Tuesday, February 14, 2012

SIC hope for record turnout with six world champs on the grid

KUALA LUMPUR: Tuesday was a day for love and Sepang International Circuit (SIC) were also looking to spark the same enthusiasm for fans to support this year’s Petronas Formula One Malaysia Grand Prix from March 23-25.

SIC, the promoters and organisers of the event, timed their official launch for the premier motor racing event at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur last night to coincide with Valentine’s Day.

SIC chairman Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir said with the unprecedented presence of six world champions on the grid this year, SIC are hoping to woo in a record-breaking 90,000 fans on race day alone.

SIC recorded an attendance of 105,000 spectators for three days last year.

“I am hoping that more fans will come on race day this time around as we will have six world champions doing battle for the first time in Malaysia.

“With the return of 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen, the Malaysia Grand Prix is expected to be a mouth-watering affair as he will be joined on the grid by current champion Sebastian Vettel and former winners Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher,” said Mokhzani.

Nicknamed the “Iceman”, Raikkonen is making a comeback with the Lotus F1 Team after a two-year hiatus competing in the World Rally Championship.

With the season due to start in Australia on March 16-18, the attention will shift to Malaysia a week later where the drivers will attempt to continue their mission to challenge the hegemony of German driver Vettel, who has ruled for the past two years.

At only 24, Vettel is gunning to become the youngest to win a hat-trick of world titles but he will not have an easy ride.

In addition to all the excitement, the Malaysia Grand Prix will also be a special occasion for Malaysia as SIC welcome back the participation of three Malaysian-backed teams on the grid.

The three teams are Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, Lotus F1 Team and Caterham F1 Team.

Mokhzani added they will work hard to make the 14th edition of the Malaysia Grand Prix the best ever since 1999.

“SIC have a lot to offer to all motorsports enthusiasts. Our tickets are the most affordable in the world.

“Based on an independent study, the preliminary results indicated that the Malaysian Grand Prix last year alone generated a total econo­mic activity of approximately RM200mil.

“This is part of the spill-over effect of F1 in generating tourism dollars with many racing fans who come over to Malaysia for the sole purpose of watching the race most likely extending their stay to visit the other attractions in our country,” he added.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

When a Bentley flew in

MUNICH: Bentley's new 4.0 litre V8 Continental GT coupe made a dramatic entrance into Germany with a flying debut above downtown Munich.

The bright red Bentley was seen by Munich residents taking a dramatic short-cut, suspended beneath a helicopter, to beat the traffic jams and arrive at a podium at the top of a high rise complex close to Munich’s city centre on Friday.

The fashionable SkyLounge – positioned in a glazed bridge between two skyscrapers – was the venue for an exclusive Bentley Continental V8 launch party for 300 VIP guests.

Klaus Becker, General Manager of Bentley Munich, who organised the show-stopping helicopter lift said: “A dramatic car got the debut we felt it deserved and we took a little bit of our inspiration from Bentley’s iconic ‘Winged B’ emblem. On a practical level the helicopter was the fastest way to get to the rooftop podium.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Terengganu sending students to Germany

KUALA TERENGGANU: Terengganu has chosen Germany as a base to train its students in automotive engineering starting this year, says Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said.

He said the state decided to place students at the Technical University of Berlin because of Germany's success in making the world's top cars such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

"The university has agreed to accommodate Terengganu students doing autmotive engineering but first they must learn the German language," he said here on Wednesday.

Ahmad said the expertise gained will give the people of Terengganu more opportunities to work in some of the top automotive companies in the world.

"The number of students sent will be based on need, their willingness and eligibility to attend the course," he said, adding that the Terengganu Foundation would sponsor them.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Active seat-belt buckle to the fore

STUTTGART: When you thought no more improvements can be made to the humble seat belt, Mercedes-Benz steps in to disprove the notion with its active seat-belt buckle.

The tweak is set to be incorporated into belts that will go into series production soon in one of its models.

The "active" part refers to the use of an electric motor that extends and retracts the seat belt buckle automatically, picking up the belt slack in the area of the pelvis and thorax. This holds passengers more firmly in sideways and lengthways directions.

In addition, fastening seat belts in the rear is also made much simpler: the seat belt buckle emerges from the upholstery when the rear doors are opened and is provided with an illuminated insertion slot.

Simplifying use of the seat belt in this manner may increase the percentage of rear passengers who buckle up. The innovation also makes it easier to assist children or people who require help in fastening their seat belts.

The Mercedes safety experts have developed active seat-belt buckle using detailed computer models of the human body, as dummies are only able to simulate the human pelvic system.

Active seat-belt buckles are part of the car maker's integrated safety concept.

This means that whenever PRE-SAFE becomes active in critical driving situations or when a critical distance from other objects is detected, reversible belt tensioning is also effected in the rear via the active seat-belt buckle function.

The restraint system and the passengers are thus better prepared for a possible accident situation.

Active seat-belt buckle complements the pyrotechnic belt tensioning which has featured as standard on all outer rear seats in Mercedes-Benz vehicles for years now. This pyrotechnic system is triggered in the event of actual impact.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Honda to introduce new engine series

LONDON: The first example of Honda’s new Earth Dreams Technology will go on display at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.

The 1.6-litre diesel is the first in a new generation of powerplants being introduced over the next three years, boasting high performance, while being eco-friendly.

Lining up next to the engine display will be the NSX Concept, EV-STER and a prototype of the European CR-V.

The 1.6-litre diesel will be the first engine from the series and will be fitted in the new Civic in late 2012.

It produces 120 PS at 4,000rpm and offers peak torque of 300Nm at 2,000rpm

The engine will be the lightest engine in its class, delivering sub 100g/km CO2 levels and a class-leading balance of fuel economy and performance.

A cut engine display of the new 1.6 litre diesel will be shown at the Geneva show in March.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Spanish bank extends Ferrari sponsorship

LONDON: Spanish bank Santander have extended their sponsorship of Fernando Alonso's Ferrari until the end of the 2017 season, the Italian Formula One team said.

The biggest bank in the troubled Eurozone had previously signed a five-year deal with the sport's oldest and most successful team, whose main driver is Spain's double champion Alonso, from the start of 2010.

Alonso's contract runs to the end of 2016.

"We are pleased to have extended our relationship with the Santander Bank," said team principal Stefano Domenicali in a statement on Friday.

"In these first two years together, we have been able to see on a daily basis how much our two companies share the same values."

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thai police nab Malaysian duo over bike thefts

SADAO: Thai police have crippled a Malaysia-based syndicate which stole motorcycles for sale in the Thai market.

Two Malaysians have been detained to facilitate investigations.

The suspects, aged 17 and 26, were picked up on Dec 7, at their rented house in Ban Khlong Hai Kong here.

Kedah police deputy chief Datuk Abdul Ghafar Abdul Rejab said the suspects were linked to the theft of different models of motorcycles at the Kubang Pasu district and Kota Setar.

He said the duo had smuggled the stolen machines to Thailand through the Bukit Kayu Hitam Immigration Customs Quarantine Complex when the border gate opened at 6am, and between 11.30pm and midnight, to avoid detection.

"They sold the stolen motorcycles for RM1,300 each," he said when met at the handing over of six stolen motorcycles to the Malaysian police here.

Abdul Ghafar said in the raid, Thai police found six motorcycles worth RM18,000, and six other cannibalised machines for sale.

He said the teenage suspect was handed over to the Malaysian police last week to facilitate investigations while the other was in Thai police custody for a drug-related case.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

US buyers shying from foreign cars, says J.D. Power

LOS ANGELES: The percentage of American car buyers avoiding foreign brands has increased to an all-time high, according to a new report.

J.D. Power and Associates revealed last week that the share of US buyers who avoid import models because of their origin has increased to 14 percent, the highest level since the 'Avoider Study' was initiated in 2003.

The study, based on nearly 25,000 responses to a survey in fall 2011, examines the reasons consumers avoid certain vehicles when shopping for a new car.

In contrast to the rise in avoidance of foreign-built models, J.D. Power said that US-made cars are doing well - the percentage of buyers avoiding domestic models such as Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler now stands at six percent, another record low.

The firm says that the economic recession has prompted a 'buy-American' sentiment, adding that the quality, dependability and appeal of American cars is also on the rise.

Although the nationality of a car is important, buyers are far more likely to dismiss a brand because of their perceptions of reliability, the survey showed - 43 percent of avoiders say that their choice was due to "the brand's vehicles, in general, are known to have poor quality/reliability."

A significantly smaller percentage - 38 percent - based their decision on ratings and reviews, J.D. Power said.

Buyers are increasingly opting for US-built models such as those by Chevrolet. - Relaxnews