Autosport International took place at the Birmingham NEC between January 11-14. This year’s show was once again packed with a mix of classic and modern race cars from all corners of the motorsport world.
Every year, racing fans flock to the hallowed halls of the National Exhibition Centre to see up close the cars that have been, and will be taking part in competitions on tracks around the world. From Formula 1 to WRC, Endurance to Karts, everything the motorsport addict can want is displayed across seven halls and in a Live Action Arena.
This year, Auto Repair Focus was on hand to see just what the show had to offer.
The show was more diverse in 2018. Rather than using Formula 1 as the main attraction, instead the cars were pushed almost to the back of the show, and displayed in a fan format, rather than the traditional grid. This took up less space and also prevented visitors from walking around the cars to inspect them. Of the F1 models on display, it was the Mercedes W08, which Lewis Hamilton piloted to his fourth world title in 2017, that attracted the crowds. A mix of old and new models, high and low noses and thinner or fatter bodywork were on offer.
Another draw for the crowds was the plethora of British Touring Car Championship models on show, including the new Alfa Romeo Guilietta, which will be driven by Rob Austin in the 2018 series. On the central BTCC stand, the cars were joined by models from the past to celebrate 60 years of the series, including a classic Rover SD1, Lotus Cortina and an Alfa Romeo 155 that took Gabriele Tarquini to championship glory in 1994. Reigning BTCC champion Ash Sutton was joined on the stand over the show by Gordon Shedden, Colin Turkington, Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan.
The show also played host to a suite of WRC stars, including a launch for the 2018 championship on the first day. Current World Rally Championship holders Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia visited the NGK stand and signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans. NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd is a partner of the duo’s M-Sport Ford World Rally Team whose EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC cars are fitted with NGK spark plugs and NTK Lambda sensors.
In the Live Action Arena, it was undoubtedly Billy Monger who was the star of the show. The teenager has made a remarkable recovery following a serious accident in Formula 4 last year, which saw him lose both his legs. However, in an un-adapted car, he was drifting around the arena like nothing had happened. Speaking to 1992 F1 World Champion Nigel Mansell on the main stage, he explained how he has adapted his driving style with his prosthetic legs. “You usually control pedals with your ankle, but I don’t have one anymore,” he joked with the audience. “I’ve got to use my hip to push down on the pedals instead.”
Tyre manufacturer Yokohama was also shouting about its motorsport plans for 2018. The company will be supplying 28 different series, including the new TCR UK series that debuts at Silverstone on 31st March. The Touring Car Championship is promising a lot of wheel-to-wheel racing action, and chose Yokohama for its motorsport knowledge, with the company having supplied the World touring Car Championship for a number of years.
Meanwhile, French tyre company Michelin was announced as a supplier for the first season of the new Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy series. The vehicle manufacturer was on hand to show its electric racing car, together with its Formula E model currently taking part in the 2018 season.
Other aftermarket companies taking advantage of the show to get closer to both trade and public included Absolute Alignment with their range of wheel aligners; Morris Lubricants with a fabulous Morgan on their stand; Terraclean, who were located near the Live Action Arena and whose ‘off road’ taxi was attracting huge interest, together with their brand ambassador Colin Turkington; Revive Turbo Cleaner, Draper Tools and Trade Garage Equipment to name but a few.