• Don’t Forget British Superbikes 2017 Starts This Weekend

    The motorcycle race season is now well underway. World Superbikes and MotoGP have already started their seasons. And possibly the best national series, the 2017 British Superbike championship, kicks off at Donington on Friday, March 31st.

    The entry list includes multiple champion Shane Byrne and team-mate Glenn Irwin on the Be Wiser Ducatis. Leon Haslam and Luke Mossey are on the JG Speedfit Kawasakis. Honda will again field Dan Linfoot and Jason O’Halloran. And Tyco BMW riders Christian Iddon and Davide Giugliano will both be capable of running at the front.

    Then there’s the returning Josh Brookes on the Anvil Hire Yamaha, John Hopkins on the Moto Rapido Ducati, James Ellison and Michael Laverty on the McAms Yamahas, and the Bennetts Suzuki team of Sylvain Guintoli and Taylor Mackenzie. And also the debut of Bradley Ray on the Buildbase Suzuki.

    Basically, out of a field of 25 riders, you wouldn’t bet against about 17 of them having a chance of winning.

    Anvil Hire Yamaha Josh Brookes British Superbikes 2017
    Anvil Hire Yamaha’s Josh Brookes is back in British Superbikes for 2017

    What’s the Donington Park British Superbikes Timetable?

    The weekend kicks off at 9am on Friday, March 31st. Free practice for all classes takes place throughout the day, and there are qualifying sessions for the KTM RC Cup at 3.45pm, and the Ducati TriOptions Cup at 5.45pm.

    On Saturday, the morning is largely taken up with qualifying sessions and the final free practice for the BSB boys.

    For entry, gates open at 7.30am

    Saturday Races:

    • 12.30: Ducati performance TriOptions Cup 8 Laps
    • 13:00: Pirelli National Superstock 1000 2 x 18 laps
    • 14:30: British Motostar Championship 10 laps
    • 15:05: KTM RC Cup 8 laps
    • 15:35: Ducati Performance TriOptions Cup 10 laps
    • 16:02: BSB Qualifying and Superpole
    • 17:20: British Supersport Championship Sprint Race 10 laps

    Sunday is race day, with all the competing classes getting a morning warm up session. Then racing begins at 10:30am. There are also Suzuki Donington 40th Anniversary parade laps taking place during lunch at 1pm.

    Sunday Races

    • 10:30: KTC RC Cup 8 laps
    • 11.05: Ducati TriOptions Cup 10 laps
    • 12:35 National Superstock 600 14 laps
    • 13:30: British Superbikes 20 laps
    • 14:15: National Superstock 1000 16 laps
    • 14:55: British Motostar Championship 14 laps
    • 15:40 British Supersport Championship Feature Race 18 laps
    • 16:30: British Superbikes 20 laps
    • 17:15: KTM RC Cup 8 laps

    How much does Donington British Superbikes 2017 cost?

    Advance ticket sales have now ended, so it’s full price on the gate. Children age 13 and under are free, and parking is free for the British Superbikes. Plus you can get 50% off adult entry for the Donington Park museum on the day.

    The paddock will be open. And disabled spectators access is located at Coppice Corner with an elevated viewing and parking area. You’ll need to be displaying your blue badge to get in.

    Ticket prices for the weekend are:

    Friday
    £10

    Saturday
    £15

    Sunday
    £30

    Weekend
    £45

    Grandstand
    £15

    Concessions
    £25 – race day only

    There are a few limited camping spots left for those deciding to stay at the last minute. Weekend admission with camping starts at £75 for those over 14 years of age.

    How to Watch Donington BSB 2017 on TV:

    Not able to make it to Donington Park? Here’s how to watch on TV and online.

    British Superbikes Live Timing is available via the official British Superbikes site for free.

    Saturday April 1:

    • 15:45: Live Qualifying and Supersport Sprint Race (Until 6pm) – Eurosport 2
    • 21:00: Qualifying and Supersport Sprint Race Highlights – Eurosport 2

    Sunday April 2:

    • 13:00: Live British Superbikes (Until 6pm) – Eurosport 2
    • 21:00: Race Highlights – Eurosport 2
    • 22:00: British Superbikes Extra – Eurosport 2

    Monday April 3:

    • 13.15: Race Highlights – Eurosport 2
    • 14:15: British Superbikes Extra – Eurosport 2
    • 17:30: Race Highlights – Eurosport 1

    Eurosport is available via Sky, Virgin Media and BT TV. Or online via the Eurosport Player, which is £5.99 for a one day pass, or £29.99 for access until December 31st, 2017 (Which also includes World Superbikes). That’s a special offer running until April 30th, 2017.

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  • The 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth Now Available

    The 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth is a new and limited edition model in the Sport Heritage range. It teams the Japanese company with a famous name from the car world. Abarth was originally founded in 1949, and has specialised in small sports cars for 60 years, including being featured as the sportier end of the FIAT brand.

    2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth
    The 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

    Abarth already sponsors the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team and supplies a number of specialist vehicles as part of that relationship. So it seems only right that Yamaha honour them by producing a total of 695 bikes with some exclusive lightweight parts.

    Typically for a factory special, the 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth features the standard 950cc three-cylinder engine with traction control and slipper clutch. But what it does gain is a full lightweight Akrapovic exhaust system with titanium double slip-on silencer. So that will help acceleration a bit, as well as making you sound faster.

    2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth
    Just running in the 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

    Also helping you feel faster is a sportier riding position, thanks to swallow ‘clip-on’ style handlebars and the single racing seat. It’s finished with a suede cover and red stitching. And the seat cowl is one of the new lighweight carbon parts which feature the Abarth logo, along with the carbon front mudguard.

    Online order registrations opened on January 17th with the first 95 customers getting an invitation to an exclusive Yamaha VIP Abarth Experience, along with their choice of companion. The events will be confirmed when the new owners finish their purchase, and will take place between May 1st and June 16th 2017 at circuits in Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria and the UK.

    Each event includes the chance to test drive a range of Abarth vehicles on the circuit, take a drive with a professional racing driver, and also be given the chance to visit Abarth’s Turin headquarters by prior appointment throughout 2017.

    Once the initial 95 models of the 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth have gone, the remain 600 are available to order from your local Yamaha dealer from April 2017. And to be fair, you’ll have as much fun on the road or track on the XSR900 as you would in any car.

    Then again, if you do appreciate small, four-wheeled vehicles, then you might like the fact Abarth have also procuded a concept car to match the bike. The 695 Tributo XSR has the same grey and red livery, an extensive array of carbon fibre, and also gets an Akrapovic exhaust system.

    2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth and Car

    It’s just a shame they haven’t produced a matching motorcycle trailer and made it all available as a set!

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  • ‘17 FIAT 124 SPIDER: CLASSICAL GAS!

    It’s what happens when you take a Mazda Miata and add a little Italian brio, blogs Road Test Editor, Howard Walker.

    Ready for a little Italian conversation class? Start by repeating after me: Bella piccolo macchina. Now say it with feeling, and maybe with an Italian-style shrug of the shoulders and upturned palms. The literal translation is ‘beautiful little machine’. And it’s also exactly how you’d describe Fiat’s new magnifico 124 Spider two-seater. Bella indeed.

    You might have heard about this new 124. It was developed hand-in-hand with Mazda – yep, I scratched my head too when I first read that piece of news. Fiat borrowed the underbody structure of Mazda’s much-loved Miata MX-5 and wrapped it with its own bodyshell – every panel is unique to the 124 – and squeezed in its own piccolo engine. Just don’t call it a Fiata!

    Makes sense. These days, small, affordable, old-school sports cars – even with $25-grand starting stickers – sell about as well as electric typewriters and Filofax planners. So it was tough for Fiat to justify going it alone to build a new 124. Split the costs with Mazda, send the two cars down the same production line in Japan, and it becomes a lot more financially sound.

    As much as I love the little MX-5, I have more amore for this little Fiat. It has oodles of styling cues from Fiat’s classic 1970s 124 Spider – the twin power bulges on the hood, the distinctive front grille, rear fenders that look like Joan Collins’ shoulder-pads in Dynasty. It’s also around five inches longer than the Mazda, which somehow makes it feel less dainty, more substantial.

    And while it would have been so much easier for Fiat to stick with the MX-5’s trusty 2-0-liter SkyActive four-banger, full credit to them for wanting to use their own 1.4-liter Multiair turbo from the plucky Fiat 500 Abarth. Not that there’s much difference in power; 160-horsepower for the Fiat, 155 for the Mazda, though the 124 gets a 36 pound-foot hike in torque which kinda counters the Fiat’s extra 100 pounds in weight.

    Thankfully they stuck with the MX-5’s brilliant folding canvas top. To me, it’s still the benchmark for a manual roof. Flip a lever, flop the top back to stow on the rear deck, 10 seconds max. And you do it with one hand. While in the car.

    So what’s it like to drive? Bellissimo. The whole point of a two-seater like this is for it to be fun, and to put a big smile on your face. And the little Fiat delivers. The fizzy turbo engine provides a ton of thrust to get you off the line fast, to zip you past slower traffic, and to punch you out of a tight bend.

    Interestingly our tester came with a six-speed automatic rather than the knife-through-butter-precise six-speed stick. My initial reaction was ‘no way’. But for our arrow-straight, traffic-congested Florida roads, it makes perfect sense. The shifts are smooth, it’s eager to kickdown and there’s manual shifting if you feel the need.

    Fiat offers three 124 Spiders to choose from. The base Classica kicks off at $24,995. Then there’s the leather-trimmed Lusso I’ve been driving with the bigger 17-inch alloys and silver windshield surround. For performance fans, there’s the feistier 124 Abarth with tighter suspension that starts at $28,195.

    Why would anyone buy a 124 Spider? It’s a fun, affordable ‘toy’ that’s a blast to drive, especially top-down on a blue-sky Florida winter day. And if you remember with affection the old 124 Spider, this car will rekindle those nostalgic memories.

     

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  • ’17 MERCEDES-BENZ SL65: SUNSHINE SUPERCAR!

    “Dial ‘SL65’ if you want a classic aluminum-bodied two-seat roadster with an abundance of luxo-tech and V12 power,” blogs Dan Scanlan.

    Inside the ‘17 Mercedes-Benz SL65 Roadster’s sleek-but-familiar frame resides a supercar’s worth of power – a handcrafted twin-turbocharged 6-liter V-12 with, delivering 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque at a low 2,300 to 4,300 rpm. And, builder Antonio Donadai’s signature on its carbon fiber engine cover!

    This SL is the seventh in a series of arguably the best known Benzes, born in 1954 as the 300 SL Gullwing coupe. Tests of uber-SLs are rarities, the last one we had an SL550 three years ago with 429 horsepower. It hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and 100-mph in 9.7 seconds, averaging 20 mpg on premium fuel with auto engine shutoff engaged. Now we had the latest SL65 with five different driving programs – Comfort, Sport, Sport +, RACE and Individual.

    Each successive selection makes engine and transmission response a bit quicker and tightens the suspension and via software. SPORT+ mode really firms up the suspension, snaps off firm upshifts and throttle-blipping downshifts with some serious snarl. INDIVIDUAL mode lets the driver mix how they want the steering, drive system and suspension. Then RACE mode slams shifts at full throttle and backs off stability control as it sets suspension on full firm. RACE also likes you to paddle shift, guided by a handy upshift light.

    Set it in Sport+ and we sprinted to 60-mph in 4 seconds flat with wheelspin in the second and third gear shifts, reaching 100 mph in 8.2 seconds. Passing power was abundant, the engine snarling, the wide rear rubber giving just a wiggle of traction squirm. We averaged 10 mpg on premium. Sport, Sport + and RACE also allowed the exhaust to really roar, with an explosive “pop-pop-SNAP!” from the pipes when you backed off.

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