Motorsport helps in fight with Coronavirus!

With all motorsport currently being placed on indefinite limbo, the flexible and versatile engineering capabilities of Formula One racing teams have meant they've been quick to answer UK government calls for high-tech companies to help combat the coronavirus pandemic in any way they can. Formula One teams have long-used meticulously honed skills to move an idea from concept to completion in record time utilizing techniques that are legendary. This key requirement is born from the necessity of having to engineer car upgrades, frequently between qualifying and race during a busy Grand Prix race weekend, then producing and couriering the finished upgrade to a circuit somewhere on the globe.

This unique motorsport-derived ability has now been applied to good use during the current global crisis, as several front running F1 teams with advanced technical divisions have turned their attention to helping develop much needed CPAP - Continuous Positive Airways Pressure - devices, to assist the breathing of COVID-19 victims.

One example is Formula One engine manufacturer Mercedes who has worked with clinician companies and University College London Hospitals in development and production processes. Mercedes said they were proud to have been able to participate in a team to help deliver the ventilator, which has been engineered from an existing device in around four days.

Also assisting in the global requirement for much-needed pumps is Williams Advanced Engineering, whose high-tech team in Grove Oxfordshire has considerable experience in specialist, low-volume manufacturing across all sectors of industry, from automotive & motor sport to aerospace & defence, from energy & sports science to healthcare. Among successful healthcare products Williams has developed and produced is the Baby Pod 20, a lightweight carbon fibre pod for new-born babies requiring emergency transportation.

Among the other high-tech subsidiaries of F1 teams redirecting their wide-ranging advanced engineering skills are McLaren Automotive & Applied technologies based in Woking Surrey, Red Bull Advanced Technologies situated adjacent to its championship-winning F1 team's base at Milton Keynes Buckinghamshire, together with UK based Racing Point, Haas F1 and Renault Sport Racing teams who, together with other manufacturers Rolls Royce, Ford, JCB and Dyson are currently involved in producing the vital COVID-19 breathing ventilators in collaboration with various international specialised healthcare companies.

2nd April, 2020

Play it Again Maestro ...

During the 1970s and 80s, one-make racing series were a popular component of motor manufacturer's marketing strategy, used to promote chosen models. Among these were Ford Escort Mexico, Renault 5, Honda CRX, Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and even Porsche 924 and BWW M1 supercar championships that became popular among competitors and spectators alike, but perhaps one of the most innovative and unique was Austin Rover's MG Maestro Challenge. Run in tandem with their successful MG Metro racing series, both championships were genially facilitated by former international co-driver Rick Smith's Xenogamy company in Surrey .

Introduced for 1986, the Mobil 1 supported MG Maestro Challenge was ingeniously conceived to discover the most versatile driver over a calendar of races, rallies, hill climbs, sprints and an Autotest, between March and October. Run under a robust set of strictly enforced regulations controlling modifications to the cars, the series flourished, with a strong esprit de corps between competitors, many of whom were successful in any one of the motor sports disciplines.

When the series was first announced, many seasoned clubmen doubted the competition potential of the outwardly respectable 8,698 MG Maestro. But doubts were soon dispelled when the car was fitted with Austin Rover's Group N competition handling and safety kit, which transformed the rather softly sprung showroom two-litre EFi saloon into a well-balanced and quick car. Engine power peaked at 130 bhp, taking the Maestro 0-60 in 85 seconds - a second quicker than the VW Golf - with a top speed of 115 mph, all reliably delivered by a five-door five-seat Hot Hatch.

Many Challenge Maestros' also served privateer owners as road cars and found on the school and supermarket run during the week! Several cars were sponsored by garages in ARG's UK dealer network and the manufacturer actively encouraged this involvement by investing in a great deal of media promotion and even lavish hospitality at some high profile rounds of the championship.

To enhance the series profile even more, Austin Rover fielded two celebrity cars, prepared by Roger Dowson Engineering at Silverstone, who'd been responsible for the MG Maestro's competition development. Well-known drivers, journalists or personalities were invited to drive the Celebrity cars at the various events, which provided a benchmark for the amateur regulars. This distinguished professional alumnus included, Damon Hill, Gary Brabham, Tony Pond, Jeff Allam, Malcolm Wilson and Barrie 'Whizzo' Williams. In fact, the 1987 champion was Unipart F3 and Broadspeed Touring Car star Tony Dron, also an accomplished writer. Dron did a full season in a car entered by the MG Owners Club and co-driven on rallies by its secretary, Mike Beales, including 1987/88 RAC rallies.

For five seasons 1986 - 90, the Mobil 1 MG Maestro Challenge successfully carved a niche for itself in British motorsport, developing a close-knit community of drivers and teams who competed against each other on a variety of events throughout a busy season and all accomplished in a great spirit of camaraderie. Former Austin Rover apprentice and author Pablo Raybold thoroughly enjoyed his time in the Challenge and needed little persuasion to compile a comprehensive biography covering five seasons of the Challenge, including every event, driver and car.

In addition to the imminent launch of the much-awaited book, this year marks 30-years since the last event of the MG Maestro Challenge and during that 30-year vacuum, many of the competitors, organisers and team members would have lost contact with each other and sadly, we've lost a few over the years but Pablo has recognized an opportunity to assemble together as many former competitors as possible to celebrate a truly remarkable and iconic series that allowed clubmen to compete in an affordable, multidiscipline calendar of events, some at international status.

The MG Maestro Challenge grand reunion dinner will take place on Saturday 24th October at the Honiley Court Hotel Nr. Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 1NP. The evening will comprise of a three-course dinner, live music entertainment and a motorsport speaker. Help us celebrate a unique motorsport championship!

For more information on Maestro Challenge biography or reunion dinner please contact Pablo Raybold: - Tel: 07768 377706 email:

25th March, 2020

West Cork Rally Postponed

Round two of the 2020 British Rally Championship, the Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally has been postponed due to the worsening global affects of the Coronavirus. In a statement, The British Rally Championship fully supported the decision of the event organising team which has followed guidelines issued by the HSE and Government agencies. No date has yet been given for the rerun of the rally.

15th March, 2020

Ogier's Sixth Rally Mexico Win

Sebastien Ogier has joined French compatriot Sebastien Loeb as the only six-time winners of Rally Mexico and thus elevating him to the top of the 2020 championship table, eight points clear of Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans. The rally was shortened by three stages Sunday morning stages in order to give teams and support crews time to beat the advancing travel embargo in the USA and Europe as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
In what transpired to be the final loop of the rally, Ogier maintained sufficient speed on each of the six special stages to take the win by a margin of 27.8 seconds from the Hyundai i20 WRC of 2019 world champion Ott Tanak, followed by Teemu Suninen?s M-Sport Ford Fiesta. Behind the three podium finishers, were the Toyotas of Britain's Elfyn Evans and rising star Kalle Rovanpera in fourth and fifth respectively, after battling through today's stages from their less than favorable road positions.
British youngster Gus Greensmith was the sixth WRC car home at the end of only his fifth outing in the premier class in another M-Sport Fiesta. Final classified finisher in the RC1 class was Thierry Neuville, who restarted after an electrical failure late on Friday and his more favorable road position for the remainder of his rally meant the Belgian duly won five of the remaining eight stages, ceding just three fastest times to Hyundai team-mate Tanak.
The next WRC round, Rally Argentina, is postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, so the next scheduled event is Rally Portugal on 21-24 May, unless the global Covid-19 situation continues to affect the WRC calendar.

Top Ten Finishers

1 RC1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 2h47m47.6s
2 RC1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 27.8s
3 RC1 Teemu Suninen, J.Lehtinen M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 37.9s
4 RC1 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 1m13.4s
5 RC1 Kalle Rovanpera, J.Halttunen Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 2m20.5s
6 WRC2 Pontus Tidemand, P.Barth Toksport WRT Skoda 10m29.3s
7 WRC2 Nikolay Gryazin, Y.Fedorov Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai 12m27.0s
8 WRC3 Marco Bulacia Wilkinson, G.Bernacchini Marco Bulacia Wilkinson Citroen 13m37.5s
9 RC1 Gus Greensmith, E.Edmondson M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 13m56.5s
10 WRC2 Ole-Christian Veiby, J.Andersson Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai 15m32.2s

Drivers Championship
1. Sebastien Ogier 62
2. Elfyn Evans 54
3. Thierry Neuville 32
4. Kalle Rovenpera 40
5. Ott Tanak 38
6. Teemu Sunenin 26
7. Esapekka Lappi 24
8=. Pontus Tidemand 8
8=. Sebastien Loeb 8
8=. Takamoto Katsuta 8

15th March, 2020

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