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Archive for May 2009

The Formula 2 Championship is off and running

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F2 Demo Car

This weekend saw the inaugeral races of the all-new Formula 2 championship.  Robert Wickens of Canada took a double win at the track in Valencia.

Formula 2 was last seen 25 years ago as a feeder catagory for Formula 1.  It was revived last year as a joint project between the FIA, Motor Sport Vision, Eurosport and Williams.

The object now, as then, is to feed new blood into the Formula 1 catagory.  This is important as we have, to date, six new car seats to fill for the 2010 season.  This is with the inclusion of USGPE, Lola and Prodrive.

Wickens first win

So who are this new wave of dashing young drivers?  Well a lot of the surnames will be familiar.  There is a Surtees and a Brundle, a Palmer and a Clarke.  Not to mention a whole host of intercontinental talent with a point to prove.  Most of them come from racing families, as you may have guessed.  The current leader of the pack is the Canadian, Robert Wickens, aged 20.  He joined the Red Bull junior championship and quickly made his mark, winning the Formula BMW championship with three wins and seven podiums out of fourteen races.  One can only image what this young hopeful could do in a Ferrari or a Renault F1 car.

wickens

The Formula 2 car itself is a set chassis, i.e. they all get exactly the same type of car.  The chassis is produced by Williams, the engines are provided by Audi, and the tyres by Avon.  It has a protective safety cell compliant with the latest F1 regulations and a six speed paddle gearbox.  Each car gets it’s own mechanic, each appointed and employed by Motor Sports Vision.

The press were out in force for the first race

The press were out in force for the first race

Also there will be Race Engineers who will manage three drivers each, in rotation, to help with the learning curve.

The races are run with two practice sessions on a Friday, and a qualifying session.  On a Saturday you have the second qualifying and then the first race.  On the Sunday you have the second race.

The race calender takes us to Valencia, Spain, the Czech Republic, Spa in Belgium, Brands Hatch and Donnington, Germany, Italy and back to Spain.  They have in fact some good race venues there, not Ryanair tracks (i.e. getting dumped in the middle of nowhere).

So we wish the whole F2 team the very best of luck and we look forward to watching you on Eurosport or Youtube.

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Written by Nick Gilmartin

May 31, 2009 at 4:25 pm

North Korean Armed Forces Part 2: The Army

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The North Korean Army Flag

The North Korean Army Flag

North Korea launched another Rocket east today in it’s latest attempt to piss off the UN Security council.  It is rather like a neighbour throwing hand grenades into your garden, how long would you put up with that for?

The North Korean Army is one of the largest in the world, and one of the most lavishly equipped.  It consists of twenty Army corps, divided into 175 divisions and brigades.  We must remember that North Korea has no Marines, so some of the ground forces are occasionally packed off to sea.

The North Korean army started out as a volunteer force in China in 1939, from where it advanced south after Japan’s defeat.

It’s command and control chain runs on two channels.  Firstly the orders come from the National Defence Commission, and from their through the Chiefs of Staff.  At the same time Political control is retained by the Peoples Workers Party’s Central Military Commitee.  The ultimate commander is Kim Jong Il, who has never fought a battle or commanded even the smallest military formation without some help.

The army has two Armoured Corps (i.e. tanks), most of which are of Soviet or Chinese origin.  These are broken down into brigades, as the Supreme Leader is nervous of the Army mounting a coup.  The army is largely motorised with enough Armoured Personnel Carriers to deploy large scale Infantry units.  Their skills at navigation and deployment are yet to be tested.  There is so much we don’t know about North Korea.

North Korea does, however, bristle with Artillery, particularly anti-aircraft guns.  Any air strikes over North Korea would be hazardous affairs.

It is hard to know what a modern North Korean Soldier is like

It is hard to know what a modern North Korean Soldier is like

It is hard to know what to make of the North Korean infantryman.  We know he will be well versed in communist propaganda and slogans but is he a true believer?  Does he want to escape to the west?  Does he have much contact with his family and sweetheart?  How much is he paid?  How much is he taxed?  Is he a fanatic or a pragmatist?  We know Commissars are attached to every unit, but how much sway do they really have?

What little information I have given here is nearly ten years old, which tells you something of the secretive nature of this communist regime.

Next:  The North Korean Air Force

Written by Nick Gilmartin

May 30, 2009 at 12:19 pm

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Meet the F1 New Blood

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Well now the dust has settled it looks as though we are in for an exciting season in 2010.  Three new teams will be added to the paddock, and all the current teams have agreed to stay.

So I am proud to introduce the three new teams:

If James Bond did F1 Prodrive is the team he would pick

If James Bond did F1 Prodrive is the team he would pick

Banbury based Prodrive have a long tradition in Motorsport, starting out as Aston Martin racing.  They have a very varied CV, they have participated in world Rallies, the Le Mans race.  It looks to me like they will be building the whole car themselves, engine too.  This will make a pleasant change from the current brace of teams that buy their engines from manufacturers.

USGPE

The second team is as all American as Grandma’s apple pie.  USGPE started out as USF1, and inspite of Bernie’s protests, the name seems to have stuck.  It does have more of a ring to it.  Little is known about them at the minute, they are based in Charlotte, North Carolina, NASCAR country.  They may have the roughest ride of all, being from a continent where Motorsport is a passion, but with no European influence.  the machinations of the FIA take time to figure out.

Lola

The third team is Lola F1.  This Huntingdon based team had a go at F1 in the mid-nineties, with scant success.  Why they are back is a mystery, especially as they supply the whole of A1GP with chassis.  They hardly need the business, and their intentions are far from clear, except of course to win races.  They come from an excellent pedigree, having won the CART world series five times and the Indy 500 three times.

Who will drive for these teams?  It is far too early to say.

So now everybody at FIA and FOTA are friends again (albeit Williams were expelled), the 2010 season is looking rosy.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

May 30, 2009 at 10:29 am

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The FIA war is at an end

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At the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour the Formula 1 Teams Association has agreed to sign up for the 2010 season.  They did so under several conditions.

# 1. The same rules apply as in 2009.

#2. A new Concorde agreement will be drafted from 2010 to apply from 2011.

Furthermore they have agreed, rather sportingly, to help new teams enter the sport.  Blimey, what has come over them?

Written by Nick Gilmartin

May 29, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Posted in Motorsport

‘Call on Me’ Dancer to return to our screens on 15th June.

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Deanne Berry gets the attention of the class

Deanne Berry gets the attention of the class

The Aerobics Instructor from the ‘Call on Me’ video is returning to our screens on GMTV on 15th June.  Do you need a better reason to get up in the morning?

Way back in 2004 a little known Swedish D.J. released a remix track of an eighties soft rock classic.  He only used one line of the song on a loop with a few fancy backing tracks.  The song was unremarkable but the video… Oh My God.

The cover of the real Aerobics video 'Pump it Up'

The cover of the real Aerobics video 'Pump it Up'

Come and have a look at this:

It was made famous by one thing:  The face and body of the iconic Deanne Berry.  This lady was born in Sydney in 1980 and started out her career as a cheerleader for the Cronulla Sharks.  She later drew up the concept, the moves and the style of the ‘Call on Me’ video to make it sizzle.  She trained an Argentine actor called Juan Pablo de Pace to be the only male in the video.  One of the other girls in the video was Laura Munley who went on to sing for Uniting Nations.  Senor de Pace went on to star in the film Three, rolling around in the surf with Kelly Brook.  Honestly, the jammy bastard.

I really must get back into the gym

I really must get back into the gym

But anyway Deanne Berry is back on our screens on GMTV (ITV1)  15th June to promote the summer Bikini diet for a month.   (Now I am getting excited!)

So here is a few pictures of the lady herself to keep you going until then.  Don’t say I don’t do anything for you.

Deanne Berry 1

Deanne Berry 2

Have a sit down, love.  You have earned it.

Have a sit down, love. You have earned it.

They later made a sequal…

Now I am really spoiling you.  You’re welcome 🙂

Oh thank you God.  Thank you, thank you.

Sources:  Wikipedia, pictures from Loaded, and Google.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

May 29, 2009 at 7:39 am

The North Korean Armed Forces Part 1: The Navy

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North Korean Naval Ensign

North Korean Naval Ensign

The North Korean Navy, in comparison to other branches of the North Korean Armed Forces, is something of a poor cousin.  The American forces dismiss it as a ‘brown water’ Navy,  i.e. mainly coastal.

It is not lacking in craft, but they are uniformly small and short range.  Furthermore they are early cold war vintage and can only be maintained by importing parts from China.

Navy Map

The North Korean Navy’s biggest problem is geographical.  It is naturally divided into two commands with the Chinese mainland to the north and the cape of South Korea to the south.  It has eight naval bases on the east coast facing Japan and five on the west coast.  One coast cannot, in practice,  reinforce the other without sailing around the South Korean point, which would be heavily defended.

It takes it’s orders from the National Defence Commision, consisting mostly of land-bound Generals.  There is no known Admiral in North Korea who could best utilize a Naval force.

North Korea has anywhere between 46,000 and 146,000 enlisted sailors, but crucially it does not have any Marines or Navy Air arm.  Nor any sea harriers or Sea-King helicopters that served Britain so well in the Falklands War.  Any naval action by North Korea would have to be defensive, with limited opportunities to take advantage of any tactical gain.

North Korea possesses 43 Patrol Boats equipped with STYX Anti-ship missiles.  These are of a Soviet design, and have been in use since 1962.

In addition they have over a hundred submarines, mostly imported from China and assembled locally.  They are non-nuclear, with some rudimentary torpedos.  The submarines are rarely used for ship attack, and are better suited to coastal reconaissance and infiltration of personnel.

North Korea’s Naval History could be written on the back of a postage stamp.  It was badly mauled in the Korean war, and it has mantained coastal patrols ever since.  It gets into the odd scrap with the Republic of Korea’s Navy, with little results.  In 2001 the Japanese Coast Guard chased and sunk a North Korean ‘Trawler’ that it claimed was on a spying mission.

What use it would be against the forces of the Japanese and American Pacific fleets remains to be seen.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

May 29, 2009 at 6:45 am

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Countdown to the second Korean War has commenced

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NK Flag

Say hello to North Korea.

Just to take our minds off Swine flu and the Recession they have let off a few rockets and had themselves a little underground nuclear explosion.

While every country has the right to defend itself it doesn’t really need nuclear weapons to do it.  The rockets in question (not nuclear tipped at the time) were fired over Japanese air space, an overtly hostile act.

This is bad news for the region in general, particularly South Korea, traditional enemy of the North..

Kim Jong Il and his homeboys.  You talkin' to me?

Kim Jong Il and his homeboys. You talkin' to me?

The Korean war 1950-53 claimed 3 million lives and has never officially ended, a mere truce was called.  Talks to arrange a treaty have never happened.

The two Koreas are separated by a Demilitarized zone that runs the full length of the peninsular.  From behind barbed wire and trenches the two countries have eyed each other suspiciously since.

North Korea is a by-product of the Second World war, when it was occupied, north and south, by the Russians and Americans respectively.  After the two armies withdrew the planned all-Korean elections never happened.  The Soviet puppet government was led by Kim Il Sung, a dedicated Communist guerrilla.  It was he who founded the North Korean state in 1948.

Kim il Sung, Eternal President of North Korea

Kim il Sung, Eternal President of North Korea

The Korean war broke out in 1950 claiming 3.5 million lives.  After three years of offensive and counter offensive the two sides settled down on the armistice line.  After the war Sung was restored as leader and took the country from a Communist rule to an outright Stalinist one.  He banned foreign travel, importing and exporting goods, and nationalised and collectivized the country to within an inch of it’s life.  He developed for himself a bizarre personality cult where he was worshiped, much as Hirahito was in wartime Japan.  North Korea disappeared behind an iron curtain from where they have never reappeared.

After the fall of Communism North Korea was deprived of it’s economic lifeline with the USSR and it’s sluggish economy began to rapidly decline.

Kim Jong Il, Supreme Leader of North Korea

Kim Jong Il, Supreme Leader of North Korea

In 1994 the ‘Great Leader’ died, leaving his eldest son to take the reigns of power.  Kim Jong Il’s  first years did not go well, with two years of immense flooding and famine followed by a two year drought.  By then his country was down to just 18% of arable land and hunger was rampant.  Jong’s new policy was to give the military priority over everything, above all, food.  His power base comes from the army, and he uses it to control the millions of North Koreans he holds in his police-state.

Korea has had nuclear power for some time, but it’s power stations were closed down after sanctions and pressure from the US and China.  In the late nineties they started up again and began manufacturing nuclear warheads.  Jong’s government claimed it needed them for ‘Defence against US agression’.  The US is reported to have nuclear weapons silos in situ in South Korea.

Some people think Kim Jong Il is long dead.  It is known that he was diabetic and may have suffered a fatal stroke as long ago as 2000.  He is known to have employed several stand ins, just as Stalin and Saddam Hussain did.  Rumours abound that he was in negotiations with more moderate and liberal groups of North Koreans to bring foreign governments to peace talks.  If the North Korean military that Jong relied on to support his rule overthrew him, they could be using one of his stand ins as a front man.

It is not helped that Jong is a classic Bond villain with a very mysterious personality.  He has an explosive temper and a habit of making people disappear if they do not see his point of view.

He commands the People’s army, a body of 1.2 million men divided into the army, navy, air force, artillery and state security.  This force costs North Korea six billion US dollars a year.  The people’s Navy has a limited range capacity and is mostly a defence and coast guard unit.  The people’s air force too has limited range and capability.  The most advanced branch of the Military is Korea’s Artillery Guidance Bureau.  Now it is these boys who have the missiles, very similar to the ones Saddam Hussain allegedly had.  Some are silo based, others have mobile transporters.  But their biggest toys are  North Korea’s Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).  These could launch a warhead with either a chemical, biological or nuclear capability.  Their range and accuracy is hard to judge but they could prove very bad news for South Korea or Japan.

Taepodong 2 Ballistic Missile

Taepodong 2 Ballistic Missile

So they are the forces arrayed against us led by this mysterious figure.  Now all we need is a plan to deal with him, while fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Any army has to be UN sponsored, and most likely US and Japan led.  Korea is an attractive war for certain US Generals.  Unlike the Taliban or Al Qaeda, this is a cold war army they were trained to fight in West Point.  They stand up and charge, they drive tanks, they fire and take flanks.  Now this is the kind of war the west likes to fight, where you can see and fight your enemy on the battlefield.  Much easier than that fighting in the hills act so common in Afghanistan.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

May 27, 2009 at 6:57 am