Whickham and District Motor Club meet every Wednesday evening from around 8:00pm at the Kibblesworth Workmens Club, a local village venue offering a friendly welcome and extremely reasonable prices...........................................................................................
 
e: enquiries @ wdmc.org.uk
Whickham and District Motor Club Limited

Malcolm Cliff - WDMC President

Malcolm Cliff

Please give a warm welcome to the new President of Whickham & District Motor Club, Malcolm Cliff. Mac joins a list of distinguished members who have taken on the role in the clubs 50+ year history.

Mac was approached by the committee due to his commitment, enthusiasm and loyalty to the club. He has been a member for longer than many can remember, proven by his almost single digit membership number! As well as marshalling at almost every event going, he is a regular at club nights and is always happy to lend a hand.

We're sure Mac will do a great job and represent the club to his very best at all times, so the next time you see him shake his hand and give him a pat on the back.

WDMC Committee.

Anthoine Hubert Formula 2 death: Why the motorsport 'family' races on

The accident that killed Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert on Saturday serves as a reminder of the unpalatable truth that motor racing can never be safe.

It had, understandably, cast a pall over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

As safety has improved over the years, accidents such as this, and their terrible outcomes, have become increasingly rare. But any time a human being straps themself into a projectile and races closely with other cars at speeds of well over 100mph, they are taking a very serious risk.

This day would otherwise have been filled with talk of Ferrari's front-row lock-out, whether they could finally deliver a win this season, and so on, but people who work in Formula 1 know a bad accident when they see one, and the reaction to this one was instantaneous.

World champion Lewis Hamilton was conducting television interviews at the time and was glancing, as F1 drivers do, at the start of the F2 race.

As the accident unfolded in all its horrific violence, he said: "Oh wow. Hope that kid's good. Wow. That's terrifying."

He rubbed his forehead, his face a mask of concern, and then walked off, not saying another word.

At Red Bull, their new driver Alexander Albon was holding his news conference with the written media, the F2 race on a television screen behind him.

Journalists inhaled in horror at what they were seeing. Albon turned around, watched what was happening, and said nothing. Then, after a minute or so, crossed his hands to indicate to his media handler that the session was over.

Immediately, even though there was no confirmation of the seriousness of the accident, the paddock at Spa descended into silence. People's faces set. Work was undertaken with stoicism and silent contemplation. Motor racing is a hard, brutal business, in a number of ways, but the sport also considers itself a family, and it rarely feels closer than at times like this.

These moments confront racing drivers in a very visceral and immediate sense with the dangers of the profession they chose because they love it. The risk they take is an inherent part of that love, however hard that might be for some to comprehend.

Of course they don't want to be injured, or worse, but the very fact they can be adds an extra frisson to an activity that already rewards its participants with feelings that simply cannot be experienced anywhere else.

The combination of balance, bravery, skill, judgement and excitement that comes from controlling a racing car on the very edge of adhesion at high speed, and trying to beat everyone else while doing it, is what makes racing drivers stand out from other people, and makes it different from most other sports

It is also part of the appeal to the people who watch it. They don't want to see people hurt either, but they appreciate what the drivers are doing, what it requires of them, and what is at stake.

Not for nothing did Hemingway say: "There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games."

As Hamilton said: "If a single one of you watching and enjoying this sport think for a second what we do is safe, you're hugely mistaken. All these drivers put their life on the line when they hit the track and people need to appreciate that in a serious way because it is not appreciated enough. Not from the fans nor some of the people actually working in the sport.

"Anthoine is a hero as far as I'm concerned, for taking the risk he did to chase his dreams. I'm so sad that this has happened. Let's lift him up and remember him."

Hubert is the first person to die as a result of an accident in a race sanctioned by international governing body the FIA since F1 driver Jules Bianchi, who sustained terrible head injuries in a crash during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix and died the following July.

The last driver killed in a major international motor race was Britain's Justin Wilson - hit on the head by debris during an IndyCar race at Pocono, Pennsylvania in August 2015.

Since then, there have been a number of serious accidents, but no fatalities, which is a testament to the ongoing work around the world to improve safety.

There will be a full investigation into this accident. It will be considered whether the 'halo' head-protection device, which was introduced last year as a direct result of Bianchi's accident, did its job as intended. The forces involved will be analysed. Lessons will be learned, and changes made. But in some cases, there is not much to be done. The human body can only take so much, which is why the risk of motorsport can never be entirely eradicated.

Spa-Francorchamps, where this accident happened, is one of the world's greatest, most historic, fastest, most challenging and, yes, most dangerous race tracks. The drivers look forward to races there more than those at any but a mere handful of circuits around the world. But they don't do it lightly. They do it in full awareness of the risks they are taking.

On Saturday night, over dinner with friends and colleagues, the 20 F1 drivers contemplated the loss of a man who some of them knew, some of them had raced against, and of whom some were only aware as someone who could very well, one day soon, be one of them.

On Sunday, their usual pre-race preparations, were done with seriousness, sobriety and an iron determination to carry on with business as usual.

Then at 3.10pm local time, they watched five red lights come on one by one and then go out, and within a few seconds they raced nose to tail, side by side at close to 200mph over the exact spot where, less than 24 hours earlier, a colleague paid the ultimate price.

The sport they love brings them incredible highs and, as on Saturday, awful lows. The combination of all that is - whatever one may think of it - what makes it so thrillingly, awfully, terribly, tragically, special.

They are truly not as other people.

Reproduced from the BBC website

Motorsport wins vital Vnuk EU insurance vote

A vital EU vote on an insurance law change that could have been catastrophic for motorsport has gone in the sport's favour.

The 2014 Vnuk court case set a precedent that all vehicles in the EU should have insurance, even if they are being used on private land, and that the Motor Insurance Directive (MID) was being interpreted incorrectly. That would mean all cars competing in motorsport events in Europe would need to be insured individually, and instances such as cars colliding on a racetrack could become road traffic accidents and involve the police.

Dan Dalton, an MEP for the West Midlands, is the son of a former marshal and timekeeper and had put forward the motion of excluding motorsport from the amended wording of the MID to the EU Parliamentary committee he sits on. The internal market committee voted on the amendment on Tuesday and sided with excluding motorsport from the implementation of the new insurance law.

Dalton had previously said that the result was "too close to call".

The amendment still needs to be passed by the main parliament, but it rarely goes against the decisions of its committees and the vote in the committee was seen as the most important. "I am relieved that my fellow MEPs from this committee listened to my concerns about the risk this draft law poses to British motorsport," Dalton said. "As the son of a former marshal, I know that this is a way of life for many people in the UK. This is a victory for common sense regulation. What happens next is that all MEPs will vote on this compromise at one of the next meetings in Strasbourg. This could be as early as February. As a general rule, they will follow what has been agreed by our committee."

In terms of next steps, MEPs could vote - and will likely back the committee's decision - on the wording as early as February in what is known as a plenary session. Once that vote has been held, and assuming it has been successful, the MEP responsible for the law will then negotiate the exact wording of the text with the EU governments and the European Commission, known as trilogues.

It is hoped this process will be completed by May, as failing to complete the law before the EU elections could derail it with new MEPs departing and entering the parliament after the elections.

In the UK, if this process is completed before Brexit - or during the transition - it will apply in a soft Brexit. A hard Brexit would mean the UK would have to create its own insurance law.

Motorsport UK Logo 2019

Motorsport UK latest Rule Changes

Motorsport UK are pleased to bring you the regulation changes decided at the Motor Sports Council that affect the Motorsport UK Yearbook. To read these decisions, please click the link below.

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Are rules for older drivers likely to change?

Older Driver

A large proportion of people have a negative perception of older drivers. In fact, a YouGov poll carried out for CarTakeBack in April this year revealed that a massive 69% of people think drivers should have to resit their test when they turn 60. Not only that, almost half of the people polled (49%) believe that drivers should have their licences revoked once they hit a certain age. This is due to concerns that older drivers have slower reactions (71%), bad eyesight (47%), drive too slowly and cause congestion (33%), as well as them not remembering the rules of the road (26%).

There's currently no legal age at which you must stop driving. By law, you must renew your licence when you reach the age of 70, and then every three years after that. During each renewal, you will have to declare any medical conditions listed on the form and confirm you meet the eyesight standards for driving. If a condition or disability is not declared, a fine of up to £1,000 can be issued, and prosecution is possible if you are involved in a crash.

Driving is essential to many older people as it determines their ability to remain active and independent. Without being able to drive, those in remote locations especially may find it harder to visit family and friends. Elderly people are especially vulnerable to loneliness and isolation, which can have serious consequences on their health and wellbeing. Therefore, it’s important any drastic measures such as banning this certain age group from driving is thoroughly considered.

How do older drivers compare to younger drivers?
It’s likely high-profile crash cases involving older people, such as the incident with the Duke of Edinburgh in January 2019, significantly impacts the public’s view on the safety of older drivers.

However, Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, says the reality is that older drivers are amongst the safest drivers. If you look at government statistics, the over-70s age bracket make up 8% of the driving population but account for just 4% of crashes where someone is injured. In contrast, drivers in their teens and 20s make up 15% of the driving population, yet are involved in 34% of injury crashes.

Statistics do, however, show that drivers over 85 do start to have more crashes as their faculties fade and their experience is no longer enough to compensate. And with an ageing population, this is something that can’t be ignored.

Ageing population
According to the DVLA, the number of people aged 70 years and over with a full driving licence has risen by 25% in the last five years. In addition, drivers aged 90 years and over have increased by 45% since November 2013. And we can’t ignore the fact that mental and physical deterioration is inevitable as we age.

A major change we experience when getting older is vision deterioration. We become less sensitive to light, which is what enables us to see clearly. Refocusing from one object to another also takes longer, meaning the simple task of checking the rear-view mirror then shifting attention back to the road ahead, becomes more of a challenge.

Muscles that regulate the size of the pupils weaken with age, meaning pupils become smaller, dilate more slowly in the dark and react more sluggishly to light. According to the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation, someone aged 55 takes eight times longer to regain normal vision after exposure to bright light compared to someone aged 16. Other visual systems affected by ageing include peripheral vision, depth perception and colour perception.

In addition, reflexes can get slower as you get older – meaning you may not react as quickly. A potential shortened attention span may also make it harder to concentrate. Stiff joints or weak muscles that can affect many older people, can make it harder to steer or use foot pedals. Alongside all this, the older we get, the more likely we are to suffer with certain medical conditions that can impair driving ability, such as dementia.

Older drivers
Are driving rules for older drivers likely to change?
In a refreshed road safety statement released in July 2019, the UK Department for Transport disclosed that they are considering the case for mandatory eyesight tests at 70 years of age, then at three year intervals thereafter (coinciding with licence renewal). However, they advised that further research is needed to evaluate the extent to which vision issues pose a risk to road safety for drivers of all ages.

In partnership with the DVLA, the government are launching a research programme and literature review to assess how much poor vision is, or may itself become, a road safety problem in the UK and if there is a requirement for a new vision test to identify drivers who pose a collision risk.

The report also revealed they will be working with the insurance industry to look at data on catastrophic claims involving older drivers, to understand the causes and how to prevent them.

Whilst there are no immediate changes to rules for older drivers, the report revealed that the following organisations will be given grants to provide better information and educational support to older drivers: the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, BRAKE, Road Safety GB and RoadSafe.

Stay safe in the driver’s seat
The truth is, we all age at different rates. Some drivers will be as safe at 80 as they were when they were 40 and then there will be others that who should probably have given up driving at 65.

We've put together some things we all must do, at any age, to ensure we are safe to drive.

Notify the DVLA of any medical conditions that could affect driving
It's a legal requirement to tell the DVLA about a health or medical condition that could affect your driving. If you're unsure of the medical conditions you are required to declare, please see the DVLA website.

Drive defensively
To ensure safe driving you need to continuously look for potential hazards. A defensive driver will not only concentrate on their own actions, but the possible actions of other road users. This type of driving helps to reduce the chance of a collision by anticipating dangerous situations, despite actions of other road users or the conditions you're driving in.

Ensure your vision is meeting the minimum requirements
You must be able to read a number plate from 20 metres (with contact lenses or glasses, if you need them). There are also minimum requirements for the clarity of your vision (visual acuity) and your field of vision, which an optician can check for you. Changes to your eyesight can happen gradually, meaning you may not even notice, so it’s widely recommended that you get your eyes tested at least once every two years. If you're concerned at any point that your eyesight may have worsened, don’t delay and get yourself booked in for a test.

Don’t be stubborn
Driving a motor vehicle is one of the biggest responsibilities we have day-to-day. It’s vital and potentially life-saving to admit when you can no longer drive safely. If your reactions are noticeably slower than they used to be, and you find traffic conditions increasingly stressful, it could be time to give up driving.

Tell the DVLA if you have concerns about a loved one
If you are concerned about a loved one’s ability to drive due to medical grounds, you can report your concerns anonymously through the DVLA website.

Ghost brokers target 17-24-year-olds in motor insurance fraud

Young Driver

New figures from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) shows young drivers are most likely to fall victim to “ghost brokers” in a motor insurance fraud.

Ghost broking is the name given to the scam of selling fraudulent car insurance using three basic methods. They either forge insurance documents, falsify details to bring the price down or take out a genuine policy, before cancelling and claiming the refund plus the victim’s money.

The tiny Welsh car that runs on hydrogen and emits only water

Riversimple, a small independent car manufacturer in rural Wales, is taking a bet that hydrogen vehicles will play a key part in the future of transport.

Former auto engineer Hugo Spowers swore off working with petrol engines 15 years ago when he began toying with the idea of building hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Spowers was determined to devise a fundamentally new solution to address the problems associated with carbon emissions.
"We've got to move beyond trying to make combustion engines a little bit less bad," he tells CNN. "Because after all, being a little bit less unsustainable is still not sustainable."
The result is a hand-built, aerodynamic car called Rasa that weighs just 580 kilograms -- 40 kilograms more than just the battery of a Tesla Model S.
Its name comes from the Latin "tabula rasa," which means "clean slate," a nod to the clean hydrogen technology and how Spowers and his team designed a radically different type of car from scratch.

Rasa 1

The odd-looking two-seater with butterfly doors takes three minutes to refuel, has a 500 kilometer range, a top speed of 96km/hour, and the only tail pipe emission is water.
By comparison, a battery electric vehicle takes much longer to recharge and can run flat after 250 kilometers for cars like the Nissan Leaf or 550 kilometers for the latest Tesla Model S.
The Rasa has a motor in each of its four wheels, powered by hydrogen running through a fuel cell. When the hydrogen combines with oxygen it produces electricity to power the motors, as well as water as a byproduct.
The car also has its own "super capacitors" to capture kinetic energy from braking as electricity, and convert it into power to assist with acceleration.

Rasa 2

Creating a market

Early next year Riversimple will trial 20 Rasa vehicles in Monmouthshire, a county in south east Wales. The idea is to have a single hydrogen filling station in Abergavenny, a central town in the area.
"We're trying to create a movement to bring this to market at a local level," says Spowers. "You can create a market for a car with just a single filling station."
The Rasa is designed to be used as a runabout within a 40-kilometer radius, and Spowers estimates the average driver would typically re-fuel once a week.
However, Riversimple doesn't intend to sell its cars. Instead, it is promoting a "sale of service" model where, much like a cell phone contract, the customer pays a monthly fee for the car, maintenance, insurance and fuel, at roughly the same cost of ownership as a Volkswagen Golf.
But don't expect to see hydrogen cars popping up all over the place just yet.
The biggest barriers for hydrogen cars include a lack of infrastructure and an enthusiasm for battery electric vehicles, according to automotive journalist and clean-tech enthusiast Richard Sutton.
"Until the refueling infrastructure exists for hydrogen, then it will always be a bit part player compared to battery electric," says Sutton. "But that's set to change."

The current climate for hydrogen vehicles

There are currently fewer than 300 refueling stations around the world, according to the Hydrogen Council, a global advocacy group of energy, transport and industrial companies.
Globally there are only about 7,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road, compared to an estimated 2 million electric vehicles, as per the Global EV Outlook 2017 report.
"We will soon reach 10,000 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles deployed worldwide, which is still relatively small numbers, but we need to realize that two years ago we were still talking about 300 vehicles," says Air Liquide and Hydrogen Council representative Erwin Penfornis.
Japan is the biggest market for hydrogen cars, and is home to just under 100 hydrogen filling stations.
But production is limited, even for big commercial players like Toyota. The company produces approximately 3,000 hydrogen-powered Mirai cars each year, according to Toyota Group manager Jean-Yves Jault.

"If a company like Toyota brings something like this to market it's kind of a signal to the energy companies and governments who have to make the investments into the infrastructure to start doing so," Jault tells CNN.
"It's a chicken and egg issue, and the Mirai was our contribution to try and break that catch 22."
While Toyota is currently selling and leasing its Mirai in a way that reflects what the market can absorb, it intends to ramp up production to 30,000 units by 2020.

How clean is hydrogen?

Rasa 3

Despite hydrogen cars having zero tailpipe emissions, hydrogen production is energy intensive.
Currently, most hydrogen is extracted from methane, which, when exposed to high-temperature steam, separates into hydrogen and carbon monoxide while producing a small amount of carbon dioxide.
But even taking into account hydrogen production, Riversimple says running its vehicle has a much smaller carbon footprint than the lowest emitting cars on the market today.

What's more, both Spowers and Jault agree that hydrogen cars will prove to be the most attractive "clean" alternative for the average driver.
"It [hydrogen] is the only technology that can deliver the convenience, range, refueling time that we're used to with a conventional car today," says Spowers.
That doesn't mean hydrogen is the only solution. Jault foresees an array of zero emission vehicles on the road by 2030.
"We still believe that hydrogen will be a very strong solution for decarbonizing transport in the future," says Jault. "Not the only solution, but a very promising one."

 
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