Reviews, February 2016

Porsche Sounds

Dieter Landenberger

As the title suggests, there’s a novelty factor to this latest addition to the bulging Porsche shelf: a CD of engine sounds to accompany a book that has official factory blessing.

The hardback features creative design entirely in keeping with Porsche’s reputation for stylish marketing and makes the most of a lovely collection of images drawn from the company archive. The text, in parallel German and English, isn’t quite as gripping and reads a little like information boards at a museum. Given that the author is the director of the historical archives at Porsche AG, perhaps that’s intentional. The narrative is also hard to follow at times, when spreads on the cars featured audibly on the CD interrupt the flow mid-stream – a design clunk when so
much else clicks.

The engine noises are fun, particularly for the early road cars and the famous racers.
But by the time you get to Cayennes and Panamera Turbos the novelty has worn off somewhat. A memory stick rather than a CD might have been a little more ‘2016’, too. DS

Published by earBooks

ISBN: 978-3-943573-19-0, £34.99

MotoGP Season Review

Julian Ryder

MotoGP’s 2015 season will undoubtedly go down as one of its best – and one of its most acrimonious. Any year-end review would need to be especially balanced, fair and detached while still putting across the unique passion that drives it. Luckily Ryder has made a habit of putting out one of the best review books in motor sport, ably aided by Neil Spalding, Peter Clifford and our own MotoGP man Mat Oxley.

If you’ve read any of Ryder’s books from seasons past, you’ll know what you’re getting here: expert analysis, level-headed criticism and stunning photography from Andrew Northcott. Even with such a scintillating fight between Lorenzo and Rossi, equal space is given to each rider and team all the way down the grid. Sometimes when there are rivalries heating up it’s easy to overlook just how hard those at the back are working – here their triumphs, failures and broken bones are given the space they deserve. As usual, Moto2 and 3 also get their own wrap-ups.

All in all, a worthy memento of one of the great championship battles. Here’s hoping there’ll be another season like this to look back on at the end of 2016. ACH

Published by Evro

ISBN: 978-1-910505-09-0, £35

Jaguar D-type 

The autobiography of XKD504

Philip Porter & Chas Parker

Now that we’ve seen two of the Porter Great Cars series, the sheer comprehensiveness of this volume is less eye-opening. Focusing again on one single vehicle, the much-raced XKD504, this work adds to its life history much archive material such as invoices, correspondence and pages from the little blue book which went with each D-type, while a modern gallery backs up generous period photo coverage. 

Of course the car has to be placed in context, and on top of those devoted to general development of the D and summaries of its every race, many of the 320 pages are given to even minor characters in and around the car’s story. Race reports are quoted at length, adverts both illustrated and quoted and even past auction catalogue entries for the car find their way in. Short of quoting every spectator at every race, it doesn’t seem possible that there is any information left unsaid here, and we may have reached the point of overload. The book looks great, with Porter’s usual quality reproduction throughout, but perhaps something this size ought to be two more manageable volumes, one on Ds and one on 504. 

Still, there are gems inside, like the photo of lifting the crumpled car with a fork-lift, and I smiled at John Pearson’s comment: it’s “a sort-of Spitfire that didn’t fly. It even had a fin!” GC

Published by Porter Press

ISBN:  978-1-907085-25-3, £60

Gilles Villeneuve

His untold life from Berthierville to Zolder

Károly Méhes

As one of the all-time legends of F1, you’d assume the Gilles Villeneuve story had been told pretty exhaustively by now. That’s true of the broad career outline of this most mercurial high-wire act of a racer. But Hungarian F1 journalist Károly Méhes – who as a teenager was besotted by the Villeneuve legend as it unfolded in front of him – has managed to add something extra.

He’s done this by a series of 44 interviews with various people associated with the story, and each forms a chapter. It’s a simple format and relies heavily on the quality of the interviews – and this is where Méhes has played a blinder. His intense fascination with the subject matter has led him to dig deep in locating and getting co-operation from many key figures, and the super-detailed knowledge of the obsessed teenage fan has enabled him to get into the nitty-gritty, from which quite a lot of new and interesting angles emerge; contemporary Ferrari team manager Marco Piccinini is particularly enlightening, for example, as someone in the Pironi corner of the whole Imola controversy. 

Chris Amon, Bobby Rahal, Alastair Caldwell, John Hogan, Piccinini, Mauro Forghieri, Antonio Tomaini, Ferrari mechanic Sergio Vezzali, Carlos Reutemann, Jody Scheckter, Patrick Tambay, René Arnoux, Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Alan Jones, Nigel Mansell, John Watson, Derek Warwick, Andrea de Cesaris, Marc Surer, Jochen Mass, Jacques Villeneuve (the son), Bernie Ecclestone, Jackie Stewart, Giancarlo Minardi, Frank Dernie, Pierre Dupasquier, Ferrari aide Brenda Vernor and a wide selection of contemporary journalists and photographers each give their own take on the man. A glaring omission is our own Nigel Roebuck, a close fried of Villeneuve’s, but it’s still a pretty comprehensive list and with some great anecdotes, views, counter-views and reflections. 

It was done on a budget and is a fairly low-key production, but if you’ve an interest in Villeneuve it should be in your library. It adds to the story rather than simply exploiting it. MPH 

Published by VerArtis Nonprofit Kft

ISBN: 978-96-312071-7-0, £25

Official 2015 ACO Le Mans Annual

Jean-Marc Teissedre, Alain Bienvenu & Christian Moity

This is now almost as much a tradition as, well, the race it reflects. It’s formulaic in the extreme, but there’s little purpose in changing something that works so well.

For the most part it is photographic, but material is drawn from a wide range of top-class sources and captures the event’s distinctive atmosphere far better than mere words could manage. A pictorial essay on the ‘25th hour’ – the event’s immediate aftermath – is a nice touch, but then this is a tome in which detailed coverage commences at scrutineering rather than 3pm on Saturday.

There are detailed captions to steer the whole thing along and appendices include technical analyses, features on key elements of the weekend (including a Nico Hülkenberg interview) and a comprehensive set of statistics covering every element of the 2015 event.

A worthwhile record of a race apart. SA

Published by Editions Etai

ISBN: 979-10-283-0080-7, £45