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Racing

Ezpeleta not ruling out reduced 2021 MotoGP calendar

Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta says preserving MotoGP’s current competitiveness is more important than swelling the calendar again in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. 

The global COVID-19 outbreak has forced MotoGP to trim down its 2020 calendar from 20 rounds to just 13 events across just eight circuits in 2020, marking the shortest calendar since the 1995 season.

Over the next two years, MotoGP was set to return to Indonesia and Brazil, with Portugal also touted for a return as part of a rotating set of races on the Iberian Peninsula that would include the four Spanish events currently on the calendar.

This was set to swell the schedule to 22 races by 2022, which Ezpeleta admits may not even be possible should a COVID-19 vaccine not become widely available by then.

Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com, Ezpeleta insisted any attempts at calendar growth in the next few years must not compromise MotoGP’s current competitive state. 

Asked about the planned rotation of future Spanish races, he said: “The world situation from next year will not be the same as we’ve had until now. I am not in a position to say that the 2022 calendar will be the one we planned before the coronavirus.

“We have the rotation contracts, some of them signed and others agreed. But I don’t even know if we can hold 22 grands prix. We will have to adapt to the circumstances as we have done this year.

“It will also depend on whether the coronavirus vaccine is found. If there is not by then, we will still have to hold fewer races and rotate between all of them.

“We will not deny anything. What I am clear about is that we cannot do without the best thing we have, which is the level of competitiveness seen on the track.

“Having 15 or 16 bikes within a second [of each other] is what we have to preserve.”

Earlier in the year, MotoGP announced cost-cutting measures in response to the uncertain financial situation coronavirus has brought about, which included a freeze on bike development for 2020 and for 2021 for the non-concession manufacturers.

Cutting the two-bike rule was also floated by Ducati, but was rejected by the other five manufacturers.

Ezpeleta believes the saving made by scaling back to one bike per rider wasn’t worth the changes it would have made to the spectacle.

“There were those who wanted to eliminate one of the two bikes in MotoGP,” he added. “Hardly anyone was in favour. That was a very relative saving and would have had a major impact on the show.

“The flag-to-flag races are great, and a rider can race on Sunday with that second bike after falling off in the warm up too.”

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Car Reviews

Norway Police Reach Out To Tesla Owners To Help Solve Attempted Murder

We’ve told you time and time again that Sentry Mode is proving helpful, but this is next level.

Tesla use its Autopilot camera hardware and software updates to provide a standard multi-camera Sentry Mode feature, as well as a built-in dashcam (TeslaCam). These features have proven incredibly helpful in many situations since Tesla owners can use the footage to provide evidence to the police and insurance companies.

As fas as we know, in the past, the police haven’t gone seeking Tesla Sentry Mode footage, though they’ve used it to prove fault in accidents and to solve crimes. Now, in Norway, the authorities have requested that Tesla owners come forward with any footage they may have related to what appears to be the attempted murder of a government official.

According to reports from media outlets in Norway, it seems someone tried to burn down Sandefjord Mayor Bjørn Ole Geditsch’s home. Sandefjord is a city located near Olso, Norway. The police are currently investigating the crime scene.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, the authorities didn’t have any suspects or potential leads. However, Norway is the unofficial EV and Tesla capital of the world, which means there are likely plenty of Teslas in the area near the crime scene, and many have Sentry Mode.

The Sandefjord Mayor has now reached out to the Tesla community in hopes that they’ll be able to submit Sentry Mode videos from the time of the attack so that the authorities can use them as evidence.

The mayor is assuming the people who started the fire were trying to kill him. He provided the police with a list of names of those who may be involved. Hopefully, Tesla owners’ Sentry Mode footage will help generate more leads and potentially identify the criminals.

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Racing

Dovizioso could take year out in 2021, says manager

Andrea Dovizioso’s manager admits his MotoGP rider is now considering taking a sabbatical in 2021 should contract negotiations with Ducati fully break down. 

Talks between Ducati and Dovizioso over a contract renewal beyond the 2020 season have become protracted, with the Italian marque wanting to renegotiate the terms for the current campaign owing to the shortened calendar and slash Dovizioso’s future salary in light of the financial uncertainty cause by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month Battistella said he felt it was “99 percent certain” that Dovizioso and Ducati would eventually come to terms, but now talks have stalled anew as Ducati wants “some races to pass” this year before resuming negotiations.

Should the two parties fail to come to terms, Battistella says Dovizioso will consider taking a year out in 2021, with no other viable options to remain on the grid.

“It is an option that we value,” Battistella said of Dovizioso taking a sabbatical. “If the conditions are not met, he prefers not to continue. 

“Andrea is not thinking about retiring, he feels strong and well, he is in the best shape and he does not think about leaving. 

“It is true that if you do not have an interesting project you are not interested in accepting, you are willing to wait until it arrives. 

“That does not mean he is going to retire, it means that he is not going to have a team to race in and he is going to wait for that project to come.” 

Dovizioso’s options would be limited for a return in 2022 should he ultimately take a year out in 2021, with Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki’s line-ups secured beyond next year at its works teams.

Incoming factory Ducati rider Jack Miller is only on a one-year deal, as any potential Dovizioso replacement would likely be, leaving the door ajar for the Italian marque to offer Dovizioso better terms should its 2021 line-up disappoint. 

KTM’s line-up is also only fixed for 2021, with Battistella reiterating discussions were held with the Austrian manufacturer – though it quickly became clear there was “no future” there. 

Dovizioso is currently undergoing rehabilitation on a broken left collarbone he suffered last weekend in a motocross accident. He is expected to be fit enough in time for the opening round of the 2020 MotoGP season on July 19 at Jerez.

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Racing

Cyril Abiteboul not ruling out pink Mercedes protest

Renault won’t protest Racing Point’s pink Mercedes in Austria but Cyril Abiteboul has hinted he may do so down the line.

Racing Point’s RP20, a car that draws heavily from Mercedes’ 2019 W10, made its debut at a grand prix weekend in Friday’s practice for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez was third quickest, 0.641s behind FP2 pace-setter Lewis Hamilton, while his team-mate Lance Stroll was seventh.

Renault drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon were fifth and 11th on the opening day of the 2020 championship.

With Renault having threatened to protest the RP20 ever since it first hit the track in testing, Abiteboul was asked for his thoughts on a protest after Friday’s action.

The Renault F1 managing director stated that for now Renault won’t protest as Formula 1 and getting racing is more important.

That, though, doesn’t mean Renault won’t protest next weekend or the weekend after.

“It’s an old debate, the debate about customer cars,” the Frenchman told the media.

“Racing Point has been able to push that to an extreme this year.

“I think it will be interesting to see the lap time, because there has been lots of speculation based on winter testing. And as we all know that is very difficult to say anything from winter tests.

“First, this week is back to racing.

“We will finally have an idea of the respective competitiveness and if Racing Point complies with the regulations then they have nothing to worry about obviously.

“But again, back to racing is the priority number one for this weekend.”

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Racing Point has always maintained that its car is legal and that the FIA agrees.

Technical director Andrew Green told Motorsport.com back in March that “when the car launched, we talked to the FIA about it, the FIA came round to the factory and looked at what we’d done and the designs of the car.

“They even took the design data from Mercedes for last year’s car and checked it against ours. They did a thorough check.

“And they are completely happy that the car that we’ve got on track has been designed by us.

“It may have some similarities to the Mercedes, but it’s just similar. It’s not the same. And so there is no protest there.”

Renault could perhaps learn a lesson from Red Bull Racing and Mercedes.

Introducing DAS in pre-season testing, Mercedes insisted that the FIA had given it the green light and that there was nothing to protest.

Red Bull went ahead with one anyway on Friday in Austria and lost.

The Austrian stewards declared that DAS, as Mercedes had said it was, is part of the steering and not the suspension.

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Racing

Freezing out Daniel Ricciardo would make 'no sense'

Renault boss, Cyril Abiteboul, has said Daniel Ricciardo will still be involved in the car’s development process even though he is moving to rivals McLaren.

The Aussie will be leaving the Enstone team following a two-year spell after deciding to replace the Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz at McLaren for the 2021 season.

But that imminent move does not mean Ricciardo will be completely frozen out by Renault when it comes to developing the R.S.20, which will be very similar to its successor next year as most parts are staying the same until the regulations overhaul finally kicks in for 2022.

Get your hands on the official Renault 2020 collection via the Formula 1 store

“It would make absolutely no sense, and Daniel will be fully involved in the development process of the car also, because the car is more-or-less frozen between this year and next year,” Abiteboul said during a conference call, quoted by GPFans.

“Also McLaren will have to use all their tokens on pure chassis-engine integration, so [there will be] no performance development there.

“That will give us the opportunity to work extremely normally with Daniel.

“Obviously, he won’t be exposed to 2022, but frankly we would not do that anyway, becuse it’s still a bit far away from a driver perspective.”

Abiteboul went on to say that he feels confident about a Renault resurgence in 2020 after taking a backward step in 2019 and also wants someone with the same attributes as Ricciardo when it comes to replacing the Aussie for next season.

“As Daniel has said, we have a mission, we are on a mission. We have some frustration with last year, how we did, and I really believe that we can do better this year,” he added.

“We certainly have a car that should allow us to do better. That is the focus on here and now.

“What I can say is, Daniel is a great driver and a great personality, and that will be the profile for anyone who comes next, but right now, we’re focusing on what we need to do.”

Ricciardo, meanwhile, is not feeling any awkwardness as his time with Renault starts to come to an end.

“From my side it’s like, OK, there’s still a ton of people within this organisation who are really happy to have me here and who are excited to see me drive a black and yellow race car,” Ricciardo said via Fox Sports in Australia.

“So obviously again, I’ll do it for myself because I want to compete and race but I still want to give back to them everything I signed up for.”

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Categories
Auto News

Check Out The Bentley Bentayga's New Continental GT-Like Rear

Bentley - Check Out The Bentley Bentayga's New Continental GT-Like Rear - News

You certainly can’t accuse Bentley of smashing out one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it facelifts with the updated Bentayga. From the front, the more elliptical, Continental GT-style headlights are immediately obvious, as is the new “more upright” matrix grille.

The rear gets the most dramatic changes, though. The shape of the Bentayga’s previously rather bland bum has completely changed, with the most conspicuous changes coming in the form of a concave boot lid and lights clusters which – again – seem to be taking inspiration from the Conti.

Bentley - Check Out The Bentley Bentayga's New Continental GT-Like Rear - News

This is a Bentley, of course, so the stuff inside is arguably more important. Happily, there are plenty of tweaks here too. The central fascia, steering wheel, door cards and seats are all new. On the tech front, there’s a new 10.9-inch infotainment display which – before you ask – doesn’t rotate as it does on the Continental and Flying Spur. Sorry.

Despite being no bigger before, rethought packaging means there’s more space for occupants. On four-seater versions of the Bentayga, rear-seat passengers can enjoy 30mm more knee room when seated upright, and 100mm more when fully reclined. Mulliner Driving Specification cars also get a new quilted leather design, with all Bentaygas available with eight different fancy veneers to choose from.

Bentley - Check Out The Bentley Bentayga's New Continental GT-Like Rear - News

Once again, a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is used to punt along the entry-level version of this vast, leather-line capsule. And quickly, too. It provides 542bhp and 568lb ft of torque, making for a 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 180mph. There will eventually be a Bentayga Speed with a twin-turbo W12 (which will be the only way to get the unusual 6.0-litre unit), along with a plug-in hybrid variant.

The chassis setup doesn’t deviate much from the outgoing version, with air suspension paired with electronic roll stabilisation. The rear track is, however, 20mm wider than before.

Bentley - Check Out The Bentley Bentayga's New Continental GT-Like Rear - News

The refreshed Bentayga is expected to go on sale soon. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but we’d anticipate a slight rise in the existing starting price of £141,790.

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Categories
Auto News

Hear Me Out: The Atlas Should Be Offered as a Woodie

Last week, Volkswagen sent out a press release about dealers participating in a “Community Drive Atlas Initiative.” I don’t really care about the press release, what caught my eye was this picture of the Atlas with a decal on its side.

The decal fills the space between the beltline and the character line near the bottom of the car and most importantly looks kinda good. I had one thought immediately: The Atlas would look great as a woodie! 

Woodies have been around for, roughly, ever, and started when parts of cars were actually made of wood. Cars that were only partially wooden were popular at fancy hotels, country clubs, and national parks, though. It’s no wonder then that the style became popular with the rich, so once steel replaced wood completely, some designers still liked to add a little grain for style.

In the ‘60s, though, simulated woodgrain started growing in popularity and soon it was hard to find a family wagon that didn’t have the option. The practice came to define the station wagon body style, which Byron Olsen, author of the book “Station Wagons,” argues is a uniquely American design development.

By the early 2000s, though, like the station wagon body style that had popularized fake wood trim, fake wood trim was losing popularity.

Although the Ford Flex’s bodysides are said to be a nod to woodgrain, the last woodie I can really find is the PT Cruiser. And that in and of itself tells us something about the wider industry. The Flex was a crossover designed to ape late ‘50s design trends in a modern way while the PT Cruiser was unabashedly retro. No surprise then that the former tried to modernize wood trim while the latter just slapped some on its side.

We’ve been without factory wood trim for a few years now, though, and I’d say it’s about time the trend came back. And what better car to bring it back than the Volkswagen Atlas?

VW’s initial ads for the car were all but set in the ‘60s. They featured the music of Simon and Garfunkel and showed generations making road trips across America. In many ways crossovers are an evolution of the station wagon. A particularly American body style that matches a car’s chassis with a big, long body that has a hatch at the back and is designed to take families out into the country.

The crossover does, admittedly, add SUV design language to the vernacular, but I would argue that’s more of an evolution than a redefinition. What better way, then, for Volkswagen to truly capture the Americana they want to with the Atlas than with vinyl wood paneling? Actually a landau roof would that, but that would only attract boomers.

If you’re trying to capture millennials who remember driving around in the last real hurrah of wood-paneled station wagons, then it has to be a woodie. Only ‘90s kids will understand. Already the aesthetic of the ‘90s has proven a powerful design influence with car shows like Radwood.

Most importantly, though, it just looks rad. 

PT Cruiser photo By Navigator84 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

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