thrilling races, no doubt about it.”

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! Or switch them on at least.

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News: VANTAGE GTE: THE BIRTH OF A CHAMPION

Aston Martin have shared with all us fans up on the top floor of MotorMartin Towers that they have recently released a specially-commissioned film, documenting the birth of the Vantage GTE, Aston Martin Racing’s brand-new challenger.

Following the Vantage GTE from initial concept to launch, the nine-minute film above shows what it takes to build a new race car alongside a new road car, launching both earlier this week in London.

Aston Martin President & CEO, Dr Andy Palmer explained the following to MotorMartin: “We decided to replace the current Vantage road car and – since it’s really necessary to take race technology from the track to the road and from the road to the track – it’s really important that we design both simultaneously. It’s always important that you have a champion and Vantage is our champion.”

The film, Aston say, covers the 18 months that it took to turn a concept into a thoroughbred race car, a car that will take on the might of Ferrari, Porsche, Ford, Corvette and BMW at Le Mans next summer.

The team at Aston Martin Racing were building up the tub of the new Vantage GTE in June when they had to take a break in order for all hands to be on deck at Le Mans. It was the right call as the team went on to win the most famous endurance race in motorsport with the #97 V8 Vantage GTE of Darren Turner, Jonny Adam and Daniel Serra.

After completing a successful shakedown in August, the Vantage GTE has so far completed over 14,000kms of testing, in the UK, Spain and at Sebring in the U.S.

For the Vantage GTE, the race to be champion has just begun and there’s no one up here at the Towers that would bet against it.

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