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OUt & ABOUT American asphalt to British gravel

Corvette GT Racing › Gronholm Rallycross › New VW’s

06 14 24



ith the end of the year’s motorsport upon us, we’ve selected two awesome national events from the UK and USA to round up the season in style with. First up, we’ve got two times ex-WRC champion, Marcus Gronholm and north-east driver, David Binks, taking on the competition in the British Rallycross Championships at Lydden Hill in Kent. Their ‘Best Buy’ Ford Fiesta Mk7 is a serious weapon, and the action did not disappoint... with Binks keen to out-gun not just his opponents, but rally legend, Gronholm too. Awesome gravel spitting stuff. Also this issue, our sassy Road Magazine American correspondent, Ashley Van Dyke, follows a top team of Corvette drivers in the six-hour ModSpace American Le Mans Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca... GT Car action at its Stateside best? Finally, Road snapper, Neil Denham travels to the depths of the Yorkshire moors to get to grips with some new VW’s – the excellent 170PS Polo GTi, revised Amarok pick-up and the all-new Passat TDi, with BlueMotion technology. Any good? It’s another packed, diverse FREE issue of Road! So enjoy!


Best Buy Ford Fiesta Mk7 rallycross driver, David Binks, takes ex-WRC Champion, Marcus Gronholm, to Lydden Hill in Kent, to have a go in the British Rallycross Championships


t the end of a thrill packed British Rallycross Championship encounter at Lydden Hill, it was ‘the Boss’ Marcus Gronholm who took the #43 Best Buy Ford Fiesta Mk7 to Victory Lane. Joining him on the podium was Best Buy’s regular UK driver, David Binks who had an excellent debut event in his OMSE prepared Ford Fiesta. The day was not plain sailing for the Best Buy twins as both had drama on the way to the podium, but Marcus and David both overcame adversity to enthrall the record crowd. They will take away lots of memories... none more so that than the sight of Gronholm tipping the car onto two wheels all the way around the North Bend Hairpin before miraculously putting the car back onto four wheels and even maintaining his lead! The gasps and cheers from the crowd were audible above the roar of the engines. Marcus admitted that even he was a little worried: “I thought, oh I need to keep the wheels straight, but it seemed like forever before it came back

down. It was an interesting moment!” Typically understated from the champ! David Binks, making his debut in the new car, set second fastest times in the first heats before a transmission problem meant he didn’t start Heat 2. However, he bounced back well to post the third fastest time for Heat 3, putting himself on the outside of the three-car front row, with his teammate

Gronholm on pole. The final took two attempts before getting underway. Marcus nailed his start – something that has been his Achilles heel – and led the pack into the first corner. Binks also made a good start and battled fellow front row man Kevin Proctor (Ford Focus) into the first corner. The Fiesta had the pace, but Binks was on the outside line and had to fall in behind Proctor

and give chase. As Gronholm controlled the race from the front, Binks initially hounded the back of Proctor’s Focus but couldn’t find a way past. The race then settled into a rhythm as the first three circulated nose to tail without any changes. With Gronholm and Binks standing on the podium, the weekend was a great success for the Best Buy/ OMSE Ford Fiesta team.   Marcus Gronholm said:

“Yes, this was a great result. The Best Buy Ford Fiesta Mk7 was excellent today. I worried myself a little when the car went up on two wheels, but thankfully it landed on four! It was a great way to end the season with Best Buy and to see all the fans was amazing.” David Binks said: “I’m really pleased with 3rd place. The Best Buy Ford Fiesta was awesome and it has been great working

with OMSE. I is incredible how they prepare the car between heats. In the third heat I was second to Marcus and followed him around and my splits were very even. To be on par with someone like Marcus is tremendous and I couldn’t have done that without being in this car.” Andreas Eriksson (team manager) said: “I’m pleased with the result, although I think we should have been

a 1-2. Marcus proved why he is a 2x World Champion and didn’t put a wheel wrong all day – even when he got the car up on two wheels! You can’t argue with the result. David listened to everything that Marcus and myself told him. He has a lot of potential and will certainly win very soon. Having two race winners is a nice problem for me – and Best Buy – to have.” What a fabulous event!

“I worried myself when the car went up on two wheels!”


Le Mans: GT USA style

Ashley Van Dyke takes to the track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, following Corvette C6.R in the thrilling six-hour ModSpace American Le Mans Series


just enjoyed an awesome road trip to one of my favourite west coast race tracks – Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – for the sixhour ModSpace American Le Mans Series race. This special weekend marks one of five no sound restriction weekends that take place each year at this historical race track. I love the racing in this closefought series. The GT race cars are seriously exciting to be around. I have been rooting for the Corvette team all season long: It’s been an up and down year so far for them in 2011, so I headed up north to check out the action first hand and cheer for good results! The No. 4 Corvette C6.R currently sits second in the point standings going into this race weekend, thanks to a very consistent finishes. Drivers Gavin and Magnussen celebrated a win at

Mosport, runner-up finishes at Long Beach and MidOhio, and third at the inaugural streets of Baltimore race. Heading into the sixhour race they were just 25 points back behind current GT leaders Hand and Mueller in the fierce some BMW. “We’ve got to perform at the top of our game, while keeping in mind that we have to score maximum points and not take any un-

necessary risks,” said Oliver Gavin, who co-drives with Jan Magnussen. “Jan and I have been in this position before with championships on the line. You’ve got to be smart, respect the machinery, and keep one eye on a good result in the race and the other on the championship. These final rounds are always gut wrenching.” He continues: “We’re still very much in the champion-

ship hunt and we definitely have a chance to win the title, but we need a good result and the BMWs to be a bit unlucky,” Magnussen added. “It can be done, and the whole team is pushing in that direction.” Qualifying took place on Friday and Gavin was behind the wheel attempting to find another tenth of second. He did... putting the No. 4 Compuware Cor-

vette from sixth to second on the GT grid. This was the third consecutive front-row qualifying effort by the No.4 car following second place starts at Road America and the Baltimore Grand Prix. “I knew by Turn 7 that it was going to be a good lap,” Gavin recalled. “I’d been losing some time in the Corkscrew because I was trying too hard and overshooting the corner.

This time I backed down a little bit, got through the turn quickly, and then it was just hauling through the rest of the corners to the startfinish line.” Saturday brought great race conditions. The weather was warmer than expected with not much of a marine layer in the morning. The sun was out and it was a perfectly clear day. As the cars lined the grid, the

teams were getting set to go racing for a full, hardcore six hours… very exciting! I had the chance to get some photos and wish the drivers good luck before they embarked on this tough race at this phenomenal circuit. Gavin held his second place starting position until lap 14, before he was overtaken by the No. 55 BMW. He then continued to loose position, falling back to

enth place, due to lack of grip and as his tyres began to go off. The team decided to short pit, putting them off sequence with the leaders. Gavin was back up to third shortly thereafter, but fell back to seventh again. This was the trend of the race for the No. 4 Corvette. Ups and

downs! That’s racing! But great pit calls by the team kept the race interesting. Gavin was up to second place again after a few hours of racing. However, they were not hooked up on the long runs. The set-up wasn’t working and tyres were giving away grip much

quicker than the competitors. “Looking at lap times, we had cars that were very competitive today,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “Unfortunately we couldn’t find a set-up that would allow the cars to keep the tyres

a win when we come back here next year. I definitely think it’s just a blip, since we’ve been competitive at every other event this year.” Magnussen agreed: “At the beginning of the stint, the car was really good, but then it dropped off about halfway through, so we couldn’t really keep up the under them for an entire pace. When the car was stint.” good, we were right there “It was a very long day, with the leaders.” and definitely not the result It wasn’t the result this we were looking for,” Gavin Corvette team was looking said. “For whatever reason, for heading into the second today we sustained high to final race of the season. tyre wear and a drop in grip. They are now 33 points beWe’ll get to the bottom of hind the GT class leaders as this so that we can fight for they head to Road Atlanta.

With the 2011 championship officially out of reach, BMW has clenched the GT title leaving Laguna Seca, the team will race all-out at Petit looking for a win. “The American Le Mans Series GT class is one of the most competitive and exciting in motorsports,” states Jim Campbell, US Vice President of Performance Vehicles & Motorsports at General Motors. “The schedule includes a variety of race formats that truly put our cars & team to the test. Corvette Racing has won endurance races including last year’s Petit Le Mans and this year’s 24

Hours of Le Mans. We look forward to returning to Road Atlanta to compete in the 2011 Petit Le Mans endurance event.� With hopes set high to repeat the results from last year, all eyes were now on Petit Le Mans. The team found their first win of the season at this prestigious race in 2011. So much preparation and focus goes into this final race of the year. The 10-hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta took place on October 1st and the team managed a great 14th overall, even with cars like the Peugeot 908 competing. It’s a great end to the season. Roll on 2012!


3 of A Kind

Road staff snapper, Neil Denham, travels to Yorkshire, to take a closer look at three new VW’s: The 170PS Polo GTI, the rugged Amarok pick-up and the latest Passat TDi. Mind the sheep!


W’s rough, tough Amarok has had a revamp for 2011: New direct injection TDi engines, with a bi-turbo range topper. Class-leading space, truck bed width and height, cargo loading abilities and payload capacity. And VW’s excellent 4Motion drivetrain. There’s now also a new single cab on the market. There’s a lot to like about the burly pick-up from VW. The ride height and view from the cabin are excellent. And it’s not a bad ride, if a little bouncy, as you’d expect with rear leaf springs. But it’s good for an empty

pick up and would suit a farmer with a bail of hay in the back, which is indeed a big space. Apparently in the new single cab version you can get two pallets on board. Sweet! Not so good bits? Very soft brakes, the clutch bites early (I stalled it a few times in traffic), the new TDi engine feels sluggish, and the heater controls are far too sensitive. And some people may like the bling, but for me its a pick up to carry stuff. But what do I know? Apparently it’s sold out in many places and is very popular.


he Polo GTi is VW’s latest hot Polo option – boasting 170PS from its clever, fast and frugal 1.4 super and turbocharged TSi engine, as found in the Skoda Fabia vRS and Seat Ibiza Cupra... both of which are between £2000 and £3000 cheaper than the £19,415 VW. Mmmm. The Polo GTI is also up against the class-leading Renaultsport Clio 200 full of French fun and flair, £2500 cheaper and, I’m sad to say (as an old school Polo G40 fan), a lot more dynamic. Despite being a small car, I felt comfortable in it being a six-footer. And whilst it’s a good looking package inside and out, I didn’t warm to the drive. The mandatory twin clutch DSG, seven-

speed gear box may sound like a great idea, but it’s just not, for a GTi. It’s so slow to catch up when you push it, which is surely the point of a GTI? The ‘manual’ change on the steering column was better, but not by much. It is a quick little car mind and feels light (it’s

1269Kg), so you’d expect the quoted 142mph top speed, 0-62mph in 6.9sec and economy of 47.9mpg, which is impressive. It just feels a little too softcore to earn the hallowed GTi badge though. Polo GT would set the expectation bar lower, and it would de-

liver at that level, for sure. The Polo GTI is neat, extremely well made, stylish, smart, clever and fits the modern world demanding performance with economy, I’m just not sure if it’s got enough about it to excite, sadly, as I wanted to like it, but was left a little cold.


he all-new 2011 Passat picks up the mantle its predecessors have thrown down, with enviro-gusto. Commuters, family men and those with green tendencies take note... this 1.6-litre TDi BlueMotion was recently tested and ran an incredible 1,000 miles, on one tank of diesel, averaging over 65.7mpg! Now that is impressive, I think you’ll agree. I like the Passat. It’s just one of those cars VW have got right. It looks good. It’s got a great spec. It’s seriously comfortable and balanced on the road. It’s bloody good transport... if a tad on the dull side. The steering is too heavy to get good feeling. And the new, quieter, smoother and

far more economical (I was getting around 50-60mpg pottering around the glorious North Yorkshire moors) TDi engine doesn’t feel as pokey as my older 1999 model, with a lot of miles on her clock. It’s claimed to be able to get to 60mph in 12.2 seconds... enough said?

I’m also not a fan of the aluminium dash or the bling on the outside. And, unlike the Polo GTI, there’s no tartan seats, which is a shame. At £20,920, like most VW’s it is not cheap, but neither does it feel it. So, if you want sedate, big mpg, class and comfort... voila!

BIG THANKS TO: NEIL DENHAM Photographer +44 (0) 1434 221 179 +44 (0) 7975 560 973 www.denhamweddings.


This issue we finish the 2011 motorsport season in style: First up, we’ve got two times ex-WRC champion, Marcus Gronholm and north-east driv...

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