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Saturday 3rd December

2016 reviewed in ten excellent numbers

This year was, um, memorable. Here are ten reminders that it wasn’t all bad

  • 1 – Monarchs disturbed by the Hoonicorn

    With the number of flypasts the royals are accustomed to receiving, you’d think that Queen would be used to the sound of loud engines emanating from outside Buckingham Palace. Although she’d probably never heard anything quite like this before.

    In his capacity as half taxi driver, half tour guide for the day, Ken Block tore up the streets of London in order to show our very own Matt LeBlanc the sights, albeit in the most blurry (and smoky) way imaginable.

    This included a quick stop at the end of the Mall to see if Her Royal Highness was home. She was. God bless ya, ma’am!

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  • 5 – Days between Nico Rosberg’s world title and retirement

    A few Sundays ago Nico Rosberg achieved a lifelong ambition by winning the Formula One drivers’ championship in Abu Dhabi, finishing just five points ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton after the longest season in the sport’s history.

    But nobody predicted the bombshell that followed it. Shortly before receiving his trophy at the FIA’s Prize-Giving Ceremony in Vienna, Rosberg announced that he was retiring from F1 with immediate effect, leaving behind a multi-million pound salary and the most sought after seat in motorsport.

    That’s quite a mic drop. Bravo, Nico.

  • 12 – American petrolheads embarrassed by ‘Ludicrous Mode’

    When Rory Reid went to New York to test the Tesla Model X, he decided to showcase its aptitude for getting off the line by pitting it against a Dodge Challenger Hellcat in the only format of performance that matters: a drag race.

    The locals – not inexcusably – backed their gas-guzzling machine over the electric family van, only to be left bewildered and outraged as the Tesla’s ludicrous ‘Ludicrous Mode’ propelled it to victory.

    The future of making engineering look foolish is here, and it’s electric.

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  • 15 – Nations crossed in the DB11

    The new Aston Martin DB11 is designed to cross continents, so when TG got the chance to drive it for the first time that’s exactly what we did. A 2,500-mile route from Brussels to Athens was hastily plotted on a map, and off ventured Jack Rix and Rowan Horncastle for an epic road trip that would take in no less than 15 countries.

    Whilst putting miles on the odometer and stickers on the bumper, it became clear that the replacement for the DB9 was one heck of a machine, if not the ideal vehicle for negotiating tight hairpins in Italy. That would be a gold Lamborghini Miura, obviously.

  • 20 – Seconds the Vulcan can give up and still trash the Vantage S around Yas Marina

    The V12 Vantage S is the fastest road-going car that Aston makes, so if you give it a 20-second head start in a one-lap, 3.45-mile race, there’s virtually nothing on the market that it will lose to.

    And the reason we say ‘virtually nothing’ rather than ‘nothing at all’ is because the Vulcan exists. Piloted by TG’s Chris Harris, it managed to reel in its little sister with consummate ease in a sprint around Yas Marina, even with Aston works driver Darren Turner at the wheel. Crikey.

  • 96 – Prototypes tested by Pirelli ahead of 2017 F1 regs

    As is customary these days Pirelli ended the year by releasing some stats about this year’s F1 season. Among them were many interesting figures, like the total number of tyres supplied for racing and testing (42,792) and the amount of in-race pit stops (933).

    Another thing that stood out was that Pirelli – as part of their testing programme with Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull – has to date tried 96 different compounds in developing the new tyres which are to be used next year. The regulations will see the wider, racier rubber pictured above introduced in 2017, as part of a bid to make the cars significantly quicker (and in our minds, better looking). An improvement, don’t you think?

  • 202 – Seconds left when Toyota lost the lead at Le Mans

    Six months have passed since the 84th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the way that it finished still hasn’t fully sunk in.

    In the final hours of the race, it looked for all the money in the world like Toyota were going to break their duck and at last claim a maiden victory at Circuit de La Sarthe. But it wasn’t to be.

    Approaching the final lap the #5 car of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima suffered a mechanical problem and ground to a halt on the main straight, allowing Porsche to take the lead with just over three minutes remaining. The stricken TS050 Hybrid eventually got going again, but because it didn’t complete the final lap within the six-minute limit required by the regulations, it wasn’t even classified. Brutal.

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  • 1,479 – Horsepower produced by the Bugatti Chiron

    By far the biggest new reveal of 2016 was Bugatti’s replacement for the Veyron: the £1.9m Chiron. Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, the car has since made appearances at Le Mans and Goodwood, and by the end of August more than 200 of the 500-strong production run had been sold.

    The Chiron carries on from where the Veyron left off in that it is a beast of astonishing proportions. The 1,479bhp engine, a bruising 8.0-litre quad turbo W16, will take it from 0-186mph in less time than it takes the average human to run 100m, and from there onto a limited top speed of 261mph. Rumour has it that without the restraints, it will be able to do 288mph. We need a lie down.

  • 1,479 – Horsepower produced by the Koenigsegg Regera

    As luck would have it, 1,479bhp is also the magic number served up by Koenigsegg’s Regera, although the Swedish hypercar does it with eight fewer cylinders and three less litres than the Chiron. Clearly a twin test is in order...

    Aside from the astounding power and torque figures (1,475lb ft, if you were wondering), the Regera amazes in another way: it doesn’t have a gearbox. Unhappy with conventional, wasteful transmissions and unwilling to condone the use of a CVT, Christian von Koenigsegg decided that another solution was needed. Developed in-house, KDD (Koenigsegg Direct Drive) allows clutch slip so that all of the power can go through a single, 2.73:1 ratio.

    They reckon it’ll break the world record for 0-186mph in 11 seconds flat. Which is bonkers.

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  • 2,000 – Miles covered across Europe in the Focus RS

    The Ford Focus RS entered the cut-throat world of hot hatches with plenty of competition, but it quickly set about establishing itself as the new king of the jungle with its epic performance, bargainous baseline price and, of course, ‘Drift Mode’.

    To really get to grips with it TG took it for a quick, 2,000-mile lap of Europe, during which the 345bhp engine took on the Nürburgring, a plethora of Alpine passes and the streets of Monaco. And it thrived everywhere.

    The styling might not be to everyone’s tastes and the driving position is a common complaint, but that didn’t stop the RS receiving universal acclaim. And the best bit? There’s every chance someone could raise the bar again in 2017...

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