Subaru’s reborn rally team beaten by privateer at season-opening Sno*Drift [w/video]

Filed under: Motorsports, Sedan, Performance, Videos, Hatchback, Subaru, Racing

Sno Drift Rally

Sno Drift Rally – Click above to watch the video after the jump

After losing both Ken Block and Travis Pastrana last year, Subaru’s American rally efforts are undergoing a bit of rebuilding. The factory-backed Pleiades team took to the stages for the first time this season at Sno*Drift 2011 in Atlanta, Michigan, and despite a solid effort, driver Dave Mirra found himself three minutes and 53.1 seconds behind the father and son team of Travis and Terry Hanson in their 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Their win made United States rallying history as the duo became the first Super Production class effort to win a National Rally America event.

Day one saw Sno*Drift favorites Antoine L’Estage and David Higgins both forced to retire, leaving the Hanson duo to widen the gap between themselves and their closest competitors. Mirra, meanwhile, was handicapped by a tire puncture that saw the factory Subaru team fall all the way to fifth place before clawing its way back to take the silver.

The Hanson team was joined on the podium by Joseph Burke, another Super Production class contender. Burke was last year’s Rookie of the Year, and managed to give Mirra a solid fight for second place despite limited experience on snow and ice. Hit the jump for an excellent recap video.

[Source: Rally-America]

Continue reading Subaru’s reborn rally team beaten by privateer at season-opening Sno*Drift [w/video]

Subaru’s reborn rally team beaten by privateer at season-opening Sno*Drift [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 02 Feb 2011 15:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ducati and Elizabeth Raab team up for ultimate garage art

Filed under: Etc., Motorcycle, Design/Style

Ducati Desmo set by Elizabeth Raab

Ducati Desmo Photography Collection by Elizabeth Raab – Click above for high-res image gallery

Designers have been coaxing organic shapes out of cold metal and composites for generations, and while few are so bold as to recreate the bombshell lines that we saw on display in the early ’50s, the tradition doesn’t show signs of slowing up any time soon.

Nowhere is that more true than the realm of motorcycles. Unburdened by cumbersome safety regulations, motorcycle artists are able to bend tanks and frames to whatever shape they so desire. More often than not, those lines are lifted straight from the human body.

Ducati has just partnered with fine-art photographer Elizabeth Raab to explore that relationship a little further. Raab set about combining some of the manufacturer’s more lust-worthy creations with the arching forms of beautiful models. The parallels between the two are absolutely stunning, especially as viewed through Raab’s lens work.

Ducati is offering limited-edition, individually numbered prints for sale in a variety of sizes, so if you like what you see as much as we do, head on over to the Duc site and get while the getting’s good. Just be warned, not all of the shots are exactly safe for work.

Gallery: Ducati Desmo Photography Collection by Elizabeth Raab

[Source: Ducati]

Ducati and Elizabeth Raab team up for ultimate garage art originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 01 Feb 2011 19:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Team Lotus releases radical new T128 challenger

Filed under: Motorsports, Lotus, Renault, Racing

2011 Team Lotus T128

2011 Team Lotus T128 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Team Lotus has had a busy off-season, principally dealing with the naming rights dispute with Group Lotus and its new Renault team. That issue is still far from resolved, with both teams laying claim to the name, but the Malaysian outfit is taking first blood by launching its new car online before their British counterparts unveil theirs at Valencia. In doing so, Team Lotus becomes the second team to launch its 2011 challenger (following the new Ferrari F150), and the team calls it a complete clean-sheet redesign over last year’s car.

Designed by Mike Gascoyne, the new Lotus T128 is a considerably more radical than the T127 it replaces, which was rushed onto the grid with a more conservative design in order to get the team a foothold in its inaugural season. Swapping the previous car’s Cosworth power for Renault, the T128 also uses a Red Bull gearbox and starts the season without the KERS regenerative braking system permitted for use once again under this year’s regulations.

The T128 sticks with the green and yellow livery after initial plans to switch to the JPS black and gold were aborted before Lotus Renault GP released its own plans for the same. It will be piloted once again by Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, with its reserve/test drive still yet to be announced. The new car isn’t expected to make its on-track debut until the second day of testing at Valencia, but you can read more about it in the press release after the jump and take your first look in the high-resolution image gallery below.

Gallery: 2011 Team Lotus T128

[Source: Team Lotus]

Continue reading Team Lotus releases radical new T128 challenger

Team Lotus releases radical new T128 challenger originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 31 Jan 2011 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Gulf and Fiat team up in Luxembourg for a special edition 500 Abarth

Filed under: Europe, Hatchback, Fiat

Fiat Abarth 500 EsseEsse Gulf Edition

There have been some iconic racing liveries over the course of motorsport history. Martini, Marlboro, JPS… we could go on, but none carry the enthusiasm of the classic Gulf color combo. Maybe it’s because of Steve McQueen’s cult classic Le Mans. Maybe it’s the irony of the pastel colors on brutal racing machines. Whatever it is, it’s an all-time favorite. But would you want your daily driver painted in the baby-blue and orange scheme, complete with sponsor logos?

For most it’s not a tough decision to make, unless they’re driving an Aston Martin at Le Mans or buying a custom Hummer. But customers in Luxembourg now have the rare opportunity to get their hands on an officially sanctioned Gulf-liveried hot hatch.

The special edition Fiat 500 Abarth EsseEsse was initially planned as a one-off contest giveaway, created in celebration of Gulf oil’s 10th anniversary in the principality. In the end they set on making a limited run of ten examples, which are available from Fiat’s importer for BeNeLux for 25,000 euros (about $35k). It features the Gulf livery both inside and out – even the Sabelt racing buckets have their seatbacks painted in the classic scheme.

Those 10 examples are likely to sell out fast, even in a country as small as Luxembourg. The question for the rest of us is, if you had the option, would you buy one?

[Source: Autofans.be – translated]

Gulf and Fiat team up in Luxembourg for a special edition 500 Abarth originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 27 Jan 2011 18:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Journalist Sue Mead, racer Darren Skilton become first U.S. team to win a class in Dakar Rally

Filed under: Motorsports, Truck, Ford, South America, Off-Road, Racing

Ford F-150 SVT Raptor 2011 Dakar Rally

Ford F-150 SVT Raptor at the 2011 Dakar Rally – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is still proving that it can do whatever deed needs done, whenever it needs doing. Sue Mead and Darren Skilton managed to pilot a largely stock version of the desert-raiding pickup through all 12 stages of this year’s Dakar rally. The team survived 16 days of some of the most brutal terrain on the South American continent and covered over 11,800 miles in the process. Their effort was enough to net the Raptor a 40th place finish over all and a first place finish in the OP class.

In fact, from what we hear, Mead and Skilton were the only contestants to even finish in the OP class, even with big names like Robbie Gordon gunning for the win.

That marks the first time that an American crew has ever managed to take a class win in the history of the Dakar Rally. The F-150 SVT Raptor that Mead and Skilton campaigned boasted the same 5.4-liter V8 that it rolled off the production line with, though a larger cooling system was fitted to handle the harsh temperatures of the course. Likewise, the pickup was equipped with a host of other race-capable bits including a new locker system for the differentials, more robust shocks, springs and tires.

Overall, Volkswagen took the top three spots in the 2011 Dakar Rally. BMW filled out the remaining spots in the top five with its entries. Hit the jump for the press release.

Gallery: Ford F-150 SVT Raptor 2011 Dakar Rally

[Source: Ford]

Continue reading Journalist Sue Mead, racer Darren Skilton become first U.S. team to win a class in Dakar Rally

Journalist Sue Mead, racer Darren Skilton become first U.S. team to win a class in Dakar Rally originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Jan 2011 17:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Autoblog chats with Red Bull Junior Team member Jean-Eric Vergne

Formula 1 racing fans should be well familiar with the Red Bull Junior Team by now. Created just ten years ago, the names that have passed through it include Christian Klien, Scott Speed, Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, and Vitantonio Liuzzi. Klien was the first alumnus to get to F1, three years after the program began, and Sebastian Vettel was the first graduate to win a Grand Prix, in 2008, and the F1 title, last year.

There are four racers in the 2011 Red Bull Junior team, including Daniil Kvyat, rally scion Carlos Sainz, Jr. and Daniel Ricciardo, who topped the recent young drivers F1 test at Abu Dhabi. It also contains British F3 champion Jean-Eric Vergne, the first Frenchman ever to take the series.

Red Bulletin, Red Bull’s magazine, did a profile on Vergne in this month’s issue, then put us in touch with him so we could ask seven questions. For a pilot who looks like he’s on his way to The Show very soon, our first one was: What’s it like? Follow the jump for his answers.

Gallery: AB chats with Red Bull Junior Team’s Jean-Eric Vergne

Continue reading Autoblog chats with Red Bull Junior Team member Jean-Eric Vergne

Autoblog chats with Red Bull Junior Team member Jean-Eric Vergne originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 16 Jan 2011 17:47:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Chip Ganassi Racing expands to four-car Indy mega team

Filed under: Motorsports, Hirings/Firings/Layoffs

You’d have to search long and hard to find a racing team as successful as Chip Ganassi Racing. The team has won four Champ Car titles (before the series shut down), three Indy Racing League titles and one Grand-Am championship.

This year alone, CGR took home both the IndyCar and Rolex Grand-Am titles, and won the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400 and the Daytona 500 in the process. Names like Franchitti, Dixon, Stewart and Montoya race under the Ganassi banner. And this coming season, the team has taken a big step forward by expanding its IndyCar team by two drivers to make for a four-car mega team.

Joining two-time champions Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti this season in a parallel team will be Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball. Rahal is the son of Indy 500 legend Bobby Rahal, and himself became the youngest ever race winner in the series’ history when he won the season-opener at St. Petersburg in 2008 – his only victory to date. Kimball, meanwhile, is moving up the ladder from the Indy Lights feeder series having competed overseas in the Formula 3 Euro Series, Formula Renault 3.5 and A1GP.

Both drivers are American in an increasingly foreign-dominated grid, and bring much-needed sponsorship cash along with them at a time when some big name teams are struggling to make ends meet.

[Source: Autosport | Image: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty]

Chip Ganassi Racing expands to four-car Indy mega team originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 23 Dec 2010 18:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Subaru pegs David Higgins as new Rally Team USA driver [w/video]

Filed under: Motorsports, Etc., Subaru, Racing

David Higgins

David Higgins joins Subaru Rally Team USA – Click above to watch video after the jump

The speculation over exactly who will be taking Travis Pastrana’s spot in the driver’s seat with Subaru Rally Team USA can officially be put to rest. David Higgins will be the new man in blue and yellow. Higgins has a résumé that’s chock full of rally wins, from championship titles in SCCA rally here in the states in 2002 and 2003 to a British National Rally Championship title in 2004. The guy also managed to walk away with a championship wins in group N in the British National Rally in 1997, 1999 and 2002.

Needless to say, the guy’s got the chops to keep the pace.

Subaru plans to campaign two cars next season, and while Higgins is the newest member of the team, the leader of the pack will BMX guru and rally beast Dave Mirra. Mirra managed to snag a Rookie of the Year award from Rally America for his efforts last season and took a slot on the podium during the Rally America Olympus event among others. Hit the jump for a look at a video of Higgins doing what he does best as well as the full press blast.

[Source: Subaru]

Continue reading Subaru pegs David Higgins as new Rally Team USA driver [w/video]

Subaru pegs David Higgins as new Rally Team USA driver [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 10 Dec 2010 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Followup: Farnbacher Loles team owner charged with $10M fraud

Filed under: Aftermarket, Motorsports, Government/Legal, Earnings/Financials

Farnbacher-Loles Porsche

One year ago, we reported that Gregory Loles, team principal behind the well-regarded Farnbacher Loles racing outfit and Porsche performance shop, had gotten himself embroiled in an alleged fraud scheme. We hadn’t heard much about the scandal since last December, but now the United States Attorney for Connecticut has announced that a federal grand jury has returned a 32-count indictment against Loles. Among the indictments, Loles is being charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering – to the tune of over $10 million dollars.

According to the official Department of Justice press release, Loles, 51, also owned an investment adviser and brokerage firm called Apeiron Capital Management, Inc., an operation he ran as an unregistered investment adviser after his SEC listing was canceled in 1998. Loles evidently misrepresented his dealings and used monies from his investors (including a Connecticut church’s endowment and building funds) to pay personal bills and other unrelated expenses. While he was said to be diverting these funds, he provided false financial statements to his clients, and he made periodic payments to some of them using other investors’ money.

The case is being investigated in conjunction with the FBI and SEC, and if convicted, Loles could be going away for a very long time. The mail fraud, wire fraud and four of the money laundering charges alone carry a maximum sentence of 20 years, and other charges carry terms of up to 10 years.

You can read more about the charges leveled against Loles in the official DOJ press release at the link below. Thanks for the tip, Benjamin!

[Sources: New Haven FBI, Newstimes | Image: Image: Chris Graythen/Getty]

Followup: Farnbacher Loles team owner charged with $10M fraud originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 03 Dec 2010 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Rolls-Royce and Bijan team up for custom Phantom line

Filed under: LA Auto Show, Convertible, Sedan, Rolls-Royce, Design/Style, Luxury

Rolls-Royce Phantom

Rolls-Royce has announced a partnership with Beverly Hills-based designer Bijan Pakzad. Bijan will work closely with the super-luxury automaker to turn out a handful of special edition Phantoms, complete with the designer’s own personal touches. So far, we’ve been left in the dark about exactly what kinds of changes to expect, though Rolls-Royce says that Bijan will lay out a host of specifications for the company’s craftsmen to meet. Considering that the designer’s personal car is a bright yellow Phantom Drophead Coupe, we can bet that the new Phantoms will be anything but subdued.

Rolls-Royce and Bijan made the announcement at the Bijan Boutique in Beverly Hills – nicknamed the most expensive store in the world – just before this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show got underway.

[Source: Motor Authority]

Rolls-Royce and Bijan team up for custom Phantom line originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 20 Nov 2010 19:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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