Category Archives: Motorsport

Vale John Surtees

John Surtees will always be remembered as the only person to win the F1 and MotoGP (then 500cc) World Championships but that incredible record is only part of his story. Surtees is a giant of motorsport history whose achievements will never be equalled.

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A collection of great Shane van Gisbergen moments (with video)

Shane van Gisbergen has enjoyed an incredible 2016 season. In addition to claiming his first Supercars title (beating a 6x champion in the process) the New Zealander won the Bathurst 12 hour and the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup in Europe. To cap off the year, van Gisbergen was also voted “Driver’s Driver” by his peers and featured strongly in Autosport’s Top 50 Drivers of 2016.

SVG is undoubtedly a huge talent but he can also be a controversial figure. His aggressive driving style has angered some who feel he pushes the boundaries of fairness. David Reynolds in particular has said “there’s not a lot of respect out there for him with the way he goes about his business”. However, van Gisbergen’s approach to racing makes him a favourite amongst many fans and this collection of videos looks at some of the reasons why he can be so exciting to watch.

“RACE EVERYTHING”
Shane van Gisbergen’s Twitter bio is just “race everything” and one of the reasons he connects to fans who love motorsport is that he simply loves it himself. In addition to winning the Supercars Championship in 2016, van Gisbergen also competed in the European Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup (which he won), the Bathurst 12 Hour (which he won) the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, the Australian GT Championship and the Australian Endurance Championship. Not bad.

In previous years, Shane has also mixed his Supercar duties with races in the NZ Super Tourers Championship, the United Sportscar Championship, the Highlands 101, the NZ Endurance Championship, The World Time Attack Challenge, Formula First NZ, various historic events, and even the Pop Volkner Memorial Feature Kart Race in Mt Wellington.

Next year SVG will turn his attention to the IMSA series in the USA.

Impressively, Shane is quick in any machinery which means he isn’t just making up the numbers across different categories. He took provisional pole at the 2016 Spa 24 Hour despite missing the pre-race test session and when he made a guest appearance in the Australian Carrera Cup he charged past ten cars in one lap.

SIGNALLING TO OTHER DRIVERS
Van Gisbergen waved at one of his rivals in that video and that sort of gesture wasn’t a one-off. Last year he also gave David Reynolds a cheeky ‘thumbs up’ as he nailed an overtaking manoeuvre into a 200kph corner.

DRIFTING
Having done some competitive drifting, van Gisbergen enjoys a good victory celebration, but he also puts on a similar show for fans during routine in-laps back to the pits and unproductive test days.

Red Bull Racing have embraced van Gisbergen’s sideways style and have customised a Supercar to cater for exactly that.

DRIVING ON THE GRASS
Although most drivers seek out puddles to cool their wet tyres on a drying track surface, SVG took it a step further during 2015 and actually dropped his wheels on the grass. Not only did he try this at Sydney Motorsport Park but he did the same thing down Conrod Straight at Bathurst – one of the fastest parts of any racetrack in Australia.

RELAXED BEHIND THE WHEEL
In-car cameras have previously caught Shane resting his hands on the steering wheel down straights as if he was waiting at traffic lights, and they’ve also captured this rather relaxed way of changing down gears with the back of his hand.

SVG is also relaxed enough behind the wheel to pay close attention to the big screens around the circuit. On the last lap at Pukekohe (in the lead!) he had the presence of mind to ask why his Dad was on TV.

THE RACECRAFT
More than anything else, van Gisbergen is an assertive racer who is capable of producing exciting battles like this.

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Motorsport Snippets is on Facebook

For short and timely updates from the world of motorsport, feel free to check out Motorsport Snippets on Facebook and join a growing online community of racing fans. No rehashed news or boring race reports – just bite sized curiosities for anyone with any sort of interest in motorsport.

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Motorsport at the Olympic Games

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Motorsport was part of the 1900 Paris Olympics (France won 41 of the 44 medals available for a series of car, truck & bike trials) and although it doesn’t look like returning anytime soon, it’s not inconceivable as an exhibition event. The section of the Olympic Charter that banned motorised sports was removed in 2007 so if the IOC ever wanted to promote a modern environmental message it could use some electric go-karts to run a series of heats and finals. Drivers usually represent a team or manufacturer, not their country, so an Olympic prize would be something special – a bit like a Race of Champions event that drivers took seriously.

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5 reasons why Shane Van Gisbergen is always exciting to watch

Shane Van Gisbergen, whose Twitter bio simply reads “race everything”, has developed a cult following in Australia & New Zealand thanks to exploits in the V8 Supercar Championship. Having just smashed the lap record on his way to victory in the Bathurst 12 Hour, this collection of fun YouTube clips helps demonstrate why SVG is one of the most exciting drivers in any racing series.

DRIFTING
Having done some competitive drifting, Van Gisbergen enjoys a good victory celebration, but he also puts on a similar show during routine in-laps back to the pits and on unproductive test days.

SIGNALLING TO OTHER DRIVERS
In this video Van Gisbergen gives David Reynolds a cheeky thumbs up as he nails an overtaking manoeuvre into a 200kph corner.

DRIVING ON THE GRASS
Although most drivers seek out puddles to cool wet tyres on a drying track surface, SVG took it a step further during two separate races in 2015 and actually dropped wheels on the grass.

RELAXED BEHIND THE WHEEL
In-car cameras have previously caught Shane resting his hands on the steering wheel down straights as if he was waiting at traffic lights, and they’ve also captured this rather relaxed way of changing down gears with the back of his hand.

THE RACECRAFT
More than anything else, Van Gisbergen is an assertive racer who is capable of producing exciting battles like this.

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2015 is definitely a year for the old guard

• Valentino Rossi is still leading the World Championship 18 years after he won his first.
• Jeff Gordon will enter the final race of his 24 year NASCAR career in championship contention.
• Juan Pablo Montoya almost won the IndyCar title – it would’ve been his first since 1999.
• Mark Webber looks good to win the 2015 World Endurance Championship. At 39 years of age it will be his first title of any kind.
• Jason Plato almost won the BTCC title (his 17th season) and Craig Lowndes can still win the V8 Supercar championship having first won the title back in 1996.

In a sport where youth is the trend, experience still counts for a lot.

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A brief and interesting history of the World Land Speed Record

The early days of the World Land Speed Record were highly controversial as there was no consistent process for measuring or validating the trials. However, that didn’t stop several keen entrepreneurs from claiming their car was the fastest in the world.

The first of these was a Frenchman, Charles Jeantaud, whose electric car reached 63kph way back in 1898. Impressively, this same car topped 92kph only three months later which illustrates just how advanced electric cars were at the time. It actually took quite awhile for petrol engines to emerge as the preferred option and in 1906 the speed record was held by a steam powered car that reached 205kph (which remained the fastest steam powered car in the world for over 100 years – the longest standing automotive record in history).

Early attempts at the Land Speed Record gave car companies the chance to drum up some publicity, and for that very reason Henry Ford himself held the unofficial record in 1904. Although he wasn’t best known for his driving exploits, Henry Ford’s efforts behind the wheel of a Ford 999 gave his new company a chance to make some headlines.

Speed records continued to be disputed until 1924 at which point the world’s largest auto clubs agreed to a formal set of rules. The record speed would be averaged over two runs in opposite directions on a flat surface and the car’s engine had to power the wheels directly (ie: no rockets). Competitors also had to beat the previous record by a big enough margin to ensure it wasn’t the result of a small discrepancy in the measurement.

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Pictured: Examples of the cars that competed for the World Land Speed Record prior to 1924.

At this point in time the British auto industry was booming and the UK took control of the Land Speed Record for forty years. From 1924 to 1964 the record was beaten 21 times and 20 of those successful attempts were made by British drivers. Malcolm Campbell became a household name in England during this time and he was even knighted as a national hero for constantly beating his previous efforts and fighting off new challengers. His son, Donald Campbell, would set the record for himself in 1964 but did so having always raced in his father’s shadow.

Many of those record cars were fairly basic in design and featured an aircraft engine bolted into a streamlined racing chassis. As the sixties drew closer, manufacturers started experimenting with jets and rockets which led to a massive change in the rules to avoid confusion over the outright record. In 1964 the restriction that a car’s wheels had to be driven directly by the engine was removed and the age of turbojets kicked off in earnest. Speeds increased dramatically and the cars effectively became missiles with wheels attached.

Once the rules were changed a number of specialist US teams fought each other for top spot but their reign was broken by Richard Noble, an Englishman who has stamped his own authority on the Land Speed Record since 1983. He set the new benchmark himself that year and then acted as Project Director for the next two successful attempts. The most recent of those, in 1997, was particularly special because the Thrust SSC became the first car to break the sound barrier (incredibly, this was achieved exactly 50 years and one day after Chuck Yeager’s first successful attempt to break the sound barrier in a plane). Creating a sonic boom with a car is simply astonishing.

That 1997 record still stands today but now members of the same team, including Richard Noble, are looking to go even faster with the Bloodhound SSC. Their target is 1000mph (1690kph) which is so incredibly quick that the test run, scheduled for October next year, will be enough to hold the record on its own. The car is amazing and amongst the list of impressive specifications is that a massive 542hp V8 engine powers the fuel pump. THE FUEL PUMP! The Bloodhound SSC is a beast and if it ends up being successful it will certainly be a machine worthy of holding such a prestigious record.

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A comparison of current top speeds across different categories

Top speed isn’t the ultimate benchmark of a race car’s performance, but with F1 drivers having just completed the fastest Grand Prix of the season, it’s interesting to see how different championships compare (even if some measurements are a little contentious).

Top Speed