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Mitch Evans helped create history for Jaguar Racing after defeating DS Techeetah driver Andre Lotterer to clinch the team’s first-ever Formula E race win at the Rome E-Prix. This makes Evans the 7th different driver to win a race this season in just as many races – with all the race winners belonging to different teams.
It was a chaotic start to the race with damp conditions making it tricky for the drivers. Lotterer, who started the race from pole position, managed to make a clean getaway with Evans and Jose Maria Lopez behind him. But, further down the pack, Max Gunther clipped the wall after sliding sideways through Turn 8, his car suffering bodywork damage in the process. Just moments later, Lopez made contact with Sam Bird, seemingly bringing the latter’s race to an end. But miraculously, Bird found the chance to continue on since the race was soon red- flagged after a massive pile up blocked the track.
Lopez crashed into the wall at the Turn 17/18 chicane, catching out Gary Paffett, Jean-Eric Vergne and some other drivers behind. The lengthy red flag period gave teams the chance to work on their cars, however the incident did bring an end to Paffett’s race.
Once the race restarted, Evans spent several laps right on Lotterer’s tail. He finally managed to overtake Lotterer with 16 minutes left on the clock, using the Attack Mode to overtake him at Turn 11. Lotterer attempted to move back into the lead by engaging his second Attack Mode, and for a moment, it looked like the race could play into his hands as Evans failed to activate his for a second time. However, the Jaguar Racing driver managed to keep Lotterer at bay, but with his car running out of energy, he had to back off in the final few laps – bringing back memories of his disappointing Rome E-Prix last year, where poor energy management strategy forced him down to the back of the pack from the lead. However, it was a different story this time around, and he ultimately held on to win the race, crossing the finish line with just two percent of usable energy left.
Vandoorne finished the race in 3rd place for HWA, claiming both his and the team’s first Formula E podium after what has been a challenging start to the season. Robin Frijns took 4th place after using Attack Mode to pull off a late move on Sebastien Buemi. Buemi’s Nissan teammate Oliver Rowland finished just behind him in 6th place, followed by Lucas di Grassi.
Vergne was handed a drive-through penalty for overtaking Antonio Felix da Costa under a full-course yellow, dropping him down to 14th place, but he did earn a point for setting the fastest lap. This promoted Jerome d’Ambrosio to 8th place, the Mahindra Racing driver managing to climb up the field after starting the race all the way down from 19. This handed him enough points to take the lead in the drivers’ standings once again, albeit by just one point from da Costa, who finished the race in 9th place. Mahindra Racing’s other driver, Pascal Wehrlein rounded up the top 10. Bird managed to complete the race in 11th place after Virgin Racing was able to repair his car under the red flag.
Both Venturi drivers – Edoardo Mortara and Felipe Massa – had to retire from the race after suffering transmission problems.
Lucas di Grassi
Antonio Felix da Costa
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High commissioner to India marks 100th anniversary of British troops firing on crowdBritain’s high commissioner to India has laid a wreath to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Amritsar massacre, one of the worst atrocities of Britain’s colonial rule.On 13 April 1919, British troops fired on thousands of unarmed men, women and children in the northern city of Amritsar. Colonial-era records put the death toll at 379, but Indian figures say the number was closer to 1,000. Continue reading... [...]
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“I wanted to be a priest.” Scrutinise the speaker of these words and you wouldn’t think that such would have been his career of choice. His ponytail and a few distinguishing scars give George Francis the air of an intrepid traveller, not the look one would expect of someone who wanted to join the seminary.
George is a permanent fixture at motorsport events in the country. Whether it is circuit racing at the Kari Motor Speedway and Madras Motor Sports Track or rounds of the Indian National Rally Championship, you’re sure to see him clutching his camera and walking about. And on the rare occasion when he isn’t present, you’ll see a couple of cameramen wearing blue T-shirts with ‘Scorp’ emblazoned on them. They’re photographers from Scorp News, the private news agency that George set up, which specialises in motorsport photography.
What Keith Sutton is to Formula 1, George Francis is to Indian motorsport, and it goes without saying that he wouldn’t have got there had he not picked the camera instead of the cassock.
George discovered his love for writing and photography when he was in college studying literature. And he liked speed too. His proximity to Sholavaram meant the stage was set for one of the longest-running lliances in Indian motorsport – 25 years and counting.
“Sholavaram 1984 was the first race I attended,” George says. He liked what he saw too – cars and bikes rip-roaring down the T-shaped track. He was smitten. The shutter clicked several times, chemicals swished over film in the dark room, developed photos were mailed (as in posted) to magazines, and a paycheck was received. He was smitten some more.
From then on, George made sure he was present at all the races that took place. He began covering rallies as well. And this was in a day and age when there were no arrangements made for the media. “I’ve travelled with Rs 200 in my pocket, including my bus fare from Chennai to Bangalore to cover the South India Rally. And with no transport available to get to the special stages, I hitchhiked.” He’d travel any which way to get to a rally, a sure-fire recipe for adventures and misadventures alike.
George recalls the Indian leg of the 1993 London-Sydney Rally when he travelled from Chennai to Delhi in an unreserved train compartment to cover the flag-off. “I’d decided, transport or no transport, I was going to cover the rally somehow,” he says. After the flag-off, he hopped on a state transport bus to take him to the next leg in Shimla and onwards to Chandigarh. And just how did he cover the various stages in Chandigarh? “I was on a Vespa scooter that I borrowed from my brother-in-law.”
Of course, that is not all. The London-Sydney Rally is a journey of epic proportions and it is only fitting that George had some epic escapades. “I returned to Delhi for the restart of the rally, then caught a bus to Rajasthan where the following leg was being held. With some difficulty we managed to find our way from Ajmer to the village where the special stages were being held. We waited in the sun for four hours, and finally the news came through that the stage had been cancelled due to an accident. By then I’d had enough. I travelled to Udaipur on the roof of a bus, since all the seats were reserved. Another bus journey to Bombay followed, and with my luck we got stuck in the ghats which meant the 12-hour journey was further delayed. But that was it for me in the London-Sydney rally. Ten years later when there was another edition of it passing through India, things were very different. We were transported from place to place in a special van arranged for the media.”
“Motorsport is dangerous,” say signboards at most racetracks. No one knows this better than George. To begin with, he is infamous for ignoring pleas that photographers stay behind the Armco barriers. “I trust the ‘animals’ on track, more than I trust the snakes and other creatures that lurk in the foliage behind the barriers.” And he’s had more than a couple of close shaves too. In the 1999 Mill and Monsoon Rally in Coimbatore, George had Jagat Nanjappa’s car neatly framed in his Canon’s viewfinder. As the car went around the corner though, something looked odd. George lowered the camera only to find that the car looked set to turn turtle, and take him out with it! Thankfully, Jagat managed to gain control of the car and George was safe, with some great photographs to boot.
Spookier perhaps was when in 1994 he was trying to get a head-on shot of rallyist Hari Singh. The car was framed nicely but just when he was about to press the trigger, it vanished from sight altogether. A perplexed George lowered the camera, and looked heavenwards only to see the Gypsy sail clear over his head.
“We’ve survived despite mo [...]
First off, apologies for taking time with this comparison. In an ideal scenario, you’d have read the Autocar India verdict on the best of the ladder-frame SUVs to buy soon after the Mahindra Alturas G4’s launch in November last year. But with info on the imminent arrival of the updated Ford Endeavour, it wouldn’t have been right to rush into a time-bound result. The updated Endy is finally out and so it’s all systems go.
The centre point of this comparison is the Mahindra Alturas G4. First impressions of Mahindra’s grandest SUV yet were exceedingly positive but we’re just as curious as you to know if it can rub shoulders with the toughest and best of its rivals. Competition for the Alturas G4 comes from the Ford Endeavour that’s fresh from a nip and tuck, the Isuzu MU-X that received a makeover of its own a few months back and, of course, the Toyota Fortuner that is the default choice in the segment.
To maintain a level playing field, we’ve considered the top-of-the-line versions of each of these SUVs. In these avatars, each of these SUVs comes powered by a big diesel engine, gets the convenience of an automatic transmission and also the added ability of a proper four-wheel-drive system. Driving experience and off-road ability aside, we’ll be talking looks, interiors and comfort. Enough of the introduction. Let’s get to the main event.
The big show
Let’s face it. In India, the size of your vehicle determines right of way. And when you are behind the wheel of any of these hulking SUVs, you’ll find traffic parting to let you through. Seeing these four in a convoy is sure to have made some road users a bit uneasy.
The Alturas G4 is the newest SUV here and it looks unlike anything we’ve seen from Mahindra before. There’s a reason for that. The Alturas is, in essence, a Mahindra-badged version of the fourth-gen (hence the G4 in the name) SsangYong Rexton. Yes, the toothy grille is classic Mahindra but the rest of the design is new-age SsangYong. The Alturas G4 is smart and well turned out but it’s not quite got the road presence of an Endeavour or Fortuner. Of the other things, the massive wheel arches make the 18-inch rims look smaller than they are, and the chunky D-pillar also has implications for third-row passengers. We’ll get to those in a bit.
At first glance, the updated Ford Endeavour’s Diffused Silver paint and slick diamond-cut alloy wheels are all that’s new about it. But if you really study photos of the Endys old and new, you’ll find a marginally revised front bumper and grille too. The styling tweaks might be subtle but there’s nothing subtle about the design. The high bonnet and block-like shape make the Endeavour look bold and armour-protected, almost.
The Isuzu MU-X doesn’t have the same visual mass as the Endy but the Japanese SUV stands more confident than before on its larger 18-inch wheels. The 2018 update also brought with it reshaped bumpers and more detailed lights at the front and rear, which have done their bit to add some glamour to the Isuzu’s design. In all, the MU-X is a neat SUV but one that’s perhaps a bit too conservative in looks too.
‘Conservative’ is not a word you’d use to describe the Toyota Fortuner’s look. The second-gen Fortuner is quite rad as Toyota SUVs go and the beak-like nose, slim headlights and kinked glasshouse give it a unique visual identity. It stands out in this company but with so many Fortuners on Indian roads, it doesn’t feel exclusive enough, in case that matters to you.
DimensionsMahindra Alturas G4 4x4 ATFord Endeavour 3.2 TDCi Titanium+Isuzu MU-X 4x4 ATToyota Fortuner 2.8 4x4 ATLength4850mm4903mm4825mm4795mmWidth1960mm1869mm1860mm1855mmHeight1845mm1837mm1860mm1835mmWheelbase2865mm2850mm2845mm2745mmTyre size255/60 R18265/60 R18255/60 R18265/60 R18
From the captain’s chair
All four SUVs sit high off the ground and it’s a step up into their cabins. Oddly enough, a footboard is not standard fit but a must-have paid accessory on the Alturas G4. Open the Mahindra’s driver door and the seat will automatically slide back to ease ingress. This welcome gesture is one among many elements that make the Alturas feel properly luxurious. There’s quilted leather on the neat dash and well-cushioned seats, the window switches are rich in look and even the multi-info display in the instruments with its switchable themes does its bit to up the ambience. If you poke around, you will find hard plastics and some less special materials but the overall sensation is of being in an expensive SUV.
The Endeavour’s cabin might not be as plush as the Alturas’ but its forte lies in making you feel cocooned from the outside world. You just can’t tire of that reassuring thunk on door shut, and everything on the inside has a built-to-last look to it. Fr [...]
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Hundreds of civilians were massacred by a British general who was later treated as a hero. There has still been no apologyTomorrow marks the centenary of a British general gunning down unarmed Indians who had gathered peacefully in a park in Amritsar. In India you only have to mention the name of the park, Jallianwala Bagh, for everyone to know what you are talking about. Yet hardly anybody in the UK has heard about Jallianwala Bagh, let alone knows why the event was one of the worst atrocities of British rule in India. Nor do they appreciate why its legacy still lingers, and colours relations between the UK and India to this day. Related: Theresa May expresses 'regret' for 1919 Amritsar massacre Related: The legacy of the Amritsar massacre lives on in India’s general elections | Amrit Wilson Continue reading... [...]
Britain is too cautious about facing its complex past. The result is that Britain fails to understand its futureTheresa May did two significant things this week. The first, her decision to postpone Brexit, is the dominant story of the times. The second has received less attention. At prime minister’s questions, Mrs May prefaced her answers by talking about the “shameful scar on British Indian history” of the killings at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919. “We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused,” said Mrs May. When Jeremy Corbyn replied, he went further, calling for a “full, clear and unequivocal apology for what took place”.These brief exchanges were a reminder of the long shadow cast by what is better known in Britain as the Amritsar massacre, whose centenary falls on Saturday. It is rare for a Conservative prime minister to express regrets for any aspect of British imperial history. So the fact that Mrs May said anything at all was noteworthy: first, as a sign of continuing official unease at the highest level about the events of 1919 and, second, as a recognition of the effect the massacre still exerts on the British-Indian relationship to this day. Continue reading... [...]