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LIVE COMMENTARY: AUTOSPORT INTERNATIONAL - ASI 2014 LIVE - FRIDAY
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: ASI 2014 Live - Friday
By Matt Beer, Sam Tremayne and Glenn Freeman
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
09:42 Good morning and welcome to day two of AUTOSPORT Live's coverage of AUTOSPORT International 2014.

AUTOSPORT Stage with KX host Henry Hope-Frost has arrived in the backstage bunker (43 interviews down on Thursday, many, many more to go...) and we'll be kicking off with some rally fever shortly.

09:44 Today is the second of the trade days, before the show opens to the public on Saturday.

Full details and tickets are available here.

09:46 Andy Priaulx: Early flight this morning! Had a great day @Autosport_Show, always good to meet everyone @BRDCSilverstone @UnitedSportsCar @IMSA @BMW_UK

09:51 AUTOSPORT columnist Toby Moody's interview was one of Thursday's stage highlights.

The MotoGP commentator shared his forthright views on just how good Marc Marquez is, Valentino Rossi and Ducati's struggles, and the rise of Cal Crutchlow.



09:55 Henry Hope-Frost: "Whisper it: there's a plan to get Walter Rohrl on the Stage @Autosport_Show this morning. I've come out in a rash just thinking about it..."

09:58 Here's a reminder of everything that happened at the NEC yesterday:

AUTOSPORT International blog day one

Paddy Hopkirk10:04 Our first guest of the morning is Paddy Hopkirk, who is on stage now to reminisce about his famous Monte Carlo Rally win for Mini, 50 years ago this month.

10:06 "Back then motor racing was more like the Olympics in some ways - you were representing your country, representing British engineering. It was a very big thing for Mini to win the Monte Carlo Rally," says Hopkirk.

10:18 Hopkirk is full of praise for another man who once drove a factory Mini at rallying's top level - Kris Meeke: "I think he's a wonderful driver. He speaks well and he's a clever guy."

10:19 But he's concerned about the state of rallying itself: "I'm quite amazed that the WRC has kept going the way it does, because it gets very little publicity.

"If I owned a car factory, I don't know if I'd think the cost per annum is good value for advertising."

10:21 On the subject of rally fever, our next guest is two-time champion Walter Rohrl.

Paddy Hopkirk and Walter Rohrl10:25 Enormous fever in the bunker under the AUTOSPORT Stage with KX just now.

As Paddy Hopkirk came off stage and Walter Rohrl prepared to go on, the two legends bumped into each other and realised it was the first time they had actually met.

A short delay in stage proceedings followed as they embarked on an unforgettable chat about their careers and the state of rallying.

It's fair to say that Henry Hope-Frost enjoyed the moment...

10:33 Rohrl has been discussing the differences between his era of rallying and its current guise.

"I was first champion in 1980, and it was a really interesting time because you had a number of cars at the same level and 15-20 drivers able to win the championship.

"It's a different sport now. Maybe you have five pilots at the maximum level.

"You also have two day stages, which means it is more a race than a rally. For example you do 1300km; in my time it was 5000. Now you compete for 10-11 hours; in my time it was 40.

"That doesn't mean it isn't interesting, but I prefer the old times, because that was something more of a test of the driver, the cars, and maybe you could use your head a bit more.

"Today you have to go flat out the whole way, before you could have more tactics."

Walter Rohrl10:38 On the subject of rallying versus racing, Rohrl has evidence that the former discipline might be superior...

"If you want to be the best in the world, you should be able to also be fast in a race car.

"When I came to England in my head it was better to also drive in the 1000kms of Silverstone and the 6 Hours of Brands Hatch, but in my head I was always a rally driver.

"I remember once when I was first world champion, Emerson Fittipaldi and I did a combined test.

"I couldn't fit properly in the F1 car - I was much too tall - but after two interrupted days I was about two seconds slower than he was.

"Then we went rallying, and he was 28 seconds slower than me..."

10:41 The rally legends just keep on coming this morning: now 2003 world champion Petter Solberg is on stage. He's been on typical good form so far, claiming that he plans to still be competing at the age of 80, and how lucky his wife is to be married to him.

10:47 Solberg has just described how it felt to win the World Rally Championship in 2003:

"From when I went past the finish line I don't remember anything. I just heard I was jumping around like a maniac!

"The feeling is huge, and that's why the dream still continues. From those memories, I want that back again, and I will try to win the world championship in another form of motorsport [Rallycross].

"I'm dreaming every night, I want to reach those goals. Life is too short..."

10:51 Martin Brundle: "I'm at @Autosport_Show NEC Birmingham all weekend on the stages and signing the 'MB Scrapbook' on stand 6240 hall 6. Hope to see you there."

John Surtees10:54 One of the AUTOSPORT International 2014's highlights is an exhibition of classic cars and motorcycles from John Surtees' incredible career.

That means that the great man has the chance to sit on his Vincent to make phonecalls if he wants.

11:12 David Brabham is on stage with Henry Hope-Frost now, and has been talking about being part of an amazing motorsport family.

He reminisces about how it was initially hard to convince legendary father Sir Jack that any of his children should race, before elder brother Geoff paved the way for both David and Gary to follow.

Now there's a third generation of Brabhams on the circuits, with David's son Sam racing in British Formula Ford last year and Geoff's son Matthew heading for Indy Lights this season after winning the USF2000 and Pro Mazda titles.

11:18 Brabham underlines that it's been made clear to Sam and Matthew that they can't rely on their famous name.

"Motorsport has changed, it's more of a business now and you've got to treat it as such.

"There are people putting good money behind you as a driver and if you don't give it 100 per cent, somebody else who is will jump you. It doesn't matter if you're Brabham or a Hill or whatever."

11:22 Brabham also reveals more about the fight he has had over the Brabham trademark since learning that an individual in Germany had registered the name.

"It took seven years to sort and three court appearances, and it cost me a lot of time, energy, money and stress, but I felt like the name was worth fighting for," says Brabham.

He is now working on future projects involving the Brabham brand. The first to come to fruition will be a new website about the family's motorsport heritage, but there is more in the pipeline.

"Brands are so important in today's world. We've got a golden nugget there. We can't talk about it yet, but the ball is rolling."

11:23 Here's rally legend Paddy Hopkirk on stage this morning talking about his famous Monte Carlo Rally win with Mini 50 years ago this month.



11:32 Next up on stage it's the turn of Bentley pair Guy Smith and Steven Kane, talking about their factory drive and trying to help young talents progress up the motorsport ladder.

11:47 "As with every young driver money is very hard to find for single-seaters," Kane says.

"So it's great to be able to offer advice to younger guys - you forget when you are young and starting out that there is a lot to learn.

"For me, it's been a dream to be involved with Bentley. It's an iconic brand, and the fact it is British is just amazing."

Bentley11:50 Smith meanwhile has been talking car diets and the possibility of leading Bentley back to Le Mans.

"The standard Bentley would be 2700 kgs, and we got the race car down to 1300, so it’s been on a pretty severe diet.

"M-Sport did a fantastic job. We’ll take that, and we’ll take the performance.

"The way the rules are at the moment GT3 isn’t eligible to race at Le Mans, but there is lots of talk to merge GT3 and GTE rules which would allow Bentley to return to Le Mans.

"If that was the case, it would be fantastic to take the name back. They’ve had great success there. Bentley like to do things differently, so there may well be a few surprises."

11:51 The 2014 KX Akademy line-up is now on the stage. The five youngsters are without their mentor Jason Plato this morning, although his BTCC team-mate Sam Tordoff - who is on the scheme - says he plans to hunt the two-time champion down on the track this season.

"Jason helped me massively in 2013, as a team-mate and a mentor in the KX Akademy. Now it's time to get one over on him.

"Hopefully I'm going to cause him a lot of grief this year, and maybe there'll be some fallouts along the way!"

Tordoff is on stage with his fellow KX Akademy members: Ginetta GT4 Supercup racer David Pittard, and Clio Cup trio Ash Hand, Alex Morgan, and Ant Whorton-Eales.

Petter Solberg and Walter Rohrl11:53 It's not just fans (and AUTOSPORT staff) who get excited about the star guests at AUTOSPORT International.

Petter Solberg couldn't help himself earlier on when he realised that 1980 and '82 WRC champion Walter Rohrl was on stage before him, and ended up gatecrashing the interview to pay tribute to the German legend.

That's not the first bit of endearing mischief that Solberg has got up to this weekend.

Despite Henry Hope-Frost's health and safety warnings, he's been throwing signed Solberg caps into the crowd, while during his stage appearance yesterday security had to advise a particularly keen fan not to climb the barriers to join Solberg on stage (despite Solberg suggesting he had no objection...)

11:55 Here's the video of the full Rohrl interview:



11:58 Caterham Group CEO Graham MacDonald is the current guest on stage, and he promises an announcement about the team's 2014 Formula 1 driver line-up within the next week.

Graham MacDonald, Caterham Group CEO12:04 MacDonald also addresses the challenge of the massively different 2014 F1 rules for a team of Caterham's modest size.

"We have shareholders with big ambitions but unfortunately we'll never have the budget of the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes.

"So what we have to do is to try to utilise what we have to the best of our ability, and budget wisely and spend wisely.

"What we're hoping is that come the first race we might have one or two opportunities. There might be some attrition going on among the big teams, who knows?

"We must have a chance. everyone starts with a clean piece of paper.

"The bigger teams probably have three or four times the resource to put at it, but we have some very good guys and I've got every confidence in them."

12:13 Next up is a tin-top trio: former jet ski champion (that was news to us too) Simon Belcher, KX Energy Akademy graduate Sam Tordoff, and BTCC newboy Glynn Geddie.

Simon Belcher12:18 "Yes, I've heard 'I bet you're quick in the wet' before…," Belcher says (he's also come up with PR gold by suggesting a BTCC jet ski race before events).

"I'm probably the only former jet ski champion now competing in touring cars.

"I raced a lot when I was younger, with the factory Kawasaki team, but when I was 28 I decided I was getting on and strapped myself into the car.

"Ever since it's been a bit of a dream to make it into the BTCC, so unveiling my Toyota yesterday was really exciting."

12:23 Coys auction partner Chris Routledge is now on the AUTOSPORT main stage, talking the audience through the phenomenal collection of cars that are up for auction at 3pm on Saturday.

12:24 Tordoff has meanwhile been discussing getting one over team-mate Jason Plato at Snetterton last year.

"I have the opportunity at my disposal, now it is down to me to deliver.

"For some reason, I don't know why, I always go well at Snetterton. It's a circuit I enjoy driving on.

"The key was qualifying and beating Jason to pole, and it was big to get that first one on Jason and prove to myself I can do it.

"Hopefully it destroyed him a bit inside, and I can keep doing that in 2014.

"He's a fantastic team-mate to have, I've learnt a lot from him and it's an open book as a team. He's been very kind and is always pushing me, but when we cross that line it's always about looking out for yourself."

Fernando Alonso F1 Ferrari 201312:27 Routledge has moved on to talking about the Zoom charity initiative, which involves Formula 1 drivers and paddock personalities taking personal photographs to raise money for the Great Ormond Street hospital.

Fernando Alonso's contribution is the shot he famously took from the Monza podium at last year's Italian Grand Prix.

12:38 Motorsport broadcaster Steve Rider is on stage at the moment.

His latest F1 television involvement has been interviewing a galaxy of stars for Sky's 'Legends of Formula 1' series.

There has been some scepticism about whether the drivers that have featured in some of these programmes of late have really qualified about 'legends', but Rider points out that once you've interviewed practically all surviving world champions, you have to broaden the field and cover some drivers who may not have won titles, but who still made a major contribution to the story of F1.

He headed out to America for a day with Juan Pablo Montoya last month, so look out for that programme in 2014.

Steve Rider, AUTOSPORT International 201412:39 Nelson Piquet and Niki Lauda are also lined up for the near future, but Rider admits that some drivers on the shopping list have chosen not to get involved.

He cites Dan Gurney as a man he's particularly keen to get on the show, and wants it to expand beyond those synonymous with F1 and cover Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell too.

12:40 And he would very, very much like to be showcasing some World Rally legends...

12:44 Rider has hosted the AUTOSPORT Awards for 25 years, and is telling Henry Hope-Frost about some of his highlights from the role.

Unsurprisingly, Ayrton Senna's 1991 appearance is one of his favourite memories. Here it is in full:



13:00 Derek Warwick, flanked by the six McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award finalists - Matt Parry, Jack Aitken, Jake Hughes, Seb Morris, Charlie Robertson and Chris Middlehurst - joins Henry Hope-Forst on the AUTOSPORT stage with KX.

Warwick explains how the judging panel separates the hopefuls, saying: "Laptime is very important, but we also look at how they handle themselves, how they progress – some come out the box very quickly and level out, some start slower and progress better.

"Fitness comes into it too, but at the end of the day we’re looking for the next F1 star so it’s weighted toward the F2 car.

"In one session all six drivers were covered by two tenths of a second, that’s how close it was.

"We were lucky this year because the first day was dry and the second wet, so we saw and extracted as much as we could."

McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award13:03 At 16, Charlie Robertson doesn't have a road licence and had never driven a road car before the two-day evaluation. The first task? Driving the 625bhp McLaren MP4-12C...

"There was a lot of pressure, but I just tried to enjoy it," is Robertson's assessment.

"I take my hat off to these guys - from the first lap they were all on it," says Warwick.

13:20 AUTOSPORT F1 editor Edd Straw has just returned from the annual Watkins Lecture run by the Motorsport Safety Fund.

F1 race director Charlie Whiting was the guest speaker this year, and addressed topics included the death of a marshal at last year's Canadian Grand Prix.

News stories from the event coming up shortly on AUTOSPORT.

13:29 Robert Kubica was unable to be at AUTOSPORT International, but he did record a special video message to play to the crowd.

It was recorded after Kubica started his 2014 campaign with a thrilling win in the European Rally Championship opener in Austria.

You can watch the video too via AUTOSPORT Live:



13:29 News from AUTOSPORT national editor Ben Anderson out in the hall.

Just caught up with Porsche Carrera Cup GB series boss Marion Barnaby.

The series is switching to the latest 911 model for this season and 11 orders have been made for cars already.

Hopefully the championship can bounce back after a tough time in 2013.

13:50 On stage at the moment are Anders Hildebrand from the Anglo American Oil Company and Alana France from IMSA with the winners of this year's Sunoco Daytona Challenge.

The competition gives racers from Sunoco-fuelled series in Europe a chance to contest the Daytona 24 Hours.

Last year's Radical SR3 Challenge champion Bradley Smith is just back from testing Marsh Racing's Daytona Prototype, in which he will be joined by Eric Curran, Boris Said and Max Papis.

The other Sunoco winner for 2014 is Lewis Plato, whose form in the Radical Clubman's series earns him the chance to race a Camaro in the Continental Tires Sportscar Challenge event that supports Daytona and the United SportsCar Championship.

Dinosaur13:58 There is an extraordinary array of motor racing artwork available to browse and buy at AUTOSPORT International.

And it's not all two-dimensional either. Spotted on the Paul Oz/Racing Gold stand is this dinosaur skull in Ayrton Senna's helmet colours.

13:59 A reminder that tomorrow and Sunday are the public days of AUTOSPORT International 2014. Ticket details are available on the show website.

Martin Brundle14:04 As well as all the exhibitions, event and the Live Action Arena, the public days feature a spectacular list of guest stars to meet, greet, quiz and get autographs from.

John Surtees, Martin Brundle, Adrian Sutil, Max Chilton, Sam Bird and Gary Paffett represent the F1 world past and present.

Allan McNish will be joined by his long-time Audi team-mate Tom Kristensen, talking about both their Le Mans successes and the Scot's decision to call time on his top-line racing career.

The majority of the BTCC field are in attendance, as are WTCC men James Nash and Tom Chilton.

It's also a chance to meet the next generation of British talents, with James Calado, Alex Lynn, Dean Stoneman, Will Stevens, Jon Lancaster, Nick Yelloly, Dan Cammish, Jack Harvey, Jordan King and the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award finalists on the guest list.

14:13 AUTOSPORT features editor Kevin Turner is currently on the main stage with fellow KX Akademy judges Jason Plato, Danny Buxton and Matt James of Motorsport News.

Before that, he spoke to Motorbase boss David Bartrum about the team's 2014 BTCC plans.

Bartrum confirmed that he will run three revised Ford Focuses, with a revamped front end and improved aero among the changes.

"The front of the car will look different and we've done a lot," he said.

Drivers have not yet been confirmed, but possibilities include two former champions.

The identities of the latter have been the source of plenty of gossip at AUTOSPORT International. It could be a very exciting year for Motorbase...

Dragster, AUTOSPORT International 201414:22 National Editor Ben Anderson is loving this Lucas-liveried Top Fuel Dragster on display in AUTOSPORT Engineering.

Ben tells us it has 10,000bhp and 6000ft lbs of torque. 0-100mph in 0.8 seconds...

14:30 Donington Park managing director Christopher Tate is now speaking on stage, explaining how his team have gone about getting the circuit back on its feet since its failed bid to host a Grand Prix.

"The most important thing for me when I took over was to make sure everyone enjoyed coming to Donington. If we get back to where it was in 2005 I'll be happy. There’s a lot to do but we are hard at work.

"One problem from the 'GP that was never happening' era was nothing got done when there was lots that needed to be done. We've made lots of improvements – including some more over the winter – which will hopefully make a difference when spectators come to us this year."

One of the most significant changes planned will be the creation of a huge spectator banking area on the backstraight.

14:32 Here's the video of Caterham Group CEO Graham Macdonald's on-stage appearance, talking about everything from Formula 1 and Caterham's traditional iconic sportscars to its new venture in motorbike production and racing.



Derek Warwick14:37 Kevin Turner has just had an interesting chat with BRDC president Derek Warwick, who raced during F1's first turbo era, on the challenges drivers will face in 2014.

"The 1980s turbos were difficult cars to drive," he said. "It was all about anticipation.

"You kept on blipping the throttle to keep the turbo spinning so the power didn't come in all at once.

"I don't know how much the drivers will notice that in the new era. I think technological advances mean they won't have to anticipate ahead as much."

Warwick had been on the AUTOSPORT Stage with KX with the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award finalists earlier on.

As they came off after their interviews, host Henry Hope-Frost joked to the young stars that they should "get him to tell you about turbos!"...

...and Warwick duly did. The six young Brit crowded round him back stage to enjoy some cracking tales of some of F1's best-loved eras.

14:51 A spot of national motorsport on stage now with Britcar and its 2013 champions Mike and Anthony Wilds and Ian Lawson.

1970s F1 racer Mike confirms that he isn't ready to stop competing just yet (at the age of 68), and that he misses the taste of outright victories, having achieved his Britcar successes in a lower-class Super 2000 BMW.

14:55 Next up on stage is today's penultimate guest - Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the CEO of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Ford Mondeo15:01 Among many interesting cars in the Coys auction is this Andy Rouse-built Ford Mondeo Super Touring car.

The V6 machine was raced by Josef Kopecky and finished fourth in the Czech Republic Touring Car Championship in 1996. It followed that with third in '97 and '98.

It's race prepared so will we see it out at Oulton Park when the Super Touring Trophy supports the BTCC...?

15:10 Bahrain will host its 10th grand prix this year, and will switch to a night race for the first time.

While that is in part an effort to celebrate a decade of races, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa says that wasn't the primary motivation.

"It is one of the biggest projects since we built the track.

"Obviously it will be our 10th race and we look forward to having one of the best races ever, but it is not only about making it look spectacular.

"Drag racing is the biggest motorsport we have outside of F1 and that is always at night, so we want to link the synergies.

"For us as a people it's easier with the weather and temperatures. So I think it is a better utilisation to run at night."

Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa15:14 Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa also thinks Formula 1 can do more for its fans, particularly in terms of access during a race weekend.

"I think F1 is in a good place, and with the new cars and engines there's a lot of excitement right now.

"Is there room for improvement? Definitely.

"We host other races like the WEC, where the access and restrictions help the fans get closer to the cars, and I think F1 could do that better.

"But I think they know what they are doing - they've built this image that you need to watch the race to join the discussions."

15:15 Last of the stage guests today are Mike Stripe and James Taylor from the Vintage Sports Car Club.

The VSCC is one of numerous racing organisations in attendance at AUTOSPORT International, with all the major British motorsport clubs represented in the hall.

So if you're tempted to start (or even restart) racing in the UK, the show is a great opportunity to check out the plethora of possibilities in all forms of motorsport.

15:17 Here's the video of Steve Rider on the AUTOSPORT stage with KX, discussing everything from his Legends of F1 series to the favourite interviews of his career.



Mario Andretti15:37 That's it from day two of AUTOSPORT International for 2014.

Tomorrow morning at 9am the doors open to the public, and there is still time to get tickets (visit the show website for full details).

Guests on the AUTOSPORT Stage with KX tomorrow include John Surtees, Martin Brundle, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen.

There's also the chance to see the legendary Lotus 49 and 79 Formula 1 cars in action indoors in the Live Action Arena, where they join a spectacular display of racing and stunt driving that also features the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award finalists in Caterham sportscars.

In the meantime, you can check out video highlights from the first two days on the AUTOSPORT YouTube channel.

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