There’s a feeling of the inevitable as Marc Marquez wins the Fastest Qualifier BMW for the 6th time. As the ‘Official Car of MotoGP’ for 20 years, the BMW M Award has been given to the fastest qualifying performance across each season since 2003. And for the past six years, that’s meant a new BMW added to the Marquez garage.
Motorcycle racers are legendary for their ability to use and abuse hire cars. But Marquez now has enough to start loaning out his own collection. For six consecutive years he has been awarded the latest in the BMW M range as a reward for his qualification achievements.
Given his success at the highest level of motorcycle racing, it’s no surprising Marquez has broken several qualifying records along the way. Since 2003, the BMW Awards have seen him become the first rookie to achieve it in 2013, the first rider to win three in-a-row in 2015, and first rider to achieve four awards in 2016. Considering he’s a five-time MotoGP champion at the age of 25, it might be wise to invest in a bigger garage for the future.
This year Marquez drives away in a new 2018 BMW M3 CS. Not necessarily a match for his Repsol Honda RC213V. But still the most powerful BMW M3 so far, with a 460hp M TwinPower turbo inline-six-cylinder engine achieving 0-100 kmh in 3.9 seconds. It’s got a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, adaptive suspension, full leather interior and 19 inch alloys.
“I can hardly believe that I have won the BMW M Award for the sixth time running,” said Márquez at the award ceremony at Valencia. “One year ago, I announced here that my objective for 2018 was to claim this sixth victory – and I have actually managed it. That makes me very proud. Now I can hardly wait to get behind the wheel of this fantastic BMW M3 CS. I want to thank BMW M GmbH for providing the BMW M Award as an accolade for the fastest qualifier. This shows special appreciation for us as MotoGP riders. The prospect of winning this prize provides even more motivation for us when qualifying starts on Saturdays.”
The BMW M Award is based on a points system allocated for the MotoGP qualifying each weekend. And the rider with the most points over the season gets a brand new BMW M series. Marc Marquez holds the record with six awards, followed by Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner who each received 3. Jorge Lorenzo is next on 2, and 1 award has gone to both Sete Gibernau and Nicky Hayden.
It’s a hat trick as Peter Hickman wins his third Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix. The British Superbikes and road racing star led an all-British podium finishing ahead of team-mate Michael Rutter and Martin Jessopp. The 2018 event was the 52nd time the event has been held, and followed wins for Hickman in 2015 and 2016.
The race on the 6.120 street circuit finished on lap nine of 12 after the race was red-flagged due to a crash involving Phil Crowe and Ben Whylie. The early leader had been Honda-mounted Michael Rutter, before Hickman was able to move past on the Aspire-Ho by Bathams Racing BMW S 1000 RR.
Hickman was the pre-race favourite after claiming his first Macau pole start. And the Louth-based rider moved into the lead on lap 3. He began to pull away from Rutter and the chasing riders including Jessopp, Danny Webb and Gary Johnson until the race was brought to a premature end.
A delighted Peter Hickman said: “Michael got a much better start than me which is usual as he is always good off the line. I was quite happy to just sit there and follow him to watch where he was strong and where he wasn’t. I could hear the Ducati behind me so realised Martin was fairly close so after the third lap I decided it was time to go and got my head down, passed Michael and began to pull a bit of a gap.
After half distance he began to gain ground on me and was only 0.7s behind so thought I had better get my head down again and pull the gap back out again. I looked at the TV screen at Lisboa and saw that I had pulled away again but unfortunately the red flag came out. I really hope the boys involved are ok, which is the main thing to be honest. It is fantastic for myself, the Smiths Racing crew, (I had my usual team around me) and Aspire-Ho Bathams who are the sponsors for the team, to give them a win here is absolutely brilliant.”
Hickman has achieved wins in every international race in 2018, along with qualifying for the British Superbike Showdown. That includes victory in the Superstock and Senior TT at the Isle of Man TT, along with the fastest lap record of 135.452mph. Plus victories at the North West 200 and the Ulster Grand Prix.
Behind the podium finishers of Hickman, Rutter and Jessopp were Danny Webb (BMW) and Gary Johnson (Kawasaki). Horst Saiger took sixth ahead of Davo Johnson, Derek Sheils and Davey Todd. Completing the top ten was the returning John McGuinness.
In total, 24 riders completed the race, with Craig Neve the final classified finisher. Only Davy Morgan and Didier Grams failed to finish, as the red flag meant Wylie and Crowe were included in the provisional results in 15th and 16th place. Fortunately the reports are that Wylie was taken to hospital with injuries understood to not be serious, and Crowe was pretty much unscathed. The crash occurred at Fisherman’s Bend as Wylie struck the barrier on his Bimota before Crowe collided with the fallen motorcycle.
It’s fair to say our first drive of the Tesla Model S is not entirely going to plan. Fellow scribe Phil Huff is peering through the rear window with a slightly quizzical expression. “You’ve broken it,” he jokes.
Tesla Model S85
It later transpires this assessment might not be so far from the truth. Right now, however, we’re locked outside what could well be the future of motoring, stranded at our photo location just above the Milbrook Hill Route (famously the road on which 007 totalled his Aston Martin in Casino Royale). There are worse places to be marooned, admittedly, and it provides a good opportunity to reflect on what we have gleaned about the car so far.
The Model S has been around for a couple of years now, but recent months have seen a growing number taking to our roads. It’s a discretely handsome sports saloon with a generous luggage capacity and enough room to seat five adults. There’s even the option of two additional rear-facing seats in the boot, should you need them. Outwardly, there are almost no clues to the fact that this is an all-electric vehicle, but as such it’s exempt from road tax and the Congestion Charge. Perhaps more importantly, it also falls into the lowest bracket for company car tax.
Things are a little more radical on the inside. The massive 17-inch touch screen display is not only the largest, but also the cleverest that we’ve encountered, controlling everything from the sat nav to the sunroof. It’s like sitting inside Google.
Tesla Model S85 Interior
The dashboard itself is a strikingly simple design, clad – in the case of our test car – in Alcantara and carbon fibre. The quality of the materials is first rate and they lend the cabin a bespoke feel that distinguishes the Tesla from its more mainstream competitors.
But enough of the pleasantries, what’s it like to drive? Really rather good, in short. You can feel the mass when pressing on – it weighs a not-inconsiderably 2.1 tons – but the combination of prodigious thrust and near-total silence from the electric powertrain is quite surreal.
Right now the internet is awash with videos of this car’s twin-engined evil twin, the P85D, demolishing supercars from a standing start. Our test car is ‘only’ the single-engined carisoprodol buy rear-wheel drive S85 model, but even this comparatively mild example of the breed feels good for its claimed 5.4 second nought-to-sixty time.
Where the Model S really scores, though, is response. With 440 Nm of torque available instantly, right from a standing start, overtaking urge is never more than a twitch of the toe away. There’s no shortage of grip either, with decent chassis balance and chunky, if somewhat lifeless, steering.
A small confession here: in the brief time we had with the car, I didn’t think to check which of the two braking modes had been selected. As sampled, lifting off the accelerator resulted in something not unlike conventional engine braking, while the middle pedal had a pleasingly natural feel. It certainly wasn’t the alien experience you might expect from a regenerative braking system.
Tesla Model S85
All of this, of course, means little if you can’t get in to drive it. Having soaked up the Bedfordshire sunshine for 20 minutes a support car is dispatched to recover us and the stricken Tesla. The central locking issue is eventually traced to a slightly unlikely culprit, in the form of the dictaphone I’d brought along to record my notes. Apparently this had interfered with the keyless entry fob lying next to it in the centre cupholder. We’ll let you decide whether that constitutes a teething issue or (as one of Tesla’s European representatives insisted) user error.
But the fact is, the fundamentals of this car are superb. The Model S is reassuringly conventional when you want it to be and yet a genuine game-changer in other respects. It’s more than capable of competing with its internal combustion powered competitors in terms of comfort and performance, with anecdotal evidence suggesting there’s enough real-world range to get you from, say, London to Birmingham.
Throw in ultra-low running costs, plus more pioneering technology than you can shake a stick at, and it also starts to look like good value, starting at £59,380 on the road. This not a car reserved for hair shirt environmentalists, nor is it a low-volume concept like Volkswagen’s plug-in hybrid XL1. The electric car, it seems, is very much a reality.