Home » January 2012
Loeb triumphs on Monte-Carlo

S├ębastien Loeb never turned a wheel wrong over the five days taking Rally Monte-Carlo to score his 68th WRC victory. The eight-time world champion capped off a perfect week with the Power Stage win and a maximum 28 points.

Controlled aggression, brilliant tyre choices, experience and a blindingly fast DS3 WRC combined to show why the Frenchman is in a league of his own. And there’s no better way to get his campaign for a ninth title than victory on the hardest round on the calendar. "It is always great to start the season like this, especially in Monte-Carlo”, said the victor. "Taking maximum points in the first rally is perfect. Monte-Carlo is my rally!”

Following Loeb in the Power Stage was Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen with second best time and Russian Evgeny Novikov.
Mini’s return to the Principality had those old enough to remember harking nostalgic for the makes golden era of the 1960’s when it won the event on three occasions. Dani Sordo came up with the goods and was rewarded with the 18 championship points going to the runner-up.

The last man to have won a world crown prior to Loeb, Petter Solberg was beaming from the first test at Le Moulinon - Antraigues through to the Power Stage at Ste Agnes - Col de la Madone. The Norwegian was gushing with praise for his 2012 machine. "I never dreamed of having a car as good as this, and to be able to attack on the stages like I have is unbelievable",” exclaimed Solberg.

Mikko Hirvonen struggled to find pace early in the week, but when the conditions were dry and team-mate Loeb was comfortably in the lead, the Finn showed promise setting three consecutive best times from late Friday and early Saturday to take fourth place.

Evgeny Novikov drove steady on his first go on the rally and brought his Fiesta home with a respectable fifth place. Winner of the 1994 edition, Francois Delecour turned heads with sixth place and showed just how fit and focused he is when he lost power steering and then radio communications with his co-driver but still ran at the sharp end of the order on the stages above Monaco on Saturday. And the near 50-year old Delecour even handed the driving duties on the Power Stage over to co-driver Dominique Savignoni, who is retiring after the event.

The top ten was completed by up and coming Frenchman Pierre Campana in the second Pro Drive Mini. Campana was followed by Estonian Ott Tanak, the Czech Republic’s Martin Prokop in privateer Fords and Portugal’s Armind Araujo, making it three Minis in the points.   

2 Sordo +2:45.5s
3 P. Solberg + 3:14.2s
4 Hirvonen +4:06.8s
5 Novikov+6:03.4s
6 Delecour+7:47.9s
7 Campana+8:31.4s
8 Tanak+10:34.7s
9 Prokop +16:10.7s
10 Araujo+16:16.6s 

1 S├ębastien Loeb 3points
2 Mikko Hirvonen 2
3 Evgeny Novikov 1

New McLaren MP4-12C

A McLaren MP4-12C evolution? Sort of. Pics of this visually tweaked 12C have been doing the rounds for the last 24 hours, and although it’s not all some have claimed it to be, it is proof that McLaren’s road car biz has the same soul as the race team. 

The facts are these: this new car, badged HS for ‘High Sport’ (surely ‘EF-even faster’ would have been more appropriate) is one of five commissioned by a commercial partner of McLaren Automotive. Four of the cars are/will be sold by the Miami dealer, one in Marbella. And contrary to reports, Ron Dennis is not getting one.

The development is only visual, but ‘more than cosmetic’, hence the new-look nose and tail. McLaren are not saying there are no mechanical tweaks, but speculation that it’s a street version of the MP4-12C GT3 are way wide of the mark. The five cars were built to order by McLaren’s Special Vehicles Operations. These guys have been around since the days of the McLaren F1, and were also responsible for the special Mercedes-McLaren SLR derivatives the like 722 cars and the bonkers-but-beautiful ‘Moss’ edition.

Where is really gets exciting is when McLaren makes its clear the Spesh Ops team will do “anything” to an MP4-12C for customers willing to pay. Our conversation with McLaren’s spokesbloke went like this: “You mean like Ferrari specials division?” “Oh yes. And more. Unlike most Ferraris the structure of the 12C is all in the monocoque. You can do what you want – inside the law – with the exterior panels…”

Spesh Ops are already working on “two or three” other projects, so it’s going to be a busy year for McLaren Automotive and the MP4-12C. No less than 12 of the GT3 racers are set to see action in various sports cars series globally, and as anyone who saw the car in action at the Autosports International show in Birmingham last week will attest, that’s good news.

There will also be a Spider version of the 12C later in the year. It’s already been spotted testing its new folding hard-top which - due the deal Ferrari did with roofers Webasto – uses exactly the same system as the 12C’s nemesis: the Ferrari 458.

And then there will also be a road-going, totally hardcore version of the GT3. That might look a little bit like the car you see here, but will be very much faster.

There is no truth to the rumour McLaren will dub it the ‘FHS’.
Here’s a video the enterprising Jodito20 took on a visit to the Miami dealership and posted to youtube:

DC reveals Avanti at Delhi auto show

India’s first super car - the DC Design Avanti.

Say namaste to the first Indian-designed sports car in the history of TIME.

It's called the DC Avanti, it's just been unveiled at the Delhi motor show and it's a comfortable signpost that India's appetite for cars has just got a bit more discerning.

It's cheap(ish), too; the pricetag's expected to hover around 30 lakh rupees (£36,000-odd in Church of England).
Which isn't at all bad considering how spritely it promises to be. Initially, it'll get a blown Ford 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which makes 261bhp. A 394bhp Honda V6 version will join the fray later, both of which will be attached to a six-speed dual clutch transmission.

The, idiosyncratically styled shell's got a lot of aluminum in it so weight's kept down to a relatively buoyant 1560kg. This means the (claimed) 0-62mph time's less than seven seconds, which, admitedly, stretches the definition of supercar a bit, but it's still fast for the money.

So, who the hell is DC? They're an Indian tuning house better known for adding big plastic nappies and bling-a-ding rims to everything from Rolls-Royce Phantoms and Porsche Cayennes to Tata Nanos. Then charging punters inordinate amounts of money (its tinkered Nano costs £141,000. ONE HUNDRED AND FOURTY ONE GRAND).

The manufacturer wants to build 200 cars a year at first, but plans to churn out up to 2000 cars a year longer term.

New 400bhp Honda NSX

Honda supercar returns with a four-wheel-drive hybrid drivetrain, and the coupe version will debut at Detroit

The Honda NSX supercar is set to return as a 400bhp four-wheel-drive hybrid. Honda has already confirmed that a new NSX will be revealed at the Detroit Motor Show in January, and now we have more information on the Japanese Audi R8 rival.
We’ve already seen spy shots of a concept car on the set of the new Avengers movie, and we’ve since had confirmation that the Detroit show car will be heavily based on that model. The images show a coupe, but the final production version will also be offered as a roadster.
The concept will be shown as an Acura – the firm’s luxury North American arm – but it will be badged as a Honda when it arrives in the UK, and retain its forebear’s NSX name. Power will come from a 3.5-litre V6 driving one axle and a pair of in-wheel electric motors to turn the other. This will give the NSX four-wheel-drive traction and 400bhp-plus. Performance will be impressive, with 0-62mph taking under five seconds.