Jan 30, 2008 | NZPC

three-way battle

A three-way battle for leadership in the inaugural one-make Suzuki Swift Sport Cup title has developed following close competition at the A1 GP meeting in Taupo.

Twenty-one-year-old Cody McMaster from Christchurch holds a narrow lead as the championship contenders head for the fourth round at Manfeild, Feilding, in mid-February.

But Brock Barrie, from Auckland, and Paeroa driver Mark Whyte are right in contention after spirited racing in the Suzuki Production Racing Championship at Taupo.

McMaster has amassed 602 points after three rounds of the production saloon car series, while Barrie has 579 and Whyte, 549.

The three races for the Swifts at the international Taupo meeting resulted in three different winners, with Whyte emerging overall winner of the round.

McMaster’s second overall placing was good enough to allow the young driver back in the championship lead. Cody says he is looking to increase his advantage at Manfeild.

Third overall at Taupo was Barrie, with fellow Aucklander Joel Thrupp fourth, all driving identical specification Suzuki Swift Sports.

Little more than one second separated the top five qualifiers at Taupo, with Barrie setting the fastest practice time of 1 minute 51.8 seconds. The meeting was a Taupo debut for McMaster, but he managed to take third best lap and was beaten only narrowly by Auckland driver Dane Fisher.

Fourth and fifth best qualifying times in the 92 kW Swift hatchbacks went to Greg Brinck (Auckland) and Mark Whyte.

During the opening race at Taupo, Barrie took out top honours, finishing 2.26 seconds ahead of Fisher. On the opening lap McMaster moved into second place ahead of Fisher but on the third lap the Christchurch car was hit on the side.

Despite being knocked off the track and suffering panel damage, McMaster recovered to finish fourth behind Whyte who finished right on the tail of Fisher who posted the fastest race lap time of 1 minute 51.429 seconds.

Cody started race two from fourth spot on the grid, moving into third at the first corner, and assuming the lead on lap 3.

But the result was never a foregone conclusion, with McMaster having to drive defensively to hold out Whyte. He eventually crossed the finish line just 0.136 seconds ahead of the Paeroa competitor in what was a photo finish.

Fisher set the fastest lap of 1 minute 50.821 seconds, which was not beaten all day, and finished third ahead of Barrie.

Race three was a reverse grid format, with McMaster battling his way through to lead the class by the end of the first lap.

However, McMaster received a five second penalty for jumping the start, and the race win went to Whyte, with Cody second, Brinck third and Thrupp fourth.

The seven-round Swift Sport Cup is now in mid-season with the final round scheduled for the end of March.

Read our roadtest of the Suzuki Swift Sport by clicking in the related items below.

Jan 29, 2008 | NZPC

subaru impreza The car felt extremely competent, aided by all the electronics that help keep you on the road – in fact, it’s pretty much impossible to get the car out of shape with the VDC active.

And it goes around corners too with its symmetrical All Wheel Drive transmission connected to the four cylinder 2.5-litre turbocharged “Boxer” engine through a six-speed close ratio manual gearbox.

With its flared wheel arches, deep front air dam, significant roof mounted spoiler and no less than four exhaust tail pipes it looks like it means business.

It sits on 18-inch alloy wheels with 245/40R18 tyres — plenty of meat to put the power on the road and grip tenaciously through the bends. BBS wheels are optional on the Spec.R model.

This is the car that will challenge for the Production World Rally Championship in 2008.

Only the bonnet, roof, hatch opening and front door panels are the same as those of the other models in the Impreza range.

The front bucket seats use a combination of Alcantara fabric and leather with RECARO, custom sports seats available on the Spec. R model.

An extended wheelbase and widened track compared to the previous STI provide optimal dimensions for the new model to ensure its outstanding handling and road holding. (The wheelbase is longer by 85 mm to 2625 mm, the front track is 40 mm wider at 1530 mm, and the rear track at 1540 mm is 45 mm wider, than the previous model.) The 5-door body style excels in balancing lift forces in the front and desirable downward forces in the rear, achieving optimal aerodynamic characteristics.

A 6-speed manual transmission, Subaru’s own development, is responsive, but if you try to change too fast there’s a hint of lag.

The Impreza WRX STI is available in two models. — The Impreza WRX STI at $59,990 RRP excluding on-road costs and accessories, Includes 18-inch aluminium alloy cast 5-spoke wheels and sports type Alcantara/leather front seats with STI embroidered logo

Impreza WRX STI spec.R at $64,990 RRP excluding on-road costs and accessories includes BBS 18-inch aluminium alloy forged 18-spoke wheels and RECARO Alcantara/leather sports front seats.

We’ll have a full review for you as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you want one you’ll have to wait until at least August as Subaru has sold their allocation.

Jan 29, 2008 | NZPC

sebastien loeb

Sebastien Loeb is now the unqualified king of the Monte Carlo rally after he drove his Citroen C4 WRC to record fifth win of the world’s oldest rally, putting him one event ahead of Walter Röhrl, Sandro Munari and Tommi Mäkinen following his victories in 2007, 2005, 2004 and 2003 as well as this year.

Citroen initially dominated the 2008 Monte Carlo Rally, with Loeb’s team mate, Dani Sordo setting the pace from the start before Loeb took over the lead on stage two and never looked back. On day two Loeb and Sordo completed a clean sweep of all the stages and it was only engine problems for Sordo on day three that stopped it being a Citroen 1-2. Sordo restarted on the final day under the super rally rules and finished 11, giving Citroen one valuable manufacturer’s point.

“More than the fact that this was our 37th WRC victory and our fifth Monte win, I think the most significant thing is the way we won this year,” said Loeb at the finish. “Our Citroen C4 performed faultlessly throughout and the set-up we chose for the start proved excellent, which shows how well we worked upstream. The C4 and the Pirelli tyres also functioned well together on these asphalt stages which were often damp. It’s always nice to start the season with a win, but I have no intention of getting carried away because there are some very difficult rallies to come.”

Putting his woes behind him, Dani Sordo also concluded on a positive note:

“We were the only ones who succeeded in staying with Sebastien’s pace,” said Sordo. “Once again, our car was awesomely quick on asphalt and I was also pleased with the way our tyres performed. That was one of the unknown factors before the start. Last but not least, I’m glad to have picked up a Manufacturers’ point for Citroen.”

The new Citroen Sport Team boss, Olivier Quesnel, could not have had a better start to his new job.

“This result owes much to the talent of Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena,” said Quesnel. “They put in a perfect run. Another win for the team on the WRC’s particularly challenging curtain-raiser is a fitting reward for all the hard work put in by everyone at Citroen Sport. It’s immensely satisfying to have started my job as Director of Citroen Sport with a win on the Monte Carlo Rally. It gives us a solid footing in both championships. I remain lucid, however, because the team is often successful on sealed surfaces. A totally different challenge awaits us in Sweden. Our rivals will doubtlessly be very strong in the slippery conditions and the fight promises to be more open.”

Next round: Sweden, 8-10 February 2008

Rally statistics

Stage wins
Leg 1 : SS1 : Dani Sordo (Citroen C4) — SS2 : Sebastien Loeb (Citroen C4).
Leg 2 : SS3 : S. Loeb — SS4 : Dani Sordo — SS5, 6, 7 and 8 : S. Loeb.
Leg 3 : SS9 : D. Sordo — SS10, SS11, SS12 : S. Loeb — SS13 : Chris Atkinson (Subaru Impreza) — SS14 : S. Loeb.
Leg 4 : SS15 : François Duval (Ford Focus) — SS16 : D. Sordo — SS17 : C. Atkinson — SS18 : F. Duval — SS19 : C. Atkinson.

Best performers

S. Loeb : 10 stage win — D. Sordo : 3 — C. Atkinson : 3 — F. Duval : 2.

Leaders SS1 : D. Sordo ; SS2 to SS19 : S. Loeb.

Final leaderboard on 76th Rallye Monte-Carlo*

1. S. Loeb/D. Elena (Citroen C4) 3 h 39 min 17 s

2. M. Hirvonen/J. Lehtinen (Ford Focus) + 2 min 34,4 s

3. C. Atkinson/S. Prevot (Subaru Impreza) + 2 min 58,6 s

4. F. Duval/E. Chevailler (Ford Focus) + 2 min 59,7 s

5. P. Solberg/P. Mills (Subaru Impreza) + 4 min 40,9 s

6. G. Galli/G. Bernacchini (Ford Focus) + 8 min 46,5 s

7. JM. Cuoq/P. Janvier (Peugeot 307) + 10 min 24,8 s

8. PG. Andersson/J. Andersson (Suzuki SX4) + 11 min 19,5 s

9. H. Solberg/C. Menkerud (Ford Focus) + 12 min 43,6 s

10. M. Wilson/S. Martin (Ford Focus) + 14 min 00,1 s

11. D. Sordo/M. Martí (Citroen C4) + 20 min 40,5 s

FIA World rally Championship’s rankings 'Manufacturers’ (round 1/15)*

1. Citroen Total, 11 pts — 2. Subaru, 10 pts — 3. Ford, 8 pts — 4. Stobart, 8 pts — 5. Suzuki, 2 pts.

FIA World rally Championship’s rankings 'Drivers’ (round 1/15)*

1. S. Loeb, 10 points — 2. M. Hirvonen, 8 pts — 3. C. Atkinson, 6 pts — 4. F. Duval, 5 pts — 5. P. Solberg, 4 pts — 6. G. Galli, 3 pts — 7. JM. Cuoq, 2 pts — 8. PG. Andersson, 1 pt.

*Subject to final publications of the results by the FIA.

Jan 29, 2008 | NZPC

ferrari challenge

System 3 has announced that its upcoming racing simulation, Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli, will be heading for the PlayStation2 this Autumn. The announcement comes ahead of a special issue of Official PlayStation Magazine, which sees Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli taking pride of place with a special wrap-around cover and Ferrari-branded packaging framing a world-exclusive preview.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli is System 3’s labour of love — a re-creation of Ferrari’s own racing series, which sees both professional and amateur drivers taking to the world’s most famous race tracks in 430 Challenge race cars. Developed by racing game specialists Eutechnyx, Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli draws upon the developer’s years of experience with racing titles and includes a uniquely magical touch from GP2 driver Bruno Senna, nephew of F1 legend Ayrton and technical consultant on the game’s handling.

Previously announced for Playstation3, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS, Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli on the PS2 will match the PS3 version in terms of game features. 50 expertly-modelled Ferraris are available, along with the full complement of Ferrari Challenge series tracks, exquisitely balanced handling, remarkably lifelike opponent AI and the most comprehensive custom vinyl editor yet seen in a PlayStation racing title. With online multiplayer for up to 8 racers and System 3’s innovative Card Challenge mini-game also included, Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli’s PS2 incarnation proves itself to be no poor relation to its bigger cousin and is in prime position to become the definitive racing experience for the platform.

In-depth analysis of the game’s features and development process can be found in issue 95 of Future Publishing’s Official Playstation 2 Magazine, which goes on sale on the 30th of January. Spanning six pages, the preview describes Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli as “a total dream come true for any Ferrari fan”, noting that the cars “handled beautifully”. Rounding off with a closing comment that “established PS2 racing games do face a real Ferrari challenge”, the enthusiasm and optimism of the feature is matched by that of System 3 CEO, Mark Cale.

“We want Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli to reach as many gamers as possible and the PS2 version is instrumental in achieving this”, remarks Cale. “Despite technical limitations, the team at Eutechnyx are doing an outstanding job in translating the exceptional features of the PS3 version to its predecessor, maintaining an excellent standard of visuals and keeping that incredible handling intact. We’re confident that Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli will set the standard by which other PlayStation 2 racing titles will be judged”.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli will be released for all formats in Autumn 2008.

Jan 28, 2008 | NZPC


At the 78th Geneva International Motor Show, to be held from 4—16 March 2008, Suzuki Motor Corporation will be exhibiting the following models:

Concept A-Star (concept car)
Visitors to the Suzuki booth will see the European debut of the Concept A-Star, which had its world premiere at Auto Expo 2008 in New Delhi.

The Concept A-Star shows the ideas behind Suzuki’s fifth world strategic model, which is under development. The production car will be the smallest model in the Suzuki world strategic model lineup. It will reflect an emphasis on environmental compatibility through Euro 5-compliant emissions, class-leading CO2 emissions pursuing 109g/km or less, and low fuel consumption. It will also have a superior combination of comfort and performance.

With the styling of the Concept A-Star, Japanese designers at Suzuki Motor Corporation collaborated for the first time with Indian designers from the research-and-development division of Maruti Suzuki India. The result is a unique cross-cultural look with a European character.

The Splash follows the Swift, Grand Vitara, and SX4 as Suzuki’s fourth world strategic model. It made its world debut at the 2007 International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt and is going on sale this spring.

Developed to make transportation fun for every member of the family, the Splash combines ample roominess and colourful, attractive looks with a comprehensive safety package and performance that makes day-to-day urban driving a pleasure. Plus, it delivers environmental compatibility through low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of just 120g/km.

Concept Kizashi and Concept Kizashi 2 (concept cars)
The Concept Kizashi debuted at the 2007 International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, and the Concept Kizashi 2 first appeared at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show. They will be exhibited together for the first time in Geneva this year.

The Concept Kizashi signals Suzuki’s intention to enter the D-segment. The production model under development will be sporty, sleek, and practical, representing a chance for Suzuki customers to take a step upward in terms of size, performance, and refinement.

SX4 WRC (2008 model)
Visitors to the Suzuki booth will get a close-up look at the SX4 WRC car with which Suzuki will join its first full season of the World Rally Championship this year.

Suzuki has been testing the SX4 WRC car since announcing our intention to compete in the WRC at the 2006 Geneva show. Test runs in the 2007 Rallye de France and Wales Rally GB generated vital data for fine-tuning ahead of the car’s full-season debut in the 2008 Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo in January.

Participation in the WRC will generate technical know-how that benefits Suzuki production cars, and it will greatly bolster Suzuki’s sporty, dynamic brand image.

Other exhibits
The Suzuki booth will also include other exciting products that embody our “Way of Life!” message. The lineup will include our Swift, Grand Vitara, and SX4 world strategic models.

Source: Suzuki

Jan 28, 2008 | NZPC

fiat punto

The fastest version of the Fiat Punto has arrived in New Zealand with the launch of the turbocharged T-Jet version of Fiat’s top-selling small car, boasting a 0-100 kmh time of just 8.9 seconds; yet, at the same time the highly efficient new engine also endows the Punto with a combined fuel figure of a modest 6.6 litres per 100 kmh.

“The new Fiat 1.4 litre T-Jet really is the engine of the future,” says Lawrie Malatios, General Manager for Fiat cars in New Zealand. “Normally a performance car needs a significantly larger engine to gain a high performance output. Punto Turbo Sport, the already highly efficient 1.4 gains a turbocharger to produce power and torque levels the equivalent of a 2.0 litre engine. As a result, the Punto Turbo Sport is not only one of the quickest sub-$35,000 hot hatches, it is also one of the most economical.”

The new engine is a light pressure turbocharged version of the 1.4 litre Star-Jet engined that arrived at the launch of the Fiat Punto. The low inertia turbo lifts power from 57 to 90 kW and torque from 115 to 206 Nm, with an amazing 200 NM available from just 1700 rpm and more than four seconds is cut from the 0-100 kmh acceleration time.

Yet, despite these large increases in power and torque, the weight increase is very low, benefiting not just performance and fuel consumption, but also handling and road holding as the Punto T-Jet maintains the weight balance of a small-engined car.

The first in new range of compact, 1.4 litre turbocharged engines that deliver the power, torque and performance of much larger engines, the advanced design provides instant response and excellent in-gear performance across the range. Thus the 8.9 second 0-100 kmh time is representative not just of excellent through the gear performance, the new engine also offers strong responsive performance in every gear at low engine speeds.

The Punto Turbo slots in into the middle of the range, with the same Sport equipment and trim package as the range topping diesel-powered Punto Sport 1.9 JTD. This means it is comprehensively well equipped in all areas. Like all Puntos it is five star EuroNCAP rated and has ABS brakes with ESP stability control, ASR/MSR and Hill Holder and follow-me-home lights for personal security. Immediately identifiable from the outside, the Punto Sport has 17 inch alloy wheels, colour matched spoilers and side skirts and a chrome finish on its exhaust pipe.

Inside there are sports seats trimmed with sports upholstery, sports instrument panel, a leather trimmed sports steering wheel and gear knob. Equipment includes power steering, electric windows and mirrors, cruise control, air conditioning and remote central locking with remote boot release. The Sport package also includes sports suspension for sharp, responsive cornering to go with the responsive new engine.

“With the arrival of the T-Jet Turbo, the Punto range now offers one of the most complete and varied choice of small car power plants,” says Lawrie Malatios. “Each power unit offers it own blend of performance, economy and purchase price to offer buyers of small cars the ability to tailor a Punto to their own particular budget and motoring needs, knowing that which ever Punto they buy, they will own a car with benchmark safety, superb good looks and a small car that has something only a Fiat can offer — Italian passion!”

The new Fiat Punto Sport T-Jet has a recommended retail price of $30,990 and deliveries will start on 1 February 2008.

Source: Fiat

Jan 27, 2008 | NZPC

Horsepower to Kilowatts

Foot-Pounds to Newton-Metres

Jan 27, 2008 | NZPC

Cubic Inch to Cubic Centimetres

Pints to Litres

Pounds per Square Inch to Bar