Michelin CrossClimate: A New Type of Tire

The majority of automobiles in the U.S. carry all-season tires. Enthusiasts sometimes refer to them by another name — no-season tires — as most don’t perform particularly well in either the summer or the winter, sacrificing top-level performance in order to work marginally well in all conditions.

In Europe, it’s all about summer tires. If you live where it gets cold and snowy, you buy a second set of dedicated winter tires. But there’s growing demand in certain European countries with certain climates for tires that can be used year-around.

Many European drivers wouldn’t put up with the typical U.S-spec all-season tire’s braking and handling characteristics in warmer weather but still need a proper winter-rated tire. Michelin claims to have the answer with their latest European-market CrossClimate (and the updated CrossClimate+). I hit up the Michelin North America (NA) communications team for further information and to see if this new tire has a place on our side of the Atlantic.

Technical communications director for product planning at Michelin NA, Tom Carter, with the assistance of product marketing director Cyrille Roget, provided some interesting information.

Michelin CrossClimate 06

Michelin CrossClimate 06

“The CrossClimate is defined as a summer tire homologated for winter conditions,” said Carter. “It carries the ‘Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake’ (3PMSF) symbol, showing that it’s fully winter capable. It is not, however, a winter tire like the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 or Pilot Alpin PA4, which are recommended for climates with severe cold and/or precipitation (snow).”

Clearly Michelin doesn’t see the CrossClimate as a true ‘do everything’ tire.

“Most all-weather tires don’t necessarily offer the safety benefits needed in summer conditions or when conditions get warmer as far as dry braking or handling as well as wet braking and handling,” noted Carter.

Carter’s further assessment on how the CrossClimate fits in with the winter tire world helps clarify its positioning.

“Having CrossClimate tires on your vehicle, even if you switch to true winter tires in the winter, gives you the ultimate flexibility to decide when to change tires,” he noted. “If the winter is warmer than usual, you could keep your CrossClimate tires (installed) and be safe in the eventuality of a sudden winter storm. No waiting in line at the tire store with the first snow arrives or when the date of mandatory switching to 3PMSF tires arrives (as in certain areas of Canada, for example). At the end of the winter season, you can also decide when to go back to your CrossClimate Tires and still be safe even if a spring snow storm arrives.”

Reading into this further, it sounds like the CrossClimate outperforms your typical U.S-spec all-season tire in the summer. It’s also stamped with the ‘3PMSF’, making it both legal and capable in winter conditions. If that’s indeed the case, the CrossClimate seems to widen the breadth of capability of typical all-season tires and could work well for some as a year-around option in certain areas of the U.S. that only see modest amounts of snow.

Michelin CrossClimate 00

Michelin CrossClimate 00

Carter went on to say, “We would expect the CrossClimate to perform very well in both handling and wear in the warm/hot temperatures that we see in much of North America. This is definitely not the case for some of the other (European) all-weather tires we’ve tested.”

When pushed further on what worldwide markets could take advantage of the CrossClimate tire, Carter explained, “The ideal target market is European countries that have snow and require the 3PMSF marking in winter but also have demanding drivers — and driving conditions: speeds, vehicles, curves and mountains — who have an expectation of summer tire performance in warmer weather. Germany and the northern France are ideal but there are other parts of Europe that are excellent target markets for this tire, including parts of Great Britain.”

Carter continued, “There seems to always be a place for tires with breakthrough performances like the CrossClimate in the North American market. And there certainly are places in the United States and Canada that are similar to the markets described above.”

The new Michelin CrossClimate is clearly an interesting tire and one that I’m eager to test in Europe — and, hopefully, the U.S. We’ll see if Michelin sees a business case for the CrossClimate tire in our market. Carter summarized the tire by saying, “The CrossClimate is not a performance summer tire and it’s not a fully-capable winter tire like the X-Ice Xi3. However, it does perform extremely well in snow.”

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Michelin CrossClimate 01
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Michelin CrossClimate 20

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Refreshing or Revolting: 2018 McLaren 720S

The all-new 2018 McLaren 720S marks the first car in the race team turned automaker’s second-generation Super Series line of supercars. In addition to a significant power boost and weight reduction, the new 720S also rides on a brand-new one-piece carbon-fiber tub with an integrated roof dubbed MonoCage II. Here is a look at the styling differences between the outgoing McLaren 650S and new 2018 McLaren 720S.

Up front, the most noticeable change is the redesigned front fascia with paint between the redesigned lower air intakes and the headlights. A closer look reveals the headlights and daytime running lights (DRLs) are mounted inside two large functional vents or “eye sockets.” The compact headlights are said to be brighter and have a wider spread than conventional headlights. The hood also features new heat extractor vents that are angled toward the doors.

2018 McLaren 720S front end
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2018 McLaren 720S overhead
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2018 McLaren 720S front three quarter
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2018 McLaren 720S lead
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2018 McLaren 720S front tree quarter
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2018 McLaren 720S front three quarter 02 1
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2018 McLaren 720S front side
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2018 McLaren 720S front three quarter 02
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2018 McLaren 720S front wheels 03
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2018 McLaren 720S front wheels 02
2015 Mclaren 650S Spider front three quarter
McLaren 720S Velocity by MSO 01
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Along the side, the new MonoCage II changes the profile of the McLaren 720S, tying its overall shape to that of the original McLaren F1 road car. Heat extractor vents have been added just ahead of the front wheels as well as aft of the front wheels. While there is a small brake cooling intake in the rocker panel, McLaren replaced the large side scoop with a new intake on top of the rear quarter panels that wraps around the back half of the greenhouse.

2018 McLaren 720S side profile
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2018 McLaren 720S side
2015-Mclaren-650S-side-profile

Around back, the new McLaren 720S features a new full-width adjustable rear spoiler. Just like the front bumper, the rear fascia has more paintwork that frames the slim curved LED taillights and new round exhaust tips. There are also two more heat extractor vents on each side of the rear engine cover.

2018 McLaren 720S rear end 1
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2018 McLaren 720S rear end
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2018 McLaren 720S rear three quarter 1
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2018 McLaren 720S rear three quarter 2
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2018 McLaren 720S rear three quarter
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2018 McLaren 720S rear three quarter doors up
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Inside, a new foldable instrument cluster dominates the driver cockpit. When open, the trick display shows speed, engine, rpm, fuel level, distance to empty, and more. With a push of a button, the display folds inward into the dash displaying only the most crucial info such as speed. Although the new model has a larger 8.0-inch central infotainment touchscreen, it is still vertically oriented and controls audio, media, navigation, and other convenience features. The center stack and door panel switchgear have also been redesigned.

2018 McLaren 720S cockpit
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McLaren configurator 720S Performance interior
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2018 McLaren 720S folding driver display cluster
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2018 McLaren 720S front interior
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2018 McLaren 720S interior
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What do you think of the new 2018 McLaren 720S? Tell us your thoughts below.

Last week, we examined the refreshed 2018 Subaru Crosstrek. The crossover received quite a few negative comments with British_Boy_007 saying: “Well it doesn’t look worse, so refreshing?” Jerah Mi gave some constructive criticism: “The only thing I like are the wheels. Lower it, get rid of the plastic wheel arches.” Michael Anderson wasn’t convinced: Looks basically the same, revolting.”

-Dequindre- had no opinion either way, simply saying, “This one should be considered a draw.”

Still, some comments liked the redesign. Positive comments include one from Brandon Franklin who said, “Waiting for it hit the show room so I can take it home.” Jeff Rickels Sr was even more enthusiastic: “I really like it! I was considering a 2017 Impreza but now, I’m waiting for this. Wish it had a little more power. The 2.5 liter would help. I can live without the turbo 2.0.”

The post Refreshing or Revolting: 2018 McLaren 720S appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Commodore’s Garage #23 – Sideforce & The Gen6 Update

 

I’m not sure if you guys have noticed, but lurking in the shadows of the dirt update was a small update to the NASCAR Gen 6 Cup cars.  In addition to a reworking of the aerodynamic behavior of the car itself (2017 butter-knife spoiler!!), the suspension was updated with new, tighter restrictions for the numbers in the garage.  These all seem like updates to bring everyone closer together in terms of setup, but they actually eliminate the massive setup exploits that have been going on in these cars for years.  The spring limitations eliminate the coil-binding that effectively eliminated bump-stop setups in lieu of something less complex.  The sway bar limitations eliminate the pre-binding that became a cool fad in 2016. Superspeedways now have the ride height requirements that exist in the real-world at Daytona and Talladega. The track bar and toe limits?  Well that’s a little more complex, and has possibly made the most drastic change to the car above all the other changes.

The Cause

I’ve worked with Nick Ottinger in what is now the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series since 2012.  It should be no surprise to anyone that the setups necessary to win one of these races (let alone lead the race) required a bit of trickery.  In my eyes, there are two types of setup “tricks”:  1) Tricks that get around a garage-page tech failure, 2) Tricks that aren’t governed by a garage-page tech failure.

An example of #1 is the NASCAR Truck stagger trick back when the truck was first released.  Early in the iRacing days, you could turn your steering wheel in the garage and see how it would affect the car.  By working with the truck’s stagger adjustment (which was promptly removed), you could turn the steering wheel so that a car that was too low would clear the garage ride heights, save the setup, and start the race.  This allowed the car to be extremely low on-track and didn’t follow the ride height rules set in the garage.

The second trick is what was going on to warrant the track bar and rear toe limitations.  Before the update this week, you could set the track bar to 6” on the left side and 15” on the right side and milk a few extra 1/16” of rear toe.  Back in the COT days, it wasn’t uncommon for Nick’s car to have 5 or 6/16” of rear toe for qualifying.  With the Gen 6 cars, he ran 3/16” everywhere.  The speed was easy to add into the car, but the car was unbelievably difficult to drive.  The problem was that there was no pass/fail check on any of these settings in the garage.

The Effect

Do you remember the High-Drag package that was used in 2015 at Indianapolis and Michigan?  It included a 9” spoiler and a very long splitter, which generated (what NASCAR assumed) to be a large amount of downforce, a huge wake, and should have produced more passing.  It was a failure…at first.  It wasn’t until NASCAR got the Indianapolis cars back to the R&D center that they discovered these cars produced more downforce in traffic due to the lack of air going over the lift-generating greenhouse.  Still, the drivers couldn’t pass at all despite the large wake and massive amounts of downforce.

HM-NPAS-1-1500

Nick’s 2016 Homestead car was the most radical I’ve ever seen: a pre-bind front end, equal high-rate rear springs, 6-15 track bar, and 3/16″ of rear toe.

The reasoning behind the lack of passing was sideforce, something NASCAR hadn’t really looked at but teams knew a lot about.  While downforce is applied downward on the car, sideforce is applied in the direction towards the inside of the corner (left, in this case).  More sideforce means a higher cornering speed, and the taller spoiler produced a ton of sideforce due to the rear-end offset.  Another way to get more is through rear-end skew, either achieved by extra rear toe or a higher track bar angle. In our case, we did both.

NASCAR has since implemented a track bar rule in the tech inspection area.  All cars must pass through tech with the track bar parallel to the ground, or even on both sides.  If I ran a car through tech with the track bar at 7.5” on the left side, I have to lower the right side to 7.5” to go through tech.  To meet NASCAR’s zero-toe rule, I’d also need to change the length of the track bar to center the rear end housing.  NASCAR will then tell me I cannot change the length of the bar once I’m out of the tech line, meaning the most skew I can get out of the car will be with the track bar at even heights since the body will shift over to the right as the track bar flattens out.  This reduces the amount of track bar rake (difference in bar end heights) I can put in the car and still achieve an ideal amount of rear end skew.  In the sim, running the 6-15 track bar produced a heavy amount of skew, and when combined with the extra toe, a ton of sideforce and a massive drop in laptimes…if you could hang onto it.

Sideforce Basics

Sideforce_Pressure_Diagram

Typical sideforce pressure diagram.

Sideforce is a fairly counter-intuitive aerodynamic principle, and I’m not ashamed to say that I misunderstood it when I was first learning about it.  Common ideas say that, as you move the rear of the car towards the outside of a corner and put the rear spoiler into the air stream, it should try to rotate back in line and tighten the car.  That makes sense, right?  In reality, the more the car is yawed out, the looser it will get.  To the right is a simplified pressure diagram of a NASCAR-style car in a yawed situation:

Here we would have the car traveling from the right of the image to the left, so airflow is moving from the left to the right.  What is often unclear is the fact that a pressure change will occur at the left-front tire as well as the right-rear tire as the car is yawed out.  Our net gains from sideforce will come from the two pressure areas applying a force towards the inside of the corner and pushing the car to the left as it moves through the corner.  If the rumors are to be believed, 100lbs of downforce would be worth 0.1 seconds per lap.  An extra 100lbs of sideforce, however, would be worth 0.5 seconds per lap.

Crossover_Graph

The next thing to consider with sideforce is what’s known as the “crossover point”.  To the left is a graph of the forces acting on the car as it yaws out, with the red trace representing the rear pressure zone and the blue trace representing the front pressure zone.  As yaw increases, both pressure zones will increase in force acting on the car.  These two will add together and result in a lower lap time, so more sideforce is always desirable for a faster lap.  In my graph (which isn’t accurate to real-world, I just threw some numbers on it for this example), we see that the front pressure zone starts to exert more force beyond 3° of yaw.  This point is known as the “crossover” point, and beyond that the car will change from relatively stable to aerodynamically loose.

 

In the case of the high-drag package (as well as the 2014 and possibly the 2015 packages), it’s believed that the cars were beyond the tire’s maximum slip angle in the corners, but were held in place by the high amount of sideforce.  In a clean air stream, this meant the car was very fast. In traffic, where no air could cleanly get to the spoiler, the car generated very little sideforce and would start to spin out due to the tires being beyond their physical limit.  This is why the cars couldn’t pass, let alone follow, in the two races where the high-drag package was used.  This is also what has led to the rules taking away rear end skew in the hopes of lowering sideforce amounts on the cars.

iRacing’s Gen 6 Update

With all that known and understood we can now look at what has happened to the iRacing Gen 6 car with the rear toe removed.  Here is the same pressure diagram from earlier modified in the way it may have looked with our 6-15 track bar and high rear toe values:

High_Rear_Toe

At high yaw angles, the pressure at the LF begins to exceed the pressure at the RR, an the car will begin feeling looser approaching the crossover point.

First, these diagrams aren’t drawn to scale.  Regardless, we can now see that the left-front pressure zone is much larger than the rear pressure zone, so it would behave a lot looser than the standard 1/16” rear toe settings.  This also produces a higher net sideforce with a much lower lap time.  Sure, it was very loose, and we had to run a mechanically tight setup, but it was so fast out of the gate that we couldn’t leave it out of the car.

Low_Rear_Toe

At low yaw angles, the RR pressure is larger than the LF pressure, making the car feel tighter than at higher yaw angles.

This is more like what we have now with zero toe.  We have a net sideforce, but now the rear pressure zone is very large relative to the front pressure zone, leading the car to feel much tighter than it did on previous builds.

Chassis Setup Changes

These sideforce changes cause the chassis setups to shift focus in a different direction.  For starters, we will have a much more aerodynamically tight car than previously, so we will need a mechanically looser car to compensate.  This can be found primarily with lower crossweight, but springs will need to be slightly different due to the lower downforce from the 2017 aero package.  Similarly, more focus will be placed on the track bar angle to get the best skew angle you can. Another change will be a shift towards aerodynamic downforce instead of sideforce.  The setups we ran in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series were awful in terms of downforce but were tremendous in terms of sideforce.  The gains we got from extra skew outweighed the losses we saw from downforce and mechanical sacrifices.

You may also find that the cars handle better in traffic now without the sideforce changes to ruin your momentum.  We will likely see closer racing, more controllable cars, and a better experience driving the cars.

Final thoughts

Normally, I don’t recommend completely starting over on setups following a build update, but in this case it will almost be a necessity.  Everything was changed in the update, and almost everything is going to need to be rebuilt.  If you had a spring package you liked in the previous build, give it a shot in the new build and see if you can make it work.  If you could never find a spring package you were happy with, now’s the chance to get it figured out.

If this is the direction iRacing is heading in for its asphalt cars, the future looks very bright.  Too many times in the past we’ve seen sims defined by a single setup exploit that takes everything as far from “simulation” as possible and the developers just let it happen.  This is the first time I’m aware of developers actively eliminating setup exploits that were ruining the simulation aspect of the NASCAR vehicles, while also implementing changes to bring the cars more in-line with their real-world counterparts.  I have driven the new Gen 6 cars quite a lot since their release and I’m more than pleased with the updates.  The cars are much more pleasant to drive, they feel more “in” the track, and setup adjustments actually produce a result.  The future looks bright, and I hope you feel the same way.

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To keep up to date with The Commodore’s Garage, return to Sim Racing News every Friday afternoon and “Like” our page at http://ift.tt/2kirCQk

 

 

Source: http://www.iracing.com

Spring Break PSA: Don’t Drink and Drive

Recently, while having a nice wine and Sous Vide steak dinner at a friend’s house, I got a very sobering text from my sister. It was a poorly lit photo of my mom’s car with the entire driver’s side smashed up and the side curtain airbags deployed along with the text, “Call mom!!”

It looked serious and I instantly freaked out. I gave her a call and she tells me it was my 18-year-old brother driving when he got T-boned at an intersection by a driver that blew through a red light. The speed limit on that street is 35 mph so the other driver was probably doing at least that in his RAV4, which would make for quite the impact. What’s worse, he was obviously drunk and started berating my brother and threatened to beat him up when he asked for his information. Thankfully, my brother walked away without a scratch and a witness who saw the whole thing stopped and called the cops. Long story short, cops came and took statements and end up arresting the other driver.

2008 Honda Accord interior door panel crash

2008 Honda Accord interior door panel crash

I’m beyond thankful my brother was wearing a seat belt and was in a 2008 IIHS Top Safety Pick. It scored “Good” (the best score possible) for front moderate overlap, rear, and side impact. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave it 5 stars for driver side impact as well. By the looks of it, it definitely earned it. The door panels were cracked but nothing pierced through the cabin. My brother didn’t even have a scratch or bruise the next day.

Sadly, our family’s fifth Honda has been deemed a total loss by our insurance company and needs to be replaced. Needless to say, I want my mom in another Honda (hope you’re reading, Helpful Honda Guys).

Moral of the story: wear your seatbelt and absolutely never drink and drive. NHTSA says 10,265 people died in drunk-driving-related crashes in 2015, accounting for nearly one third of all traffic deaths that year. Do the math, and that works out to 28 people every day or one death every 53 minutes. You’ve probably heard it countless times before, but it doesn’t really hit home until you or someone close to you is affected. So take it from someone who has been affected: just don’t drink and drive.

2008 Honda Accord side crash
2008 Honda Accord side crash view
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2008 Honda Accord interior
2008 Honda Accord headliner airbags
2008 Honda Accord exterior door panel
2008 Honda Accord driver door
2008 Honda Accord door panel crash
2008 Honda Accord door hinge
2008 Honda Accord airbags deployed

 

The post Spring Break PSA: Don’t Drink and Drive appeared first on Motor Trend.

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The Lambo Huracan Performante Comes in All Sorts of Awesome Colors

If you love high-performance cars and racing (how can you not?), you’re probably dreaming about lapping the Nurburgring track in the incredible Lamborghini Huracan Performante right now. However, unless you have a fat wallet and have already placed an order, you’ll never have the chance to do that. Let’s face it, the Performante is awfully expensive for the average Joe and it’s probably sold out anyway. Fortunately, you can still design the Performante of your dreams in the online configurator and its absolutely free.

The configurator is pretty straight forward and doesn’t include too many options beyond the usual exterior and performance upgrades, but the number of exterior colors available is impressive. There are two solid colors and five metallic hues, mostly white, black, and gray. But go with the Pearl Effect range and you can get the stunning Giallo Inti, Arancio Borealis, and Verde Mantis. Beyond that, there’s a rage of custom Ad Personam finishes, including matte, solid, metallic, and pearl. Interesting choices include Giallo Horus, Verde Scandal, Viola Ophelia, Oro Elios, Blu Cepheus, and Viola SE 30th. The latter is based on the color that Lambo launched for the Diablo SE30 Jota back in the 1990s.

Naturally, all these colors are paired to the green-white-red Italian "tricolore" above the side skirts and the dark-colored "forged composite" elements such as the side skirts, diffuser, and front splitter.

Next up, you need to pick the color for the carbon-ceramic brakes, and you can choose between six caliper finishes. There’s black, green, orange, red, silver, and yellow, each providing interesting contrasts with several body colors. Since I "painted" my Performante in Verde Mantis, I went with red calipers, since red and green are complementary colors.

As soon as you finish up the calipers, the configurator moves on to the rims. All wheels measure 20 inches, but there are three design with various finishes. The double-five-spoke rims are called Mimas and can be had in either silver, gloss black or matte titanium. The multi-spoke Narvi wheels are available in either high-sheen black or bronze, while the five-spoke, forged Loge wheels are black and come with either black or red center locking nut. The latter seems to go well with the red calipers on my build.

The configurator then moves onto technology, where you can choose whether you want a sensor or sensor plus camera for park assistance. You can also select the Style Package, which adds darker exhaust pipes among other features.

Continue reading for the full story.


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2017 Jeep Safari Concept

The crop of concept Jeeps for the 2017 Easter Jeep Safari are upon us, and Jeep has spared no expense to wow Wrangler enthusiast with several outlandish builds, including this – the Safari Concept. Based on the Wrangler Unlimited, this one-off custom features unique parts throughout, not the least of which are the rear suicide doors, vinyl windows, and clear top. Oh, and it has a drone mounted on the roof. You know, for doing drone stuff. Jeep says it built the Safari concept to “bring the outdoors in, while keeping the doors and roof on.” We’re big fans of running without the doors and top, but the idea isn’t lost on us.

Most of this Wrangler remains stock, but many key areas have been updated. First, the grille is new, shared also with the Quicksand Concept, and is likely the grille for the upcoming Wrangler JL, the replacement for the decade-old Wrangler JK. Custom wheels, bumpers, rocker panels, fenders, and interior round out the concept.

Inside, the seats appear to be borrowed from the Fiat 500 Abarth, the stock radio is replaced with an Apple iPad, and the steering wheel is borrowed from the FCA parts bin. Lime green accents are carried around the body and interior, including the door jams and lightweight top.

There’s definitely more to this Jeep, though, so keep reading for the full scoop.

Continue reading to learn more about the Jeep Safari Concept.


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BMW 2 Series Convertible

It’s been three years since BMW started rolling the 2 Series into dealer showrooms, effectively removing the coupe and cabrio body styles from the 1 Series lineup and giving those compacts a new name. Just recently we saw shots of a “facelifted” 2 Series coupe prototype heading out for some testing, and now we’re looking at the convertible version which, coincidentally, is wearing the same little bit of camo. As such, this so-called facelift isn’t bringing much in terms of change, but the car should get a new, smaller grille layout, slightly revised headlights, new graphics for the taillights out back, and maybe even a few changes inside as our photographers have reported that there was some covering over the dashboard. Word has it the engines that motivate the little cabrio that could even get an update, but you’ll want to take that with a grain of salt for now.

The updated 2 Series is expected to be revealed in late 2017 and go on sale for 2018 so there’s still a little while to wait before we get to see the few changes that come with the new model year. But, let’s take a closer look and see what’s going on with this prototype. There might be something interesting lurking in the finer details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 BMW 2 Series Convertible.


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Greg Van Avermaet, The Next King of Belgium

After next Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, Belgium will say goodbye to Quick-Step Floor’s Tom Boonen, one of the greatest cobbled Classics riders of his generation and the reigning king of Belgian cycling. Despite being only 36 years old, Boonen has decided to put an end to his 15-year career, but not before one last attempt to win the cobbled “Hell of the North” for a record fifth time.

But while Boonen enters this Sunday’s Tour of Flanders thinking more about winning his fifth Roubaix, his compatriot, Greg Van Avermaet of BMC, has his heart set on taking his first Tour of Flanders. In doing so, the 31-year-old rider would continue a streak that even Boonen himself never managed to pull-off. (Keeping up with the Classics will inspire you to hit the pavement yourself. Learn everything you need to know to conquer the roads in the Bicycling Complete Book of Road Cycling Skills.)

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About the Spring Classics

Last Sunday, Van Avermaet became the first rider to win the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the E3 Harelbeke, and Ghent-Wevelgem in one season, making him the top favorite for Sunday’s Tour of Flanders and perhaps more importantly, the rider most likely to fill the Boonen-shaped hole soon to be left in the hearts of Belgium’s passionate cycling fans. 

Van Avermaet’s road to becoming a top contender for the Tour of Flanders has not been easy. He turned professional with Predictor-Lotto in 2007 after spending the latter part of 2006 as an apprentice with the Belgian squad. Despite being only 22 at the start of his first full season as a professional, Van Avermaet won three races as a rookie, an indication of his immense talent. He won a stage at the Tour of Spain in late 2008, but to Belgians, two of Van Avermaet’s results earlier in the season were much more important. 

For Belgian cycling fans, the one-day “classic” races of March and early-April constitute the high point of the season. These long, hard races feature the short, steep cobbled climbs of their beloved Flanders, and are often raced in weather that keeps most modern Tour de France contenders at home. Only the strongest riders win these races, events with hard-to-pronounce names like “Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne” and “Dwars Door Vlaanderen.” And of course, many of the riders most suited to these spring Classics come from Belgium. 

So to the hundreds of thousands of Belgian fans who line the roads of these races each spring, Van Avermaet’s eighth-place finish in only his second Tour of Flanders—by far the country’s most prestigious event and one of the hardest races in the sport—was a very big deal. And the fact that it came one week after his third-place finish in Harelbeke, a race considered by many to be the final dress rehearsal before the “Ronde van Vlaanderen,” only added more expectations for the rest of the young rider’s career.

At first Van Avermaet struggled to live up to the pressure. It wasn’t until 2012 (his second season with BMC) that he scored another top-10 finish in a spring Classic. More high finishes followed in 2013, including top-10 results in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, and it looked as if Van Avermaet was back on-track. 

But cycling is a fickle sport, and Belgian fans are by nature as loving as they are hard to please. After six years as a professional and several high finishes, Van Avermaet had still failed to win a single Classic and people began to associate his name more with near-misses than big wins.

And it’s easy to see why. Van Avermaet was trying to come into his own while men like Boonen and Fabian Cancellara were at the peaks of their illustrious careers. Two of the greatest one-day riders in the history of the sport, Boonen and Cancellara dominated races like Flanders and Roubaix, forcing everyone else into a race for second-place. No wonder Van Avermaet had such a hard time breaking through. 

But then came Stage 13 of the 2015 Tour de France. Ending with an uphill sprint in Rodez, the finish was perfect for a rider like Van Avermaet. He took full advantage, defeating Peter Sagan to take what was then the biggest win of his career. He went home a few days later to be with his pregnant wife, but it was clear that a new Van Avermaet had already been born.

Watch the highlights from this historic stage:

 
Boosted by the confidence that often accompanies a Tour de France stage win, Van Avermaet started 2016 by finally winning his first Classic, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and the General Classification at Italy’s Tirreno-Adriatico, a seven-day stage race that riders often use to prepare for the Classics in late-March and April. After a fifth-place finish in Milan-Sanremo and a ninth-place finish in Ghent-Wevelgem, Belgium dreamed of the nation’s first victory in the Tour of Flanders since Boonen won his third in 2012. But it was never meant to be: Van Avermaet crashed and broke his collarbone midway through the race. Instead it was Sagan who won his first Flanders.

Van Avermaet didn’t lick his wounds for long. Back on the bike at May’s Amgen Tour of California, there were still lots of races in which the Belgian would have an impact. First came Stage 5 of the 2016 Tour de France, a tough ride through France’s hilly Massif Central in which Van Avermaet took both the stage and the yellow jersey as the Tour’s overall leader. But the best was still to come as Van Avermaet shockingly won the Olympic Road Race in Rio on a course that few expected to suit him. Clearly this was no longer a man destined for fourth-place finishes: Right before our eyes, Van Avermaet has become a champion.

RELATED: 7 Fun, Challenging Spring Classics You Can Ride Yourself

Now he is on the verge of something truly historic. In 2012 Boonen won the E3 Harelbeke, Ghent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix to complete a “quadruple” that even Belgium’s trappist monks might never have thought possible. But Boonen, who has won almost every cobbled race on the calendar, never won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, positioning Van Avermaet to go one better than the man tied for the record with the most wins in both Flanders and Roubaix history. 

If he wins the Tour of Flanders Sunday, Van Avermaet will become the first rider ever to win the Omloop, E3, Ghent-Wevelgem, and the Tour of Flanders in the same season. If he wins in Roubaix one week later, his spring might go down as the greatest in cycling history.

And perhaps more importantly, he’ll allow his nation to breath a collective sigh of relief. After all, it’s not easy to say goodbye to a champion as talented and as likable as Tom Boonen. But in Greg Van Avermaet, they seem to have found a more than suitable replacement.

Greg Van Avermaet pro cycling spring classics 79th Gent-Wevelgem 2017 101753 Source: http://ift.tt/eRBKpx

Urban Trial Freestyle 2 releases for 3DS

The urban-themed stunt bike racer Urban Trial Freestyle 2 (which bares more than a slight resemblance to the Trials series) is now available exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS in Europe with a North American version to follow in April.

[ai:grid size=6|classp=pull-right|class=img_margin]urban trial freestyle 2 main art nintendo 3ds[ai:endgrid]Urban Trial Freestyle 2 ups the ante compared to the original (released in 2013) with a newly added level creator which gives players the chance to create their own levels and share them online with others. The sequel also doubles the amount of levels and bikes, not to mention customisation options to make a truly packed iteration.

Five locations are included, these will see you pulling off stunts on top of skyscrapers, speeding down highways and flipping through the suburbs. The stunt bike racer is available to purchase on the EU 3DS eShop for £6.29.

Source: http://www.teamvvv.com/

Porsche, Toyota Debut LMP1 Race Cars Ahead of Silverstone Opener

Forget the LaFerrari, P1, Regera, and 918. The real hybrid hypercars are those fielded in the World Endurance Championship. Here, both Toyota and Porsche dominate with their respective entries. Drastically different in terms of power units, these two teams want to challenge each other in the most grueling endurance races ever devised, including the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans. And with the first race just around the corner—April 15 at Silverstone—both teams have released their 2017 race cars, detailing the differences in how both aim to achieve total victory at this year’s Le Mans.

Toyota WEC TEAM TSO50 Hybrid

Toyota WEC TEAM TSO50 Hybrid

While both feature hybrid systems, that’s where the similarities end. Toyota’s TS050 Hybrid uses a newly-developed Higashi-Fuji 2.4-liter turbocharged V-6 engine coupled to an 8MJ lithium-ion high-power battery unit that combines to produce a staggering 986 horsepower. Additionally, Toyota’s team has further focused on chassis reinforcements and redesigns to ensure that it doesn’t suffer another heart-breaking near-win failure as it saw at Le Mans last year.

Toyota’s team president, Toshio Sato, told Motorsport, “The whole team is motivated and determined for this season. We want to win, there is no doubt about that, but we know it will be an incredibly tough fight with Porsche.”

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As for the team from Stuttgart, they’ve been hard at work developing the 2017 car to dominate Circuit de la Sarthe, as well as the rest of the season. With the 2017 Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche is aiming to complete a hat-trick, winning at Le Mans for the third consecutive year, and the car itself looks the business as it’s been extensively revised with 60-70 percent of the car new or greatly redesigned for the 2017 season.

The 919 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged V-4 engine that produces 493 horsepower in conjunction with two separate energy recovery systems that feed the car’s lithium-ion battery powering the front axle. In total, the battery generates an additional 400 horsepower, which gives the 919 Hybrid a net horsepower rating of 893 horsepower. While lower in power than the aforementioned Toyota, the 919 Hybrid aims to be the most efficient entrant, looking to stay out longer and require less fuel than the competition.

Further enhancements to the exterior of the race car were made to improve its aerodynamics, intakes, and other exterior bits in order to increase its downforce as well as top speed.

Toyota TSO50 Hybrid

Toyota TSO50 Hybrid

At the car’s launch, Fritz Enzinger, VP of LMP at Porsche, said, “Each and every one of the nine endurance races presents a challenge. Reliability is the basic requirement; six hours of navigating around the many cars in the different categories, each driving at different speeds, makes each race unpredictable — and ultimately it is often only seconds that separate the winner from the rest of the field. At four times the duration of other races, Le Mans forms the pinnacle of the series.”

And speaking of the competition, Enzinger elaborated with, “Toyota is set to be a very strong contender in the top-tier LMP1 category for the 2017 season. We will face up to them with a meticulously enhanced Porsche 919 Hybrid and a team of six first-class drivers.”

From these statements by both Porsche and Toyota, it appears the 2017 season will be hotly contested.

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Porsche 919 Hybrid Rear Track

Porsche 919 Hybrid Rear Track

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