Archive for August, 2011
Citroen have released a set of new videos to showcase the new DS4 crossover vehicle. It looks like a massive coupe but it has five doors and a high ride height. It has lots of headroom, like an MPV, but less bootspace than the C4 it is based on, and the spiky rear windows don’t open.
So we get why Citroen have decided to play the “non-conformist” card and brag about how their car breaks the mould. What mystifies me slightly more is their choice of videos to illustrate their point. Let’s have a look at them:
A man parkours down a flight of steps in a dingy warehouse with a DS4 at the bottom.
Five years ago, you might have accepted this, but free-running went mainstream a long while ago.
A DS4 is parked in a dingy warehouse. A video installation of abstract, rapidly changing images is projected onto its side.
Definitely not. I think if I were an artist working in the medium of video, I would be quite upset by this. There is no originality to the set-up – in fact it is a hackneyed stereotypical installation.
Some DS4s are in a dingy warehouse. A striking young lady walks past the cars and some floodlights in a succession of edgy outfits of various styles.
Well this is a fashion show. A standard fashion set-up. Once again Citroen are using a stereotypical interpretation of a creative discipline to illustrate how subversive and ‘different’ they are.
A dingy warehouse. A man retrieves a drum from the boot of the DS4 (The only shot of the interior). More drummers join him in a demonstration of traditional rhythms and percussive noise. The man replaces his drum in the boot.
Well I will give you this, Citroen – it isn’t mainstream music. But it is traditional. It is non-conformist in the same way that Morris Dancing is. Is that what you are going for? Perhaps it is.
I find these videos rather disappointing, because they have ultimately taught me nothing about the car, and the message they are intended to convey is hopelessly lost in the lazy and unimaginative way they have been executed.
The latest race report from Sarah Bennett-Baggs and the Adrian Flux sponsored E46 M3.
Last weekend was the penultimate round of the Britcar GTN Championship, where SBB and teammate Jensen Lunn were hoping to put the mechanical problems of Castle Combe behind them. With that in mind they arrived in Norfolk on Friday to give the car a thorough shake-down and by Saturday’s qualifying session, the car was running well, although both drivers reported it to be down on power compared to normal. The car qualified 5th in class, to start 19th out of 33.
With the Championship still in the balance, it was essential to Sarah and Jensen to score good points if they were going to put pressure on Simon Phillips and Chris Randall, eight points clear in their Lotus Elise.
At 12.25 on Sunday, the two hour race began, but Sarah’s first session was disrupted by several safety car incidents which prevented her from making up ground, but by the time she pitted to hand over to Jensen, she had maintained position and the competitors in her class were still in sight. Jensen put in a flawless performance and made up a large number of places to bring the car home 12th overall and fifth in their class.
Sarah says “I think both Jensen and I are both a little disappointed, we have both been driving our socks off this weekend, but for some unknown reason we were not as competitive as we normally are, either we have lost some power or everyone else in our class has stepped up their game, I don’t think either of us could have done anything more – it was a faultless drive, we have both been pushing hard all weekend and both stayed out of trouble and on the track. What more can I say, its a shame we couldn’t do any more.”
Here at Flux, we believe in supporting local charities, and when we heard about Nikki Scott’s dreams of providing holidays for the children of fallen soldiers we wanted to help.
So we donated £2,500 to her charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, which Nikki set up a year ago this month following the death of her husband Lee, who was tragically killed by a roadside bomb in Helmand in July 2009
Our colleagues at Norwich-based Uninsured Loss Recovery chipped in another £1,000 to push the total raised to more than £70,000 of the £450,000 needed to buy, furnish and equip three holiday homes.
Corporal Lee Scott of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, who was born in Ely and grew up in King’s Lynn, was just 26 when he died.
To honour her husband, and the father of her two children, Kai, seven and Brooke, two, Nikki’s charity offers special days out and birthday and Christmas gifts for children who have lost a parent in the armed forces.
Buying the three holiday homes in different seaside resorts across the country would give families suffering with loss a revitalising break.
“I want to make Lee proud of me,” said Nikki, who lives in Walpole St Andrew, near Wisbech.
“I can hear him saying to me all the time: ‘Come on Nik, you can do it’. I hope that all the fallen heroes will look down and see the people helping their kids and be really proud.”
The charity has already put smiles on the faces of 24 children, ranging in age from one to 14, who have all received a backpack stuffed with goodies and are eligible for special days out.
“We sent two girls to see JLS and meet them backstage – it’s really nice to know that people care and the kids get treated so well,” she said.
“When we receive donations such as this one, personally – as a widow – it really touches me because I know the money will really help the children, helping us towards our holiday home target and in providing gifts and days out.
“More than 200 children have lost a parent in Afghanistan alone. I want Scotty’s Little Soldiers to be a positive charity; fun and bright and making the kids smile, because Lee was always playing with the kids and having fun with them.”
Simon Toop, claims manager at Adrian Flux, said: “No one can fail to be touched by the fact that Nikki has turned a terrible tragedy into something wonderfully positive which will touch hundreds of children’s lives. It is a privilege to help Nikki towards her goals.”
Sharon Nurse, operations director for ULR, added: “Through Nikki Scott’s heartbreaking tragedy she has been strong enough to create this amazing charity. We were delighted to have the opportunity to contribute and we wish Nikki and her team the very best of luck.”
Later this month, the charity will move into an office in King’s Lynn, and Nikki is looking for people to donate office equipment, including computers, printers and photocopiers. The charity is also keen to hear from volunteers willing to donate their time. Latest info can be found at facebook.com/scottyslittlesoldiers or Twitter @CorporalScotty.
Following the extensive civil disturbances around various major cities over the last few nights, and the wanton destruction of property which has occurred, many folk will, no doubt be concerned about their own homes, cars and possessions. In particular you may be wondering whether your insurance policy will pay out for any damage caused as a result of rioting, civil unrest and looting.
The good news is that most situations will be covered, and I would expect the vast majority of claims for riot damage will be met. If your property or possessions have been impacted by these events it is essential that you inform the police immediately, if you haven’t already done so, and contact your insurer straightaway so that help can be arranged – speed can often be of the essence.
The public order act of 1986 defines riot as follows:
“Where 12 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose and the conduct of them (taken together) is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety, each of the persons using unlawful violence for the common purpose is guilty of riot.”
That being the case, there is little doubt that the events of the past few days will, when the dust has settled, be defined as a riot. So what will that mean.
According to the ABI, all home insurance policies should cover people for fire, looting or damage resulting from the civil unrest. The exception might be if the home has been unoccupied for a while (how long will be stipulated in the policy booklet or schedule (unless you have specialist unoccupied home insurance)). Many house insurance policies will also offer an accomodation allowance if you are unable to remain in your home.
Commercial policies should also cover business for damage to premises and stock, as well as business interruption. Some policies may also cover businesses whose trade has been indirectly affected by the aftermath of the riots – you should check your documentation or ring your insurer to confirm what cover you have in place.
Many people may be concerned about car insurance, having seen the vehicles set alight in the street. The situation with vehicles is less clear cut, as there is wide variation in policy cover between different providers and different levels of cover.
Third Party Only: Unfortunately, anyone with a Third Party Only policy will definitely not be able to make a claim against their own policy, as damage to the vehicle is not covered by TPO cover.
Third Party Fire and Theft: TPFT policy holders may be able to claim for fire damage, although many policies exclude arson and vandalism specifically, so you will need to check policy wordings.
Fully Comprehensive: Comprehensive car insurance policies often have a clause excluding riot damage – but, crucially, in most cases the exclusion only applies outside of Great Britain, so the overwhelming majority of people with a fully comprehensive policy will be covered. However there are some companies, for example, Highway,
Zurich Connect, XS Direct and KGM, where the standard terms and conditions appear to exclude riot damage even within the UK mainland.
If you are in any doubt, you should check your policy document, or ring your insurer to confirm exactly what cover you have. Adrian Flux customers can find their policy booklets online.
UPDATE 18:04 9/8/2011:
I have just been contacted by Keith Lewis at Zurich Insurance, who tells me that relatively few people still have a Connect policy. He goes on to say:
We have made the decision that Connect customers will be covered for any riot related damage as this is an anomaly in our suite of products. Our Connect Home product doesn’t have that exclusion.
which is really excellent news for any Zurich customers caught up in the unrest who might otherwise have been worried by their policy wording.
Here at Flux, we sponsor a range of competitors, from saloon car racers to sand racers, and karting prodigies to classic car racers, but perhaps none as inspirational as Paralympic cyclist Jody Cundy.
Tonight (August 5) at 7.30pm, C4 will screen a documentary about the main dubbed the “Terminator of the track”.
We chatted to Jody on a recent visit to King’s Lynn about his career and his hopes for the future.
It wasn’t the most auspicious start to Jody Cundy’s life as a top class cyclist.
Having switched to the velodrome from a medal-laden career in the swimming pool, his first, faltering seconds as a world championship cyclist in the Swiss town of Aigle did not bode well for a successful transition.
To the amusement of some in the stands, Cundy failed to leave the gate for the 1km time trial (kilo), clattering to the floor in an untidy heap.
But within a couple of minutes, the triple Paralympic champion in the pool had silenced the doubters, and stamped his mark on a sport he would go on to dominate for years to come.
“Luckily you get two chances to start,” he said. “In the second start I got up and running and broke the world record. All the people who were laughing at me because of the fall shut up pretty quickly!
“I was the first one to race so I had to watch everyone else try to beat my time. It was my most nerve-wracking time as an athlete.”
That was in 2006, since when Cundy has racked up eight more world and Paralympic golds on the track and holds three world records.
Now, sitting in the board room at sponsor Adrian Flux Insurance, the 32-year-old from Wisbech is dreaming of the ultimate thrill of garnering further gold in his home games in 2012.
“London is going to be extra special,” he said. “To make an Olympics or Paralympics is the ultimate, and to win a gold medal and stand on top of the podium would be unbelievable in front of your family and friends who have travelled the world following you.
“To be in the prime of your career and fighting for medals in front of your home crowd – it’s going to be unbelievable.”
Cundy, who was awarded an MBE in 2009, was born with a deformed right foot which was amputated at the age of three.
It was never going to hold him back.
“I don’t know any different to running around with an artificial leg,” he said. “At school I did pretty much every sport going and I always tried to be as good as everyone else – there was a lot of that when I was growing up, that determination to prove myself.”
It seems that sticky starts are a Cundy speciality, with his first swimming lesson, at the age of five, resulting in a fully-clothed parent rescuing him from the bottom of the pool.
Things quickly improved, however, and he was swimming for the King’s Lynn club at 10, and made his international debut six years later, representing Great Britain at the world swimming championships.
A decade of glory followed, with 14 international gold medals among 23 overall, before a chance ride on the boards at Newport Velodrome changed his sporting life.
“I went to Swansea to train at the high performance centre and had a go in the velodrome, where I was spotted by one of the British cycling coaches who said I had a bit of talent,” said Cundy, with typical modesty.
“I pursued it a bit more and entered the national championships at the end of 2005. It was only the third time I had been on the track and in the first race I broke the British record so I thought maybe I was OK at this.
“I was still swimming six days a week then doing training to learn how to ride the track properly. The coach had been sending my times to the team manager and he called me to say that I was going faster than the person they had in the squad. He offered me a trial to compete in the World Champs in 2006 and I beat the guy in the trial. I was offered a place on the GB team two days later.
“I was towards the end of my swimming career and had suffered a few injuries, so it was not a hard decision to make to retire from swimming and take up cycling.”
And that debut world record proved that it was the right decision; Cundy was to become a better cyclist than he ever was a swimmer.
And, as part of the all-conquering British cycling team training in Manchester, Cundy is in exalted company.
“When I train on the track, in most sessions I’m on with people like Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton. It’s just unreal – you see them on TV, you know how fast they are and there you are a few centimetres away from their back wheel and it’s hugely inspiring,” he said.
They must be equally inspired by his presence?
“I would like to think so. Being there in training everybody is chasing Chris because he’s top dog. All the guys underneath Chris chase him, and all the academy guys are chasing those guys. I am at about the same level as those academy guys, and there’s a really progressive competition pushing everybody forward at the same time.
“The top guys are always looking to find an extra 0.1 of a second, always competing against each other. To have that kind of competition in-house is brilliant and to witness and feel like you are part of it really does in
spire you to do bigger and better things.
“It’s one of the only places in the world where you’ve got a training set up with so many Olympic and World Champions at the same time.”
As well as defending his kilo and team sprint titles, earned in Beijing, next summer, Cundy could also take in the track pursuit and two road events.
“Road racing is a new area of cycling for me, and it’s completely different with 30 or 40 other riders all on the course using different tactics and the tight corners. It’s a new area for me. Some guys who I can beat on the track can go faster than me on the road. I’ve got a lot to learn,“ he said, on the back of two top 10 finishes in Sydney Road World Cup in his first competitive road races.
“If there’s an outside chance of me getting a medal they will enter me in the road race and the time trial.”
And after London, what then?
“My girlfriend’s getting really annoyed because I won’t give her an answer about that,” he said. “The truth is I don’t really know. As long as I’m still improving my cycling I will definitely be continuing after London. If I was fortunate enough to win there it would be the perfect place to sign off but if I can give the sport more I will keep going until there’s a natural time when I can call it quits.
“Eventually, coaching the development of the sport is an option, as long as I can take the advice on board and pass it to the next generation.”
But for now, the fastest Paralympic cyclist in history has his sights set on London, and gold.
The Finnish WRC round, the Neste Oil Rally Finland (or the 1,000 Lakes, as it is still known to fans), is one of the most technically demanding, eagerly anticipated and visually spectacular races of the season.
The crazy jumps, treacherous gravel and insane speeds make for really exciting viewing, and whether you saw it at the weekend or not, the good news is that highlights of the race are available online, thanks to Best-of-RallyLive.com
The winner was Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb – we are big fans of WRC, and Loeb in particular, and he is now sitting pretty at the top of the WRC standings.
You can see stills of the accident here (scroll down to just below halfway and look for a crash involving car 47), and the motor is still awaiting repair in Andrew’s mum Enid’s garage!
After missing a couple of races because of a family bereavement, the meeting scheduled for July 16 on St Ouen’s beach, Jersey, was cancelled thanks to the appalling weather.
Andrew started racing at the age of 15 in the junior class, and is looking to follow in the tyre-tracks of his uncle, Dave Price, a former sand racing champion.
“We’ve got some lovely beaches here which dry out a long way when the tide’s low, and they obviously thought it would be a lot of fun to race on the beach,” he added.
“It’s certainly a spectacle and it’s a great sport to watch from the sea wall when the sun’s shining.”
Most of us know what it’s like to pass our driving test and start browsing the ads for that all-important first car – a motor you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
But with insurance premiums for young drivers at an all-time high, gone are the days when teenagers can look forward to getting behind the wheel of a hot hatch, unless they or their parents have deep pockets.
Barely a week goes by without a story appearing in the press about a newly-qualified driver being quoted £10,000 or more for their car of choice.
So we teamed up with Auto Express to come up with five of the best cars for first-time drivers.
Dan Clark, our insurance scheme technician, says that many first-time buyers look for the cheapest car possible in a low insurance group, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
“It’s not that simple. We find that very cheap vehicles aren’t looked after by their owners, so claims are common, and we build up our own profile for each model. This explains why two cars with the same insurance rating can attract different premiums.”
So you’re better off spending as much as you can afford, preferably at least £2,000, on your first car. Not only will you find the cheapest insurance premiums, but it will hopefully cost you less in repairs than a real banger.
You’ll also be well-advised to buy something where parts are readily available and affordable, like a Ford or Vauxhall, and not something more obscure.,
Here are our tips for five of the best first-car buys:
Toyota Yaris 1.0 (1999-2005)
An ultra-reliable little hatchback with the right amount of style to go with it, the Toyota Yaris is the only Japanese motor on our list.
Because of its popularity, there are plenty about, but its bullet-proof reliability, frugality and low insurance costs means prices can be higher than for a similar Euro super-mini.
17-year-old male/female: £1,500/£900
18-year-old male/female: £1,350/£810
Typical used value range: £1,000-£4,000
Citroen C1 1.0 (2005 to date)
Being the newest on our list, it will cost you a little more to buy in the first place, but safety is good and it will return a stingy 60mpg.
It’s an enjoyable drive and, with Toyota involved in the engineering (it’s a sister car of the Toyota Aygo), you can feel reassured about its reliability.