Your servant was already active as a freelance car journalist from the mid-seventies of last century, so we witnessed up close the birth of the Audi 5-cylinder engines and the (rally) cars powered by it were quite familiar. When we were telling you the long career of Audi’s 5 cylinder engine, we told you how your servant remembered a drive behind the wheel of the Audi 80 Quattro with this magnificent engine. Just look at our pages on this site, and more especially https://autoprova.be/2016/09/18/sweet-memories-our-drive-with-the-5-cylinder-audi-80-5e-quattro-in-sankt-moritz/
This memorable test drive of this Audi 80 5E Quattro took place in Sankt Moritz, on 8 and 9 December 1982. For the assembled international journalists, Audi had also organized a demonstration run with the Quattro Rally Cars, and had brought Michèle Mouton and Stig Blomquist to the venue.
You see me here chatting with Michèle Mouton before having a demo drive with her at the wheel in her Quattro Rally machine…
The Women’s World Car of the Year is the first time a Land Rover has won the top prize at the awards and is the latest in a series of international honours for the most capable Land Rover ever made.
The new Defender remains true to the pioneering spirit that has been a Land Rover hallmark for over 70 years and redefines adventure for the 21st century. Iconic in name, shape and capability, it is available in a choice of body designs and can be personalised with a choice of four Accessory Packs to help owners make more of their world.
The Women’s World Car of the Year (WWCOTY) awards are the only car awards in the world with a jury comprised exclusively of woman, with 50 motoring journalists from 38 countries on 5 continents recognizing the best new models available.
The New Defender was named Best Medium SUV 2021 at the awards before being awarded – to coincide with International Women’s Day – the headline WWCOTY prize.
In the first part of our story where Alfa Romeo pays tribute to its glorious queens of speed, we took you back to the ‘30s, but now we guide you to more recent times. First we start off with a good looking racing driver, who later became even a …photo model for Alfa: The super-fast Dutch driver Liane Engeman, she excelled herself in the Toine Hezemans team’s Alfa Romeo 1300 Junior.
The photo here above let’s you understand fully why she became later an iconic model for Alfa…
Then there is Christine Beckers, who I came to know personally. Her heroic days were in the ‘60s, the era of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA. Its results, victories and importance in Alfa Romeo’s history are well-known. Less known, however, are the events of the (supercharged) Alfa Romeo GTA-SA. Prepared in ten units for Group 5, it was equipped with two hydraulically operated centrifugal compressors that boosted output to 220 hp, resulting in a top speed of 240 km/h.
It reached peak performance, but as historical test driver from Autodelta Teodoro Zeccoli explained, the GTA-SA had “an unpredictable boost of power would kick in suddenly without notice, making the SA an unpredictable vehicle, hard to govern on curves or when maneuvering.” One able to govern this ill-tempered vehicle better than any other was the young Belgian driver Christine Beckers, who won in Houyet in 1968 and went on to achieve excellent results the following year: in Condroz, at the “Tre Ponti”, at Herbeumont and at Zandvoort. But there are more heroines…
Maria Grazia Lombardi & Anna Cambiaghi
To follow Maria Teresa de Filippis in the 1950s, the second Italian woman to drive in a Formula 1 race – in as many as 13 GPs – was Maria Grazia Lombardi, known as “Lella”.
Between 1982 and 1984, she took part in the European Tourism Championship with the Alfa Romeo GTV6 2.5, together with Anna Cambiaghi, Giancarlo Naddeo, Giorgio Francia and Rinaldo Drovandi, and helped to bring in multiple titles. She remains the only female Italian driver to have improved her standing in a Formula 1 race.
In 1992, Vidali won the Italian Tourism Championship (Group N) in an Alfa Romeo 33 1.7 Quadrifoglio Verde, set up by the brand’s newly established Racing Department. Just as unforgettable is the fully yellow livery of the Alfa Romeo 155 that she drove in the Italian Superturismo Championship (CIS) in 1994.
Last but not least there is Tatiana Calderon.
Born in 1993 in Bogotá, Colombia, Calderon took her first steps in motorsport in 2005, winning a National Championship in the Easy Kart Pre-Junior series. Just three years later, she would become the first woman to win the JICA class of the Stars of Karting Championship East Division in the United States.
In 2017, Calderon became a development driver for the Sauber Formula One team. One year later, Sauber promoted her from F1 development driver to F1 test driver for Alfa Romeo Racing.
We enjoyed reading about all these (very) fast women, and we trust you did too…
International Women’s Day is an ideal occasion, Alfa Romeo found, to put its female racing champions behind an Alfa sportscar wheel into the spotlight. The material they put forward is so abundant and interesting, that we make (at least) a two-part series of it.
We start here with the early, very elegant protagonists, who combined female elegance with panache and excellent racing qualities…
We start here with Odette Siko, you see her elegantly here in the photo above.
She takes you back to the 1930s, where Alfa Romeo asserted itself as one of the main protagonists in motorsport. This was partly down to extraordinary vehicles, but also to drivers who became part of the legend: these were the years of Nuvolari, Varzi, Caracciola and Sommer. The latter won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1932 behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, but the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS driven by the striking Odette Siko finished fourth overall and won the 2.0-liter category! A young Parisian, Siko quickly became one of the stars on the track, displaying her elegance both in the paddock and in her racing performance, often accompanied by another female French racer whose path also crossed Alfa Romeo’s several times: Hellé Nice.
Hellé Nice, see the photo here, was a model, acrobat, and dancer. Her real name was Mariette Hélène Delangle, but was more commonly known as Hellé Nice. Renowned for her outgoing personality, Nice was good friends with the Rothschilds and the Bugattis. She raced in Europe and America and became one of the first drivers to display the logos of her sponsors on the bodywork of a single-seater racing car.
She took part in the 1933 Italian Grand Prix at Monza in her own 8C 2300 Monza; in the same race, Campari, Borzacchini and Czaikowski tragically lost their lives. In 1936, she won the Ladies Cup in Monte Carlo and took part the São Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil, where she fell victim to a dreadful accident, then miraculously came out of her three-day coma.
Further on, there was Anna Maria Peduzzi. In her time, the years of Scuderia Ferrari marked a crucial chapter in Alfa Romeo’s history. The drivers of the “Prancing Horse” included Como-born Anna Maria Peduzzi, the wife of driver Franco Comotti, who was nicknamed the “Moroccan”.
After her debut aboard her own Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 Super Sport, which she had purchased from Ferrari himself, Peduzzi almost always raced alone and only occasionally with her husband. In 1934, she won the 1500 Class at the Mille Miglia and, in the post-war period, raced in the Alfa Romeo 1900 Sprint and the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
We conclude our first part here with Maria Antonietta d’Avanzo.
The forerunner of female Alfa Romeo drivers, Baroness Maria Antonietta d’Avanzo made her debut in the interwar years. A pioneer of Italian motorsport, aviator and journalist, d’Avanzo won third place in the Alfa Romeo G1 at Brescia in 1921, and proved her worth in many competitions as a formidable opponent for the best drivers of the time, including a young Enzo Ferrari.
Baroness d’Avanzo raced until the 1940s in a variety of vehicles and races, traveling all over the world to do so…
In the next part we will tell you more about our national champion Christine Beckers and her more contemporary colleagues… Stay tuned!
At the presentation of the new Fiat Ducato
earlier this summer we met up with some very remarkable people of Fiat
Professional, who had brought the new Fiat Ducato project to a pinnacle in the
world of commercial vehicles, and also made a splendid presentation of it.
Intrigued as we were with the electric version of this Ducato, a harbinger in the trend towards clean urban mobility also for commercial purposes and bringing goods to our inner cities in an environmentally responsible way, we also directed our attention to the people behind this project, Domenico Gostoli, Head of Fiat Professional Electrification Programs, and Angelica Carapezza, assisting her boss in managing and coordinating the implementation of such electrification programs.
We were very intrigued by the way they both
worked out and conceived this programme, only to discover when we spoke to
Signora Carapezza that she had a long lived passion for automobiles and Fiat,
and had participated in many important projects which had marked the history of
the Fiat brand and group.
This discovery led us to start up a series
where we present you the profiles of remarkable women who play an important
role in our automotive world. We start off with an interview here…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
HK: You have already built up quite a long career with Fiat, and were at the heart of quite a few important projects. Can you tell more about this?
AC: I started to work in FCA, more than 30
years ago; at that time it was just Fiat, a domestic company very far from the
international giant that is today.
I started in the Logistics dept, ensuring
Spare Parts distribution in Europe, then I passed to Purchasing, where I had
the chance to have a key operative role in the “world car project”. Working for
the realization of this project that took me for 3 years to Morocco as
responsible for purchasing local and nationalized components- , then I came
back in Italy. After a short while I was flying again to a new country for
another important challenge: Vietnam, as responsible of the Licensee market
where a local partner used to assemble CKDs (Completely Knocked Down) parts and
components of the world car first and the Doblò thereafter.
After 1 year of exciting experience in Far East
Asia, it was time to come back again to the old continent and face a new role:
International Business Development. It was the time of great deals among OEMs:
General Motors, Suzuki, Ford, Peugeot/Citroen, and many other negotiations which
remain in the secret drawers of FCA… this was a great chance for me to be part
of the epochal change which the automotive world was making! Time passes and I
thought why not capitalize on all this experience and put it to good use in the
commercial world? I took the opportunity to join Fiat Professional, first as
responsible of Brand Developments (one amongst all: China experience) and then I
was focusing my time on electric developments. Always “out of the box”!
HK: You even put up a project in Hanoi, involving a press drive with the new Doblò, this was in July 2003…
AC: Yes, when I was in Vietnam, I took the chance to expand my professional background: my original assignment was to negotiate, with a local partner, a new licence for local assembly of a Fiat model. It happened that, even under the strong request of the local assembler, my role took a 360° shape: I was requested to figure out and organize the commercial launch of the Doblò (at that time I had no experience in this context), the local Partner gave me full white paper, and that is how the “Trans-Vietnam Road Show” took place.
We organised a press conference and launch ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City first, and then we literally “brought” the launch to the capital, alongside the coast of the country from south to north: a caravan of 13 Doblò’s, driving for 8 days, 2.600km, passing from Nha Trang, Danang, Halog Bay, and finally Hanoi; in the capital I set up a new launch ceremony and was honoured by the presence of Italian Ambassador and Vietnamese Minister of Transports.
I was the only Italian and the only person of Fiat to manage the group of Vietnamese people of the Road Show: my best and most exciting professional experience ever!
HK: What led you to Fiat, was it the attraction of all the wide creative and professional possibilities which result from working for such a large group with a global reach?
Working in one of the biggest companies of
the world has positive and negative sides. You can benefit from the size of the
company itself, and collect strong and different experiences which, in a
smaller context, would oblige you to change company.
This basically means that after more than
30 years, each day I wake up being conscious that – even today – I’ll learn
something more about this extremely complicated world called “automotive”. On
the other hand – I speak personally – you develop such an attachment to the
Company, feeling as being truly yours, which
makes it impossible to betray it with another one.
I feel FCA as being my family, my personal growth, my house. I have such a sentimental attachment to the Company that it is inconceivable for me to look elsewhere, and this is indeed my emotional boundary.
HK: Coming to the present project, putting the electric Ducato on the rails so to say, can you tell us more about the “bottom up”, client-based approach, focusing first on building up a database with a specific, detailed study of customers’ real use of their vehicles, which involved a year of data gathering. How do you work together as a team with Domenico Gostoli?
AC: Domenico Gostoli is the most professionally experienced boss I’ve ever had. Working with him means to collect day by day competences and knowledges, thanks also to its vision and background: he collected in his career important roles in engineering, product planning and commercial, which is a quite rare combination in our world, and this makes him really stand “one step ahead”.
For the Ducato Electric, we started to
analyse the real life utilization of the vehicles in different usage situations
and missions, being conscious that an LCV means much more for our customer than
just being a vehicle: it is the source of daily business revenue.
We put the customer in the centre, with his
specific daily needs (path, km’s, delivery times, payload and volume request, city
centre access, etc) and we conceived a Ducato where the new Electric propulsion
enhances the successful modularity of Ducato that made it the #1 among LCVs in
Europe (more than 12.000 versions of the same model manufactured in the biggest
LCV plant @ Atessa, south Italy!).
Our “bottom up approach” starts from real
life usage, and brings a fully tailor made and customized recommendation to
customer, with whom we choose the best vehicle configuration fitting his
specific needs, which have been subject to a prior analysis.
Fiat Professional electrification does not
penalize the payload and volume of the vehicle, takes away the “range fear”
thanks to his battery modularity and lets our customers accomplish their daily
mission also in Co2 free cities. All our analysis are fully consistent to the
epochal change of people behaviours and daily needs: e-commerce means rising delivery
speed and the need for our customers to deliver goods, mainly in urban centres.
HK: What would you say/advise to women who want to start a career in the automotive world?
I would not make a statement between men
and women: first of all there must be passion and a daily
predisposition to put oneself under questioning, by seeing a new thing, a new
role as an opportunity. Disruption is always an opportunity, especially when
you face it blindly.
On the other side there is this daily
truth: women carry a heavier burden, if you are also a mother, this may turn
into a problem for your career. It is a matter of choices and compromises,
always. For a woman much more than for a man, even today.
Each of us has to develop her/his “tailored
professional profile”, because each of us has her/his “daily mission”, exactly
like a Ducato Electric.
BMW driving art is again to be seen in the capital of Europe: In its flagship Brand Store, BMW organizes until June 1 an Art & Design Expo. The 18th BMW Art Car, a BMW M6 GT3 with multimedia design, has been created by the Chinese female artist Cao Fei, is the focus point of this show. It is even to be enjoyed and admired with the use of an app bringing the car to you on your smartphone with enhanced reality. A stunning experience, of which we show here some photos, but which has to be seen to be believed.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
This virtual animation is also created by the artist, and forms an integral part of the car. “We are now entering a new era where the mind can steer objects directly and thoughts can be transferred, like unmanned controls and artificial intelligence.” comments Cao Fei.
The work of Cao Fei illustrates the fast and stunning changes in China and its society. With her BMW Art Car she spans a road which stretches over thousands of years, honouring the spiritual wisdom of Asia, which now enters the third millennium with breathtaking speed. The film can of course also be viewed on YouTube, using the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_GNSyeIpOY&feature=youtu.be.
The multimedia artist approaches the
concept of a BMW Art Car in her own unique way, with which she builds a
Her work consists of three components: a video that focuses on the millennial time which a spiritual person travels through, augmented reality with colourful light particles (via a special app called BMW Art Car # 18) and the BMW M6 GT3 racer in the original colour carbon black.
As a tribute to the carbon fibre structure of the BMW M6 GT3 applies Cao Fei a lot of non-reflective black paint, which means the possibilities in the digital world are endlessly applicable.
The application of video and augmented reality creates an environment in which the BMW M6 GT3 plays an essential role. Cao Fei uses in her video spiritual movements that express themselves in colourful flashes of light.
When the app is used in the vicinity of the car, these light accents are transformed into an augmented reality installation that floats above and around the BMW M6 GT3. In this way, the viewer becomes interactively involved in the artwork.
Just download the app BMW ART CAR #18 on your mobile (IOS) device and follow the instructions on your screen.
exhibition runs until May 31, at BMW Brand Store Brussels, Waterloolaan 23,24, 1000
Here follows the second part of the interesting BMW conference held at the BMW Brand Store in Brussels, and here we focus on the presentation of Els Ampe, alderman Public works, Mobility and Dutch speaking matters in Brussels, on the mobility needs of the city of Brussels. She presented here on this photo the pedestrian space project in the centre of Brussels, adding civic pleasure and wellness to the streets in Brussels…
Sabine Schmitz, a born and bred Nürburgring driver, the daughter of the innkeeper/hotel owner at the famous Eifel circuit, who started driving/racing around the “Green Hell” as a teenager, went behind the wheel of the brand new RS version of Skoda’s big seven seater, and put her unique racing driver talents and Ring experience to work.
There is of course a magnificent You tube film about her 9:29.84 minute drive, of which we give you a link in this column. We decided to put this performance in an historical perspective, and more specifically how does this compare to the performances of the Grand Prix and sports drivers and cars of the fifties?