main

ReviewsTopic

Double Skylining like a boss, what would you choose?

17th January 2018 — by Dan Stirzaker

14-960x640.jpg

The Nissan Skyline, one of the most iconic `Japanese cars in the wild, seeing one on the road is rare, but when you get two come along, it’s a fully double-skyline moment

These likely pair had me frothing at the mechanical glands and it was almost as surreal as dating twins, while to the untrained eye they look the same, thanks to the paint and colour wheel choice, if you look deeper the subtle differences give them there own unique characters and I like that.

The older of the two, R32, has been gifted with the GTR front bumper, sides and rear spats. While at the time of this shoot the engine wasn’t too tuned, the owner made noises of making some serious power 4-500hp from the RB25 engine that lays beneath the hood. Punchy and useable power for the R32 chassis and perfect for those fast road jaunts on weekends

Who hearts fake rims – nobody. Volks squat under the arches in true JDM fashion and a big wink to the R32’s Nissan heritage

Now bring on the R33 – maybe a controversial model of Skyline. Some love it, others hate it. Known as being plumper then it’s earlier models it take some special kinda of loving, or at least that’s what the NAY sayers would lead you to believe. However, here at Fueltopia, we don’t mind some shapely curves, combined with JDM greatness we found ourselves ready for a party.

Rather than keeping it JDM, Cosmic Wheels allow this Wangan machine to lay down it’s power to the asphalt and we’ve got to think the owner brought some goodness with them in bronze on this 33. A few key mods also make us like this perticular model even more, the smoothed boot might be a thing of 90’s styling, but on this car really sets off the clean look from the back of the car. Deleting the spoiler also gives the car a clean side profile and accentuates the cars lines in a positive way.

While both the cars don’t have a major spec list for me to talk about and throw in numbers that would wear away my ‘0’ key, it’s more about shooting them and looking how these Japanese cars still have petrolheads looking at them in awe today some 25 years after they first hit the roads.

Being a photographer who loves cars is brilliant, being a photographer who loves Skylines is even better

 

Follow more of my journey Instagram @dan_stirzaker

Owners- R32 @michalsoltisik     R33 @lewiswhite1990

 

Reviews

Lexus GSF – A wolf in wolfs clothing

15th January 2018 — by Mark Turner

gsf-gallery-001-1600x590_tcm-3066-562515-960x354.jpg

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, some days are better than others.
This day i got to smoke about in a Lexus GSF was a particularly good day.

Lexus GS-F

In a world that is becoming increasingly sanitised and restrictive, the Lexus GSF is one of a handful of rebellious cars sticking two fingers up at the fun police.

It’s not some tarted up pretender, this is a real, seasoned contender. Parked, quietly poised, it looked lean, fit and ready for action. The GSF is like that young guy you met once, wearing a really expensive suit and looking like a male model, ripped and handsome, good at everything.
You want to hate him but you can’t help admiring him.

I agree, the exterior is a little subjective, I get that. What it isn’t is a familiar, sensible old gentleman’s express, instead, Lexus opted for the new school, well dressed, head turning approach. It’s built for a purpose and makes no apologies for being that ambitious, good looking and aspirational.

Lexus GS-F

Opening the driver’s door, you are greeted with the coolest of interiors. It reeks of class with quality materials and driver focused ergonomics.
when you compare sitting inside an AMG Mercedes, you can’t help thinking that Mercedes are trying really hard to be, what they think its customer base wants them to be. This Lexus is what it is. The Lexus GSF feels entirely complete. Slide into the beautiful, sculpted, leather bucket seats and you feel like an integral part of the car, immediately at home and comfortable. It’s like it’s been made just for you.

Lexus GS-F

The Lexus in my opinion is near perfect. It has what it needs and it feels like it will last forever. I felt immediately at home, with controls and they were easy to figure out and use. Compare this to my last outing in a modern M-series BMW with its million different settings for gearbox, suspension, steering, and god knows what else – I’d need to have a NASA degree to even get to the shops.

Lexus GS-F

So I’ve sold you the dream and we’ve established it looks good inside and out, but that’s just the starting point of what makes this car lit AF. Fire the GSF up and you almost feel guilty as the noise is so magnificent, it’s criminal.
Powered by a 5L petrol V8 that produces 477 DIN hp at 7100rpm and 530 Nm of torque that’s enough to give my nan a 30 second face lift as I plant the good foot off the lights.
There’s a flappy paddle gearbox and I’m not a fan of flappy paddles. However, this one almost has me coming out the closet of flappyness. Changes were fast, fuss free and precise but it still feels mechanical and direct.
Acceleration is relentless – I know i’ve mentioned it, but it’s that good I’m going to say it twice.
It’s an assault on your senses, addictive as any vice, i’d say this is mechanical crack. Chucking it around some B-roads nothing unsettles it, not once did I feel threatened or scared, like a giant amongst men, you feel invincible, a total B-road slayer, the McGregor of the automotive highway.
Laying off the loud pedal, taking it steady for a few miles allowed me to catch my breath, but it wasn’t long till the hunt for clear road starting niggling away at your soul and making that glorious 32 valve V8 shout again.

Lexus GS-F

Let’s not forget that this supercar level of performance is wrapped up in a 4 door family car. A family car that can get to 100kph in 4.6 seconds and see an official top speed of just shy of 170 mph. That’s mental

Closing case on why this car should be on your driveway

It’s looks great, it’s a V8, it goes like race car on the road and can turn it’s hand to anything. I could do the school run in the morning, drive over to Silverstone and slay all on a track day, pop to a supermarket, throw my suit on and visit a customer on the way back to pick the kids up from School. Magnificent. Thanks Lexus.

Lexus GS-F

Lexus GS-F

Lexus GS-F

Lexus GS-F

EventNewsReviewsTopicVideo

our year in pictures, 2017 we salute you

29th December 2017 — by Mark Turner

night_sessions_dan_ft_001-960x638.jpg

I’d like to compare shooting for Fueltopia to white water rafting; exciting, challenging, scary at times, but ultimately satisfying. While we close the books on 2017, I’ll take you for a look back at the past 12 months, the cars, writers, photographers and their own submitted highlights of what has been a petrol fuelled whirlwind.

On reflection, we also want to add a ‘thank you’, yeah you, reading this right now. None of this would be possible without your support, clicks, shares, feedback.

January. – Intergalactic PlanetarE36


With inspiration drawing from Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic, James’s e36 rides on an Air Lift Performance system and 18 inch Rotiform TMB’s.
The incredible wrap was designed by CIAY and fitted by JD Wraps. There’s a feast of upgrades from an M3 CSL duck tail to a custom built EMP exhaust, Corbeau bucket seats, ASD hydro, half cage and more.

________________

February. Purpose Built Barrel Hunter

Just days away from the beginning of the 2017 Fueltopia Barrel Sprint season, this S14 met it’s demise at Coventry MotorFest when it made a firm introduction with a concrete pillar underneath the ring roads.
Another S13 was sourced and Mark Young at Japs Motorsport took on an impossible task and completed the transformation from a bare shell to a seam welded, 385bhp monster with with a serious weight loss fetish in a mere 7 days

________________

March. Packing A Punch

Dan Fegent, our O.G snapper, caught up with Perry Stephenson and his Monstrous looking MGB.
At the time of these photos it was running a 4.8 litre v8 (bored out Rover 3.9 V8) coupled to a supercharger from a Sherman tank! Perry believes its running around 400bhp with 600 ft/lbs of torque. A beautiful car that pushes the tastes of the purists to absolute limits

________________

April. Stunt Festival and Streetfighter Show

The Ace Cafe Stunt Festival featured the Streetfighter Show & the Fueltopia Barrel Sprint. It saw 2 wheel and 4 wheel worlds collide in a perfect display of raw rider & driver talent.
Static displays of bikes and cars were varied & ample. Allowing each patriot of two or four wheel a chance to get up close and personal with each others offerings. Ace Cafe put on a hearty food stand so those could sit and discuss their discoveries & settle their differences.

________________

May. Getting Ready for Speedway

Andi Gordon jumped on a plane to Slovenia for the first round of the 2017 Speedway Grand Prix series. His third season shooting Speedway for Monster Energy.
If you don’t already know, they race on a dirt oval, they don’t have breaks and it takes balls of granite to even twist the throttle and they fly past in a blink of an eye.
To get creative, expressive shots of Speedway you need to build relationships with riders, mechanics, managers and anyone else who you are going to get in the way of while cutting about in the pits.

________________

June. Coventry Motofest

Coventry MotoFest, an annual festival celebrating the region’s historic motoring heritage in the heart of Coventry but with the added draw of it being held on the cities public ring road. Think Monaco, take away the sea, double the size and slap on a West Midlands accent and you’re pretty much there.
Crowds lined up on slip roads and cross overs using the landscape as some sort of amphitheatre. It was utterly bizarre and brilliant at the same time.
Under one of the fly overs was a converted car park which was home to our Formula G demonstrations as well as Drift Outlaws.

________________

July. Players Classic

If you had to ask us if you had to visit one car show, without question, it would have to be Players Classic. It is hard to imagine how they could improve an event like this, but the plans the Players team have in store will no doubt leave this event as another yearly champion of car shows. I mean, where else would you find a lowrider Chevy Impala parked about 20ft away from a McLaren 675LT both of which receiving praise and respect?
In 2018 the event will span two days, with over 800 cars in attendance, 10,000’s applying you know you need something special to get through the gate

________________

August. 6R4.NET Track Day – Curborough

6R4.net co-founder Nicky Lindon organises a track day that is rolling piece of motoring history, that doesn’t spare the ponies.

If like us you didn’t get to see Group B’s in action then this track day brings them up close and personal and with the added bonus of hearing them at Max Attack! Line up’s include Ford RS200’s, the ultra-rare Escort RS1700T and a smattering of kick-ass Metro 6R4’s

Our rally and rallycross Guru, Steve White, even managed to sneak into the co-driver’s seat of Nigel Mummery’s Ford RS200 and brought us some amazing highlights

________________

September. Night Sessions – Dan Guirey

Let’s set you the scene, a local UK car meet, in the pouring rain, Dave Cox braved the elements to take the opportunity to capture the soul of Dan Guirey’s Mk1 Golf.
It’s cute proportions disguise the animal that it is. Peel back the wrapper and you will be greeted with a 1.8L 8 valve G60 engine which is turbo charged. The result is an engine capable of 300bhp! Plenty given the car’s weight. Dan is running the car at 240bhp due to handling issues.

________________

October. Edd Tubbs’ ’32 Ford Pickup

Nestled between an Evo and Mk2 Escort, a ’32 Ford Pickup that made us stop and stare. A labour of automotive love that took 4 years of busted knuckles and passion
In that time this Pickup has been stripped down to its bare chassis, laddered the rear and added a new cross members to allow the inclusion of modern coilovers – pretty neat huh?
In true HotRod style the roof has been chopped 2 inches and the cab channelled by 3”.
A Rover 3.5 v8 is hard to miss as it protrudes proudly from the engine bay. It has been completely rebuilt, re bored new high compression pistons and bearings, fast road cam, Holley 4 barrel, hand built open headers laker style and a Cadillac air box.

________________

November. Behind the Scenes: Formula G Pilot TV Show

CTRL, the team behind RC Racing TV contacted us earlier this year with a vision of using their expertise gained in producing programs about radio controlled cars to create a new pilot for a TV show all about Formula G. They see it as the new breakthrough in racing and something different to what is currently shown on many motoring channels.
Mat the director said “As soon as we saw the events that Fueltopia did we loved how exciting, accessible and ‘real’ the racing was, we can’t wait to show this to everyone else too”.

________________

December. Bagged Bull

Add power, attitude and heavily caffeinated graphics to a Scirocco and what you get is a pretty cool VW.
This is a classic father, son story as many a car build, but I think what we got here was something unique and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
A Racingline Performance air intake helps feeds the turbo whilst the Forge Motorsport intercooler helps intake temps stay down. An APR Stage 2+ map brings the final number to 370bhp.

Reviews

Bagged Bull

1st December 2017 — by Dave Cox

ben_walker_ft_063-960x640.jpg

Ben Walker’s bagged bull.

Add power, attitude and heavily caffeinated graphics to a Scirocco and what you get is a pretty cool VW.

I had spotted Ben’s Scirocco on instagram on the way to work one day. Thumbing through the social network platform, it’s bold graphics and low stance easily grabbed my attention. I fired off a message to arrange a shoot and a couple of weeks later, I was on the way to Nottingham.

I’ll be honest, during the run up to the shoot I was wondering whether I actually wanted to make the 300 mile round trip to shoot another bagged VW. I can honestly say, I am glad I stuck with it.

I met Ben in an underground car park under his flat in the city centre. What I wasn’t expecting to find was the fact that this car park could be plunged into darkness! Did someone say light painting?

I relish any opportunity to get the lights out and create some striking imagery of cars. As I was doing so it was pretty evident that this car looked even better than it had done on instagram. The wrap had been designed by Ben himself along with the help of his Dad.

Impressive given the quality of the wrap job and that Ben had never done this before. But it was the classic father, son story that made me smile. I like the idea of figuring out how to do something on your drive with your Dad.

His Dad actually drove me whilst we did the rolling shots and was nice to hear his perspective on the car too. Clearly he was a petrol head and “just likes working on cars with his son”. The two of them occasionally go on spirited drives together and often have mini drag races between lights. LADS.

 

Back to the car, the wrap gives it a Rally car sort of vibe that I really like. With it’s low altitude and big wheels, you could almost imagine this to be set up for tarmac in the WRC. Those wheels in question are forged Rotiform IND’s measuring at 19inches all around.

Reviews

Farewell Hoonigan Racing Division

26th November 2017 — by Steve White

Block-Jump-960x640.jpg

Last month World Rallycross fans were disappointed to learn that Ken Block and Ford Performance would NOT be participatInG in the 2018 World Rallycross Championship.

With Andreas Bakkerud making his final appearance in the Hoonigan Racing Division Focus RS RX at Gymkhana Grid last weekend, there is no indication as to when – or even if – we will ever see the RS RX in action again. Given that I have been fortunate enough to be present at a number of the World Rallycross rounds during Hoonigan Racing Divisions two year stint in the Championship, now seems a perfect time to take a retrospective look at some of my favourite images of the Hoonigan cars in action.

Block Loheac Fiesta Last Corner Pan

Prior to undertaking a full World Championship campaign in 2016, Ken Block had previously appeared at two European Championship rounds back in 2014. Behind the wheel of an M-Sport Fiesta, Block finished third on his European debut in Norway and narrowly missed out on another podium in France with fourth overall.

Ken Block is a rather divisive figure among seasoned rally and rallycross fans, but I admire his passion for racing and, although his PR may be a little excessive at times, I have never seen him convey anything other than positivity about motorsport. After seeing Ken in action at Loheac I hoped we would see him return to Europe at some point and, in early 2016, it was confirmed that Block would become a full time participant in the World Rallycross Championship.

Ken Block Mettet Turn Two Dirt Slide

Many rallycross fans – myself included – had been taken aback by the choice of platform for the Hoonigan Racing Division rallycross programme, as shorter wheelbase cars have been in vogue in rallycross for several years and Block already had considerable seat time in the Fiesta. Hoonigan debuted the M-Sport built Focus RS RX at the opening round of the 2016 World Rallycross Championship in Portugal, however it would be the third round of the year before I would get to lay eyes on the new car.

The Focus RS RX had a remarkably short development period and that was painfully apparent in Mettet, as both Bakkerud and Block were plagued by mechanical gremlins. Still, despite the issues, I was surprised as to just how agile the long wheelbase Focus was on track.

Ken Block Lydden Hill Head On Dirt Loose

With only a fortnight between Mettet and the following round at Lydden Hill the Hoonigan team obviously didn’t have much time for testing and refinement, but they clearly weren’t sitting around as there was a marked improvement in the cars at Lydden.

Ken Block Lydden Hill North Bend Exit Pan

Two top ten qualifying times, one of which was earned following a terrific battle with Robin Larsson, showed that Block was beginning to get to grips with the Focus and that the creases were rapidly being ironed out of the car.

However it would be Block’s team mate Andreas Bakkerud who would give the crowd at Lydden their first true demonstration of the full potential of the Focus RS RX.

Bakkerud Lydden Hill Chicane Exit Air

Hoonigan Racing had seemingly opted for an incredibly soft setup for the Focus at Lydden, as both cars were violently pitching on turn in, but it was at the chicane where the soft setup was most apparent. The vast majority of Supercars tend to go light on the suspension here, but Bakkerud’s Focus RS RX was almost rearing up as it went through this section and rejoined the tarmac.

Still, the setup must have suited Bakkerud, as he took second in his semi-final and placed mid-pack for the final. Alas the car suffered a mechanical failure launching off the line, leaving Andreas to crawl around the circuit. Despite that, for the first time in the year, the RS RX had looked like it had race winning pace.

Bakkerud Loheac Turn Two Exit Pan

It would be three rounds later before I would catch up with the World Rallycross Championship again and in that time Bakkerud not only managed to chalk up the first win for the Focus in Norway, but followed that up with another win in Sweden and a second place in Canada.

Bakkeruds mid-season charge saw him rapidly ascend up the Championship standings and, with another second in France, Andreas was poised to be a serious title challenger in the second half of season.

Ken Block Loheac Turn Two Head On Pack

Perhaps buoyed by the success of Andreas, Block delivered one of his most consistent performances of 2016 at Loheac. A slightly tentative start in practise was followed by four top eight qualifying times, resulting in a spot on the front of the second semi-final grid. Block went on to make the back row of the final where he eventually finished sixth, narrowly losing out on fifth position to Reinis Nitiss in the closing stages of the race.

Notably M-Sport had finished construction of a third Focus RS RX in the weeks prior to Loheac and it was this car which Block used to film Gymkhana 9. It might have been a coincidence, but I wondered if the additional gymkhana seat time had contributed to the noticeable improvement in both Blocks performance and the overall reliability of the Focus.

Bakkerud Barcelona Head On Jump Ekstrom

Exclusion at round 9 in Barcelona cost Bakkerud dearly and, despite a win at the final round of the Championship in Argentina, Andreas was unable to prevent the 2016 title going the way of Mattias Ekstrom.

Given the rapid evolution of the Focus RS RX throughout its maiden season, I had Andreas Bakkerud tipped as a favourite for the 2017 title. Although Andreas wasn’t quite as dominant as I had anticipated at round one of the 2017 Championship, early signs were encouraging.

Bakkerud Barcelona Turn Two Exit Pack

Despite lacking the pace to challenge for the overall win, Bakkerud managed to hold off the advances of Petter Solberg and secure third position. Third in the season opener was a promising start for Andreas, but a semi-final retirement in Portugal would be followed by a disastrous weekend in Hockenheim where Bakkerud failed to make it beyond qualifying.

Ken Block at least delivered consistent results for Hoonigan Racing with Block qualifying for the semi-finals at rounds one, two and three.

Bakkerud Mettet Turn Two Exit Pan

The fourth round at Mettet would be my next World Rallycross stop of 2017 and it would be one of the best weekends of the year for Hoonigan Racing. Andreas placed fourth in qualifying one with Ken in eleventh, with Block then surprising many by taking fourth fastest time in qualifying two. Ken continued that form on the second day of racing, with ninth in qualifying three and another fourth in the final set of qualifiers.

Block Mettet Pack Head On

Sixth in the intermediate standings marked Blocks best qualification result of the year to that point and, with Bakkerud in fourth, both Focus RS RX made it through to the semi-finals.

Block Chicane Curb Clip

Unfortunately Block’s progress was once again halted at the semi-final stage, as he retired on lap five of the race following an interaction with the scenery. Ninth overall was a respectable finish, but missing out on the final due to an error must have been frustrating for Ken.

There would be no mistakes from Andreas Bakkerud, who chased Petter Solberg to the flag in his semi-final earning himself a spot on the second row of the Supercar final. After the disappointment of Portugal and Germany, it was fantastic to see Andreas back at the sharp end again.

Bakkerud Lydden Hill North Bend Exit Pan

Both Block and Bakkerud believed that the Focus RS RX would be well suited to Lydden Hill and their results would support that opinion, with fourth in the semi-finals netting Block seventh overall, bettering his finish in Belgium.

Andreas Bakkerud emerged as the greatest threat to the now-dominant PSRXVW Polos. Bakkerud was clearly desperate to shake off his early season run of bad luck and, with the Focus RS RX performing as well as hoped, Andreas looked capable of challenging Petter Solberg and Johan Kristoffersson for the victory. Bakkerud would come close, but third position would see Andreas step onto the podium for the second time in 2017.

Block Loheac Pack Launch Pan

Given the rapid evolution of the Focus RS RX during the 2016 season I had been expecting to see the development of the cars continue both during the winter break and throughout the subsequent Championship but, at least in the eyes of a layman like myself, progression seemed much slower in 2017. That said, Bakkerud followed up his third in Lydden with two second place finishes in Norway and Sweden.

Of the two Hoonigan Racing Division cars competing at round nine in France, it was Ken Block who made the best start. Sixth in qualifying one was followed by a third in qualifying two and Ken finished the first day of racing sitting in third overall. Block had demonstrated great speed at Loheac in the past and, at my final World Rallycross weekend of 2017, I hoped to see him make his first final of the year.

Block Loheac Wet Pack Penultimate Corner Head On

After a strong showing on the opening day, Ken eventually finished seventh in the intermediate standings. Sadly Block’s good run would yet again come to an end in the semi-finals when he began to spin coming into the penultimate corner and, in an attempt to straighten the wayward Focus RS RX, Ken buried his right foot.

In the dry he probably would have got away with it, but on the damp surface the power exacerbated the problem and the car continued to rotate straight into the gravel trap, resulting in a rear right puncture.

Block Loheac Last Corner Pan Flat Rear Tyre

Block did his best to limp to the finish line, hoping that the drivers ahead of him might encounter similar difficulties, but with the rest of the field having an issue free race, Ken missed out on what would have been a well-deserved place in the final.

Third in the second World semi-final, Andreas Bakkerud started the final on the back row and managed to fight his way up to fourth. I was disappointed not to see one of the two Hoonigan cars claim a podium spot in Loheac, especially having subsequently learned that this would be the last time I will see the team competing.

Lydden Block Focus Mirror 43

Block came within a whisker of making his first appearance in a 2017 final at the last round of the Championship in South Africa, but disqualification following the second semi-final saw him denied at the final hurdle. It was a rather low note for Ken to finish his second World Rallycross season on and I hope the stewards decision won’t sour him on any future Championship appearances.

As for the future of the Focus RS RX, no official announcement has been made. Rumour has it the cars will return to the US and I hope they will be campaigned again rather than being mothballed. I am certain Andreas Bakkerud will be snatched up by another rallycross team, but only time will tell on that one. Irrespective, here’s a thanks to Hoonigan Racing Division for the two years they have given to the World Rallycross Championship: don’t be strangers and come back soon!

 

Words & Pictures: Steve White

Want to see more of the Hoonigan Racing Division cars? Click here for a set of image galleries.