lundi 15 octobre 2018

10 amazing Abarths that every car guy should know

Carlo Abarth’s petite and delicate yet angry and boisterous cars were virtually unbeatable in the 1950s and ’60s, scoring over 7,300 victories in a wide range of categories and classes. Now a new book beautifully highlights 45 of the most significant Scorpions, each with a mighty sting in the tail…
You might remember at the beginning of this year we visited arguably the finest collection of Abarths on the planet, lovingly amassed over the last four decades by the former factory racer Engelbert Möll. Now, the collection’s most sought-after Scorpions take centre stage in a new book published by Delius Klasing, chronicling the fascinating Italian manufacturer and its ingenious founder Carlo Abarth. 
Designed by our friend and the founder of Curves Magazine Stefan Bogner and featuring sensational imagery from Bogner, Rémi Dargegen and a raft of other fantastic photographers, Abarth: Racing Cars is a must for anyone looking to understand the nuanced history of the marque’s ‘small but wicked’ cars, built in Turin from 1948 to 1974. It also features first-hand reflections from key figures in Abarth’s history, ranging from legendary racers such as Derek Bell and Arturo Merzario to masterful engineers including Antonio Tomaini and Mauro Forghieri. We think the following 10 boisterous beasts from the book have the sharpest stings in their tails. 

Fiat Abarth 500 Record Pininfarina

Proving that motorsport isn’t the be all and end all for an automotive manufacturer, Carlo Abarth sought to increase the profile of his company in alternative ways during the 1950s, including several successful endeavours to break endurance speed records. 
On 27 September 1958, this Fiat Abarth ‘500 Record’, fitted with an ultra-streamlined body by Pininfarina, set off on a 10-day run at Monza, during which it would cover 28,000km at an average speed of 116.4kph, and break a staggering 23 international speed records. Sure enough, at the Turin Motor Show later in the year, the ‘500 Record’ went down an absolute storm – mission complete. 

Fiat Abarth 750 Coupe Zagato

First presented at Geneva in March of 1956, the Zagato-bodied Fiat Abarth 750 – with its characteristic ‘double bubble’ roof and rear intake – instantly proved formidably successful on the racetracks of Europe and, subsequently, the United States. In the 1956 season, for example, the likes of Mario Poltronieri, Ernesto Prinoth, and Vittorio Feroldi De Rosa wrestled the lightweight GTs to 31 class victories. More significantly, the 750 gave Carlo Abarth the taste of victory – one he’d relentlessly pursue for the following decade. 

Fiat Abarth 1000 TCR Radiale

The ultimate iteration of what Abarth is perhaps most associated with – i.e. the loud, proud, and potent versions of the humble Fiat 600 D – the brutish ‘1000 TCR Radiale’ was a true giant killer, winning a series of European Touring Car Championships. Its secret weapon was the clever radial engine, which was fed by a twin-barreled Weber carburetor and developed more than 110HP. Not bad for a car weighing just 610kg! 

Fiat Abarth 1000 Spider Sport

Among the rarest and most significant cars in the Möll collection is this, the 1963 Fiat Abarth ‘1000 Spider Sport’. One of a handful built and tipping the scales at just 405kg, the car was driven by the famous Swiss racer Tommy Spychiger to 13 class victories and one overall win during the 1963 season. In that year alone, the Scorpion brand claimed 535 victories – in the smaller categories, Abarth was simply unbeatable. 

Fiat Abarth 1000 Biposto Corsa

Affectionately baptized the ‘Millino’ thanks to its diminutive dimensions, the Fiat Abarth ‘1000 Biposto Corsa’ was conceived as a bridge for young drivers looking to graduate from touring car to sports car racing. Most notable from a technological point of view was that its high-revving, 110HP Bialbero engine was mounted over the rear axle, rather than amidships as in its predecessors. 

Abarth Simca 1300 GT Coupé Corsa

Responsible for launching the career of a wave of young drivers across Europe, the Abarth Simca ‘1300 GT Corsa’ was the first of Carlo’s cars with an engine developed entirely in-house. The car, which was based on the Simca 1000, weighed just 630kg despite being somewhat larger than the ‘Berlina’ saloons and scored victory after victory on weekend after weekend. Engelbert Möll, himself, understand the virtues of the 1300 GT Corsa only too well – as a Works racer, he scored eight successive victories driving one during the 1963 season.  

Fiat Abarth OT 2000 Periscopio

Yes, the one with the snorkel. In 1965, Abarth’s business partnership with Simca expired and, as a result, its engineers turned to Fiat once again for componentry to build an all-new racing coupé: the ‘1300 OT’. Perhaps inevitably, it was extremely successful, claiming Abarth the division one manufacturer’s world championship in 1966. Around 12 examples were fitted with the larger 2-litre engine, developing 215HP, and raced by such legends as Jochen Rindt and ‘Gigi’ Taramazzo. As such, the soul-stirring ‘OT 2000 Periscopios’ are among the most desirable cars Abarth ever built. 

Fiat Abarth OT 2000 Coupé America

Il Mostro – that’s what Abarth’s engineers christened the 185HP ‘OT 2000 Coupé America’, a potent saloon based on the staid Fiat 850 Coupé. Equipped with a powerful 2.0-litre racing engine, the car was originally conceived to climb into the large-capacity touring car ring with the likes of the Alfa Romeo GTA and Lotus Cortina. Now that we’d have loved to have seen – alas, their great production cost resulted in just three being built, one of which was sold to a certain Niki Lauda. 

Fiat Abarth 2000 Monoposto Record

Towards the end of 1965, Carlo Abarth climbed behind the wheel of this tiny monoposto and, together with Johannes Ortner and Mario Poltronieri, set about breaking eight international and two world speed records at Monza. Suffice to say, the months of strict dieting, during which he’d feasted predominantly on apples and lost over 30kg, were more than worth it. He could slip into the narrow cockpit, for starters. The Autodrome at Monza was Abarth’s happy place and the records were a fitting way to end what was an extraordinary year for the Turin company – 900 victories, 23 of which were outright. 

Fiat Abarth 2000 Sport Spider 4-Fari

If you asked us for our favourite Abarth, we’d have to say the ‘4-Fari’. The small and sultry ‘2000 Sport Spider’ is without doubt one of the prettiest sports-racing cars ever designed. Just look at the thing, resplendent in ravishing red. What’s more, it was driven by an extraordinary roll call of racing legends, including Peter Schetty, Arturo Merzario, and Toine Hezemans, all of whom helped cement its place in the history books. 
Photos courtesy of Delius Klasing Verlag (Stefan Bogner, Rémi Dargegen, Bildermeister/Gerrit Glöckner, Steve McCurry, Studio Orel, Frank Schönau, Peter Singhoff, WK Photo/Johann Wimmer, Michel Zumbrun) © 2018
You can order your own copy of Abarth: Racing Cars – Collection 1948–1974 by visiting Delius Klasing Verlag’s web store.
Alternatively, you can find a selection of Abarths listed for sale in the Classic Driver Market.

dimanche 14 octobre 2018

WSBK ; Rea sets the pace in thrilling first day of action in Argentina

The 2018 Champion has now won ten races in a row, more than any rider in World Superbike history
However tough the going gets, he always finds a way to get the job done. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) claimed his fifth consecutive double of the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at the Circuito San Juan Villicum in sensational fashion. The champion was forced to dig deep to take the Argentinian double ahead of Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team), but now holds another record to his name for the most consecutive wins in a World Superbike season, beating Colin Edwards and Neil Hodgson’s previous streak of nine victories.
The opening laps at the Circuito San Juan Villicum were amongst the most chaotic of the entire 2018 season. Fores was quick off the marks from pole, but his partners on the Race Two front row suffered much worse fates: Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) immediately fell to the fringes of the top ten, while Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) crashed out unopposed in lap three whilst riding in second place.
It would be a big understatement to say that Rea’s race start went less smoothly than in Race One. A strong start pushed him up into the top five at the lights, but a succession of mistakes through the end of lap one and the first half of lap two saw him lose positions to Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), nearly falling one further under pressure from Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati).
The Argentinian fans would not have to wait long for the comeback. Rea saw himself past Davies after the Welshman went in too hot at turn 1, then made good use of the back straight slipstream to edge smoothly past Lowes. A mistake from Razgatlioglu also left the Turkish rookie in the Northern Irishman’s wake. Meanwhile, a bruising battle for fourth saw Davies, Melandri and Lowes exchange places turn after turn.
At the four-lap mark, Fores had already opened a huge three-second gap taking advantage of Rea’s troubled start. This didn’t last: at a rate of nearly a second per lap, Rea caught up with the Spaniard and fought his way through to the front inside lap eight. Fores immediately pounced back at the back straight, but the Kawasaki’s pace was too much on the day and the weekend and, after moving back into the front half a lap later, Rea blasted into the lead and head-first into his tenth consecutive win, unchallenged from that point forwards.
A cool second for Fores means that he is now the official independent riders champion, thanks to his fifth podium of the year. Marco Melandri managed to return to the rostrum after a fantastic race-long duel with Davies, who finished fourth and again increases his gap with Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) to 24 points, after the Dutchman ended Race Two in ninth.
Tom Sykes managed to climb back to fifth following a strong second half to his race, with Lowes in sixth and Razgatlioglu back in seventh, after fading in the late stages. An anticlimactic ending to the rookie’s Argentinian round, but he still manages to claim the best points haul of his WorldSBK career over a race weekend.
Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) finished Race Two in eighth, whilst Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) made it into the top ten for only the third time this season. Local hero Leandro Mercado managed to finish in twelfth, after crashing in Race One.
That’s a wrap from San Juan! Don’t miss the final round of the season in two weeks’ time at Qatar, and catch all the highlights from the Motul Argentinian Round thanks to WorldSBK VideoPass.

World SSP : Cluzel wins in Argentina and sets up title showdown for Losail

Brilliant fifth victory of the season for the Frenchman ahead of Cortese and Mahias
With the flag down after a nerve-wrenching first contest at the Circuito San Juan Villicum, it is now official: the new champion will be crowned at the final race of the season. Jules Cluzel (NRT) did everything he could to keep the battle alive for Qatar, taking his fifth win of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship and forcing Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) to settle for second, with 2017 champion Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team).
Cluzel grabbed the holeshot at the start, moving ahead of Mahias from fourth on the grid inside lap one. The leading pair soon became an all-French trio, as Corentin Perolari (GMT94 Yamaha) flew up the ranks from seventh on the grid to third. It came at the expense of Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSSP Team), however – Perolari jetted down the inside line at turn 2, the pair clashed, and Caricasulo found himself on the floor, any remaining title options evaporated in the blink of an eye.
The championship leader suffered a disappointing start, slipping down to fourth behind the leading trio. Far from fearing for his lead in the standings, Cortese chose to play the long game. The German slowly chiseled away at the gap with Perolari, eventually finding a comfortable slipstream down the back straight to go into third. Same strategy to move past Mahias: down the kilometre-plus straight at San Juan, taking good advantage of the slipstream with less than five laps to go.
Then came the much-awaited showdown. Record laps tumbled one after the other, both men left in the championship battle pushing harder than ever before – but Cortese finding that extra inch, cutting tenth after tenth off Cluzel’s lead. The German set his eyes on the final lap and that extraordinary back straight, barely a couple of tenths behind at that point. But he found the extra speed just too late: Cluzel defended his line masterfully, and with the Frenchman marginally stronger in the final sector all race he managed to meet the chequered flag ahead. Cortese’s lead is now down to six points: a repeat of this result in Qatar would grant him the world title – but the pressure is on.
Mahias crossed the line in third for a repeat of the Magny-Cours podium, with Thomas Gradinger (NRT) also repeating his fourth position from France. Perolari got a nose ahead of Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros WorldSSP Team) in a rip-roaring sprint to the line, defeating the Swiss rider for fifth.
Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) was the first non-Yamaha rider in Argentina, leading a professional yet solitary race to seventh, followed over twelve seconds behind by the Kawasaki pair of Hikari Okubo and Héctor Barberà (Kawasaki Pucccett Racing) in eighth and ninth. Loris Cresson (Kallio Racing) returned to the top ten for the first time since Brno, while Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) was forced to retire after a mechanical issue.
The WorldSSP championship will go down to the wire! Catch the best moments of the Argentinian Round and gear up for the final round at Losail thanks to WorldSBK VideoPass.

FIA WEC ONE-TWO SUCCESS AT HOME FOR TOYOTA! / TOYOTA SIGNE UN DOUBLÉ À DOMICILE

One-two success at home for Toyota!
TOYOTA GAZOO RACING TOOK A PREDICTABLE WIN AT FUJI SPEEDWAY, JAPAN, ON SUNDAY. TOP PRIZE WENT TO THE N°7 TS050 HYBRID/MICHELIN OF CONWAY/KOBAYASHI/LOPEZ, WHILE BUEMI/NAKAJIMA/ALONSO (N°8) MADE IT A ONE-TWO FINISH FOR THE JAPANESE SQUAD ON HOME SOIL. PORSCHE/MICHELIN CAME FIRST IN BOTH LM GTE CLASSES.
 L’image contient peut-être : une personne ou plus
Despite starting last in the LMP1 order, the crew of the N°7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid successfully picked off its rivals one by one to secure its first victory of the 2018/2019 FIA WEC campaign. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose-Maria Lopez posted consistently quick times (fastest race lap: Lopez/1m25.603s) to earn Toyota Gazoo Racing’s sixth win at the Fuji International Speedway.
Wet conditions saw Japan’s WEC encounter get underway behind the safety car, with the majority of Michelin’s partners running on rain tyres. Ten or so laps into the race, however, there was a rush for the pits to fit intermediate rubber (Michelin’s ‘Hybrid’ slick in the case of the LM P1 prototypes) before everyone switched to slicks when the conditions dried. The mixed weather meant Michelin’s entire range of endurance racing tyres was used.
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The battle for third place essentially opposed the Rebellion and SMP Michelin-equipped non-hybrid prototypes. After problems for both teams (the N°3 Rebellion crashed out and the N°11 SMP prototype was delayed by an alternator belt problem), the final podium position ended up in the hands of Jani/Lotterer/Senna in the N°1 Rebellion/Michelin (+4 laps).
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In LM GTE Pro, there was another epic battle opposing every one of the five makes involved in the class. The pole-winning N°95 Aston Martin/Michelin led early on in the wet but, as the racing line dried, first place became the property of the N°82 BMW/Michelin, then the N°71 Ferrari/Michelin and, ultimately, the N°92 Porsche/Michelin. The 911 RSR of Kevin Estre/Michael Christensen crossed the line 12 seconds clear of the N°82 BMW (Blomqvist/Da Costa) which collected the German make’s best result to date. The N°67 Ford/Michelin and N°51 Ferrari/Michelin were third and fourth.
Porsche/Michelin secured the LM GTE Am laurels, too, thanks to the N°56 Team Project 1 car of Bergmeister/Lindsey/Perfetti. The N°88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche came second, ahead of the N°90 and N°98 Michelin-equipped Aston Martin Vantages.
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Jackie Chan DC Racing took first and second places in LMP2 with its N°37 and N°38 prototypes.
The last round of the year will take teams to Shanghai on November 18, although the Chinese race will not mark the end of the 2018/2019 ‘Super Season’, of course!
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SANS SURPRISE, LES TOYOTA TS050 HYBRID/MICHELIN N°7 (CONWAY/KOBAYASHI/LOPEZ) ET N°8 (BUEMI/NAKAJIMA/ALONSO) ONT SIGNÉ UN DOUBLÉ AUX 6 HEURES DE FUJI (JAPON). LA REBELLION/MICHELIN N°1 COMPLÈTE LE PODIUM. VICTOIRE DE PORSCHE/MICHELIN EN LM GTE PRO (N°92) ET LM GTE AM (N°56).
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Partie en dernière position des LMP1 sous la pluie, la Toyota/Michelin N°7 est remontée au fil des tours pour décrocher son 1er succès de la saison 2018/2019. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi et Jose-Maria Lopez ont signé des chronos très rapides tout au long des 6 heures de course sur le Fuji International Speedway (meilleur tour Lopez 1min25s603) pour offrir une 6e victoire à l’équipe Toyota Gazoo Racing au pied du Mont Fuji.
Comme souvent, la manche nippone du championnat FIA WEC s’est élancée sur une piste détrempée et sous safety-car. La plupart des voitures équipées par Michelin étaient en pneu « Wet ». Après une dizaine de tours, elles sont repassées au stand pour chausser les pneus intermédiaires, ou hybrides pour les prototypes, avant de poursuivre la course en slicks sur un revêtement sec. Toute la gamme des pneus Michelin d’Endurance fut donc utilisée.
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La Toyota/Michelin N°8 a assuré le doublé pour l’équipe japonaise, alors que derrière, la bagarre a fait rage entre les prototypes thermiques Rebellion/Michelin et SMP/Michelin. Après les déconvenues subies par la Rebellion N°3 (sortie de piste sous safety-car) et la N°11 (courroie d’alternateur), la 3e place du classement final est revenue à la Rebellion/Michelin N°1 de Jani/Lotterer/Senna qui termine à quatre tours du vainqueur.
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La course fut une nouvelle exceptionnelle en LM GTE Pro où les cinq marques engagées ont participé à la lutte pour la victoire à un point ou un autre de l’épreuve. Qualifié en pole position, Aston Martin/Michelin a mené le début de course sous la pluie avec la N°95.
Sur une piste séchante, elles ont cédé du terrain face à BMW/Michelin (N°82), à Ferrari/Michelin (N°71) et Porsche/Michelin (N°92). C’est la Porsche 911 RSR de Kevin Estre et Michael Christensen qui s’est finalement imposée avec 12 secondes d’avance sur la BMW N°82 (Blomqvist/Da Costa) qui signe son meilleur résultat. La Ford/Michelin N°67 complète le podium devant la Ferrari/Michelin N°51.
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Victoire également de Porsche/Michelin en catégorie LM GTE Am avec la N°56 du Team Project 1 (Bergmeister/Lindsey/Perfetti) devant la Porsche/Michelin N°88 Dempsey-Proton Racing. Les Aston Martin Vantage/Michelin N°90 et N°98 terminent aux places d’honneur. Doublé du team Jackie Chan DC Racing en LMP2 avec la N°37 et la N°38.
La dernière course de l’année 2018 – mais pas de la SuperSaison 2018/2019 – se tiendra à Shanghai (Chine) le 18 novembre
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