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Can You Charm A Cobra?

Backdraft Racing is the brand behind the Cobras in the South African Endurance Championship and class E - in which these cars run - has become a championship within a championship, and the 2021 title chase is heading for a grand finale in Cape Town on December 10.

YOU could be part of it:  with the recent travel restrictions introduced by European countries, two entries - one comprising a group of drivers from Italy and another crew from the United Kingdom - have been forced to withdraw. In both instances these teams were "arrive and drive" outfits, making use of the car hire programme offered by Backdraft Racing. These two race-ready cars are now available. 


Both have been fully prepared by Backdraft Racing's in-house workshop and are ready for you (and another two or possibly three drivers) to race. The all-inclusive package - which is selling for R120 000 - brings with it a  full VBOX-based coaching service from Stigworx. We'll help to get you and your teammates "up to speed", even if you aren't familiar with the Killarney circuit. These cars are powered by a Lexus V8 making about 300 kW, driving the rear wheels via a BMW gearbox so they are a challenge to drive, but very rewarding once you've got to grips with them.  

If you're interested in experiencing a real, ballsy race car on one of South Africa's best tracks, contact Brian Martin from Backdraft Racing on 082 455 3737 or Adrian Burford from Stigworx on 083 274 1139!

Backdraft Cobra race car

Six-wheeler makes a comeback 


Hennessey, the Texas-based hypercar manufacturer and high-performance vehicle creator, has revealed part of its 10-year product plan that will see three all-new ground-up models created over the next decade. The first debut, which follows the Venom F5, will be the world’s first six-wheel-drive, fully electric Hyper-GT – codenamed ‘Project Deep Space’.

Touted as the world’s most expensive electric vehicle (from $3 million USD) the new car will be a unique, ultra-luxurious, grand tourer that can transport four adults in absolute comfort along with four sets of golf clubs, plus luggage. Of course, given Hennessey’s trademark obsession with power and speed, it will be devastatingly fast with unmatched traction thanks to its unique six-wheel drive powertrain. With a 50 percent increase in surface contact over traditional four-wheeled vehicles, the performance of the Hennessey hyper-GT will be utterly astonishing.

“Hennessey has spent more than 30 years building some of the fastest and most exciting vehicles in the world,” explains company founder, John Hennessey. “This mantra will continue for our next 30 years by introducing the world’s first fully electrified, six-wheel-drive hyper-GT. We believe that ‘Deep Space’, with six electric motors combined with six driven wheels, could be the world’s quickest accelerating four-seater from zero to 200 mph!”





















1 416 kW…that’s what the Pininfarina Battista pure-electric hypercar is rated at, a number which will surely provide astonishing performance. The dash to 100 km/h takes less than two seconds, claims the company and yes, we’d say that’s astonishing. Almost as astonishing as a torque output of 2 300 Nm.

One of its (many) outstanding features will be its “Pure Sound” and the aural experience provided by the Battista is said to be unlike that of any electric vehicle.

René Wollmann, Product Platform Director Sports Cars, Automobili Pininfarina, said: “Every driver has an emotional bond with a car and the sound of Battista will nurture this connection, not by replicating a familiar car sound, but with one that radiates the beauty of Battista’s design both inside and out. This way, the Battista will not only impress with its aesthetic appeal and performance, but also on a new emotional level enhanced through the sound.”

Music tuned to 432 Hz is said to be a pure sound. Because it is a multiple of 432 Hz, Automobili Pininfarina’s engineers have chosen 54 Hz as the core frequency for Battista. From this starting point, the frequency will rise in multiples of 54Hz with new sound layers added as the speed of the vehicle increases. The seamlessly responsive acoustics will reflect the pure-electric performance of Battista combining rich bass tones to create a signature sound.

Not many people will get to experience that – at least not from the driver’s seat – and only 150 will be made.
A final interesting fact? Automobili Pininfarina is wholly owned by Mahindra & Mahindra Limited – a snippet which inspired our headline…

Curry Up


Aston Martin's new God

The days of Aston Martin making cars that looked beefy and brutish are long gone it seems. For someone raised on a diet of DBs and Vantages, that leaves me feeling slightly sad. 






But the newest crop - while not so atypically British in their pugnaciousness - give plenty of cause for celebration too.

Enter Valhalla, a car named after a mythological final resting place for the brave. Whatever, when you contextualise the name with the car's visual impact, it somehow seems perfect. 

The powertrain features three entities: a rear-mid-mounted 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 and a 150kW/400V battery hybrid system utilising a pair of E-Motors; one mounted on the front axle and the other on the rear. The combined power output is about 708 kW - we say "about" because starting with motor kW and adding engine kW (taking into account different ratings) - makes approximations more valid. And does it matter if you have 700, or 710 - we're talking about little more than one per cent here.

Anyhow...Aston Martin says the most advanced, responsive and highest performing V8 engine ever fitted to an Aston Martin is on duty here, and features a flat-plane crankshaft for increased responsiveness. Revving to 7200rpm and developing 760 kW, it sends drive exclusively to the rear axle. Exhaling through a lightweight exhaust system with active flaps for an adjustable and authentic Aston Martin sound, it also features top-exit tailpipes to maximise visual and aural drama.

In certain situations, 100% of battery power can be sent to the rear axle, supplementing the full force of the ICE V8 for maximum performance.

Completing the powertrain is an all-new 8-speed DCT transmission. Exclusively designed and built for Aston Martin, this new paddle-shift gearbox has been developed specifically for the hybrid era. Featuring e-reverse (which utilises the PHEV’s electric motors and thereby saves weight by negating the need for a conventional reverse gear) the transmission also features an Electronic Limited-Slip Differential (E-Diff) on the rear axle for maximum traction and handling agility.

Electrical power is also used to enhance low-speed control and response. And, thanks to the instantaneous torque from the E-Motors, the hybrid system augments the V8 engine to deliver sensational standing start acceleration and in-gear response. Outright performance is further aided by the E-Motor and V8 ICE being able to run different gears in the DCT simultaneously, delivering a useful1000 Nm.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, translates into a top speed of  330km/h and a sprint from 0-100 km/h in just 2.5 seconds.

Which makes a Vantage, circa 1981, seem somewhat lame.

Brake Like A Race Ace

Staying on the gas as long and as hard as possible, before leaping onto the brake pedal as quickly as possible, is the quickest way around a track, right? Wrong, actually. Find out why, here: https://www.stigworx.guru/post/the-art-of-performance-braking

Spray The Rats Away!

Animals can be difficult to lock down, and the last year has proved that conclusively, with rats ruling the roost.

Where human activity has come to an end - albeit temporarily - rats have moved in and multiplied, and this can include your car. As it turns out, your car is a great source of materials rats like: chewy wiring, cosy foam, and juicy rubber... 

The rat population worldwide has exploded due to lockdown and a recent estimate for the United Kingdom is 150-million. That’s about 2,5 per person and applying the same calculation to South Africa, our population of 58-million humans means we’re theoretically home to about 145-million rats.


Fortunately, Liqui Moly’s Marder Spray will keep them away! This people- and pet-friendly spray is detested by rats and all it takes is a periodic spray on plastic and rubber surfaces to keep them at bay.

With colder weather setting in soon, Melicia Labuschagne from Liqui Moly South Africa expects a rise in cases of rat-related damage to cars.


“We do invariably see a rise in demand for Marder Spray as the weather gets colder and in 2020 the trend was more pronounced, especially at the tail-end of winter, when we started to come out of lockdown,” she explains. “Of course, our Marder Spray isn’t just great for keeping rats away from expensive car wiring and because it is non-toxic and environmentally friendly it can be used just about anywhere with confidence.”

Marder Spray is readily available from the likes of Goldwagen and Builders Warehouse and comes in a 200 ml aerosol spray. Recommended retail price is in the region of R110.00.

LIQUI MOLY South Africa Marder Spray 24.
LIQUI MOLY South Africa Marder Spray 24.





The Stig Slips Into Gear With Liqui Moly 


We've teamed up with lubricant and additive giant Liqui Moly and Adrian Burford from Stigworx is now an LM brand ambassador!

To say we're proud to be associated with this famous lubricant, additive, and car care brand is an understatement - the famous blue and red logo has been adorning race cars for decades. But did you know they have literally thousands of products - including one designed to keep rats out of your engine bay...

Not only will the Worxshop (our Caddy van) undergo a complete purge and replace of all essential fluids, but we'll be sharing info on their brand at track days, race meetings and on our social media platforms.

That aside, Liqui Moly is what a hard-working engine needs, whether on the circuit, on the way home or when making deliveries. 

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It's A Double Whammy!

Now more than ever there’s good reason to restrict late braking, tailgating, opposite lock slides and the occasional nudging to race circuits...which is of course where they belong.

Not only will it hit your licence – costing you points under the new (well, not so new) Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act but you’ll also pay in Rand terms. The Automobile Association has described it as yet another stealth tax – when people take your money while they’re taking your money, if you get what we mean.

“With regards to the Infringement Penalty Levy, the regulations directly imply the imposition of a tax. In this case, it refers to a fee payable for every infringement notice issued to motorists. On our interpretation of the draft regulation, this means an additional R100 is added to each fine issued, regardless of the value of the fine or its associated demerit points. In other words, if a motorist receives a R200 or R2000 fine, an additional R100 must be added for the Infringement Penalty Levy, which amounts to a tax for actually receiving the fine,” says the AA.

 The Association says that assuming that 20 million infringement notices are issued annually, this would amount to a R2 billion windfall for the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), with a single line of legislation.


“A good analogy would be to consider SARS charging every taxpayer a fee for submitting their tax returns. It’s an unacceptable fee, and in the case of minor infringements, may nearly double the fine payable,” notes the AA.

 Apart from this fee, the Association says it is unconscionable that private motorists must pay up to R240 simply to enquire as to the status of their demerit points, and noted with concern that the enquiry fees for companies run into thousands of Rands.

 “One would expect that an easy online system (unlike the current system used for licence renewals) be made available to all motorists for demerit point checks to be made. Sadly, no provision is made for online enquiries within AARTO’s draft regulations, meaning the system is complicated and cumbersome,” notes the Association.


The AA says that upon further review of the draft regulations, it remains convinced that they are geared more towards revenue collection than actually dealing effectively with road deaths, or creating a safer driving environment in South Africa.

“Over 50 years ago, the AA called for a demerit points system to be introduced and we continue to support this notion. Based on evidence from other countries this type of legislation can be effective in making roads safer. However, the recent Amendment Act and these new draft regulations do not convince us that AARTO, in its current form, is that intended legislation,” concludes the AA.

Old Automobile Association Minis
Wesbank Modified racing cars at Kyalami in the late 1980s
Piggy bank and calculator
Wooden Cars

Blade Runner versus the Whine Merchant

There have been some great stories from the world of speed recently and they truly cross the span from the sublime to the ridiculous!

In the one corner and wearing an impressive suit of high-tech blue and charcoal and chanting a mantra of “Here’s To The Future Of Motorsport” is Volkswagen’s ID.R. In the other – in a mix of red and a slightly agricultural grey – is Honda’s Mean Mower V2. The mantra here is – well, we don’t really know but probably something like “The first cut is the deepest…”

The common thread is that they both companies needed to measure something and both turned to VBOX, a brand which is synonymous with accurately recording vehicle performance. The new(ish) VBOX Video HD2 was the choice for Volkswagen to measure their car’s pace around the Nurburgring, while not too far away at the Lausitzring, Honda strapped an identical device to their supermower in a bid to set a new Guinness World Record. 

The records tumbled at both tracks.

Volkswagen ID.R is now credited with the fastest emission-free lap of all time on the most difficult circuit in the world with a time of 6:05.336 minutes. In the process, multiple Le Mans winner Romain Dumas averaged 206.96 km/h and beat the previous record by 40.564 seconds.

This is the third record set by the ID.R in 12 months. On 24 June 2018, Dumas went up Pikes Peak in  7:57.148 minutes and just three weeks later he achieved a new best time for electric cars of 43.86 seconds at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.


While not as high-tech as the VW effort, Honda’s new record does get the nod on the silliness scale. Oh, and the driver was far prettier too.

Headline numbers included a 0 to 160 km/h time of 6.29 seconds, and a top speed of 243 km/h. With 150kW courtesy of a 999cc engine from a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP (why reinvent the wheel?) a power to weight ratio higher than that of a Bugatti Chiron was achieved. The record was set at the Dekra Lausitzring, near Dresden, with experienced stunt driver, kart and car racer Jess Hawkins at the controls.

Under the regulations of Guinness World Records, the mower must also ‘intrinsically look like a lawnmower’ – no argument there.

While the official acceleration figure was measured using a VBOX the device was fitted, set-up and verified by independent and accredited timers, Timing Solutions Limited. To meet the requirements of Guinness World Records, the mower had to record the same run, in both directions, within an hour – with the average acceleration of these two runs taken as the official time.

Check out the action in the video here – www.hondaengineroom.co.uk/meanmower

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The Current Champion

Jaguar’s electric tech is best “engine”

Not to diminish the achievement, but Jaguar’s I-PACE whirring away with a pile of silverware at the International Engine + Powertrain of the Year Awards was a foregone conclusion.

For the record, it won the Best Electric Powertrain, Best New Engine, and the 350 to 450PS category. 

Jaguar I-Pace_091 copy.jpg

A panel of 70 expert motoring journalists from 31 countries took into account key characteristics including performance, driveability, energy efficiency and refinement. These three titles recognise the technical excellence of the I-PACE’s zero emissions powertrain, which was designed and developed in-house.

Ian Hoban, Powertrain Director, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “We’ve used all the benefits of state-of-the-art battery and motor technology to create a world-class electric vehicle. As well as zero emissions, the all-electric powertrain delivers an ideal balance of performance, refinement and range, together with outstanding responsiveness, agility and day-to-day usability. I-PACE is a true driver’s car, and above all a true Jaguar. We set out to make the world’s best all-electric performance SUV: these awards reflect that and are fitting recognition for what the engineering team has achieved.”

The I-PACE combines a range of up to 470km with a 0-100km/h in just 4.8 seconds. It’s also capable of charging from 0-80% in a maximum 72 minutes using a 60kW DC charger – remarkable facts by any standards.

I-PACE has received 66 global awards since it was revealed little more than a year ago, including 2019 World Car of the Year, World Car Design of the Year, World Green Car, European Car of the Year, and German, Norwegian and UK Car of the Year.

Jag_I-PACE_powertrain_ IE&PAwards_22.05.

High Flyer

Aston’s Engineering Tour de Force

Aston Martin has just revealed some of the details of the normally-aspirated 6.5-litre V12 engine fitted to the Valkyrie, their futuristic hybrid electric sports car.

And it sounds incredible: most of the Cosworth-developed engine is made of titanium, with the conrods and pistons machined from solid chunks of it. The crankshaft starts life as a solid steel bar 170mm in diameter and 775mm long. Upon completion 80% of the original bar has been machined away.


The end product is a crankshaft that’s an astonishing 50 per cent lighter than that used in the Aston Martin One-77’s V12 - itself a Cosworth-developed evolution of Aston Martin’s series production V12 and, for a time, the world’s most powerful naturally aspirated road car engine.

1654261_Aston Martin Valkyrie_06.jpg

The new powerplant makes about 750kW – at 10 500 rpm - and will rev to 11 100! Peak torque is 740Nm at 7 000rpm.

The engine also acts as the only link between the front and rear sections of the car: it is fully-stressed element of the chassis, which makes its weight of just 206kg even more impressive.

It was built to a simple, yet extraordinary, brief: to create the ultimate expression of the (normally-aspirated) internal combustion engine.

For what they say will be the greatest driver’s car of the modern era, an internal combustion engine that sits at the absolute pinnacle for performance, excitement and emotion is needed and this means the uncompromising purity of natural aspiration.

With 114kW per litre, performance figures will be further boosted by a battery hybrid system, details of which will be revealed later.

1654331_Aston Martin Valkyrie Engine (13
1654304_Aston Martin Valkyrie Engine (5)

Dr Andy Palmer, Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group Chief Executive Officer, said of the Aston Martin Valkyrie’s V12 engine: “To anyone with a drop of petrol in their blood, a high-revving naturally aspirated V12 is the absolute pinnacle. Nothing sounds better or encapsulates the emotion and excitement of the internal combustion engine more completely.


Despite the challenges it presented, there was never any question that the Aston Martin Valkyrie would make do with anything less. From the outset the team at Cosworth were unflinching in their commitment to achieving benchmarks which pushed the boundaries of the possible. The result is a quite extraordinary engine. One which I doubt will ever be surpassed.”

Claws for celebration

Rally ready Jaguar getting some air

Jaguar has been making sports cars for 70 years and has developed two F-TYPE Convertible rally cars to celebrate that fact.

The rally-specification F-TYPE Convertibles are powered by Jaguar’s 221kW 2.0-litre Ingenium four-cylinder petrol engine. Built to FIA specification, both boast comprehensively uprated brakes and suspension fitted alongside a protective rollcage, race-seats with six-point harness and bonnet-mounted light pod.

The rally F-TYPEs feature upgrades to the brakes, suspension and drivetrain including the addition of grooved discs with four-piston calipers front and rear. Hand-built competition dampers and softer springs ensure the high-performance cars can be driven flat-out over rough rally stages.

Three-way adjustable dampers allow the cars to be tuned for different surfaces. Motorsport-spec wheels and tyres specifically for use on gravel were added, and a limited-slip differential improves power delivery on loose surfaces while a hydraulic handbrake helps drivers tackle hairpin bends.

The rally cars’ livery takes design inspiration from the new F-TYPE Chequered Flag Limited Edition, which will be available in South Africa from April 2019. Pricing will be announced closer to the time.


It's hot. It's a hatchling from KIA

KIA and GT are not often words you find in the same sentence but nothing is impossible in the modern motoring world. After all, who really thought Porsche would make diesel-powered SUVs? 

KIA hasn’t been shy about venturing out, and we rather like this effort – their second stab at a Ceed GT - unveiled at the Paris Show at the beginning of October. 

It’s powered by a 150kW/265Nm 1.6 turbopetrol and is available with a pukka seven-speed double clutch transmission, though a six-speed manual is standard fare. 

The most interesting bit is that KIA says they had a six-month programme to fine-tune (our italics) the ride and handling in addition to the normal R&D that goes into a new model. From that (we assume) came a number of decisions regarding suspension set-up and what electronic driving aids to integrate. It also has faster steering response – which is unusual and few brands go to this length.

Racy bits include standard 18-inch wheels housing larger brakes and a number of details to make it stand out from ordinary Ceeds. The same applies inside: witness a black roofliner, D-shaped steering wheel, aluminium driver pedals and special seats. Sounds like a car to keep the traditional hot hatch brigade on their toes.

KIA Ceed GT front view
KIA Ceed GT inteior

Toyota talks Gazoo

Gazoo…sounds like the name of a techno music band from the 1980s or an App you use for advice on how to grow you own weed hydroponically.

You wouldn’t intuitively connect it to motorsport, or to brand like Toyota, traditionally hyper-conservative in almost everything they do. Unusually, and courageously, Toyota’s local PR people used this very Jeremy Clarkson quote in a recent press release: “Whenever I’m suffering from insomnia, I just look at a picture of a Toyota Camry and I’m straight off.”  


Yet when they create a sub-brand the approach changes somewhat, and Gazoo – or Gazoo Racing to be specific – is the banner under which their motorsport operates. So, for the record, Gazoo Racing is Toyota competing on a global motorsport stage and leverage technologies and learnings from this ‘arena’ to develop cutting edge production vehicles.


Ahhh…the crossover…motorsport improves the breed.


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Toyota Gazoo Racing currently competes in the World Rally Championship (WRC) and World Endurance Challenge (WEC) series – two top-tier global motorsport disciplines. The recent Le Mans 24 hours win and double-podium Finland WRC finishes bear testament to this. The locally developed Dakar-competing race Hilux has forged a rock solid reputation for Hilux and this in turn has filtered down to the bread-and-butter models, some of which now proudly wear the Gazoo Racing Dakar moniker.


‘GR’ is set to evolve into the ‘defacto’ Toyota-performance brand spawning a multi-tiered product strategy. The intention is to establish Gazoo Racing (GR) as the ‘AMG’ or ‘M’ of Toyota. The GR-brand will be developed to include and signify different levels of performance – catering to the needs of a wide target audience. And it is worth remembering that in the past there hasn’t been a complete dearth of performance-orientated Toyotas even if they have sometimes been few and far between.


Names such as AE86 aka ‘Hachi Roku’, Celica, MR2, RSi, Sprinter, Supra and TRD conjure up feelings of admiration and passion. In the tuner world, engine codes such as 4AGE, 3SGTE and 2JZ are still revered to this day and utilised in many forms of motorsport.


Being savvy marketers, Toyota teased local consumers recently with the Yaris GRMN, a car which they say has been reworked and infused with WRC-sourced DNA. A group of journos drove it and they were pretty unanimous: bring it on!


lightweight 17-inch wheels, larger brakes, central oval tailpipe and a bespoke exterior finish. Under the bonnet is a 1.8-litre engine, tuned to produce 156 kW at a hearty 6 800 rpm and benefiting from a supercharger, a feature unique among B-segment performance hatchbacks.



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Driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission, the engine enables a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of around 6.3 seconds; top speed is electronically limited to 230 km/h.

The car weighs a surprisingly modest 1135kg prompting Toyota to claim the best power-to-weight ratio in its class.


Tyres, suspension, steering and drivetrain all get the treatment, so its lowered, has a limited slip differential and the brakes are upgraded. 205/45R17 tyres, say Toyota, contribute to the car’s very precise steering feel. Take a look at the technical specifications: Toyota has even listed the spring rates and anti-roll bar diameters…numbers it can take years to dig up on other brands!


All of this in a Yaris three-door shell, sporting all the styling cues you’d expect and a special paint finish. 


With only 400 made, you’d have to go to Europe to see one in a showroom. But as a compass showing the direction in which Toyota’s needle is pointing, it is pretty exciting. You can learn more about GR here: https://toyotagazooracing.com

Coming soon: the VBOX Touch! The ultimate all-in-one testing solution.

​​Want to make a start on the track but you don't have a race car? Then rather look at something like the BMW Club's Time Trials. Find out more here: http://www.bmwclub.co.za. Also consider the Pursuit series, which is part of Historic Racing South Africa. https://www.historicracing.co.za/historic-pursuit-racing/

Coaching with VBOX