29 Jun 2011


Saint Saturnin is a small village just to the north of Le Mans . Nowadays it is a suburb of Le Mans .For the past ten years on the Friday before the 24 hour race it has held a "Great British Welcome" garden party on the village playing fields for British cars coming to Le Mans . Each year a model or marque is celebrated -- this year it was the Jaguar E-type on its 50th anniversary . It is great ,well organised fun event with an eclectic mix of cars and spectators . For me it is now an integral part of Le Mans .

26 Jun 2011

LE MANS 2011-Aston Martin

Aston Martin have done very well at Le Mans in recent years . They have been succesful in the GT categories and have been up amongst the front petrol powered runners in the outright prototype category .They have attracted some top line sponsors including Gulf Oil, with their distinctive colour scheme which was already closely identified with Le Mans success through its association with Porsche and Ford.
Also Aston have built up a very enthusiastic British fan base and there were plenty of new era Astons at the circuit in the carparks and camping grounds and Aston Martin Racing flags in the crowd this year.
They have really ticked all the right boxes and made modern Le Mans a part of the Aston brand story in a way which Porsche have not done .
 Against this background it was disappointing to see them stumble so badly on the track .The problem started when the 2011 regulations were announced and belatedly Aston decided to build a totally new car and engine to meet them . For 2011 petrol engines were reduced from 6 litres to a maximum of 3.4 litres naturally aspirated.
Aston chose something completely different -- a 2 litre straight six turbocharged.
Dr Ulrich Baretzky head of Audi's highly succesful racing engine program described Aston's move in an interview in May's Motor Sport magazine as "incomprehensible".'"They made an open car with the wrong engine" he scoffs " a straight six engine with a turbo-sorry,but this is one of the worst combinations I have ever seen."
The cars absolutely bombed in early appearances with the engine proving very troublesome validating the good Doctor's comments . They bought the two cars to Le Mans and both were out within the first few laps in the first hour after lamentable performances in practice . It was a cringing embarrasment and a very costly lesson for Aston. They undoubtedly damaged their brand and their standing with their fans  as well as their bank balance .

My advice to Aston would be give one car to the Le Mans museum and put the other one in a big skip at the Gaydon factory and start again .

 The photos below show AMR 0ne #007 being wheeled out to the pits before the start of the race and the very sad spectacle of the closed garage doors on the two Aston pits in the early evening on Saturday. Behind those doors I am sure there were a lot of very upset and very tired people.

21 Jun 2011

LE MANS 2011

Back home after the 2011 Le Mans 24 hours . It's a very long way to go every year to see a motor race and I have to admit that crammed into seat 41K way back in an A380 somewhere over Uzbekistan on Sunday night I did question my sanity but the fact is this year's race certainly made the effort worthwhile . An Audi R18 won by 13.8 seconds from a Peugeot 908 after 24 hours racing . It was one of the closest, if not the closest race, in Le Mans' 89 year history .The lead changed 59 times during the race -- two of the Audis team were eliminated in spectacular high speed accidents -Peugeots finished second,third,fourth and fifth.
All that was missing was some warm weather as it was unseasonably cold .

Porsche fans had nothing to celebrate - although a GT3RSR did come home second in the GTAM ( amateur ) category . Porsche seemed to have forgotten their roots to concentrate on selling fat ,overpriced cars to Chinese businessmen .Sadly Aston Martin fans had little to celebrate either as the new works straight 6 2 litre turbo cars were damp squibs although an Aston powered Lola did finish 7th . For full results see

Photo enthusiasts may be interested to know that all the images above were taken on compact cameras -as I do not believe in carrying a big bag of gear around nowadays- either a Canon G9( which I bought used off ebay for $350) -sometimes with a Canon teleconverter- or a Leica X1 .All the images were taken behind the wire from the public enclosures except the aerial shots which were taken from the trackside fairground ferris wheel -- at 5 euros a ride it's a lot cheaper than hiring a helicopter.

4 Jun 2011


There will be no new posts on The Rolling Road for the next 20 days or so as I am off to France and the Le Mans 24 hour race and will be too busy having a good time to do any blogging.
Please keep TRR in your favourites and check it out from about 25th June when hopefully I will be uploading many new images and stories.
Image- front of trishaw ,Mallaca , Malaysia.

3 Jun 2011


     My earlier post of an Outlaw Porsche 356 has inspired a reader to try to buy one.I am sure that this post will not have the same effect.Seen in the car park at the Goodwood Festival of Speed . Each to his own.

1 Jun 2011


When you are restoring an old car or motorcycle finding new old stock (NOS) parts in their original packaging is what you dream about .Sadly in recent years the supplies of NOS parts have dwindled rapidly as they have been bought up and as the internet makes it easier for sellers to find buyers .Eight years ago I found four 1974 NOS Porsche wheels in their original boxes which had been in the parts store of the Porsche agent in Hong Kong .
I saw this fully restored Raleigh bike in a small bicycle shop in Penang, Malaysia  whilst on an early morning walk .The shop's owner enthusiastically explained to me that he had restored the bike using NOS parts which he had in his own shop or which he had sourced from other bike shops in Malaysia .He showed me the original packaging for the saddle and other parts.The bike looked as smart as the day it left the factory in Nottingham ,England many years ago .