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Canon Buff ~ Papparazi Wanabe
By: Marizan Nor

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Wednesday, 2-Nov-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
A1 GP Sepang #5

... Alex mistimed his brakes ...
.... gets on the grass at turn #15 ...
.... Jos Vestappen ...
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Tale of 3 former F1 Drivers

Alex Yoong was the Team Minardi rookie driver in the 2002 season. Not many rookies made it to a proper F1 outfit. Fernando Alonso was an exception. The rest simply faded into oblivion. He came back with vengeance on the A1 GP series and is doing well. He was running 4th and gunning for 3rd. A long tyre change pit stop and an unfortunate trip to the grasses at turn #15 relegated him to 5th. Team Malaysia is 6th in the overall standing with 32 points. The future looks promising for a return to F1.

Jos Vestapen was a F1 veteran. He was at the cockpit of Benetton, Tyrell, Arrows and Minardi ( among others ). He didn’t make it big but remained a celebrated figure in his home country Holland. The team is tied with Team Malaysia at 6th overall in the A1 GP.

Ralph Firman now drives for Team Ireland in the A1 GP. He was with the Jordan Team for a season but could not make much impact either. Ireland is currently 8th with 29 points in the A1 GP.

The A1 GP is the launch pad to F1. I won’t be surprised that F1 rejects will in future line up on the A1 grids. India hasn’t scored a point so far and is 3rd last ahead of Lebanon and Russia. Will we see Narain Karthakeyan , formerly of Team Jordan, driving for Team India? Maybe A1 GP could supersede F1 popularity if Mika Hakkinen and Mika Salo were to drive for Finland. That would be interesting.

I hope both F1 and A1 will continue to race at the Sepang in the future.


Monday, 31-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
A1 GP Sepang #4

... whoa......... Z4 ...
... gosh ..... 911 ...
... yezz .... Gen 2 ...
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Food for Thought

At Sepang, A1 GP had a BMW Z4 and a Porche 911 as their pace and safety cars respectively. These production super cars are dream machines to many. The standard 3.0litre Z4 generates 260bhp and the 3.6litre 911 turbo, 415 bhp. On the roads, they can slice the air and reach 100kph in a not so many winks of the eyes. On the 5.45km SIC track, they will have to struggle to do a lap in less than 2 minutes.

A Proton Gen 2, race converted, was placed on show at the A1 GP reception. No details were given to the DOHC engine specification. However, the 1.6litre Campro (Lotus) engine production version gives 110bbhp. I guess a good lap at SIC will take nearly 3 minutes, very slow from a racing fan's point of view. Yet, local street racers turn them (including Satria GT) into speed monsters on public roads.

I am sure Gen 2 will grow up someday to be like the Z4 and 911.


Micheal Yamashita


Yesterday, 23rd November, I visited the National Geographic (NG) photographs exhibition at the Mid Valley City concourse held to promote the grand screening of 'The Voyages of Admiral Zheng He' documentary on the NG Channel on 11th December 2005. The photographs were shot by the well known NG resident photographer/journalist, Micheal Yamashita. His previous work (screened and published on NG),' Marco Polo : A Photographer’s Journey ' was a big hit. I have a lot of admiration for him. I am amazed he could bring history alive on prints. In photo journalism, he is my role model. He has deep knowledge of history, is an excellent photographer and writes well, skills I wish to emulate. I was informed Micheal gave a speech during the opening event of the exhibition and I had unfortunately missed him. Wish I could have met him in person. There was no publicity on that (again like the A1). It was an opportunity missed to rub shoulders with a celebrated person.


Saturday, 29-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
A1 GP Sepang #3

... brakes slamming ...
... burn rubber burn ...
... not a successful understeer ...
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Rubber Burning & Drifting

Fans are attracted to Formula races for many reasons. The state of the art mean machines are foremost for the technically inclined. Many also love the decibels of the growling 3.4 litres Zytek-built V8 engines ( you are welcome to yell at the peak of your voice and nobody will hear you ). The engine backfiring during deceleration sounds like continuous firing of the anti-aircraft machine guns. You would not experience any of these in street racing. For the more glitzy ones, the sight of the macho drivers and the 'bunnies' brings cheap thrills. Nonetheless, without doubt, many come for the real time car racing action stuffs ~ especially the overtaking manouvers, unforced errors, donut spins and crashes. The Sepang A1 GP was not short of these.

At the back straight, the A1 cars reached a maximum speed of 260kph ( 300kph for F1 ) before the brakes were slammed hard to successfully negotiate turn #15. As the A1 cars were intentionally not fitted with anti lock braking system ( unlike in F1 ), plenty of rubber burning happened here. As they turned the corner, many drivers were forced to understeer ( the less experienced ones will oversteer and spin ). The cars then literally drifted ( in layman’s term intentional skidding ). I came to A1 and sat at the hibiscus to see all these. The sights of the hard braking, smoking rubbers, the lifting of the front left wheel from the track, the drift and the resulting swaying recovery, repeated rounds after rounds, gave me my thrill and utmost satisfaction. On this score, the A1 is more thrilling to watch than F1.

Here, I am sharing you some of the shots. Don’t try these with production car models on public roads please. Your car will land in the junk yard and you will probably land in the wards..


Thursday, 27-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
A1 GP Sepang #2

... Fairuz ~ future F1 driver ...
... the Zytek/Lola 550bhp Machine ...
... Alex Yoong ~ still in his prime ...
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A1 TEAM MALAYSIA

I am proud of this team. Fairuz did well to grab the 8th position during the Sprint Race. Alex Yoong capped the Feature Race by overtaking Matt Haliday of Team New Zealand on the last lap to finish 5th. They took home USD80K for the day's work ( how sweet ). After 5 races ( 7 to go ), Malaysia was 6th in a field of 25 teams. For a country with a recent motorsport history ( compared to the likes of Great Britain, Italy, United States, France and Japan ), Malaysia has done very well. Congratulation.

Its heartening that the team mechanics are also Malaysians. Someday soon, the entire team will be Malaysians. I'll like that.

There are many Malaysian ' race drivers '. Many contend with participating in informally organized street races. Here, they flaunt their souped up Protons and Peroduas. While they risk their lives with their speeding maneuvers ( bet they are no more than 200kph ) the advisor mechanics and the watching turbo booster suppliers makes the money. Some take to the Expressways and the Federal Roads to show off their overtaking skills. The unfortunate ones end up losing life and limb. For the record, about 6000 Malaysians die on the roads annually. Maybe another about 20,000 get injured. I guess they will keep our doctors busy. Are we in the right frame of minds?


Tuesday, 25-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
A1 GP Sepang

... anybody there ...
... a lonely enthusiast ...
... empty terraces ~ unsporting Malaysian ...
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A Quiet Affair

The A1 GP came to Sepang over the weekend ( 18th ~ 20th November 05 ). In F1, the drivers race for their teams ( Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Sauber etc ). In A1, they race for their countries. It is therefore called the World GP Championship. 25 countries participated in this first year of A1 GP. The Malaysian A1 Team has Alex Yoong, the former F1 driver for Team Minardi, and Fairuz Fauzi, the upcoming F2 driver, at its cockpit.

The attendance to the Sepang A1 GP was appalling. Seats were empty at the K and F Main Grandstands. I wont be surprised if the Sepang track will be axed from both the F1 and A1 future race schedules. No thanks to the Malaysian supporters.

What went wrong? Lack of publicity? Perhaps Malaysians are more interested in their own racings on public roads instead of watching professional drivers and their ear splitting state of the art machines. Perhaps, Malaysians are not motorsport lovers. Maybe they prefer hip swaying concerts more.

I enjoyed the GP thoroughly. The A1 is no less spectacular compared to the glamorous F1. In some ways, the A1 is more enjoyable. It is therefore sad that the carnival atmosphere was missing yesterday.


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