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Michelin artisan du record de la 918 Spyder au Nür

La Porsche 918 Spyder attaque sa carrière en fanfare en décrochant le meilleur chrono du Nürburgring. Une performance qu’elle doit aussi à ses pneus Michelin.
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Great Roads: A465 Heads of the Valleys, Wales, UK

This Great Road, written by Kieron Fennelly, was initially published in issue 62 of Total 911.

Heads of the Valleys

We tend to think that the best roads are routes we have to seek out, but the A465 (which bisects south Wales) is one you would use anyway, except that relatively few people do. This is odd. The A465 is, after all, part of the trunk road network, yet traffic seems to avoid it, even though it offers a fast mixture of single and dual black top which links the A40 at Monmouth with the M4 at Swansea.

The Heads of the Valleys road, as it is known, is the dividing line between the uplands of central Wales and the fissured landscape of south Wales whose valleys contained mineral wealth and brought about the industrial development of the 19th Century. Getting iron ore and coal out led to road and rail links which focused on reaching the ports of Cardiff and Newport.

However, east-west connections were neglected as few people needed to go far in those directions. If you lived in those valleys it meant that driving to west Wales for holidays in the Sixties took the best part of a day. You could get to London faster!

Then in 1966, the Severn Bridge opened and soon the M4 cut a swathe across the principality and you sailed across south Wales without even seeing it. 40 years on, the M4 is still the default route but, more often than not, it is a drive of some tedium.

Meanwhile the logical alternative, a road which would also provide a more direct connection with the Midlands, was constructed. This was the A465, which sought to link a series of local roads into a coherent highway. However, the project has been mired in political differences over funding and the result is an uneven mixture of dual and single carriageway along its 44-mile length.

This includes three-lane stretches over blind brows which can serve up dramatic overtaking manoeuvres, but it is the very incomplete nature of this route which makes it so interesting.

Travelling towards London, you leave the M4 at junction 43, Neath. The nearly empty dual carriageway of the A465 is an encouraging start, offering fast progress punctuated by a handful of roundabouts. Then you drop a gear as the route starts to climb and you realise that you are going to the top of that mountain in front.

Off the roundabout at the Hirwaun turning, there are 11 miles of three lane across desolate moorland before Dowlais Top, the highest point on the route at 1,200ft where the dualling begins again. But this rising, curving A road is absorbing your full attention as you take advantage of the overtaking lane to pass other traffic.

Another roundabout and again the sheer pleasure of accelerating through four gearchanges and the chance to glance right at fine views of Merthyr Tydfil with the impressive stone viaduct of the Brecon & Merthyr railway in the foreground.

A few more miles of dual before the A465 is singled again, but it simply entails travelling slower as the route swoops down towards Tredegar up gradients no longer permissible with modern road building.

Turn off onto the B4560 to Llangynidr, as it leads to the loop of unclassified roads around Llangattock beloved of the road testers. Driving this stunning ten-mile circuit is what your 911 was built to do.

Returning to the A465, you’ve reached the A40 and an easy run to the M5 or, if returning to the M4, the B4598.

No more than a dozen miles further than the motorway, this Heads of the Valleys route provides challenging and varied scenery and the feeling that the journey was just as worthwhile as the destination.

LOCATION: Between M4, Neath, Glamorgan and A40, Abergavenny, Gwent.

LATITUDE: 51:66:61N/3:80:53W

LENGTH OF DRIVE: 44 miles

POINTS OF INTEREST:
Old railway viaduct (and walk), Merthyr Tydfil
Big Pit National Mining Museum, Blaenavon, Gwent
Brecon Beacons National Park

FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION:
Walnut Tree Inn, near Abergavenny
www.thewalnuttreeinn.com

Penrhadw Farm, Pontsticill
www.penrhadwfarm.co.uk

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Great Roads: A543 and B4501, North Wales, UK

This Great Road was initially published in issue 78 of Total 911.

The Evo Triangle

A first this edition as our Great Road is not one road, but two. Both form part of a popular route deep in north Wales, often named the ‘Evo Triangle’ after the popular car magazine that first brought the roads to the public’s attention.

 

Although called a triangle, only two of the sides are of serious merit when it comes to driving. It starts for most people on the A5; the main route into the area from the east and is also the main area of attention for speed cameras. For accommodation, sustenance or fuel, this road offers the last chance on the route.

Turning right onto the A543 at Pentrefoelas, we leave behind the villages and our route becomes worthy of pressing on. Narrow stone walls thin out, the road gains altitude and, after a mile or two, we appear on more open moorland.

Heading north-east, the straight lines of the A5 become a memory as the car rises and falls through fabulous bends. Cambers and curves alternate, allowing excellent opportunity for slow in, fast out in classic 911 style. No matter what model of 911 you have, this initial section is always a joy to experience.

After an all too quick eight miles from Pentrefoelas, we turn right onto the B4501 to head south. Moorland is replaced by forest, and the technical nature in the last ten minutes changes to a steady cruise at speed.

Braking takes a back seat, and the excellent surface is nothing short of a joy. There’s a mix of everything on this one part of the route; long straights with good visibility, sweeping bends, short bends, bends uphill and down.

When we first drove this section back in 2004, the forests were right by the roadside. In recent years they’ve been cleared and the terrain now takes on a totally different appearance. Driving there once meant a narrow, tree-lined blur, which is now the opposite; a more open, slowly drifting rotation in the horizon as the miles roll by.

A few miles in and a reservoir, Llyn Brenig, is visible on the left-hand side. There’s a nice pull in near the lakeside, which makes a perfect spot for a mid-route picnic or break from driving. Getting back on track the character of the route changes only slightly, where altitude variation takes more of a role in proceedings.

Be warned, as there’s a lovely right-left sweep with a steep crest mid-bend that can catch out the unwary or overconfident. There’s a 911-sized hole in the hedge to prove it, made by Total 911’s original publisher, no less! That double bend brings on a gradual drop into Cerrigydrudion, meaning we close the last side of the triangle, meeting the A5 we passed on the way in.

The Triangle is, indeed, a good route, but by no means the only one in the area. Although a modern mecca for petrolheads of all brands, other local roads are just as worthy of attention.

In times when driving any car can be a chore, the open, quiet roads of the Triangle provide a welcome chance to experience conditions we dream of as drivers of high-performance sports cars.

Make the plan to go, drive it and judge for yourself. However, don’t make do with those three roads as being the jewel in the Welsh crown. Head out and find a few of your own great roads nearby.

LOCATION: Pentrefoelas to Pentrefoelas, via Denbeigh and Cerrigydrudion, Wales

LATITUDE: 53.0494/-3.6778

LENGTH OF DRIVE: 20 miles

POINTS OF INTEREST:
Betws Y Coed — shopping/fuel/food
Conwy Castle
Llyn Brenig
Snowdonia National Park

FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION:
Riverside Chocolate House, Pentrefoelas
www.riversidechocolatehouse.co.uk

The Groes Inn, Conwy
www.groesinn.com

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Porsche 964 RSR Crash: What would you do?

Porsche RSR Crash

Dealing with an accident face-to-face is not something that most of us ever want to do. For one, what we see may stay with us forever, and two, the majority of people simply freeze up not knowing how to react. This is exactly what happened when rally driver Harry Kleinjan crashed during the Hellendoorn Rally 2013. His Porsche 964 RSR went careening out of control hitting a barrier, which in turn flipped it upside down into a small canal. As you can see there are loads of people standing around, yet no one is rushing to help. That begs the question — faced with an accident where you may be able to help someone, would you?

Porsche 964 RSR Harry Kleinjan Hellendoorn rally 2013

Source: Youtube.com

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2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 vs. 2014 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta vs. 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: Sports Cars Don’t Get Better Than This
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