- Gallery: Belcar & BTCS testing from Circuit Zolder
- Impressive but expensive bicycle commuting with the Audi duo
- Join us at Quattro de Mayo 2011
- Porsche heads to Paul Ricard for the 6 Hours of Castellet
- Automobili Lamborghini at the 2011 JEC Composite Show in Paris
- APR B5 S4 RSC Exhaust System
- Audi Connect offers Wi-Fi, souped-up navigation
Posted: 31 Mar 2011 07:45 PM PDT
We will have a report on todays testing but in the meantime enjoy our first batch of photos, fresh from our photographer in Belgium.
Posted: 31 Mar 2011 02:25 PM PDT
Audi of America today announced that it has teamed up exclusively with Renovo Hardwood Bicycles, the only all-hardwood bike manufacturer in the world, to create the duo – an Audi-inspired bicycle collection that embodies the best of both worlds: luxury and performance. An evolution of the ongoing Audi commitment to progressive ideas, the duo serves as both a work of art and a mode of transportation that blends beauty and craftsmanship with performance and technology.
The all-new duo bicycle from Audi features a monocoque frame made of hardwood. Wood offers the smoothest ride of any bike frame material thanks to its superior ability to absorb shock and vibration. Since the weight per cubic inch of wood is about one-fourth the weight of aluminum, the duo is lighter than most bicycle frames, while offering equal or superior stiffness, durability, and toughness. Unlike other mainstream frame materials, and reflecting the Audi commitment to sustainability, the duo is also recyclable and biodegradable. Audi is the first automaker to recognize the benefits of, and offer a bicycle made from, wood.
Audi is also the first automaker to offer a bicycle, not as a design exercise or a mere rebadging of a commonplace bicycle. Instead, Audi is launching the duo as an embodiment of its core principles of progressive innovation that also blends craftsmanship and styling with performance and technology.
The duo features innovative drive train components such as a belt drive, aluminum and carbon fiber components, disk brakes and LED lighting, as well as woods selected to match the look of Audi vehicle interiors. Hand-made one by one at Renovo’s Portland, Ore., studio, the Audi duo is lightweight, strong, durable and smooth, and available in three models to suit different cycling styles and needs, including:
A cafe/leisure bike, urban explorer and all-weather commuter; the most approachable bike for casual cyclists. Features include an upright position for short distances, comfort and traffic vigilance; wide puncture-resistant 32mm tires; LED lights; fenders; rack; The duo City drivetrain features the smooth, quiet and grease-free Gates CenterTrack belt drive coupled to the Shimano Nexus 8-speed internal hub gear, for effortless and maintenance-free shifting. Price: $6,530*
A fitness, long-distance all-weather commuter, perfect for cyclists seeking long-distance comfort and safety. The Sport drivetrain features the smooth, quiet and grease-free Gates CenterTrack belt drive coupled to the Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal gear hub, for effortless and maintenance-free shifting. Other features include drop bars for long distances; minimum fenders; medium width and puncture-resistant 28mm tires for less rolling resistance. Price: $7,350*
A performance road bike, good for club and century rides. Features include narrow tires; no fenders; minimal accessories; and SRAM Red, compact 20-speed gear train. Price: $7,460*
*Prices are all-inclusive, including shipping & handling.
Posted: 31 Mar 2011 10:18 AM PDT
Spring is here, though I haven’t actually seen it. Nevertheless, that means that Quattro de Mayo 2011 is right around the corner; May 5th through the 8th! This year, we are headquartered out of the beautiful Brasstown Valley Resort in Hiawassee, Georgia, near Lake Chatuge.
I want to take a moment to personally invite you to this event. While the roads and the cars are, of course, an important part of the event, it’s the people that make Quattro de Mayo so great. Every year, we try our hardest to create a mix of exhilarating driving and social interaction, and this year is no exception.
This year, our schedule consists of 8 routes to choose from:
When you register for Quattro de Mayo 2011, you’ll receive a t-shirt, keychain, sticker, and dinner at the Saturday evening banquet. Can’t make it all four days? No problem.
So, what are you waiting for? Register today!
Posted: 31 Mar 2011 08:17 AM PDT
With last month’s testing out of the way, Porsche teams head to the Paul Ricard in Le Castellet this weekend well prepared. Drivers we’re impressed with the new 911 GT3 RSR changes and will bring the fight to Ferrari and Aston Martin. Tomorrow will kick off practice sessions, with qualifying on Saturday and racing on Sunday.
The Circuit Paul Ricard has hosted the season-opener of the LMS since 2010. For 2011, the race duration has been shortened from eight hours to six.
The race track
Because of the almost two kilometer long Mistral straight, the 5.791 kilometer former Grand Prix circuit, located on a high plateau about 40 kilometers northeast of Marseille, is often used to prepare for the Le Mans 24 hour race. A key passage of the track is the long, fast right-hander at the end of the straight, with a typical feature of Paul Ricard the wide, brightly painted run-off areas.
The Porsche drivers
Five Porsche factory drivers compete in Le Castellet. Reigning champions Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) take up the race for the Felbermayr-Proton squad. Patrick Pilet (France) shares driving duties in IMSA Performance Matmut’s 911 GT3 RSR for the first time with Wolf Henzler (Germany), the Le Mans winner from 2010. Like last year, former Porsche-junior and now works driver, Marco Holzer (Germany), drives for ProSpeed Competition. Joining him as a new teammate is seasoned campaigner Marc Goossens (Belgium). Whilst these pairings contest the GTE-Pro category with the improved 2011-version of the 911 GT3 RSR, two 2010-spec 911 will contend the GTE-Am class. In this class, only one professional race driver per vehicle is permitted to compete. At Felbermayr-Proton, team owner Christian Ried (Germany) joins forces with Horst Felbermayr senior and junior from Austria. Raymond Narac, team owner of the IMSA Performance Matmut squad, starts with his French compatriot Nicolas Armindo, who has switched to the LMS after winning last year’s Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland.
Comments from Porsche works drivers prior to the race
Marc Lieb: “After testing mid-March we can say we’re well sorted. My first impression of the improved 911 GT3 RSR is very good. Most of all, the turn-in is noticeably better. The car now seems more agile. During the tests, we worked on finding a basic set-up for the race distance – after all, this is essential for a good performance. But our opponents are also competing with much improved cars. To some extent the rule-makers have allowed our rivals a technical advantage. It certainly won’t be easy to repeat our performance from last year.”
Richard Lietz: “Our lap times during the tests were okay. This, in principle, is a good sign, even if you never know just what cards the competition is holding. I felt very good in the 2011 car right from the get-go.”
Patrick Pilet: “I immediately noticed that the 911 GT3 RSR is more stable in its handling, which is good, especially on circuits that are not as smooth as Le Castellet. I’m thrilled to have a strong and experienced teammate like Wolf Henzler. In this field, every championship point is extremely important.”
Wolf Henzler: “I’m very pleased that I can contest the entire Le Mans Series in conjunction with my American Le Mans Series commitments. I have a strong teammate in Patrick. The Paul Ricard circuit is demanding, especially with the long right-hander at the end of the straight. That takes guts.”
Marco Holzer: “The new aerodynamics at the front of the 911 GT3 RSR provides more grip at the front axle and that suits me perfectly. I’m particularly looking forward to round one. I very much like the Le Castellet circuit.”
The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
The most successful GT race car of 2010 heads into the new season with some improvements. The output of the four-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine has increased to 455 hp (335 kW). Priority in the further developments was given predominantly to the newly-designed aerodynamics at the front and rear.
When the race in Le Castellet was run for the first time last year as the season-opener of the Le Mans Series, Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz won in the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. This success laid the foundation for their title victory. In the 2010 Le Mans Series, Porsche clinched all three GT2 class titles for drivers, teams and manufacturers.
The six hour race kicks off at midday on Sunday, 3 April. Qualifying for the GTE classes takes place on Saturday from 13.45 to 14.05 hours.
Posted: 31 Mar 2011 06:55 AM PDT
Automobili Lamborghini’s participation in the 2011 edition of the JEC Composite Show in Paris – one of the world’s most important exhibitions of composite materials – is intended to emphasize the company’s leadership in this highly specialized sector, not only in applying these materials in mass production (as shown by the new Aventador LP 700-4), but also in the investigation and development of new manufacturing technologies and the resulting product spin-offs.
The use of composite materials reinforced with carbon fiber is becoming increasingly widespread in the automotive sector, as revealed by a study by Lucintel that foresees a growth of 65% over the next 5 years. Many manufacturers are working on developing and applying these technologies so they can build lighter vehicles that make an important contribution to reducing fuel consumption and air pollution, through improvements that include increasing the strength of the vehicle’s structures.
Automobili Lamborghini’s extensive experience with using composite materials reinforced with carbon fiber in the super sports car sector is demonstrated by the Sesto Elemento concept car, where these materials have resulted in maximum stiffness with minimum weight. During the presentation of the vehicle at the exhibition, Luciano De Oto, the Chief of the Lamborghini Advanced Composite Research Center (ACRC), noted that the complete vehicle weighs only 999 Kg, as compared with the 1410 Kg of a Gallardo.
The widespread use of CFRP (various types of which were used to build the wheel rims, frame, bodywork with roof, seats, exhaust and suspension elements of the Sesto Elemento) has enabled structures of extreme technical sophistication and quality to be created, with consequent improvement of the power-to-weight ratio for greater driving pleasure, lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions.
At its Advanced Composite Research Center (ACRC, a section of the Automobili Lamborghini Research & Development department directed by Maurizio Reggiani), the Sant’Agata Bolognese-based company is working on what technicians describe as “the new frontier” in materials reinforced with carbon fiber. The company already offers a host of applications for CFRPs, with particular focus on components that can be built without the need of an autoclave.
A prime example is forged composite, which adds new prerogatives to the more traditional processes in the autoclave. During his presentation at the JEC session devoted to the automotive sector, Mr. De Oto explained that the most significant development in this regard is a “hybrid” combination employing long, unidirectional carbon fiber. What’s more, ACRC research and development activities aim at obtaining from forged composite, through its pairing with finishing materials during the molding process, components that meet Class A appearance specifications.
Because they are easy to manufacture and cost relatively little, these new types of finished elements are certain to extend applications of CFRP into other sectors such as the marine, furnishings, sporting equipment and leisure vehicles segments.
As a matter of fact, ACRC has already cooperated with third parties and supplied composite finished elements to companies belonging to a broad gamut of sectors.
Posted: 31 Mar 2011 06:40 AM PDT
Reflective Sound Cancellation allows for maximum exhaust gas flow while completely eliminating in cabin sound resonance (drone). RSC™ incorporates innovative technologies developed in conjunction with NASA. With limited use of packing materials and no baffles, RSC™ allows for a completely straight and free flowing exhaust path through the RSC™ mufflers.Reflective Cancellation bounces the undesirable sound waves into each other to attenuate the wave and completely eliminate the low frequency tones that create drone. Each RSC™ muffler is tuned to eliminate specific, undesirable sound frequencies allowing only the engine’s desirable exhaust notes to be heard and improving performance.
The B5 S4 in the video has a full APR RSC Exhaust System with an APR Stage III K04 Turbocharger System.
More info on APR’s site.
Posted: 31 Mar 2011 05:51 AM PDT
Audi is about to roll out Audi Connect, an infotainment system that combines an in-vehicle Wi-Fi link with what amounts to a navigation system on steroids.
Audi Connect debuts in the 2012 Audi A7 this spring. It will be available on the 2012 A8 this summer and optional on the 2012 A6 sedan when it goes on sale this fall.
Audi Connect creates a password-protected Wi-Fi link within the vehicle. In tests during the 2012 A6′s launch in Sicily, passengers surfed the Web on an iPad and had full use of smart phones.
Audi Connect does not directly enable voice communications, as a cell phone does. But smart devices running programs such as Skype can be used to make phone calls over the Audi Connect data network.
Higher quality, quantity
A main goal of the system is to increase the quality and amount of information available on a vehicle navigation system.
“We’ve heard from our customers that map and point-of-interest information on DVD-based navigation systems is frustratingly out of date from the day they take delivery of their car,” says Filip Brabec, Audi of America’s general manager of product planning.
Audi’s solution: Access the Web for real-time updates using a cell phone data-link module that is engineered into the vehicle.
When a destination is set in the navigation system, “the visual is actually a layered graphic that’s using information stored on board, mixed with live information brought in,” Brabec says. The base layer is a graphic map display. The second layer is a topographical satellite map provided live by Google Earth. Software blends the two.
The resulting map on the high-resolution liquid crystal display screen presents a better visual than navigation systems using illustrated graphics. Nvidia Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., supplies a graphics card to handle Audi Connect’s complex graphics.
A third integrated layer shows Sirius traffic data in three colors that quickly identify congested areas. The fourth layer shows point-of-interest information provided by Inrix Inc. of Kirkland, Wash.
Drivers request information using a scroll wheel or a touch pad with character recognition: Users draw letters with their fingers and the computer recognizes the letters. Smart word completion speeds text inputs.
To help avoid driver distraction, text-heavy point-of-interest functions are disabled when the vehicle is in motion. But fuel prices and some other information are accessible at any time.
Different from OnStar, Sync
T-Mobile USA will be the data provider for Audi Connect in the United States.
Audi Connect differs from the two connected-vehicle leaders: General Motors’ OnStar and Ford Motor Co.’s Sync.
OnStar uses a built-in cell phone to communicate with the outside world, usually through live operators. OnStar users also can make voice calls using their vehicle’s built-in phone using minutes supplied by Verizon and resold by OnStar.
OnStar’s traditional focus has been on safety, security and concierge-type services. Audi Connect does not offer those specific services.
Ford’s Sync connects to the outside world by linking the vehicle’s infotainment system to the user’s brought-in cellular device. The latest versions of Sync include some emergency services that are initiated if the vehicle is in an accident.
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