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With Liam Bird

2020 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 06 / Rally d’Italia Sardegna / October 8-11, 2020 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

ELFYN EVANS TOPS THE WRC POINTS TABLE WITH JUST TWO ROUNDS REMAINING

Evans continues to lead the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship after a solid fourth place finish in Rally Italia Sardinia.

With his closest rival – Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Sébastien Ogier – finishing one place higher in third, the Welshman now holds a slightly reduced 14-point advantage in his quest to become the first British driver – the first Welshman in fact – to win the WRC title since the Colin McRae (Scottish) and Richard Burns (English) era nearly 20 years ago.

While Evans remains on target for the coveted crown, his task has been made harder by the addition of an extra round to this year’s COVID-19 truncated calendar. This new event based at the famous Monza F1 circuit in early December will supplement the already confirmed Renties Ypres Rally Belgium (19-22 November).

Arriving on the Mediterranean Island as the outright championship leader, Evans’ hopes of victory were always slim. Running first on the gravel tracks during the opening six stages meant he and co-driver Scott Martin would be acting as road-sweepers in their Yaris WRC, clearing away the loose top surfaces thus giving those behind a cleaner, grippier surface.

Minimising the time lost, the 31-year-old Dolgellau driver ended the opening loop of competitive stages in a respectable fifth place but already too far adrift to challenge those ahead for a podium place over the weekend’s ten remaining speed tests.

“We have come away from the weekend as best as we could really with solid points,” admitted Evans who will not have the same road cleaning issues on the remaining two rounds as both are staged on asphalt roads.

“Of course, you always want more than fourth place but we knew coming here starting first on the road was going to be tough and in the end I think fourth was realistically the most we could achieve…

 … So yes, not our strongest performance but a solid weekend considering the circumstances and the Yaris WRC felt great again. Now going onto asphalt, being first on the road should normally be an advantage and we will be hoping that will be the case.”


SUZUKI MOTOR CORPORATION DEVELOPS THE WORLD’S FIRST MICRO-PLASTIC COLLECTING DEVICE FOR OUTBOARD MOTORS

Suzuki Motor Corporation is continually seeking to develop innovative solutions to environmental issues associated with the manufacturing of automotive and marine products and has now developed the world’s first Micro-Plastic Collecting Device for installation on outboard motors.

Marine plastic waste is a growing environmental issue with a huge amount of mismanaged waste flowing into the oceans each year. The waste then breaks down into micro-plastics in the ocean’s ecosystem, significantly impacting marine life. To help tackle this issue, Suzuki has focused on the structure of the outboard motor, which pumps up tons of seawater to cool the engine and then returns the water to the ocean. Suzuki has developed a device which collects micro-plastic waste from the returning water. Through this device, micro-plastic waste can be collected just by running the engine. The device can be easily installed to the return hose and does not affect the engine performance since it only utilizes the returning water that has already been used to cool the engine. Research conducted in Japan, found a substantial amount of micro-plastic waste was found within the filter.

Suzuki plans to introduce the device as optional from 2021 and incorporate it as a standard feature in the future.


NIALL EVANS WINS JOHN ARFON EDWARDS MEMORIAL PRIZE 

A journalism graduate has won a £1,000 prize, a driving experience at Silverstone, and work experience at some of the UK’s top automotive publications.

Niall Evans was one of four students taking the automotive journalism module at Cardiff University, with work entered for the annual prize offered by Welsh Motoring Writers (WMW).

But the prize presentation differed this year from previous years, as it was held remotely via Zoom.

WMW chair, Simon Harris, joined three of the students in the virtual presentation, along with, Tim Holmes, associate director PGT at Cardiff University, School of Journalism, Media and Culture.

Some of the work submitted looked at the implications of autonomous technology and electric vehicles, while one article covered vehicle modifications.

Niall’s work looked at the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the new car sales infrastructure, and how it has increased appetite for buying cars online.

Niall, of Bridgend, said: “It’s a bit of a cliche but I’ve always had an interest in both writing and cars, but wasn’t sure how to get into with motoring journalism.

“I was a bit surprised to see a motoring journalism elective on the MA course and I decided to get involved, as I hadn’t seen any journalists discuss a set route into the industry.

“It seemed like a good way to learn a bit more about motoring on a professional level, and potentially meet some contacts.

“Being selected as the John Arfon Edwards memorial prize winner has given me a clearer path into a somewhat obscure career, with work experience at Haymarket and funding to cover any expenses, and has also introduced me to a number of helpful contacts.

“Backing from the Welsh Motoring Writers and being part of the motoring course in general has been a solid first step into the industry, and I would encourage any aspiring automotive journalists to come to Cardiff and get involved.”

Set up by WMW in memory of founder member and first treasurer, John Arfon Edwards who died in 2014, the prize is co-sponsored by Porsche Cars GB. It includes a driving day at the Porsche Experience Centre, Silverstone, and two weeks’ work experience at Haymarket Media Group with time spent on What Car? and Autocar.

However, because of restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic, Haymarket Media Group has agreed to defer the period of work experience until it may be possible for Niall to spend time in its offices.

Simon added: “All four students submitted high-quality work, but we felt Niall’s piece was more topical, dealing with a subject playing out in real time, and seems to reach new developments every day.

“We congratulate Niall, but hope all four of the graduates find their place in the automotive publishing landscape.

“We are also extremely grateful to Porsche Cars GB, and to Haymarket Media Group, for their continued support in this prestigious award.”


VOLKSWAGEN COMMERCIAL VEHICLES REINTRODUCES POPULAR CALIFORNIA 6.1 BEACH MODEL

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is reintroducing the Beach model to the California 6.1 range, following increased interest in campervans as more people holiday in the UK. The California 6.1 Beach will feature two variants, Camper and Tour, with prices starting from £52,062.

By extending the California 6.1 range to include two new versions, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles aims to make the California line-up more accessible for larger families and to those who need a more flexible MPV to accommodate their hobbies or occasional rest stops.

The California van has been the campervan of choice for many, providing the ideal companion to explore some of the UK’s most popular destinations as more people opt for staycations instead of travelling abroad. The addition of the Beach to the line-up makes the range more comprehensive allowing customers to tailor the campervan to suit their needs.

The Camper and Tour models went on sale in late October with deliveries expected by March 2021. Both feature a manual pop-up hydraulic roof, 17-inch alloy wheels, DAB radio with App Connect and a camping table with two folding chairs. Both models come with the 2.0 TDI 150PS seven-speed engine and direct-shift gearbox (DSG).

The California Beach 6.1 Tour features five seats as standard, with an option to increase to six or seven making this the only factory-produced camper on the market flexible enough to seat this many people. It also features sliding doors on both passenger and driver’s sides to ease entry and exit. Prices start from £52,062.

The California Beach 6.1 Camper features four seats as standard with an option to increase to five, as well as a pull-out mini kitchen that includes a single gas hob and pull-out awning. Prices start from £52,302*.

Further details on the new California Beach will be available on www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk


SEVEN TIPS FOR SAFER SENIOR DRIVING, FROM GEM MOTORING ASSIST

ROAD SAFETY and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist says older drivers can stay safer for longer by reflecting on their driving, and by knowing where they can get expert safety advice.

The statement follows the release of last week’s road casualty figures for 2019, showing a nine per cent increase in the number of people aged 60 and over killed in road collisions (from 588 in 2018 to 638 in 2019)1.

“We are committed to playing our part in reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on the UK’s roads, regardless of how old they may be or how they use the roads,” said GEM’s chief executive Neil Worth.

“Today two thirds of people aged 70 and over still hold a driving licence, compared with less than 40 per cent in the mid 1990s2. So with more people staying mobile for longer, it’s vital we take the time to understand better their vulnerabilities and the situations where they may be at higher risk.

“The process of ageing is different for every single person. That’s why GEM is keen to encourage senior drivers to reflect on their own driving, to understand where they may be experiencing difficulty, and to know where to get practical advice.

“The GEM Experienced Driver Assessment, offered in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), is a perfect place to start. After all, it’s usually the first refresher training anyone gets since passing their driving tests 40, 50 or more years previously.

“It has for the past 20 years helped thousands of senior drivers to reflect on their own safety and risk. An assessment, which costs £55, lasts an hour and is spent using road types most appropriate to an individual driver’s usual journeys.

“Equally useful is a commitment from every driver – regardless of age and experience – to be willing to reflect on the risks they may face, and the risks they pose to others. The best drivers are willing to recognise the situations that may lead to increased risk, and to ask where, when and why they occur.

“Learning from those situations, perhaps with some expert help, is a good way for a senior driver to stay as safe as possible for as long as possible.”

GEM has assembled the following seven key tips to help seniors stay safe behind the wheel:

Get fit and stay fit. If possible, do some exercise for 15 to 20 minutes each day. Get a regular eye test. This allows early detection of possible problems.

Get a driver MOT, such as GEM’s experienced driver assessment. It’s an enjoyable way of updating your skills.

Make sure the car you drive best suits your current needs.

Adapt your driving to avoid journeys that cause you stress or discomfort.

Reflect on your driving, learn from your mistakes and near misses. Don’t pretend they’re not happening.

Plan your journeys to avoid using the roads at really busy times, and build in plenty of breaks on longer journeys.

Listen to the thoughts of family members and friends. If they express concern about your driving, it’s because they care about you staying safe.


A lone motorcyclist passes unrepaired pothole surface damage to tarmac on a rural road

RIDERS BEWARE… POOR ROAD SURFACES CAUSE MORE THAN 500 ROAD ACCIDENTS

Poor or defective road surfaces, one of the major causes of motorcycle accidents, were a contributory factor in more than 500 reported road accidents. That’s according to analysis by TrackDays.co.uk, a leading track day provider, of the latest figures from the Department for Transport (DfT).

Just as alarmingly, recent research by the Asphalt Industry Alliance found that the average local authority highway maintenance funding is now 20 per cent less in real terms than in 2010, with one in five local roads now classed as structurally poor.

Dan Jones, operations manager at TrackDays.co.uk, said: “These are worrying findings for all motorists and motorcyclists in particular. Poor road surfaces, such as potholes, can present a real danger.

“While there has been a slight drop in recent years in these types of accidents, it is still not enough, especially when you consider that other independent research shows that the number of potholes being repaired in England and Wales has fallen.”

Meanwhile, further data analysed by TrackDays.co.uk from the DfT’s Reported Road Casualties Great Britain Annual Report 2019, discovered some of the other most common causes of accidents where the road environment was a factor to blame.

These included a deposit on a road, such as oil, mud or chippings, which was a contributory factor in 842 reported accidents in 2019, while inadequate or masked signs or road markings were a contributory factor in 351 reported accidents in Great Britain.

However, as autumn and winter arrives, traditionally the wettest months of the year, by far the biggest cause of accidents was slippery roads due to inclement weather, which was a contributory factor in more than 5,500 reported accidents.

Dan added: “Slippery roads cause on average more than 15 accidents a day, so we would urge all car drivers and motorcyclists to take extra care as we enter autumn and winter, normally the wettest months of the year.”

For more information about TrackDays.co.uk, whether it’s for an own vehicle track day on a motorbike or in a car, or for a driving experience in a supplied car, visit www.trackdays.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

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