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Hullo viewers! Welcome to our first annual “rort of the month” award beaming to you direct from the Regent Room (hire $220 with minimum bar tab of $500 or a normal Thursday night’s rounds) of the Kensi Hotel with your host, the Sultan of Stepney, the person so good they named him twice, Michael McMichael.

But before we cross to Mick, some late breaking news. Hamo has just called in to say he’s given Merc the flick and is moving to the Italians.

“I have had an amazing 11 years with this team and I’m so proud of what we have achieved together. Mercedes has been part of my life since I was 13 years old. It’s a place where I have grown up, so making the decision to leave was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.”

Thanks, Hamo. We know you can’t give us the real reasons apart from being so frustrated that you told the Mercsters the 2023 car was going to be a dud and it was – and that you haven’t won a race in two years.

Maybe the Hamster really meant it when he said: “Last year, there were things I told them. I said the issues that are with the car. I’ve driven so many cars in my life, so I know what a car needs.

“I know what a car doesn’t need. I think it’s really about accountability. It’s about owning up and saying, ‘Yes, you know what? We didn’t listen to you. It’s not where it needs to be and we’ve got to work’.”

Winning races comes down to the best driver, the best team and the best car. Hamo is the best driver in F1 and maybe the best ever.

He’s certainly the best driver when the car is on the edge. When the back should be exchanging positions with the front. When the rain is so bad you can’t see the front tyres let alone the next corner. When it comes to preserving tyres and fuel.

But he knows the 2024 Merc cars will be only be a bit better than the 2023 cars, which wouldn’t be hard. And he knows that his friend, former Merc performance boss Loic Serra, will be at Ferrari when he gets there; Serra and Hamo were in violent agreement about the design of the 2023 car. So Hamo’s choices were: stay another year with the team with the fifth-fastest cars; retire or go to another team.

Hamo turned 39 last month. Forty is a bad age for men although Ferdy Alonso is 42 (exactly half the Sultan’s age). Schuey was 43 when he retired from F1 for the second time.

But none has Hamo’s list of records. Total wins. Most wins in a first championship season. Most wins at the same GP. Most consecutive race starts. Most consecutive wins at the same GP. Most consecutive seasons with a win. Total pole positions. Most consecutive seasons with a pole position. Total podium finishes. Total career points. Total pointscoring races. Led every lap, total races. Most races with a single constructor and a single engine maker.

And that’s just a few.

OK back to the ROM Awards with special host Mick.

“Thanks JC, the second. Tonight, two carmakers are vying for the ROM award, sponsored by our good friend Gina Cass-Gottlieb and her team at the ACCC. And the nominations are:

KG Mobility Holdings, owners of SsangYong, makers of Musso, for the flashing immobiliser light stopping the car starting and so spending its life at the dealers where it still sits undriveablep; and

THE Hyundai Motor Company for last year, advertising a N Line Sedan for $26,290 on its website but when you go to buy one the price suddenly changes to $35,785. And for being at it again. When the judges looked this week the landing page price for the Hyundai i30 N Line sedan changed to $35,785. When you click on the “Explore i30 N Line Sedan” tile the price rises to $39.969. Good luck trying to buy one for $35k. Back to you JC.

Thanks Mick, I’m surprised you didn’t try a bit of humour with an old line like: “It’s only a rort if you’re not in on it.”

A bit of background on the Hyundai nomination. Reader 7, Peter Preller, tells us he was looking for a cheap new car for his kiddies and he thought it worth considering buying a basic new car that comes with a warranty.

“I like the Hyundai i30,” Pete says. “So, I typed into Google search ‘Hyundai i30 pricing’.

“The search brought up a top search result ‘i30 Range I Hyundai Australia’. The second tile on the page was titled ‘Racing-Inspired luxury’, being an advert for the N Line Sedan showed a price of $26,290.

“When you clicked through on the ‘Explore i30 N Line Sedan’ white tile the price changed to $35,785. Clearly, there were two prices advertised for the same car. I asked four dealers in NSW and the ACT if they would sell me an N Line Sedan for $26,290 and all refused.

“I then contacted Hyundai and they refused to facilitate a sale for this price but told me to go back to the dealers. Bottom line, neither the dealers nor Hyundai would sell the car to me for the price of $26,290 as advertised.”

Pete reckons Hyundai Australia has breached the misleading and deceptive conduct laws by advertising a car that it will not sell, or facilitate the sale of, for the advertised price. He also says: “Hyundai and the dealers have also breached the law relating to multiple pricing which requires the product to be sold for the lower of the two prices or withdrawn from sale.”

Of course, we went straight to Bill Thomas, Hyundai’s corporate affairs GM Oceania, and Emma Guadagni, group marketing and PR manager Oceania, for comment but at the time of writing they, quite rightly, haven’t replied. Declaration of interest. I have been a huge Hyundai and Kia fan. Raced a Hyundai, put one friend and the Sultan into Konas and three others into Palisades.

Anyway, results of ROM next week.

Talking of sales, I think clearance rates and prices are generally disappointing in Scottsdale this year. More on this next week but take a squiz at this beautiful Spa Silver over Smoke Grey leather 1993 Jaguar XJ220. One of 299, with 7000km, this was the fastest production car in its day, making the Ferrari F40 look like a Musso.

RM sold it for $717k, or half the price of an old Porsche Turbo.

 

 

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