Home  /  October 2018  /  Racing

You’ve got a big choice next weekend: watching the Mexican GP at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, where 20 drivers in 10 teams from eight countries will race 71 laps and attempt to beat Seb Vettel’s lap record.

Remember this is a track where last year the greatest F1 driver of all time, Lew Hamilton, could only place ninth (of course it’s live and ad-break-free on Foxtel). Or you could be at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez of Australia, Goulburn’s Wakefield Park, where the biggest field ever in the history of the 24 Heures des Citrons will be circling the track for god knows how many laps.

Now despite my pleas to the Bernie Ecclestone of Foxtel, Patrick Delany, you won’t be able to watch the world’s most riveting race live or dead, with or without ads, on what is billed as “one of Australia’s most progressive and dynamic media companies”

So, on behalf of the LeMons’ supreme commander, Sean Herbert, I began negotiating with former SBS boss Mike Ebeid to sell (actually give) them the exclusive rights. Of course, the LeMons absolutely meets the SBS charter of “providing multilingual and multicultural radio, television and digital media services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia’s multicultural society”.

Each year we have teams in vehicles like the German WWII tank that plays the theme from Hogan’s Heroes (an idea the FI executives are stealing for next year’s event at Hockenheimring Baden-Wurttemberg) and lots of French brands that have ­baguette-giving, cheese and frog-eating drivers. Unfortunately, while Mike is listed on the SBS website as the CEO, he is actually now working at Telstra.

But in bigger news your Weekend Australian Racing Team has had a brand refresh. Our old Beemer died so we have adopted the multilingual and multicultural ethos promoted by the SBS Act of 1991 and jumped in a vintage purple Japanese (our second-biggest trading partner) Nissan Pulsar.

And we have a new team driver, so please welcome the newest WART, Dr Howie.

In true WART style, Dr Howie has never steered a front-wheel-drive car, never driven a manual car, never raced and will miss practice due to treating patients (poor ethical choice there Howie!)

Anyway, your representatives, the brown-cardigan-wearing suburban accountant and radical speedster Steve Champion, Dr Howie, Tom Connolly and yours truly will be doing our best to burn up the diminishing amount of fossil fuel, pollute the environment, increase the hole in the ozone layer, make noise, scare wildlife and make the Wakefield neighbours very angry. I expect to see a lot of old faces there and quite a lot of old faces with new faces as a result of Dr Howie’s surgery.

Don’t forget to be in next year’s LeMons attempt to break the Guinness (or in our case Coopers) world record for the most race cars on one track at The Bend racetrack in Adelaide, you have to have been in at least one “normal” LeMon event.

In other news, there’s a new el supremo coming to the world’s greatest multimedia news platform, The Australian. He will even be the boss of my boss here in the business section. Sources close to the liquor industry (a bar person at what used to be called the Evening Star Hotel — nicknamed the Evil Star — down the road but has now had a brand refresh to become the Gweilo) tells me the new top exec likes motorbikes more than my boss. So, expect lots of grovelling stories and pics of the two-wheeled terrors.

Talking of terrors, lots more ­issues for Honda Australia boss Hiroyuki Shimizu. Apart from Lindsey Neilsen, whose new 2017 Honda R needed half a new engine and was off the road for a couple of months, we now have another two Honda owners doing battle with both Honda Darwin and Honda Australia with similar problems. Lindsey suggests “this may be a case of Honda trying to keep out of a mass recall”.

She may have a point. US law firm Sauder Schelkopf is investigating a class-action lawsuit on behalf of owners of Honda CR-V vehicles (model years 2016, 2017 and 2018) that are prone to engine oil contamination.

“It has been alleged that consumers with these Honda CR-V vehicles are experiencing fuel contamination of the engine oil that results in the failure of engine bearings and other internal components. This may result in catastrophic engine failure and even stalling while driving.

“It has also been alleged that consumers who present their vehicles to Honda for repair are informed that this engine oil contamination is considered normal and are denied warranty coverage.”

US website Honda Problems (hondaproblems.com/trends/crv-oil-contamination) says the 1.5-litre engine in the Honda R has real problems. “In February 2018, Dongfeng Honda — a Chinese car company half-owned by Honda — ordered a recall of 350,000 vehicles after numerous complaints from owners in the colder regions of northern China. Honda has issued a stop-sale on all new CR-Vs in China.” Honda Canada has at least acknowledged the problem. As a car buyer in Australia you have no rights, so just suck it up.

Talking of sucking up, Mecum is putting the Christer R. Christensson motorcycle collection up for auction in Las Vegas next year.

Working alongside his colleague, Ove Johansson, and his team of restorers, Christensson built the MC Collection of Stockholm into a 400-plus motorcycle presentation that establishes the motorcycle not merely as a machine, but as a contemporary work of art and mechanical sculpture. There is a picture of what I am ­reliably informed is a motorcycle attached to today’s column.



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