As the prophets of the turn of the century Groove Terminator proclaimed, here comes another one. 2017 has been and gone and it was one of the most monumental years ever in the history of the automotive industry. After all, before it there was no Holding93.com.
All jokes aside, 2018 is shaping up to be a year of mixed emotions. Mostly it’s a year of returns. The return of Alpine with the gorgeous and critically lauded A110, the return of the BMW 8 Series and the return of Alfa Romeo and the French Grand Prix to Formula 1. Then there is the dreaded Halo and a LeMans with only one solitary manufacturer competitor in the top class.
It is with this sentiment in mind that I present the first of a series of articles; The things Holding 93 is most looking forward to in 2018.
The Return of Alpine
What a blinder this is turning out to be. Mostly forgotten French sportscar maker Alpine is set to return with a gorgeous reboot of the originally gorgeous A110.
It looks like they’ve hit upon an absolute corker.
Owned by Renault, who are generally pretty handy at setting up a front wheel drive chassis, Alpine has gone all out on the new A110. Super lightweight aluminium construction and a 1.8L turbo four making 185kW make for an excellent power to weight ratio.
The signs are excellent. You know a car has been well thought through when engineers start to talk about how they had enough development money to do both a manual and a dual clutch gearbox but only enough to do one of them well. So they opted to do just the one. That is decisive, clear vision. The hallmark of an excellent development campaign. Not something I generally expect from Renault, although their sister company – Nissan – thought very similarly when developing the R35 GT-R and we all know how well that turned out.
Early reviews are calling it the 718 Cayman’s equal, possibly even it’s better. Blimey.
The Return of the BMW 8 Series
I’m a ’90s kid. In the ’90s the BMW 8 Series was the epitome of cool. Especially the V12 850Ci. Then the 8 Series went away.
Now it’s back.
Look at the concept. Wow.
The production car won’t have that grille. Or those too slim for regulation headlights. Look to the M8 GTE race car for the production cues. But that body, that roofline, those haunches. Epic.
Will they do it with a V8? A V12? Unknown. But this thing is cool. And it vaults BMW back into that proper luxury coupe space the 6 Series has never quite fully cracked.
DB11, Conti GT, game on.
The Return of the French Grand Prix
The loss of the French Grand Prix has never fully sat right with me. After all, France is really the first country of motorsport. The first motor race was held from Paris to Bordeaux and back. Endurance racing was a French idea, the first 24 hour race was held at LeMans. Even the worldwide governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile or FIA for short, is French.
Magny Cours wasn’t much of a circuit though.
Unfortunately, I can’t see Paul Ricard being much better. Lewis Hamilton doesn’t either. Sure it makes for a good test track, however I can’t recall ever seeing an interesting race there.
Now Liberty Media are in charge of F1 these days and so far I think they’re doing a cracking job. But lets for a moment remember who owns the Paul Ricard circuit these days… oh who was he, short ex-car salesman with a mop on his head… oh yes that’s right – it’s Bernie Ecclestone. Hmm.
Still happy the French are back. Now we just need to get it shifted to Dijon-Prenois.
The Return of Alfa Romeo to Formula 1
A legendary car maker with a recent history so patchy it makes ‘The Room‘ look coherent is back in Formula 1.
Happy days. It likely also means a cash injection for previously cash-strapped F1 stalwart Sauber. Double excellent.
I’m genuinely excited by this. I know Alfa Romeo are a shadow of their former selves, however FCA’s attempts to model its return on Jaguar’s success is admirable. As an ex-, and likely to be future Alfa owner, this makes me happy.
The V6 V8 Supercar
I know, I know. It’s not “V8 Supercars” anymore. It’s also not easy to change your vocabulary when you’ve been saying “V8 Supercars” for 20 years. Especially when they’re all still V8s.
That changes this year.
Triple 8 won’t be running their twin turbo V6 all season, however the raspy new mill will make cameo appearances at three rounds as a wildcard entry, with one of those expected to be the Bathurst 1000.
Most fans will decry the step away from the bent eight. Bring it on I say. There’s nothing better than a diverse racing series and the Supercars have been trying to be all the same for far too long now. The parity rules will dictate that it’s not too far different, nor an advantage, however I fail to see how a twin turbo V6 won’t be different in its power curve and delivery to a 5.0L naturally aspirated V8. Different is good. Different means cars with strengths and weaknesses in different places.
Many of you won’t agree with me but I love the way it sounds. It’s no return to Group A but a Supercars grid with mixed engines will be a glorious thing to behold.
The Bend Motorsport Park
Already the motorsport good news story of 2018. As governments and their tourism bureaucrats pour insane amounts of money into temporary street circuits, the grass roots of motor sport miss out on the construction of modern, quality, safe venues that can be used all year round.
A very large service station owner in South Australia has changed all that. For The Bend, the winds and the waters all blew the right way at the right time. The ducks all got in a row and the right people at the right time invested money and convinced bureaucrats that they should too and for once we have a new world class motorsport facility that can actually be used all year round.
Joy of joys. I’m not just looking forward to the first Supercars round at the Bend, I’ll be looking out for the first opportunity to load the GT-R up and head west to do a track day. Make no mistake, the Tailem Bend local economy will benefit massively from people like me. Lets hope there are more that sit up and take notice – starting with Fiskville.
By Nathan Fenn (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Bathurst 12 Hour
Here comes the best motorsport event of the year. 12 hours of racing which will ultimately come down to the wire. Bathurst always does. Remember that last minute move by Katsumasa Chiyo after Nissan gambled on giving away track position for fresh tyres in 2015? Or the Tekno McLaren win in 2016 after Alvaro Parente was parked on the home straight, desperately trying to reset the car after a computer glitch? Or Shane Van Gisbergen’s banzai pursuit of Jamie Whincup’s Ferrari that would only end in the wall at the Dipper in 2017?
The 12 hour is an epic race that grows in its international standing with every passing year. This year’s entry list is an epic who’s who of international GT racing.
WRT Audi, M-Sport Bentley, Manthey Porsche, Schnitzer BMW and Strakka with their new Mercedes Benz GTs add international gravitas to an already epic local field.
As at today, here’s a short list of the cars in genuine contention for the win;
By Richard Taylor [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Kytabu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Audi R8 LMS
Audi Sport Customer Racing – Christopher Mies, Christopher Haase, Markus Winkelhock
Audi Sport Team WRT – Robin Frijns, Stuart Leonard, Dreis Vanthoor
Audi Sport Team WRT – Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda
There are at least 6 GT3 Audis with their driver line ups still to be announced. You’d have to bet at least 3 will be in contention for the win at the very least.
Bentley Continental GT3
Bentley Team M-Sport – Andy Soucek, Vincent Abril, Maxime Soulet
Bentley Team M-Sport – Guy Smith, Steven Kane, Jules Gounon
BMW M6 GT3
BMW Team SRM – Steve Richards, Timo Glock, Phillip Eng
BMW Team Schnitzer – Chaz Mostert, Marco Wittman, Augusto Farfus
There is still 1 BMW driver line up that remains unannounced. Given the weight of factory drivers in the already announced line-ups, I’m betting it will be heavy on international talent.
McLaren 650S GT3
YNA Autosport – Craig Lowndes, Come Ledogar, Shane Van Gisbergen
YNA Autosport – Scott McLaughlin, Fraser Ross, Andrew Watson, Alexander West (Pro-Am)
Mercedes AMG GT3
Scott Taylor Motorsport – Jamie Whincup, Tristan Vautier, Kenny Habul
Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka – Cameron Waters, Nick Leventis, Lewis Williamson, David Fumanelli
Porsche 911 GT3 R
Manthey Racing – Dirk Werner, Romain Dumas, Fred Makowiecki
Craft Bamboo Racing – Earl Bamber, Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor
This is just a list of potential contenders, not the full entry list. F1 experience, LeMans wins, DTM champions, Spa 24 winners, Supercars champions, Bathurst 1000 winners. Wow.
Hell, GT Racing in General
GT racing is in great shape heading into 2018. The awesome GT3 class continues to grow, with a new contender from Bentley and a heavy ‘Evolution’ revision to the BMW M6 due for the European season kick-off in April.
The GTE or GTLM class if you’re from America gains a return competitor in BMW with the new M8 GTE. It didn’t look super competitive at last weekend’s Roar Before the 24, but just wait for the BoP adjustments pre race. I’m willing to be they’ll be right in there when they turn up for competition. Aston Martin will also be running a new car in the new Vantage GTE, which interestingly runs AMG 4.0L TT V8. That will mark the first time the engine has been used at this level, Benz runs the old 6.2 in the GT3 race car.
It’s likely that it’ll be the GTs that are of the most interest at LeMans this year as well. With only one proper manufacturer competitor going up against a few privateers in the Prototype class, it will be the GTE-Pro class that is of the most interest. Especially when the finish was as epic as it was last year.
So buckle up. 2018 is going to be a cool year for cars and racing. Is there anything you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!