Tracks: Silverstone, Northamptonshire, UK

This archetypal airfield perimeter circuit first hosted the British Grand Prix in 1948, utilising the main runways and hay bales to make up the track layout for the first two races. Since the departure of the bombers and mustachioed pilots, the circuit has seen many revisions over the years and in its current 5.1km long configuration is still quite a fast circuit.

The circuit has seen some stunning races and duels over the years, but it was in the early ’90s that it reached fever pitch with Mansell Mania. One particular memory though is imprinted on fans all round the world, when Nigel Mansell (on his victory lap) stopped to give Ayrton Senna a taxi ride back to the pits on his side, after his McLaren had expired.

Although not always hosting the British Grand Prix, which moved to Brands Hatch for a while, it is however synonymous with the event, even if Bernie Ecclestone tries to shoot it down every year.

By Phil Clark

This archetypal airfield perimeter circuit first hosted the Britis ...

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Tracks: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana, USA

For years it was left turns only

Affectionately know as the ‘Brickyard’, it’s BIG and very BOLD, in fact a truly enormous facility. IMS has the honour of being the second-oldest surviving automobile racing track in the world, having existed since 1909. Brooklands unfortunately no longer survives in tact, even though it opened two years earlier.

After being originally constructed from 3.2 million bricks (hence the nickname), only a few now remain on the start/finish line. This yard long stretch of bricks serves as a reminder to current drivers as to what it would have been like in the ‘good ole days’. You think doing 320km/h is fast on a billiard table smooth 4km long banked circuit is scary, imagine how brave the early speed pioneers were trying that on a bumpy uneven brick surface!

By Phil Clark

For years it was left turns only Affectionately know as the ' ...

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Tracks: Laguna Seca, Monterey California, USA

Home of the infamous ‘corkscrew’ chicane, complete with its 300-foot elevation change this 3.6km circuit was opened in 1957. Located in the mountains 200km south of San Francisco this circuit is a real challenge to drivers, and continues to host a broad range of racing disciplines including Champcar, Indycar, ALMS and motorbike racing.
It’s one of those circuits that if you can’t visit or drive on it in person, you simply must have a go on Playstation GT4 or Xbox Forza games to appreciate the elevation changes as well as the tricky corkscrew chicane, there’s nothing else like it.

By Phil Clark

Home of the infamous 'corkscrew' chicane, complete with its 300-fo ...

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Tracks: Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

This stunning 6.8km long track set in dense woodland was originally constructed in 1932, but its current layout was built in 1965. After the death of Jim Clark, two times F1 World Champion in 1968 it was revised further with the addition of chicanes. This super high speed low downforce circuit has had its moments over the years, although again more recently there were some memorable events including a one man circuit invasion in the fast wooded section, and the odd search and rescue party being dispatched into the woods to find lost drivers who cant find their way back to the pits after a breakdown.

Unfortunately now emasculated for F1, given the chop to just 4.5km, it is no longer considered to offer the Grand Prix that it used to. The complex also features a quarter-mile track for drag racing. It hosts one of the largest drag racing events in Europe known as the Nitro Olympics.

By Phil Clark

This stunning 6.8km long track set in dense woodland was originall ...

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Tracks: Goodwood, Westhampnett, West Sussex, UK

Goodwood tragically claimed the life of Bruce McLaren in 1970

One of the few tracks in the world with a true aristocratic heritage, the Goodwood Estate in Westhampnett, West Sussex, had once been the fourth largest estate in Britain owned by Frederick Charles Gordon Lennox, 9th Duke of Richmond, 4th Duke of Gordon, Duke of Lennox, Earl of March, Baron Methuen, Earl of Kinrara (or just ‘Freddie’ to his friends). He handed over part of this estate in 1940 for a wartime airfield for Spitfires and Hurricanes, and with its perimeter track, began life.

The first meet took place in 1948, and with growing attention and popularity, the circuit had its heyday and the late 50s and 60s, with many big guns taking part in several races on the same event day. The Tourist Trophy race was the circuits jewel in the crown attracting the big guns like Stirling Moss, Innes Ireland, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Mike Parkes, Roy Salvadori, Jackie Stewart and of course Bruce McLaren. It was at this time that the great career of Stirling Moss endured the crash that was to end his race form.

After the last race in 1966, the circuit was used on and off for many years for testing and it tragically claimed the life of Bruce McLaren in 1970. Finally, after a long and complicated battle the current Earl of March managed to bring the 3.8km circuit back to its former glory and re-opened it in 1998, with a dazzling array of famous names and original cars being driven at racing speeds around the circuit. Huge respect for doing this – make sure you add the Circuit Revival race meet to your list of things to do before you die.

By Phil Clark

Goodwood tragically claimed the life of Bruce McLaren in 1970 ...

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Tracks: Magny Cours, France

Magny Cours – overtaking? Je ne sais pas.

Circuit de Nevers Magny Cours to give it its full name is located in between two towns (Nevers & Magny Cours) in France, the 4.4km track was built in 1960 and was originally home to a driving school. Later on it was owned by Ligier and then Prost, and was their base for a while providing an excellent test facility too.
Circuit de Nevers Magny Cours, to give it its full name, is located between two towns (Nevers & Magny Cours) in France. The 4.4km track was built in 1960 and was originally home to a driving school. Later on it was owned by Ligier and then Prost, and was their base for a while providing an excellent test facility too.

By Phil Clark

Magny Cours - overtaking? Je ne sais pas. Circuit de Nevers M ...

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Tracks: Nürburgring, Eiffel Mountains, Germany

The Green Hell

Affectionately known as the ‘Green Hell’, the circuit was built in the 1920s around the village and medieval castle of Nürburg, itself around 70 km south of Cologne. Originally the track featured four track configurations: the 30km long Gesamtstrecke (“Combined Loop”), which in turn consisted of the 22.810 km Nordschleife (“Northern Loop”), and the 7.747 km Südschleife (“Southern Loop”). It held regular F1 races until Nikki Lauda’s crash in 1976, which prompted a move to the Hockenheimring.

Now currently used as an unofficial test track for big gun manufacturers who regularly use ‘ring times as a benchmark for their performance models, and trying to claim the lap record. In addition to this you can just turn up and pay to go round in your own car, take the scenic bus tour or get a proper lap in the ‘ring taxi (BMW M5 V10) by one of the tame ‘ring-meisters. It is still widely considered the toughest and most demanding purpose-built race track in the world.

If you can’t make the pilgrimage in person, along with thousands of other fans and car clubs, then you simply must go round it virtually using a Playstation or Xbox. Compared to other more commonly used circuits you will quickly see why it got its nickname, so imagine going round flat tack in a 1960s Formula 1 car in the pouring rain, mist and virtually zero visibility. Balls of steel stuff, respect to Jackie Stewart.

By Phil Clark

The Green Hell Affectionately known as the 'Green Hell', the ...

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Kia: Kia Sorento Limited 2007 Review

Kia Sorento 2007 rq

When I first moved to Auckland I kept getting lost. It’s a confounding city of roads that diverge insidiously, so that an east unknowingly becomes a south and all of a sudden Sandringham is Manukau, even though you may have been racing to your girlfriend’s place in Glendowie because her parents were out.

The roads may be able to fool me, but they can’t fool Kia’s latest Sorento. It knows where east is and tells you so in a natty multi-purpose trip computer device located (unusually) near the rear-view mirror¦where it’s difficult to see except by the rear passengers.

Anyway, a compass isn’t anything new, but I found myself once again in a position of not being in the place I expected to be. You see, when us journos get cars to review we occasionally forget to transfer the necessities from our usual daily drives (in this case my map and parking money). Andy the Hit Man and I had been to Muriwai to see how the Sorento Ltd dealt with soft roads (see the videos), and then I thought it would be great to head to Orewa, which is east¦sort of.

Along the way, I had a chance to reflect on the morning’s driving, how far Kia has come and that if you stuck another brand’s badge on the front of it you’d probably pay $20k more for exactly the same. Starting out on the motorway at 6:30 in the morning I was impressed at how comfortable the Kia felt. It’s not quick, but there is sufficient power for the onramps from the 2.5-litre diesel (125kW, which is 21% more than the outgoing model). Visibility is excellent and the entire interior is of extremely high quality.

For the urban warrior, the EX has heated front seats, powered driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, electric sunroof and an MP3-compatible, six-disc CD changer. Cruise control and stereo control buttons are on the steering wheel and column. The stereo’s speaker setup in the front is exceptional, the bass is solid and the treble crisp, and right through to maximum volume it was relatively distortion free.

Most of the time you’ll leave the Sorento in rear-wheel drive, but if you want to get more adventurous than the kerbs outside little Timmy’s school, the Sorento has four-wheel drive in high and low ratios and it’s more than capable of handling the rough stuff. But it’s this compromise that makes it a bit fidgety once off the motorway on the twisty stuff.

Apart from the slightly nervous ride, there’s really not a great deal wrong with the Sorento. The gearbox lags a bit and if you want the auto to kick down coming out of a corner you need to plant your foot before the apex. The cruise control just did not work — set it at 105kph and it varies between around 112 and 100, constantly accelerating and decelerating. Finally, the position of the aforementioned trip computer was designed by an idiot, which is my excuse for eventually having to stop and ask directions, like every good bloke does.

But, you probably won’t care about these minor niggles (or my temporary blokish embarrassment) because, especially in black with its colour-coded bumpers, the Sorento has a huge presence. No longer is Kia the runt of the litter. Even our barely-in-her-twenties, highly fashion-conscious receptionist said it was cool. For the money this is an overachiever. However, you’ll need to bring your own map.
Price: from $54,800

Interested in purchasing a Kia Sorento? This website has secondhand ones for sale

We like:

  • Styling inside and out
  • Price
  • Quite rugged and capable, for its looks
  • Meets Euro 4 emission standards

We don’t like:

  • Nervous ride on less-than-perfect tarmac
  • Gearbox a bit slow
  • Cruise control didn’t work well

Words Darren Cottingham, photos Adam Croy

When I first moved to Auckland I kept getting lost. It’s a confoun ...

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