Petrolicious is one of my favourite classic car websites, and I've long been a fan of their clean aesthetic and cinematic look to their beautifully directed films. So to make it on to their pages via the talented lens of Amy Shore and the wise words of Stephen Archer is a treat indeed, especially alongside my good friend and star coaching pupil, Chris Wilson, whose outstanding Revival performance is quite rightly celebrated. You can read the full article here. It seems you do get more attention in a Ferrari after all!
RAC Tourist Trophy Winner
4th overall 1984 FIA European Touring Car Championship, with 2 wins
Fastest Lap, Spa 24 Hours
Highly competitive in historic touring car series
Outstanding car for driver coaching
I’ve had an enormous amount of fun racing and developing this car over the past couple of seasons and, based on recent results in Peter Auto’s Heritage Touring Cup, we can safely say it is the fastest BMW 635 CSi on the grid. Fantastic history, a hoot to drive, and competitive even against 3.0 CSL Batmobiles (particularly in the wet). This car has also been a great tool for driver development - the large cabin fits drivers of all sizes and allows two of us to sit comfortably side by side in safety. Progressive and manageable thanks to the long wheelbase, this ‘drift-machine’ is suitable even for relative novices seeking their first 'slicks' experience.
If this is starting to sound a bit like a sales pitch, it is! Chassis E24 RA2-40 is available now. It comes immaculately prepared and ready to race. For full history and details, please drop me a line (call: +44 (0)7956 100 439 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org). It’s just cool isn’t it...!
Writing to you from the Eurosport commentary booth here at a very hot Le Mans, and still in awe of the spellbinding lap we saw last night from Toyota driver, Kamui Kobayashi, to seal pole position for tomorrow's race and smash the all time lap record here at this most daunting of circuits. In an evening which saw countless records smashed across the classes, Kamui's lap was far from the only one worth celebrating, but the sheer pace of it will leave it etched in the minds of all who witnessed it. My hat is firmly tipped - 'chapeau' Kamui!
The Aston Martin DBR9 GT1 racer is a car I lusted after driving throughout my sportscar racing career, but never quite managed. Don't feel too sorry for me though, I drove for the factory team in LMP1 (the gorgeous Gulf-liveried, Lola derived prototype) and for Jota Sport in a GTE spec V8 Vantage, so I understand if the violin remains a string short.
It's just that the DBR9 always seemed that little bit more special - a little more pure in it's lineage, and a little more breathtaking in its design. That something so beautiful could roll up at Sebring in 2005 and win one of the toughest endurance races on the calendar straight out of the box says everything about the calibre of this machine.
Based on the Aston Martin DB9 road car, the DBR9 retains the chassis, engine block, and cylinder heads of the road car's six litre, normally aspirated, V12 engine. The rest of the car is re-engineered for high performance competition use. The DBR9's bodywork is a blend of optimum aerodynamic performance and the styling of the DB9 road car. All the body panels are constructed from carbon fibre composite (except the roof) to minimize the weight of the car. To complete the aerodynamic body, the bottom of the car is flat all the way from the front to the rear diffuser. To optimise rear downforce a carbon fibre wing has been added. The car officially goes from 0-60 mph 3.4 seconds, but that depends on a myriad of factors.
Here courtesy of the Global Endurance Legends organisation which is building a grid of iconic racers from the 1990's and early 'noughties into a racing series, I was grateful to receive a dream invite to test the car from owner, Gregor Fisken.
With 600bhp under my right foot I was sure to be entertained, but like all of the best endurance racers, it felt eminently manageable, as though the car was quite happy to to the bulk of the work, only requiring the occasional hint from me as to where I'd like it to head.
Inputs were met with an instant and proportional response, such that I felt right at home within a lap or two. Only over bumps did I find the handling a bit nervous, the suspension just a little too stiff for the circuit and cold conditions. Really the only negative was that the brakes were slightly underwhelming, but I put that down to aging ceramics and a brutally heavy 'lump' upfront.
Best of all though, was the noise. You'll hear it for yourself in this video but what amazed the most was that the noise from within the cockpit was the same as outside. That never happens! So often the greatest noises in motorsport come courtesy of an exhaust system mated to a rear mounted engine, leaving the driver up front with little but the mechanical grind. When the engine lies ahead of your feet however, and the exhaust winds its way alongside your bum, forcing its symphonic roar into the ether just inches away from your lugholes, you get to share in the whole orchestral experience. And what an experience it is...
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Short wheelbase, cheeky timeless looks, a stance that is always poised for action, the little 1600cc Alfa GTA is deserving of its iconic status. With historied, original cars now changing hands in excess of £250k, there is clearly no shortage of die hard fans. And I can understand why.
With every passing lap today in this terrier of a car, I found just a little more lap time. And then a little more... and a little more again. The point is that just when you think you've got a grasp of how to take a racing car to its adhesive limit, the GTA thumbs its nose and asks you to think again. So capable is the pert chassis, that if you get the car balanced right - and I mean just right - into the turns, you're rewarded with a monumental amount of grip. But it's so hard to ride that tightrope - trail brake a little too long and you'll scrub all speed off with arm fulls of opposite lock. Don't trail long enough and the resulting understeer will force a little lift later in the turn, ruining exit momentum. But get it 'just so' and you barely have to steer at all... and it feels fantastic.
All sounds pretty intense right? Well the irony - and the beauty - is that this isn't actually a hard car to drive at all! Any entry level track day driver would have a wail of a time flinging a GTA around, not be at all intimidated and, if anything, be slightly underwhelmed at the level of grunt. But as your driving progresses, so too does the Alfa's apparent abilities. It's an outstanding entry level machine for aspiring historic racers, but one that also keeps the most experienced hands on their toes... and that's some combination. The car featured here, a true original prepared by Formula GT of Munich, Germany, is an example of the very best, the little 1600cc engine happily revving to an astonishing 8,400rpm.
This video contains a full speed lap, followed by a repeat in slow motion. Both contain added commentary explaining the techniques required for each corner in great detail. I'm not too sure about lap time because traffic mean having to stitch a clean lap together in editing. But a later lap I drove, unfortunately unrecorded on camera, was clocked at 2m06.9secs, which by all accounts is a highly competetive pace for a little GTA (on Avon tyres) and provides for a good benchmark. This video is essential viewing for anyone racing at Hockenheim in need of a little professional guidance - or indeed, for anyone who simply enjoys watching a special little historic race car being pushed to its limits. Enjoy!