All eyes will be firmly focused on the Ford stand at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show when the manufacturer of the UK’s best-loved small car takes the wraps off its vision for the future, - the Ford Verve Concept.

Ford Verve Concept hints at the new design direction for future compact cars and the company plans to closely gauge public reaction while their designers work behind the scenes creating Ford's next supermini generation.

Ford Verve concept

The latest in a series of striking show stoppers, Ford Verve Concept follows in the footsteps of the Iosis and Iosis X, whose kinetic design philosophy inspired production models like the critically acclaimed new Mondeo and S-MAX.

Martin Smith, Executive Director of Design for Ford of Europe, explained: “Bold, even radical, Ford Verve Concept demonstrates the potential of Ford’s kinetic design philosophy to visualise a small car that is a chic and modern, and one that makes an individual statement for a sophisticated, fashion-aware generation.”

Bold and sporty, the front of the supermini is dominated by a large, inverted trapezoidal lower grille with the familiar Ford oval centred in the compact upper opening.

Particularly eye-catching in deep magenta with a unique tinted clear coat finish, Ford Verve Concept’s sleek lines, 18-inch alloys, panoramic glass roof and B-pillarless structure give it an elegant, coupe-like look.

The visual splendour continues inside with a fresh and innovative approach to interior design that's been inspired by the latest mobile phones. Sensuous curves combine with clever technology to create a stylish but user-friendly environment.

Ford's Convers+ system, which allows quick and easy access to all driver-operated functions, is central to the ergonomically excellent design. A large colour screen displays all essential information while every surrounding button and switch has been crafted with the kind of minute attention typically associated with larger, upmarket vehicles.

Ford Verve concept interior

“A new generation of buyers raised with mobile electronic devices would feel right at home in this new automotive interior, one that exceeds the standards typical in the small-car segment,” said Niko Vidakovic, Chief Interior Designer, Ford of Europe.

Taking its lead from the success of Ford's new S-MAX and latest Mondeo, the Verve Concept symbolises Ford's ambition to be a leader in small vehicle design by creating individual cars for individual customers.

With elements of the Ford Verve Concept almost certain to appear in future production models, small car buyers have some exciting times ahead.


Woking, UK, Thursday 9th August 2007:

Over the last few days there has been some inaccurate and misleading reporting of certain events which transpired during the qualification for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Whilst the team would normally not comment on such speculation, Lewis has asked us to correct one important matter of untrue critical commentary.

It has been reported that Lewis used the “F word” to Ron Dennis over the team radio immediately after the qualification session had been completed. The team have investigated this claim and reviewed the radio transmissions and we can categorically confirm that Lewis did not use the “F word” at any time during any conversation with the team.

The team and Lewis are extremely disappointed that the use of the “F word” appears to have been invented and repeated to the media.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis has requested that the team issues the following statement on his behalf:

“For the record, Fernando and I are fiercely competitive and respectful of each other. We are both ambitious drivers who want to win. However, we are not drivers at war, as has been widely reported.

Although we did not speak on Sunday we have spoken since the weekend and continue to have a professional working relationship. In fact, Fernando and I plan to meet up over the holiday period.

As an individual in my first year in Formula 1 I have done my utmost to conduct myself in a professional and open manner. Of course, I have made mistakes, not least during the last weekend, and those are open to public scrutiny. I have my own regrets and have dealt with matters arising.

However, it is disappointing that inflammatory and untrue material is given to the media and published which may damage reputations. This inflammatory material is then commentated on by many others as if it is factual. Whilst I wouldn't normally communicate through press statements, I felt it important to set this matter straight."



You might have read some comments reputedly coming from Lord March regarding his attitude towards the "Chavs" who he felt could potentially spoil the look of the Glorious Goodwood horse racing event. Not an unreasonable worry some might say!

However, the Earl of March's thoughts have now turned to the fashions appropriate for the forthcoming Goodwood Revival. "The Revival is the only meeting in the world set entirely to a period theme, with every detail faithful to that golden age of style, grace and glamour; 1948-1966. No other sporting event anywhere takes place in period fashions on such a vast scale: the event is usually attended by over 110,000 visitors, the overwhelming majority of whom are suited, booted and groomed from tips to toe in the finest post-war gear, proving that the Revival is far more than just a historic motor racing meeting."

He continues, "We welcome all sartorial styles to the event, from period-style tear-away teddy boys to tarted-up toffs. Mods and rockers mingle with cads and country gents, and the more effort the visitors put into their period outfits, the more fun and effervescent the atmosphere. It’s great to see. To me the Revival is pure theatre. The motor circuit is literally dressed up like a huge film set, and that includes the competitors and spectators. Almost everyone is dressed-up to the nines in fantastic 1950s and 1960s creations, and the efforts people go to are amazing."

The Goodwood Revival

"Finding the perfect outfit to do justice to the theatre of the surroundings is a key part of the fun of coming to the Goodwood Revival. While there isn’t a specific dress code at Goodwood – and we welcome all visitors in whatever attire they choose to wear – the historic venue and unique atmosphere both seem to encourage visitors to make an extra-special effort," comments Lord March.

He adds, "We like to think that coming to the Revival is rather like going to a special event such as a wedding. Dressing appropriately is almost an expected part of the experience, and somehow adds to the sense of occasion. People usually respect the dress code and dress accordingly. The same principle seems to apply to the Revival, and I wholeheartedly applaud this. For me it just wouldn’t be the same in jeans and a baseball cap."

To order advance tickets, please contact the Ticket Hotline:

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Safety Camera Income Should Finance a National Collision Investigation Board

Senior Police Officer Claims Road Deaths Cost Society £4.5 Billion a Year.

BRITAIN needs a national collision investigation board in order to deliver better road safety and monitor the success of costly programmes like the current THINK! campaign.

That is the powerful conclusion reached in a paper produced by senior Sussex police officer Inspector Simon Labbett who made good use of a grant from the charitable arm of GEM Motoring Assist to study accident investigation techniques in the USA.

Simon says in his report that the advent of the motorcar has killed more people than any other invention in the history of mankind.

He said: "Casualty reduction is tangible and achievable if the causes of the incident are first fully understood and then the actual causes pursued and treated."

He claims that the current data provided is relatively low level when compared to the potential available from road death investigations and this information remains largely untapped.

Simon argues: "There is a lack of interaction between the investigation process and those attempting to deliver road safety. Operations are isolated and not effectively coordinated to interact with the development of investigations. It is in this way society could help to progress the delivery of effective road safety and monitor the progress of campaigns."

He says a far broader approach is needed than that currently adopted and there is a lack of ability to develop a consistent and scientific approach to emerging technologies and the adoption of standards and working practices.

"The UK or even the EU must prioritise the need to develop a national or international road collision investigation board," Simon said. "Each of the annual 3,200 fatalities in the UK are costing some £1.4million and this leads to an annual ongoing bill of £4.5 billion. This makes a clear cost effective need to establish a national collision investigation group. Initial set up costs could be provided from existing camera safety revenue."

We hope to have an interview soon with Simon on his research.


Schumacher champions road safety cause

Multiple F1 world champion Michael Schumacher has joined with the FIA, F1’s  governing body, to call for a global policy on road safety. Schumacher endorsed the FIA's ‘Make Roads Safe’ campaign in London this week as the UN's inaugural Global Road Safety Week got underway.

“Road crashes kill on the scale of malaria or tuberculosis, yet the international community has not woken up to this horrific waste of life,” said Schumacher. “That is why I strongly support the Make Roads Safe campaign and endorse the proposal that the United Nations organise a UN ministerial conference to tackle this preventable loss of life.”

The FIA’s ‘Make Roads Safe’ petition aims to persuade the UN to devise an international strategy for road injury prevention. The campaign hopes to secure at least 1.2 million signatures - the number of people killed on roads each year - by November, which is the month the UN plans to debate road safety.

“Road deaths are an ongoing tragedy that must be addressed,” added FIA president Max Mosley. “This is why the FIA has given its full support to the first UN Global Road Safety Week, a campaign which will initiate numerous road safety activities around the world. We must take strong action to deal with the growing epidemic of road deaths worldwide.”

With over 1,000 under 25 year-olds killed on the roads each year, the week's events will focus predominantly on raising awareness amongst the younger generation.


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Hot auction of pop classics

New homes were found for 61 popular classics at H&H’s Spring sale at Buxton last week. They ranged in price from £40,700 for a 1958 Jaguar XK150 SE Drophead Coupe to £700 for a 1984 Jaguar XJS Coupe (what a lot of car for the money!), and in age from the 1926 Swift 10HP QA Sports (£9,570) to a 1992 Bentley Turbo RL (£13,200).

Good XK Jaguars are always in demand, and the Old English White XK150 cut quite a dash, as you might expect of a car that had been converted from left- to right-hand drive and had nearly £60,000 lavished on it back in 1990. Not far behind it on price was an equally stunning 1934 Alvis Speed 20 SC Four-Seat Tourer that had begun life as a drophead coupe. Always destined to be one of the stars of the show, it eventually sold for £39,600.

1934 Alvis Speed 20 SC Tourer
1934 Alvis Speed 20 SC Tourer

There was much competition over the 1967 Aston Martin DB6 that sold for £33,000. Of varying condition it is now likely to be the subject of considerable restoration. After which it could no doubt command nearer £80,000, considering the way Aston Martin prices have risen of late.

Among the many cars to better their top estimates were the totally immaculate Sun Bronze-coloured 1964 Jensen CV8 MKII - a well-known concours car that fetched £19,250 - and both the sale’s Frogeye Sprites that made £5,390 and £6,050 respectively. The very pretty red 1962 MGA MKII Coupe also surpassed expectations by realising £8,910.

Though the rarer of Porsche’s 911s are commanding ever higher prices these days, the regular cars remain great value. The 1990 Carrera 4 (£12,980), 1990 Carrera 2 (£9,360) and 1985 Carrera (£9,020) were all pretty much on the money.

1961 Mini Pickup
1961 Mini Pickup

Of the oddballs, the 1961 Downton-tuned 1275cc Morris Mini Pickup that made the Guinness Book of records for driving the 1900 miles from Oxford to Moscow on one tank of fuel, changed hands for £5,280. Of the four registration numbers on offer, 1 BBC fetched £22,000, though is thought to have gone to a private buyer rather than Auntie Beeb herself, as might have been expected.


WHO says?

Road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among young people between 10 and 24 years, according to a new report published by WHO. The report, Youth and Road Safety, says that nearly 400 000 young people under the age of 25 are killed in road traffic crashes every year. Millions more are injured or disabled.

The vast majority of these deaths and injuries occur in low- and middle-income countries. The highest rates are found in Africa and the Middle East. Young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are at greatest risk in every country. Young males are at higher risk for road traffic fatalities than females in every age group under 25 years.

Unless more comprehensive global action is taken, the number of deaths and injuries is likely to rise significantly. Road traffic collisions cost an estimated US$ 518 billion globally in material, health and other expenditure. For many low- and middle-income countries, the cost of road crashes represents between 1-1.5% of GNP and in some cases exceeds the total amount the countries receive in international development aid.

Youth and Road Safety stresses that the bulk of these crashes are predictable – and preventable. Many involve children playing on the street, young pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, novice drivers and passengers of public transport.

The report points out that children are not just little adults. Their height, level of maturity, their interests, as well as their need to play and travel safely to school, mean that they require special safety measures. Also, the report says, protecting older youth requires other measures such as lower blood alcohol limits for young drivers and graduated license programmes.



BRENTWOOD, Essex, 20 April, 2007: Freddie Hunt, the 19-year-old son of 1976 World Champion James Hunt, will make his motor racing debut in the British Formula Ford Championship this weekend (21/22 April) at Donington Park.

Freddie Hunt

Freddie this week concluded a deal with top Formula Ford team Joe Tandy Racing and, following a successful test at the Leicestershire venue yesterday (Thursday), will take to the track at the wheel of a new Ray GRS07 alongside his new team-mate Nick Tandy.

“I am enormously excited,” said Freddie, “and very pleased to have signed with JTR. Joe and Nick are great guys – I am sure I will learn a lot from my team-mate – and I am very comfortable in the Ray chassis.

“Yesterday was my first experience of Donington Park, and though it’s a hard track I am getting more to grips with it and I’m hopeful I can put up a good show at the weekend.”

Hunt Jnr is still seeking a primary sponsor but has signed deals with several partners to enable him to get on the grid.

Freddie Hunt

Joe Tandy Racing moved into British Formula Ford towards the end of last season with Joe’s younger brother, Nick, leading the driving strength. Wins and podium finishes soon followed and Nick Tandy claimed championship runner-up position. He has started this season as one of the favourites for top honours.

Team principal Joe Tandy, himself the 2005 Formula Palmer Audi Champion, believes Hunt has the flair to be a frontrunner: “We are all very excited to be involved with Freddie and very pleased that he has decided to make his Formula Ford debut with JTR. Obviously there will be a lot of eyes on him at Donington and it will be our job to ensure that he doesn’t feel the pressure too much.

“That said, from what we have seen of Freddie in testing he has a natural talent and a very impressive attitude – I am sure that we will be seeing him at the sharp end of things once he has gained experience.”


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BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen says "We have established ourselves firmly as the third-strongest team on the grid."

The BMW Sauber F1 Team has made a successful start to the 2007 World Championship. Nick Heidfeld has recorded three fourth places and Robert Kubica a sixth-position finish to put the team on 18 points and leave them lying third in the constructors' standings. BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen looks back on the season so far.

How would you rate the team's progress after three races?

Theissen: "For this season we set ourselves the goal of halving our gap to the leading cars once again, having made a similar improvement last year. We have hit this target in the first three races of the season, and in Bahrain we narrowed the margin even further. We have established ourselves firmly as the third-strongest team on the grid, exceeding our expectations. I'm particularly pleased that the gap to the teams in front is smaller than our advantage over the cars behind. We've made it into Q3 with something to spare at each GP, and the 18 World Championship points we've collected in the three races is already equal to half our total for the whole of 2006. So, all in all things are looking very positive at this point."

Do you think the team will soon be celebrating its maiden victory?

Theissen: "We made an excellent start to the season, but we need to remain realistic. As things stand, there is still a gap between us and Ferrari and McLaren. Nick's overtaking move on Fernando Alonso in a straight fight during the Bahrain GP was a great moment, and it has surprised us slightly as well that we've been able to put the favourites under this kind of pressure so soon. Needless to say, we will not be resting on our laurels, but it is important to take one step at a time. Our primary aim is to secure some podium finishes, but winning our first race is next on the list."



A Bill that could simplify the process of buying and keeping a cherished number plate for a vehicle could soon move to the House of Lords, bringing it closer to becoming law.

The Vehicle Registration Marks Bill has passed through the all important committee stage, and is now scheduled for its Third Reading in the House of Commons on 20 April 2007. If it passes this, the Bill will move to the House of Lords to be heard.

The Bill is backed by the RMI Cherished Number Dealers Association (CNDA), a part of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF), as well as the Government, and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Richard Ottaway MP

Richard Ottaway MP (Croydon South), who presented the Bill, commented: ‘The Bill is now one reading away from completing its passage in the Commons. It is very exciting.’

A spokesman for the CNDA commented: ‘When the Bill becomes law, consumers and cherished number dealers will get a process that provides more choice and flexibility.’

The current process is very complicated, and leaves the buyer open to fraud. The Bill would simplify the process, and provide more protection at the same time. Both the Government and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) support the Bill.

Under the current rules, a cherished number can be held on a retention certificate for 12 months pending its assignment to another vehicle. However, the number remains the property of the registered keeper, even after the purchaser has paid for it.

Ownership only passes to the purchaser when the number is assigned to a vehicle. If after 12 months have passed the purchaser has not yet assigned the number, and the registered keeper will not grant an extension, or cannot be contacted, ownership reverts to the keeper.

The Bill proposes a new regime where the keeper can grant retention rights directly to the purchaser. For most transactions this will make the process simpler. It will also prevent consumers from being deliberately conned. The current regime makes it possible for bogus sales to take place, where the seller takes the buyer’s money but never provides the plate, or the documentation to renew the retention certificate.



The hayfever season is upon us and drivers could be putting themselves and other motorists at risk by driving under the influence of hayfever and allergy medication according to new research out today.

Safe driver experts, Privilege Insurance have found that one in seven drivers suffer from hayfever or other allergies, and almost half (45 per cent) of these have driven on the roads whilst taking medication and nearly a fifth (18 per cent) admit their driving had been negatively affected as a result during the past 12 months.

One in ten, the equivalent of 3.3 million drivers, lost concentration at the wheel due to an impaired reaction caused by illness or medication.

Despite the side effects, such as drowsiness, that everyday medicines including hayfever remedies can have, a quarter of drivers admitted to rarely or never checking the side effects of their remedies before setting off, and just under a quarter of drivers believed there was nothing wrong with driving while on any hayfever or allergy medication.

But, conversely, eight in ten drivers would amend their behaviour if they discovered a hayfever medicine they were about to take might affect their driving, with a third (36 per cent) holding off taking the medicine until after having driven, and a quarter (24 per cent) not driving at all.

Doctor James Lawrie, GP commented: “Certain types of drugs or even herbal supplements can affect a person’s ability to drive safely and if they are combining several over-the-counter drugs for the treatment of the same ailment, they could be very dangerous on the road.  It’s important drivers always read the label of any medication they plan to take - either prescribed by a doctor or purchased at their local chemist - and discuss possible side effects with their pharmacist."

Medicines are clearly labelled for a reason and the majority of drivers do take heed of warnings once they are aware of them.  But Privilege Insurance urges people to take the time to check the side effects of medicines before driving to avoid putting themselves and other road users at risk.

Driving when affected by medicines may increase the risk of causing an accident, which could result in a motorist getting points on their licence, or losing it altogether.


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RR and Bike Safe

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars hosted the launch of BikeSafe Sussex 2007 at the company’s Goodwood manufacturing plant yesterday.  Thirty employee motorcyclists were assessed by specially trained Sussex Police riders and advised on how to make their riding safer and more enjoyable.

BikeSafe is an initiative run by police forces around the country which aims to reduce motorcycling casualties. This was the first time that BikeSafe Sussex has run a dedicated session for a local company. Other courses will be taking place during the summer months across Sussex that are open to all motorcyclists.

Rolls Royce and the launch of BikeSafe Sussex 2007

The full day’s training included a morning classroom session and a three hour on-the-road assessment, with every two motorcyclist or scooter riders assigned one police rider. During lunch the employees had time to chat with representatives from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), the Highways Agency and Sussex Safer Roads PartnershipBMW Motorrad displayed a selection of new BMW motorcycles at the event.

Ian Robertson, Chairman and CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, and himself a keen motorcyclist said, “We are delighted to support BikeSafe Sussex in this initiative and encourage other local employers to take part. We take every opportunity to promote safe road use to our employees, working closely with the local authorities and emergency services.”

Superintendent Paul Morrison, Sussex Police Road Policing Unit, said, “Last year, 22 motorcyclists lost their lives on Sussex roads, and we are working closely with our partners to bring that down this year through a combination of enforcement and education. BikeSafe is an excellent opportunity for motorcyclists of all abilities to improve their skills and ultimately make them safer riders. We want everyone to enjoy riding on our roads this summer, but also make sure their trip doesn't end in tragedy.”

To find out more about BikeSafe Sussex, or to book a place on a future course, call 08452 307407.


UK drivers hit by soaring car-parking costs

Parking charges in the UK have soared in the past six years, with an average increase of 25 per cent across the country, according to Direct Line Car Insurance.

Those outside the capital have suffered the biggest rise, with motorists in Hertfordshire (Berkhamsted) and in Kent (St Mary’s Bay), all facing staggering increases of 90 per cent in charges since 2000.

Despite the recent price hikes outside the capital, Londoners still fork out the most for the privilege of parking their car, with the average cost for two hours in Westminster now at £7.99, closely followed by Islington at £7.32 and Heathrow at £7.01.

However, it’s not just the price of parking that’s costing drivers dearly but the cost of parking fines.  In the past two years nearly one in five (17 per cent) motorists have been caught and hit with fines at a total cost of £425 million.

In fact, high parking prices are driving a quarter (24 per cent) of UK motorists to knowingly park illegally, clocking up 5.7 million fines since 2005 at an average cost of £74 per person.

But drivers are not just parking illegally to avoid the costs.  Three quarters (75 per cent) of drivers say there just aren’t enough parking spaces for the 32 million drivers in the UK and this lack of space has forced a fifth (22 per cent) to park illegally and risk a parking fine.

Half of drivers (50 per cent) who admitted to trying to avoid parking costs say they do so because parking fees are so extortionate and more than one in 10 (13 per cent) admitted that they can’t afford to pay these costs so will avoid them whatever the consequences.

Motorists who do not pay parking fines can end up in court and subsequently prison.

Emma Holyer, Direct Line’s Motor Spokesperson, said: “Parking is a bone of contention for most drivers in the UK and our research shows that because of rocketing costs and limited spaces drivers are literally forced to wittingly break the law – and consequently be hit with fines in the process.

“If you are driving into a busy place its worthwhile doing some research to find out about any park and ride schemes or any cheap car parks in advance as it could save you serious money.”


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