Monday, 10 December 2012

Great News from the South West.....

We've just heard about a new event in Devon celebrating all things motoring....

For many years the South West has been sorely in need of a true festival event to celebrate all things motoring - and we are delighted to announce the inaugural Castle Hill Car Festival to be held on Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th August 2013.

The Festival will be staged in the magnificent parkland grounds of the Castle Hill estate near South Molton in Devon, just 40 mins from the M5, and will include a display of over 1,000 classic and historic vehicles from clubs and private owners and will feature a special showcase display of Aston Martins to celebrate their centenary year.

Bonhams, the international specialist auctioneers and valuers will have a team of staff on hand to provide advice as well as confidential valuations for owners. In addition there will be a Trade Exhibition area for products and services to the classic car market.

For the more ambitious owners there will be an exciting MSA regulated sprint trial organised by the North Devon Motor Club through the heart of the estate, plus a choice of two road rallies. In addition there will be a full programme of arena events and an extensive auto jumble.

More information and a booking form is available for download from our website at -

The cost for exhibiting cars will be £5.00, (includes driver and one passenger) for one or both days and camping is available for £10.00. Food, drink and evening entertainment will be available for campers.

There has been considerable interest in the Festival and club spaces are expected to book out quickly and so early booking will be essential. Applications will be approved on a first come, first served basis.

Here at UKMT we have also noted the very reasonable visitor ticket prices... Adults £12, Children 5-16 £6, and under-fives £FREE..! There won't be any advance ticket sales... Payment is cash only on entrance to the site.

Honda named "Most Reliable Car Manufacturer"

I'm sure that when purchasing a new car, its "reliability" is a factor that, alongside design, economy, safety, and cost, we all consider quite important...  We would be daft not to, particularly if it is the primary way we get to work, drive the kids to school, go shopping, etc...

However, quantifying this "reliability" can be quite difficult, with most of us relying on a manufacturer's reputation, often decades old, and things our friends say, good and bad...

A survey carried out by Warranty Direct and has tried to add a touch of science to the proceedings... and named Honda as "the most reliable car manufacturer", with Suzuki and Toyota coming second and third, in, perhaps unsurprising to our "reputation" and "gossip" reliant team, a clean sweep for Japanese manufacturers.

The overall order is dictated by each manufacturers Reliability Index (RI) score, which takes into account the average number of and cost of failures which occur to each model produced by a manufacturer. This is based on data collected through thousands of car warranty policies which are held by Warranty Direct customers with vehicles which are less than 10 years old and have under 100,000 miles on the clock.

The average RI score is 100 and the lower the score, the more "reliable" a manufacturers vehicles tend to be. However, it should be noted that by taking into consideration average repairs costs, more expensive luxury brands, perhaps with fewer, but more expensive faults, are going to be disadvantaged.

Interestingly, Honda didn’t have it all their own way, with the Kia Picanto being statistically "the most reliable individual model".

Honda also missed out on the title of manufacturer with the "cheapest average repair costs", with this accolade being taken by Ford. The fact that Honda didn’t feature in the top ten of this list, serves to make their overall victory all the more impressive!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Bluebird K3 back on the water

75 years after it set the world water speed record, driven by Sir Malcolm Campbell, the legendary Bluebird K3 was back in the water, not in Italy, but just up the road from me in Bewl Water just off the A21..!

Knowing of my interest in the 22 year restoration project the BBC asked me to commentate on the historic event as owner/restorer Karl Foulkes-Halbard took to the water for systems tests.

The massive 27 litre Rolls Royce engine - the original and same one that had previously set the World Land Speed record at over 300 mph - sounded glorious as it  purred out across the huge lake taking it very gently in this first of several trials before they take it to Lake Maggiore in Italy early next year to demonstrate how it finally raised the World Water Speed record to 131 mph in 1938 before being retired as at the end of its development. A new boat was in the wings but war intervened.

The engine and hull developments of this record holder were all at the very cutting edge of development and there is a clear lineage from K3 to the legendary Spitfire, in its day it was like beholding the beginning of the space age!

It’s amazing to remember that father and son Sir Malcolm and Donald Campbell between them set 21 Land and Water Speed records - real Boys Own Paper heroes.

Graham Benge

Useful links: - The K3 Bluebird Official Website - BBC News video clip - BBC News article on the restoration project

Guten tag, I must be going..

And so, in the light of The Worst Kept Secret In Formula One being revealed (see previous post re Lewis Hamilton's future employment prospects) we must bid farewell to the man in whose place young Mr Hamilton shall be racing next year.

Yes, at the ripe old age of 43, Herr Michael 'Schumi' Schumacher is hanging up the old crash hat & racing boots for the second time in his career and sloping off to spend more time with his millions, sorry, family.

When the newly re-branded Mercedes team announced that team principal (and man whose name resided above the factory door for 12 months) Ross Brawn had lured his old pal out of retirement to drive for him a couple of years ago, the response from Formula One fans was mixed to say the least.

Whilst some were ecstatic that the man who'd chalked up a stunning seven World Championship titles would be returning to show the current crop of PR-friendly automata just what a real racer looked like, others feared - justifiably it seems - that Michael would have lost his edge in the 3 years he'd been sat at home observing proceedings on what would most likely have been one of the biggest tellys in existence..

On the face of it, Michael's presence at the pointy end of the new venture had all the hallmarks of yet another smart move from master tactician Ross Brawn & the suitably well-funded Mercedes outfit. Whilst he would undoubtedly be a bit rusty in the new style F1 car with its considerably-reduced amounts of downforce and fully-slick tyres, it wouldn't take this wily old stager long to get back up to speed and start putting in competitive laps on a par with his widely-admired rising star team mate, Nico Rosberg. As it transpired, Michael seemed to struggle against the competition, and whilst he never actually found himself consistently lapping at the tail end of races with the likes of Marussia, it's pretty telling that his best result at the time of writing is a third place on the podium at Valencia behind two other World Champions, Fernando Alonso & Kimi Raikkonen.

The general consensus amongst the F1 fraternity it would seem is that whilst it was nice to have the Silver (née Red) Baron back in the mix, it's probably good that he safely bows out now with dignity rather than squandering his inestimable reputation trundling around every other Sunday in something your Grandmother could probably out run in her automatic Micra..

Personally-speaking, I was never Schumi's biggest fan - especially after that incident in Adelaide in 1994 - but I've always maintained a healthy, if grudging respect for his metronomic ability to think his way to victory after victory and, despite myself, found that I was eager to see him put a few of the new hotshoe breed in their place.
Realistically though, I reckon that was always a bit of a long shot - yes, Niki Lauda & Alain Prost proved in the past that you could come back, but for Michael, those three years away from the bleeding edge of competition had proved too many. Perhaps it was age, perhaps it was the realisation that he just didn't need to be doing this anymore - who knows, but I for one am glad he gave it a shot at least.

Mach's gut, Michael & thanks for playing..

David Wakefield.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

UP! at the top of the charts.

The Volkswagen UP! (their exclamation mark, not ours..), the Seat Mii, and Skoda Citigo have garnered another trophy by winning the inaugural....

....MoneySupermarket Car of the Year Competition

This is a new annual competition where some of the most highly-qualified and knowledgeable motoring experts on the Web are asked to vote for what they believe to have been the 10 best cars of the past 12 months and UKMotorTalk was delighted to be chosen by MoneySupermarket to be one of the websites selected to help judge the competition.

Each judge’s nominations were awarded a score between 1 and 10, with their top vehicle being given 10 points and their 10th nomination being awarded a single point. MoneySupermarket then collated all of the results and came up with a definitive top 10 which best represented the opinions of the overall motoring community.

The UP!, Mii and Citigo were a universally popular choice thanks to their stylish design and fuel-efficient nature, but they only just narrowly pipped the impressive BMW 320d to overall honours by a meagre two points.

The Range Rover Evoque was a strong third, proving to be another popular choice with judges thanks to its trendsetting styling which is something of a radical departure for Land Rover. And, in the interests of transparency, it was also the top choice of the team here at UKMotorTalk.

Perhaps the Range Rover’s failure to obtain overall top spot owes more than a little to the rising price of fuel at the pumps, which has resulted in fuel efficiency proving to be an increasingly important area of differentiation and one on which many of the judges appeared to place a greater emphasis.

Overall though, German manufacturers dominated the competition, picking up more than double the amount of points of the Japanese car brands who were a distant second.

British brands ranked a respectable third, owing largely to the popularity of the Range Rover Evoque and the radical new Vauxhall Ampera which came in 6th. Vauxhall was the most popular British manufacturer in terms of points accumulated in 8th place with 4 separate Vauxhall vehicles having been nominated for inclusion by judges.

MoneySupermarket have produced the following infographic highlighting the overall top ten in what it hopes will turn out to be an annual competition:

So, congratulations to Volkswagen, Seat and Skoda on this strong showing for their new baby - It’ll be interesting to see whether the trend next year continues to reflect the ever-increasing popularity of frugal little cars such as the UP!


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Perez moving to McLaren

So Perez got the plum second seat at McLaren...

Jenson will presumably be the team's clear Number 1... He is adept at building a team around him, and, no doubt has another World Championship in him .... Possibly even this year ....! He'll surely want more money and McLaren should now be able to find it, at least £2m, but critical in his new contract will be that clear Number 1 status - to Martin Whitmarsh's relief!

Having said all that, Jenson may yet be surprised by Perez who is a little like Lewis was in his first season... 

Three podiums attest to Perez's speed... but, as has been pointed out by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, he needs experience and good support... Ferrari however must be a little miffed since Perez is a product of THEIR driver programme and had been rumoured to be replacing Massa....

McLaren will surely welcome Perez's funder too - a 'tough Mexican businessman'...

It looks like we are all going to be giddy for a couple of weeks more as the money-go-round goes ever faster.
Graham Benge

Saturday, 29 September 2012

F1 Drivers' musical chairs 2012 - Pt 1..!

So at last the guessing games - will he won't he - are over... Lewis is going to Mercedes and leaving Mclaren, or is he really?

Sometimes we forget that his long relationship with Mclaren has always effectively included Mercedes... He has always been a Mercedes powered driver, in fact he is already the most successful Mercedes GP driver ever, so why move?

There seem to be numerous reasons...
  • Perhaps the apparent coolness of the relationship with Martin Whitmarsh compared to the almost paternal warmth of that with Ron Dennis?
  • Perhaps the unsettling arrival of Jenson Button who is no one's second driver, despite Lewis apparently being paid or offered 2 to 3 million above Jenson's reputed 7 million wage?
  • Perhaps he knows some plan to leapfrog the grid that the wily old fox Ross Brawn has in mind?
  • Perhaps he thinks Mclaren will go into decline when he leaves?!?

So what of Michael and Nico?

Nico has shown flashes of greatness, but is it he or the car that is unable to be consistent? Will he be retained ? Is he being offered a good deal or, given time, is he part of a complete Mercedes funded clearout? He may stay for now, but I suspect one of the younger drivers will become a clear number 2 to Lewis as he goes into the second stage of a career which surely will include at least one more World title..?

I expect we will find out more in the next few days as Michael walks away for the second time from F1... or does he? Which team will have a new boss in 2013? Would Bernie really let that amount of experience exit F1...?

Graham Benge

Sunday, 16 September 2012

And, relax..

So as we wind down in the luxurious confines of the Press tent, we can look back on another successful and enjoyable Revival event.

UKMotortalk's 'production partner' First Take Media has provided a full weekend's worth of lively, entertaining & informative radio and the whole team here has enjoyed every moment as ever.

This year's Revival provided even more of a retro-spectacle than ever before and the sense of being on a vast film set was stronger than ever.

Over the course of the weekend we spoke to some of the household names of motorsport - true legends such as Sirs Jackie Stewart & Stirling Moss, as well as those more well-known in the more recent era of motor-racing such as F1 racer turned expert pundit, Martin Brundle & seemingly-superhuman designer Adrian Newey.

All of these famous faces in addition to the many other racing folk whose eras ranged from times past to the present day were united in their appreciation of such a unique and unrivalled event and we agree with them wholeheartedly.

There truly is nothing else like it.
Quite how Lord March & his team plan to improve on this year really will be worth discovering.. this space..

Saturday at the Revival

A busy and highly productive Saturday as always. Eight hours of live material produced for our friends at Spirit FM and interviews bagged with, amongst others Sir Stirling Moss, Desiree Wilson and Martin Brundle.

We're expecting another busy day at Goodwood today so keep your eyes peeled for updates from this unique event.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Spirit in the Sunshine

So, we're back in harness for another long weekend of high-octane hi-jinks.

Realising that it'd be a lot more fun to escape the palatial confines of Spirit FM's Chichester studios for a change, presenters Milly & Vicky are broadcasting in the Autumn sunshine outside our studio and really getting into the swing of things as they watch the world go by.

Meanwhile, other members of UKMT's crack journo squad are off to the four corners of the Goodwood circuit to grab incisive interviews with some of the well-known faces who flock here year after year.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Up the Goodwood Hill in the Ferrari 458 Spider

UKMT's Graham Benge chats to Ray Grimes ( about the fantastic performance and passion of the Ferrari 458 Spider.... before being driven up the famous Goodwood hill....