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Cold snap 2019: How to drive safely in snow

snow driving cold snap 2019

With many parts of the UK experiencing the first snowfall of the year, many motorists will now be worried by one thing: how to safely drive in it (and whether we should drive in snow at all). Just in time, here’s the ultimate guide to driving in the snow.

First of all, it’s worth saying that driving in the snow is something you should attempt only if you have to. Being able to tackle it doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Safety warning out the way, we’ve collated some top tips from Seat factory racing driver Jordi Gené…

Anticipation – keep your distance

snow driving cold snap 2019

The first rule of driving in the snow is a rule you should broadly apply to driving as a whole. Anticipate what’s ahead. It’s all the more pertinent in low-grip conditions, given that it will take you so much longer to slow down or even steer, in reaction to what’s ahead.

The easier and slower you take it and the more distance you keep from those in front, the more time you have to react. “Anticipate what’s ahead and take it easy, that’s the basic rule for driving in harsh conditions,” said Gené. 

Engine braking

snow driving cold snap 2019

A useful technique for steep descents is called engine braking. In an auto, you simply release the accelerator. In a manual, you can select a lower gear that sees your revs rise higher. While using your foot brake could easily see you lock up and skid (or see the ABS anti-lock brakes kick in), engine braking slows and controls the wheels without grabbing at them like conventional brakes do.

Engine braking should, at the very least, to stop you accelerating or skidding. Then you can start carefully applying your brakes. “Driving downhill in low gears will help you stay in control and it takes a lighter toll on the brakes,” explained Gené.

Stay calm and dont make sudden manoeuvres

snow driving cold snap 2019

You should be keeping a keen eye out for dark patches of black ice. Once in low grip areas, it’s important to not make sudden adjustments to the controls. Yanking at the wheel or stabbing the brakes will only increase your likelihood of losing grip. The goal is to pass over or through ice and snow as smoothly as possible.

“It’s important to stay calm and avoid making sudden manoeuvres,” explains Jordi. “You have to turn the wheel gently and lightly step on the brake until you’ve passed the ice patch and the wheels begin to gain grip again.”

Use your fog lights sparingly

snow driving cold snap 2019

This is perhaps for the benefit of other road users. Fog lights are only for one rain, snow or fog is extremely dense, such that it’s possible other cars may not be able to see you. Fogs, particularly rear fog lights, are not really there to help you see out, rather for others to see you.

Parking up

cold snap 2019

Good, you’ve arrived. Time to pop the wipers up so they don’t stick to your screen. Also, make sure you leave the car in park (auto) or first (manual). This will increase the likelihood of your car being where you left it upon your return.

Other than that? Insert the usual jargon about snow tyres ‘here’. Joking aside, they’re transformative for winter driving. Otherwise, keep your car in good nick and you should be alright. Snow chains are an option in the most extreme circumstances but we’d say if the weather warrants them, it’s perhaps best not to make the journey if you can help it…

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Speed limits may be coming to German Autobahns

speed limits on autobahn

The German government may limit speeds on all previously unlimited Autobahns, as part of a government-commissioned proposal to reduce nationwide greenhouse gas emissions.

This comes as a result of looming fines for excessive emissions from the EU. Scrapping this mainstay of German motoring could go some way to delivering the required reductions.

Recent emissions scandals have shone a spotlight on exactly what comes out of our cars. According to EU figures, German transport emissions haven’t fallen since 1990: a shocking statistic, although it’s probably worth considering the many more cars on German roads than 29 years ago. Overall, German emissions had fallen by more than a quarter in 2017 versus 1990.

A draft paper proposes a speed limit of 80mph (130km/h). This, in addition to the abolition of tax breaks for diesel cars, fuel tax rises from 2023 and increased hybrid and electric car sales, could yield half of the required cuts.

speed limits on autobahn

The Autobahns have been a haven for speed-lovers for decades. Their existence helped define a breed of distinctly German car: the super saloon.

Germans, and indeed car enthusiasts the world over, won’t give them up without a fight. There could even be an argument made, some have suggested, for the tourism benefit the high-speed sections have for the country.

German Transport Minister,  Andreas Scheuer, is far from welcoming of the proposal, saying it is “against all common sense”. 

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The cars most and least likely to pass an MOT

MOT pass masters (and failures)

Following a raft of changes introduced in May 2018, the MOT test has never been more challenging. You can increase the chances of your car passing first time by doing some basic pre-MOT checks, but using the data from 23 million MOT tests, we can reveal the cars most and least likely to pass with flying colours. We’ll start with the pass masters, with the results presented in reverse order.

5. Porsche Boxster – 94.4%

MOT pass masters (and failures)

The numbers have been crunched by pay-as-you-drive insurance provider By Miles, using data supplied by the Department of Transport. The Porsche Boxster is ranked fifth on the list of cars most likely to pass an MOT at the first attempt. Good news if you were looking for an excuse to buy a sports car this year.

4. Mazda MX-5 – 94.4%

MOT pass masters (and failures)

There’s further good news for sports car fans, with the Mazda ranked fourth. According to the data, the likelihood of passing decreases steadily as cars age, slumping to an average pass rate of just 58.8 percent for cars by the time they’ve reached their 17th birthday.

3. Toyota iQ – 94.5%

MOT pass masters (and failures)

This is hardly surprising, but given the fact that the DVSA says nearly 50 percent of all faults found on MOTs could be avoided by regular maintenance or by checking some basic items prior to the test, there’s no reason why an older a car should be more troublesome. The Toyota iQ is ranked third.

2. Honda Jazz – 95.3%

MOT pass masters (and failures)

If only everything in life was as reliable as a… Honda Jazz. There are many reasons why the Jazz has performed so well, not least because it’s a reliable car straight out of the box. Also, the Jazz tends to cover fewer miles between MOT tests, while owners will stick to the maintenance schedule.

1. Porsche 911 – 95.9%

MOT pass masters (and failures)

But the Jazz is beaten by the Porsche 911, with the German topping the table with an average pass rate of 95.9 percent. It’s hardly surprising because the majority of 911 owners will stay on top of maintenance schedules and rectify any issues as soon as they arise.

So, that’s the best cars sorted, what about the motors at the opposite end of the table?

5. Citroen DS3 – 81.1%

MOT pass masters (and failures)

These are the five worst offenders, presented in reverse order. There’s a huge gap between the best performers and the cars at the bottom of the table, with the Citroen DS3 recording an 81.1 percent pass rate. We doubt the rebrand to DS Automobiles will make any difference.

4. Vauxhall Corsa – 79.4%

MOT pass masters (and failures)

You could argue that the sheer number of Vauxhall Corsas is a contributing factor to its lowly ranking, but it’s worth noting that the Ford Fiesta doesn’t feature in the bottom five.

3. Peugeot 5008 – 78.8%

MOT pass masters (and failures)

Peugeot has revamped the 5008, ditching the rather frumpy MPV of old and replacing it with something far more appealing. The previous model isn’t all that good at passing MOTs.

2. Fiat Punto – 78.5%

MOT pass masters (and failures)

But the 5008 is marginally better than the Fiat Punto, with the Italian supermini just managing to avoid the bottom spot with a 78.5 percent pass rate.

1. Renault Megane – 77.5%

MOT pass masters (and failures)

Which leaves the Renault Megane to grab the wooden spoon. The French hatchback sits at the bottom with an average pass rate of 77.5 percent, nearly 20 percent lower than the Porsche 911.

Best manufacturer – Honda

MOT pass masters (and failures)

Overall, Honda sits at the top of the MOT league table, with an average first-time pass rate of 93.8 percent. This is ahead of Porsche (93.2 percent) and Subaru (92.8 percent).

Worst manufacturer – Chrysler

MOT pass masters (and failures)

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the table, we find Chrysler, with an average first-time pass rate of 80.1 percent. This is behind Chevrolet (82.2 percent) and Renault (82.5 percent).

Highest mileage – Skoda

MOT pass masters (and failures)

Finally, we take a look at the average miles between each MOT test. Skoda tops the table with 8,800 miles per annum, with a strong lease market and heavy use by taxi firms two contributing factors. Mercedes-Benz finishes just behind on 8,500 miles per annum, with Audi in third on 8,400 miles.

Lowest mileage – Porsche

MOT pass masters (and failures)

Unsurprisingly, Porsche has the lowest mileage (3,600 miles per annum), with Smart (4,800 miles) and Suzuki (5,700 miles) the next two brands.

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Is 2019 the year of the ‘eco’ driver?

eco drivers

A survey has revealed that British drivers seem more intent on changing how they drive as opposed to what they drive, in 2019.

The survey, taken by over 22,000 drivers, suggests that as many as half of the UK’s road users – that’s 15 million of us – intend on going green in 2019. When asked how they might go about that, the shocking revelation is that less than 10 percent actually plan on making a switch to ultra-low or zero-emissions vehicles in 2019.

Instead, as many as 17 percent (almost one in five) will change their driving habits, specifically, driving less where possible. Riding a bike and walking have been cited as alternatives that drivers will consider, in avoidance of driving altogether.

(Semi) officially, then, walking is very nearly twice as appealing to eco-conscious motorists as getting into low-emissions vehicles.

That said, there are demographics among us that do have eyes on the ULEV prize. Londoners are 14 percent more likely to express an interest in low-emission vehicles. Unsurprising, given the capital’s continued and escalating persecution of less clean internal combustion vehicles.

Similarly, younger people (18-34 year-olds) were 12 percent more likely than average to be planning on making a switch.

eco drivers

This research also comes a couple of months after AA research revealed as many as 22 percent of us intend on getting into cleaner cars this year. As to how many will – whether it’s closer to this survey’s figure or one-in-five of us – we’ll only know at the end of the year…

“More and more drivers are planning on making the switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle,” said James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars.

“It’s becoming increasingly practical to own an ultra-low or zero emission vehicle which is helping to catalyse this green revolution. Several new electric car models are being introduced over the coming months which offer greater range on a single charge as well as a range of high-tech features such as advanced driver assistance. There are more fast charging points being installed too, allowing a full charge to be taken in minutes.”

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MOT shock stats: pass on a Sunday, fail on a Monday

MOT test station

Forget ‘race on Sunday, sell on Monday’, because when it comes to the MOT test, it’s more a case of ‘pass on Sunday, fail on Monday’.

That’s according to a report released by pay-as-you-drive insurance specialists By Miles. Using Department for Transport data, it reveals that the chances of your car passing the MOT test can be affected by the day of the week.

And, while 79 percent of cars passed when they were tested on Sunday, just 72 percent passed on a Monday. Good news for Sunday drivers.

The busiest periods for MOTs are March and September, which isn’t surprising given that these are the months when the UK registration plates change and a car will require its first MOT on or before its first birthday. December is the quietest month.

Of course, your biggest challenge might be finding an MOT test station that’s open on a Sunday. But while independent garages are likely to be closed, Halfords claims to have 90 centres open on Sundays, while Motest also offers a seven-days-a-week service.

To find an active MOT test station local to you, visit the government website.

Super-rare 911 RS tops perfect Porsche collection

Gooding & Company Amelia Island sale

When Jan Koum and Brian Acton sold WhatsApp to Facebook for a staggering $19 billion (£14 billion) in 2014, the pair made quite a bit of cash. Koum, for example, walked away with $7.5 billion (£5.8 billion) and, like many of us would do with a sizeable windfall, he went car shopping.

But now, he has decided to offload 10 limited-production Porsches, saying: “If I had unlimited time and unlimited garage space, I would never sell any of them, but nevertheless I’ll be very happy to see the next owner driving these special cars on the road or on the racetrack.” If you fancy being that next owner, pop along to the Gooding & Company Amelia Island sale in March.

Porsche 964 Carrera RS 3.8

Gooding & Company Amelia Island sale

The cars are to be offered with no reserve, but that doesn’t mean you can expect to grab a bargain at the Amelia Island auction. As Koum said: “Many of these Porsches offered for sale are the best examples in the world and they are all an important part of my collection.” This Porsche 964 RS 3.8 wouldn’t have come cheap.

It’s one of 55 built and one of only 12 finished in Speed Yellow. Widely regarded as the ultimate 964 model, Koum’s car was sold new in Japan and has seen very little use. Although there’s no guide price or reserve, it is widely expected to sell for at least $1 million (£777,000).

Porsche 964 Carrera RS

Gooding & Company Amelia Island sale

Another rarity is this 1992 Porsche 964 Carrera RS. One of only 1,910 lightweight models built, this low-mileage example was delivered new in Italy and ordered in paint-to-sample Blossom Yellow.

These ‘Basic’ models were designed to be highly responsive street or track cars with no luxury options available. All but the essentials were removed to save weight – even the electric steering was dispensed with. At last year’s Amelia Island sale, a 60,500km example sold for $218,400 (£170,000).

Porsche 993 Carrera RS 3.8

Gooding & Company Amelia Island sale

The 1995 Porsche 993 Carrera RS was the final air-cooled Carrera RS model, built as a homologation special to qualify the RSR 3.8 for BPR GT3 and GT4 racing. It was never offered in the US when new, but, unsurprisingly, some have made their way stateside.

At its heart is a 3.8-litre flat-six engine developing 300hp, with the engineers in Stuttgart going to great lengths to create a lightweight RS model. This example was delivered new in Germany and finished in Speed Yellow. It’s one of a handful of 993 Carrera RS models in the US.

Porsche 997 GT3 RS 3.6

Gooding & Company Amelia Island sale

This 2008 Porsche 997 GT3 RS 3.6 is one of just 53 North American specification examples finished in RS Green and is a highly optioned example with 12,000 miles on the clock.

“These meticulously curated Motorsport Department models illustrate the remarkable evolution of Porsche performance over the past 25 years – from the air-cooled Carrera RS of the 1990s to the latest groundbreaking supercars,” said David Brynan, senior specialist at Gooding & Company.

Porsche 997 GT3 RS 3.8

Gooding & Company Amelia Island sale

“We are thrilled to be presenting these examples of Porsche greatness from a dedicated collector who has painstakingly assembled an unrivalled collection,” continued Bryan.

This 2010 Porsche 997 GT3 RS 3.8 is equipped with carbon-ceramic disc brakes and finished in the colour combination Porsche used at the vehicle’s launch. It’s powered by a 3.8-litre flat-six engine producing 450hp and could sell for upwards of $200,000 (£155,000).

Porsche 997 GT3 RS 4.0

Gooding & Company Amelia Island sale

This 2011 Porsche 997 GT3 RS 4.0 is one of only 600 examples built, with just 158 specified for the North American market. According to Gooding & Company, it’s the only North American car with carbon-ceramic brakes, red and black two-tone seats and adaptive sports seats.

Amazingly, it has covered just 150 miles since new. Porsche offered the 997 GT3 RS to its most loyal customers, each one with a price tag of ‘just’ £128,466. A small price to pay for what was, at the time, the definitive Porsche 911.

Porsche 997 GT2 RS

Gooding & Company Amelia Island sale

This is the fourth and final 997 in the Koum collection: a GT2 RS with just 500 miles on the clock. Of the 500 built, just 142 were supplied new in North America, and it was the first production Porsche 911 to break the 600hp mark.

It went around the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7min 18sec – faster than the Carrera GT – and it could hit 100mph in less than seven seconds on its way to a top speed of 209mph. Last year, one of these sold for $445,000 (£345,000) at Monterey Car Week. This one could top half a million dollars.

Porsche 918 Spyder Weissach

Gooding & Company Amelia Island sale

If last year’s auction results are anything to go by, this Porsche 918 Spyder will fetch at least a million dollars, possibly even $1.5 million (£1.1 million). A single ownership example with just 225 miles sold for $1.4 million (£1 million) at the RM Sotheby’s Porsche 70th Anniversary auction.

That was a non-Weissach car, whereas this is one of just seven Weissach 918s painted in Liquid Metal Chrome Blue. What’s more, the milometer hasn’t even reached 20 miles. Name your price…

Porsche 911 R

Gooding & Company Amelia Island sale

Good lord. Not only is this one of just 991 examples built, it still retains its delivery packaging from the factory. That’s right, this Porsche 911 R has never been used. Back when this was new, the 911 R was one of the hottest tickets in town, with the waiting list all but rendering the £136,901 price tag null and void.

What will this delivery mileage example sell for? Well, at last year’s RM Sotheby’s London sale, a 37-mile example sold for £332,375, while a 20-mile car sold for $379,000 (£295,000) at Monterey. This car should set the tone for prices in 2019.

Porsche Cayman GT4

Gooding & Company Amelia Island sale

Concluding Koum’s collection is this 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4. It was specially ordered in paint-to-sample Signal Yellow and optioned with a lightweight build that included carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon-fibre bucket seats, radio delete and a lightweight battery.

It has just 500 miles on the clock. Jan Koum said he would be “very happy to see the next owner driving these special cars on the road or on the racetrack.” You know what to do.

Read more:

First 2020 Toyota GR Supra sells for an incredible $2.1 million at auction
George Harrison’s Mercedes muscle car up for auction
Firmly rooted: ‘sustainable’ new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport revealed

The Norway model: why one Euro country has voted ‘Leaf’

Nissan LeafThe Norway model is certainly working for one electric car manufacturer. Nissan has revealed the Leaf EV was the best-selling car overall in Norway last year – outselling every single petrol and diesel model offered there.

Norway purchased more than 12,000 Leafs last year, significant numbers that prove how the country has fully embraced electric cars (with the aid of the odd helpful financial incentive along the way).

More than one in four British-built new Nissan Leafs was delivered to a Norwegian customer in 2018.

Nissan Leaf owner

Such a strong performance has helped the Leaf underline its status as the best-selling electric vehicle across Europe – and it also remains the best-selling EV here in the UK.

Ken Ramirez, Nissan Europe senior vice president, said: “The fact that the Nissan Leaf is still the default choice for EV buyers in Europe is a testament to its all-round capability as the icon of Nissan Intelligent Mobility – especially with the ever-growing range of competitors.”

“We can celebrate standout sales success with Norway as an example, as it highlights how the Nissan electric ecosystem has established itself as a sustainable lifestyle choice in a relatively short space of time.”

Nissan Leaf

The reigning World Green Car of the Year was launched in second-generation guise in early 2018. It followed the odd-looking original, launched back in 2010. Combined, the two Leaf models have sold more than 380,000 examples around the world.

Nissan is now following it up with an improved Leaf 3.Zero e+, which boosts the standard car’s 40kWh battery up to 62kWh. This gives it more performance and an extended range of up to 239 miles from a single charge.

Nissan Leaf

There’s a new Leaf 3.Zero with a regular battery, which has an improved infotainment screen and more colour combinations. Ordering of both is open now, with deliveries due in summer 2019.

Norwegians, we’re sure, will be first in the queue…

Hyundai creates first multi-collision airbag system

Hyundai creates the world’s first multi-collision airbag system

Hyundai creates first multi-collision airbag systemHyundai Motor Group has announced news of an important development set to make life-saving airbag technology even better.

The Korean company has become the first in the world to build a multi-collision airbag system, which could assist in almost a third of car accidents.

A ‘multi-collision’ accident  is defined as one where, following the primary collision, the vehicle is then involved in a secondary impact. With current airbags designed to react only to the the initial crash, this can leave drivers and passengers exposed to danger.

Hyundai creates first multi-collision airbag systemThe importance of Hyundai’s work has been highlighted by statistical research undertaken by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS).

As part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States, NASS-CDS undertook analysis of some 56,000 vehicle accidents between 2000 and 2012.

From that research, it was found that secondary collisions occurred in some 30 percent of the road traffic accidents studied.

Leading causes of multi-collision events included crossing the centre line of the road, colliding with tollgates, and also hitting trees and electrical poles.

Hyundai creates first multi-collision airbag systemGiven the violent movement of vehicle occupants during a crash, Hyundai knew that the airbag system could not just simply be designed to deploy again.

Instead, the new multi-collision system uses numerous sensors to detect precisely where drivers and passengers are located in the cabin. The airbags can also deploy even more quickly for secondary impacts, ensuring that occupants are completely protected.

For now Hyundai is still working on the development of the multi-collision airbag system. However, it promises to offer it in new Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the future.

Taesoo Chi, head of Chassis Technology Centre at Hyundai said: “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

2019 Hyundai Kona Iron Man Edition

UK pricing announced for special Hyundai Kona Iron Man Edition

2019 Hyundai Kona Iron Man EditionFans of the Iron Man movie franchise will soon be able to drive home a compact crossover celebrating the Marvel character.

Previously teased at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con event, availability and pricing for the Iron Man Edition Kona in the UK has now been confirmed by Hyundai.

With only 300 cars allocated to reach our shores, Tony Stark aficionados might need to move quickly to snag one before they arrive at dealerships in March. They will also need to stump up the cash for the £27,995 list price.

‘Armoured’ exterior and a special interior

2019 Hyundai Kona Iron Man EditionUnlike Iron Man’s various suits, the outside of this special edition Kona is not actually bulletproof. Sorry. Instead, the matte grey paint features red highlights and graphics are intended to simply evoke ideas of the suits used in the films.

It certainly makes the already distinctive Kona stand out, especially when combined with the two-tone 18-inch ‘Iron-grip’ alloy wheels. You can also count on plenty of badging and decals to let everyone know who your favourite fictional superhero is.

2019 Hyundai Kona Iron Man EditionInside are heated and ventilated leather seats with red stitching, with the Stark Industries logo embossed upon them. The instrument cluster and multimedia touchscreen display Iron Man’s eyes on startup, with more special detailing featured on the tachometer background.

There is even a signature from Tony Stark on the dashboard, too.

No arc reactor beneath this bonnet

2019 Hyundai Kona Iron Man Edition

Standard specification is high with automatic LED head and tail lights, keyless entry, satellite navigation, and climate control all included. There is also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity for the 8-inch multimedia touchscreen, and even a heads-up display.

Only one powertrain is on offer, combining the 177hp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. It means relatively warm performance of 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds, along with 38.7mpg on the WLTP combined test.

Will we see Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. behind the wheel of a Hyundai Kona? Given his love for custom American muscle cars, like his show-winning Ford Mustang, perhaps not.

Volkswagen prepares for Nürburgring electric car record attempt

Volkswagen electric car record attempt

These days, a performance car doesn’t seem complete without a Nürburgring lap time to its name, which is why Volkswagen is preparing to set an electrifying record in the summer of 2019.

And we really do mean electrifying, because the car at the centre of this lap record attempt is the ID R, Volkswagen’s sporting flagship for an entire range of electric vehicles, which the company plans to launch from 2020 onwards.

Last year, Romain Dumas set a Pikes Peak record of 7:57.148 minutes in the ID R, beating the previous record set by Sebastien Loeb in a Peugeot 208 T16. Dumas also broke the existing electric car record by almost a minute.

Now, the ID R is being further developed for the record attempt at the Nürburgring, with Volkswagen’s sights set on beating the current electric car record of 6:45.90 minutes, a time set by Peter Dumbreck in a NIO EP9 in 2017.

The ID R is powered by two electric engines with a total system capacity of 680hp, and weighs less than 1,100kg including the driver. It’ll sprint to 60mph in just 2.25 seconds, making it faster than Formula 1 and Formula E cars.

It uses lithium-ion batteries as the energy storage system, with roughly 20 percent of the electric energy required generated during the drive. When braking, the electric engines act as generators, converting some of the braking energy into electricity.

“Volkswagen’s goal is to reach the pinnacle of electromobility with the ID family,” said VW’s Dr Frank Welsch ahead of the Pikes Peak record attempt in 2018. The ID R will require some modifications before making the switch from Pikes Peak to the ‘Green Hell’.


Volkswagen ID. R electric car

“Above all, we will modify the aerodynamics of the ID R, in order to cope with the conditions on the Nordschleife, which differ greatly from those on Pikes Peak,” says François-Xavier Demaison, technical director at Volkswagen Motorsport.

Dumas is unsurprisingly excited about the record attempt. “The thought of driving the ID R on the Nordschleife is already enough to give me goosebumps. I know the track very well, but the ID R will be a completely different challenge, with its extreme acceleration and huge cornering speeds,” he said.

No date has been set for the record attempt, but Dumas will need to average at least 115mph if he is to beat the current record.