Archive for March, 2012
Admittedly, I am a huge fan of endurance sports car racing and had the opportunity to attend the 60th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this month. If you are not familiar, the 12 Hours of Sebring is a European Style endurance race held every March at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida. Arguably the toughest endurance race there is, the race takes place on the 60 plus year old, 3.7 mile course which began it’s life as an Air Force training base for B-17 bomber pilots. Portions of the track consist of original runway sections that have not been repaved since the 1950’s. As a result, the track is characterized by a number of rough transitions that can wreak havoc on the competing cars. For this very reason, many teams see the 12 Hours of Sebring as a test session and precursor for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, based on the notion that 12 Hours at Sebring is much harder on a race car and driver than 24 Hours at Le Mans.
This year there were a record 64 entries combining cars from the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the FIA’s World Endurance Championship (WEC). Cars were classified into prototype groups and GT based run groups. Amongst the prototypes, Audi Sport’s trio of R18 TDI‘s were favored to win overall and did so, although the margin between their P1 class diesel prototypes and the P1 class petrol powered prototypes was much narrower than in past years due in part to the strong running from the Muscle Milk Honda Performance Development (HPD) prototype and the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda prototype. Surprisingly, the lesser classed P2 prototypes from HPD were able to break into the top four places overall and as always the racing was tight amongst the bottom rung LMP-C prototype classes.
The production-based GT category is always my favorite to watch since the competition is always fierce, with privateer and factory entrants from the likes of BMW, Corvette, Ferrari and Porsche. During the pace lap Dominik Farnbacher, driving the Luxury Racing Ferrari 458 Italia, took his team out of the race when he collected the Flying Lizard Porsche 997 GT3 RSR driven by Joerg Bergmeister. This left Joerg stranded on the track for nearly 30 minutes before a safety car could bring his car back to the pits for extensive repairs putting the typically front running team 26 laps down and out of contention. As the race went on it was plagued by a number of yellow caution periods that kept the GT cars close with two entries each from BMW Team RLL and Corvette Racing leading the pack. Despite a collision in the closing lap, the number 155 E92 M3 of BMW Team RLL managed to cross the checkered flag first and claim its second consecutive GT class win at Sebring.
The 2012 12 Hours of Sebring is just the beginning of the ten race ALMS season , which resumes the weekend of April 13 in Long Beach. Based on the action at Sebring, the season is sure to be exciting and I cannot wait to see how things unfold.
The mid-size luxury sedan market is a big one, and it’s a segment that Maserati is chomping at the bit to enter. BMW, Mercedes and Audi sell hundreds of thousands of E-segment cars every year, and there is huge opportunity for Maserati to compete in this market segment. The folks in Modena confirmed some time ago that there would soon be a Maserati to compete with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 5-Series, but they didn’t tell us what it would be called. Quattroporte Bambino, perhaps? Maybe Maseratina as it’s called inside Maserati?
Well, you can wonder no more, as Maserati has trademarked the name “Levante” for the upcoming E-segment car. “Levante” means “rising,” just as you do every morning (especially if you’re excited to drive your new Maserati). Details about the car are still scarce, but you can bet on the availability of all-wheel drive, a powerful V6 engine, and possibly a high-output V8 or a diesel option. Stay tuned to the Twin Cities Luxury Auto Blog for more details as we get them.
Motor Authority also released some spy photos of the next generation 2014 Maserati Quattroporte taken during prototype road testing. There are several photos of the test mule available, but it’s heavily camouflaged. Head on over to Motor Authority to view the photos.
News Source: Motor Authority
Have you outgrown your Continental GT? Do you find the Range Rover too common? The Cayenne Turbo too slow? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, Bentley has your answer. Welcome, everyone, to the Bentley EXP 9 F concept.
Destined to be the most powerful and most luxurious SUV ever built, the EXP 9 F will be the third model in Bentley’s lineup, alongside the Mulsanne and Continental ranges. Revealed the night before the start of the Geneva Auto Show, the EXP 9 F is very elegantly styled, featuring a prominent hood, flat beltline, a generous grennhouse and Bentley’s hallmark matrix grille. You’ll also recognize the well-defined power line that runs over the front fenders and through the door handles towards the prominent rear “haunch,” just as you’ll find on the Continental GT.
The interior is as opulent as one would expect from the folks in Crewe, with leather, wood and chrome everywhere. The “T” shaped dashboard echoes the design found in the Mulsanne, and Bentley expects the EXP 9 F’s interior to set new benchmarks for luxury in the SUV segment.
They also expect the performance to set new benchmarks for the SUV sector. Motiviation will likely come from the venerable 6.0L W12 found in the Continental Range with the power being sent through an advanced all-wheel drive system. Power and torque figures haven’t yet been released, but expect to see north of 600 horsepower and more than 590 pound-feet of torque.
Pricing hasn’t yet been released, but stay tuned to the Twin Cities Luxury Auto blog for updates as we get them. For those of you anxious to get line for the EXP 9 F, we expect it to be in our showroom by sometime in 2015-16. We’re now taking pre-orders.
Source: Bentley Motors