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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Angus & The Mearns

Angus racer to become youngest ever driver in British GT Championship at age of 16

March 23 2016

Angus racer Sandy Mitchell has penned another piece of Scottish motorsport history with news of his move into the British GT championship. The Letham 16-year-old will race the McLaren 570S GT4 with the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse team, becoming the youngest driver ever to compete in British GT history when the season gets underway at Brands Hatch in April. In an exciting move for the legendary team most famous for back-to-back wins at the Le Mans 24 Hours in its heyday Mitchell has been paired with fellow Scot, 19-year-old Ciaran Haggerty for what promises to be a hotly-contested championship. Mitchell was British junior karting champion in 2014 before making his mark in the 2015 MSA Formula series with performances which included a winning double at the ultra-fast Thruxton circuit. Both teenagers have come through the Ecurie Ecosse Young Driver Initiative, which was launched last year and with the Scottish squad running the McLaren 570S GT4 alongside its GT3 campaign they will work closely alongside factory driver Rob Bell and Ecurie Ecosse director and driver Alasdair McCaig. Dundee High School pupil Sandy said: “I am very excited to be racing with Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse in 2016 and to be driving the first ever McLaren 570S GT4 car in the British GT Championship is a real privilege, it is a fantastic car. “I am really looking forward to partnering alongside Ciaran and I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and made this incredible drive come together along with my sponsors Thorntons Law, Close Brothers Asset Management, Stirfresh, John Clark Motor Group, The Stag Inn, Tunnocks HBB Geo-Sales and SGM Distribution”. Fife-born Andrew Kirkaldy, a former British GT champ and now managing director of McLaren GT said: “The decision to run the two Ecurie Ecosse Young Drivers was a very easy one. “We conducted some pre-season testing and it was very clear from the outset that both Haggerty and Mitchell are stars of the future. “Their pace and feedback is very good and of a level that we are comfortable with, showing that they are ready for the challenge. “ Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse patron Hugh McCaig commented: “It is a fantastic feeling to see two of Scotland’s young superstars take the next step in to top-level GT racing. “I am sure the GT4 category will be an ideal platform for Ciaran and Sandy to demonstrate their talent with the support of the Ecurie Ecosse Young Drivers Initiative.”


New operator wants to add laser tag to Dundee go-karting centre

June 18 2014

A new operator has taken on Dundee’s failed go-kart centre and has plans to attract new customers. ScotKart has asked the city council for permission to use part of the Myrekirk Road premises for laser tag. The centre, on the Wester Gourdie industrial estate, opened in summer 2012 following a £400,000 investment to make it the largest indoor karting facility in Scotland. It was open seven days a week and boasted a fleet of karts capable of speeds up to 40mph. However, it shut its doors in February after operators Karting Ecosse were placed into provisional liquidation on the order of the sheriff court following a petition by estate agents Castlelaw Estates. A number of customers went online to complain they had lost money because bookings were not honoured. Muir Smith Evans, the agents for the new operator, said adding laser tag would ensure “a robust business model”. For more on this story, see Thursday’s Dundee edition of The Courier.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


Latest application for city go-karting centre ‘looking good’

March 9 2011

A long-running plan for a go-kart centre in Dundee has taken yet another twist. West coast applicant Karting Ecosse Ltd has submitted a new application to open the Fastraxx Karting Arena at a warehouse located near to the NCR building. It is the latest move by Karting Ecosse, who only two months ago had to scrap the blueprint for an indoor and outdoor racetrack at a multi-storey car park in Douglasfield. Only weeks later company bosses were again left disappointed when they were forced to withdraw plans to open an indoor track at an industrial unit near Claypotts, after it emerged the site was zoned for industrial use only under the local plan. Now the firm has turned its attention to the warehouse at Block 10, Myrekirk Road, which has lain vacant for over a decade. John Kerr of Karting Ecosse told The Courier he expects up to 40 jobs to come, subject to planning approval. He added cautious optimism that after almost 10 months of attempting to open the attraction which would be Dundee's only go-kart centre the latest application is "looking good." "We have visited the site and even taken up a kart to try round the track and that went very well," he said. "You can never tell how an application will go but this is almost the last chance for us to do this in Dundee. We will just have to wait and see." Council planners are scheduled to make a decision on April 24 which, if approved, will allow the arena to open by the end of May, according to Mr Kerr. If this does happen then Scottish indie rockers The Dykeenies could provide a special acoustic session at its grand opening, as Mr Kerr is the father of John Kerr, the band's drummer. The site has lain unused for so long because of condensation caused by "single skin, uninsulated roof," according to the application lodged on Karting Ecosse's behalf by agent Peter Inglis Architects. However, Karting Ecosse says it can work round this problem as it does not intend to heat the racetrack space and will mop up any moisture each morning. Also included in the drawings are a spectator area, cafe, toilets and administrative offices. "The go-karts would be used inside the building," the application states. "Two of the larger roller shutter doors would be open during the hours of operation to reveal glazed screens behind, thus enlivening the view from the pavement." If approved there will be no need for additional external lighting as the site is already bounded by security fencing. Plans include increasing the car park capacity from the existing 20 spaces to 42. The nearest houses are 400 metres from the building and a noise impact assessment has deemed they will be unaffected by the karts.


‘This is what the city needs’ Karting Ecosse says latest racetrack attempt will be its last

August 22 2011

West coast company Karting Ecosse has launched a last-ditch attempt to open an indoor racetrack in Dundee. The firm says it will be forced to turn its back on the city if its latest plan falls through. It has reapplied to open a Fastraxx Karting Arena in an empty warehouse in Myrekirk Road, on Gourdie Industrial Estate. Despite winning considerable public support, a previous application for the site was rejected by Dundee City Council on the grounds that it did not satisfy the development plan. The centre would have been the only one of its kind in the city and the council's refusal to support it provoked a considerable response from our readers. The council told the company its plans had failed to demonstrate the site was the most suitable for a go-karting centre and to show that there were no other suitable locations available in the city's leisure parks, the city centre or district centres that could house the arena. There were also concerns that the site was only readily accessible by car. That rejection was the latest in a series of failed plans for a go-kart arena in Dundee. Though planning approval was granted for a go-kart arena at a site in Forties Road, the company was unable to agree terms with the building's owners. It also had to scrap plans for an indoor and outdoor racetrack at a multi-storey car park in Douglasfield when it became clear that cost of making it wind and watertight would be prohibitive. Karting Ecosse later withdrew an application for an indoor track at a unit in Claypotts after it emerged the site was zoned for industrial use. The company has employed a planning consultant in a bid to convince the council it has made exhaustive inquiries and the Myrekirk Road site is the only feasible option for its development. "We, along with James Keiller Estates, have appointed a Glasgow-based planning consultancy to throw a bit more weight on a fresh planning application for Myrekirk Road," said Karting Ecosse director Ray Hooper. "If this fails we will be forced to look elsewhere outside Dundee." Mr Hooper said the arena would create 20 jobs initially, with the number rising to 30 by its second year in operation. The firm would likely turn its attention to Aberdeen if it fails in its latest attempt, he continued, adding, "That's over a year now that we've been trying to get properties and planning in Dundee." John Kerr, co-director at Karting Ecosse, added: "The application that we've submitted answers all of the questions that the planning department had on the first one. "Finance is there and we're ready to go but it looks like this will be the final attempt. The building is perfect for what we want and we have karts sourced and prices for race suits, timing systems and things like that. "We've been looking at Dundee for over a year now and everybody that we've spoken to has said that this is what the city needs."

Other sports

Ecurie Ecosse young guns fired up for British GT championship

April 28 2016

Ecurie Ecosse patron Hugh McCaig has hailed the quick start made by the young guard spearheading the legendary team's latest tilt at glory. The Le Mans-winning outfit is once again challenging for British GT championship honours, expanding its line-up to include the GT4 entry of teenagers Sandy Mitchell, from Forfar and fellow Scot Ciaran Haggerty alongside the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 650S GT3 pairing of Alasdair McCaig and Rob Bell. Mitchell - at just 16 years and 41 days - became the youngest driver ever to line-up in the championship when he gave the all-new McLaren 570S GT4 its Brands Hatch race debut in the series opener, with a solid sixth place finish for the young stars. This weekend the action switches to Rockingham where team and drivers are hoping to add more points to the championship total after getting the Ecurie Ecosse name on the GT4 rankings at Brands. Team chief McCaig admitted lessons had been learned from the two-hour race on the GP circuit, which saw Scot Phil Dryburgh thankfully walk away from his wrecked Aston Martin after a high-speed crash. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkFkcnuz2M0 And McCaig is confident the young guns will prove quick learners after making the switch from single-seaters to sportcars. "We've always tried to encourage young up and coming talent out of Scotland and Jackie (three time F1 champion Jackie Stewart) was probably the last person to do a properly funded staircase, not just with Scottish drivers," said McCaig. "Through our Ecurie Ecosse young driver initiative we got involved in Formula Ford last year with Graham Brunton Racing, who has done a sterling job, and Dario Franchitti got involved as well." Ecurie Ecosse considered a Formula 4 effort, but budget considerations turned their interest towards the burgeoning British GT championship for the teenage duo. "We had the involvement with the GT3 car and then McLaren came along with this deal which was going to be very difficult to better to get these two young lads into this brand new GT4 car," continued McCaig, "It's generating a lot of interest and excitement which is good, and to put the Ecurie Ecosse name behind it gives it a bit of credence. "These two lads are fantastic and to have Sandy as the youngest ever driver coming into British GT racing is quite incredible really. "They are doing a great job - better than some of the drivers who have been at it for years - and the great thing is that they listen to everything and take it on board, they are so willing to learn. "Putting this all together was eleventh hour stuff and finding money from corporate sponsors in Scotland for motorsport talent is extremely difficult, but they have both done well on that front. "We want to take these young lads further if we possibly can and we made a solid start, but with lessons to be learned. "The whole package, the McLaren name coupled with the history of Ecurie Ecosse is a blue chip operation and we need to make sure we take it forward properly in the best way possible."

Other sports

Reigning champs and rising star pick up motorsport silverware

December 5 2016

The fastest men on four wheels in Courier Country have continued to sweep up a string of top motorsport awards. British Touring Car Champion Gordon Shedden, British GT champ Jonny Adam and teenage GT4 sensation Sandy Mitchell have enjoyed a whirlwind of awards dinners after a sensational season for all three. At the weekend Scottish Motor Racing Club gala event they shared the spotlight, with 16-year-old Mitchell honoured as the country's brightest young prospect. The Forfar teenager's achievement in becoming the youngest-ever race winner in Europe’s most demanding sportscar series, the British GT Championship, helped him towards the coveted Ecurie Ecosse Hubcap. Dundee High pupil Sandy, partnered by 19-year-old Ciaran Haggerty from Johnstone, powered their Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S GT4 to two wins, plus pole positions and fastest laps in their debut season. The award, an actual hub cap from one of the Ecurie Ecosse Le Mans 24 Hours-winning D-Type Jaguars, is given to the most promising Young Scottish Driver of the Year. Mitchell’s award came just six days after he and Haggerty were voted joint Rookies of the Year at the annual British GT Championship Awards in London, where Kirkcaldy's Adam picked up the overall GT3 championship trophy for a history-making second year in succession. Shedden's awards haul has included the BTCC crown at the series' annual celebration and the National Racing Driver of the Year accolade at the prestigious Autosport awards, held in London on Sunday night. SMRC president, three-time Le Mans 24-Hours winner Allan McNish from Dumfries, and multiple IndyCar and Indy500 winner, Bathgate’s Dario Franchitti were among those at the weekend Edinburgh dinner. “Winning this top SMRC award just rounds off what has been a fantastic debut season in sportscars,” said Mitchell, who received the historic award from SMRC chairman and Ecurie Ecosse patron Hugh McCaig. “It’s an honour to have won the Ecurie Ecosse Hubcap. So many incredible Scottish racing drivers have won this trophy in the past, and it was a great to be on stage with a number of them at the SMRC awards. "It has been a fantastic season and a privilege to have driven the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S GT4 car," he added. “Ciaran - who won this award two years ago - and I have worked brilliantly together all season, and we’re looking forward to mounting a strong challenge to win the British GT4 Championship next year.”


Dundee go-karting centre back on track after takeover

October 8 2014

A new lease of life has been breathed into Dundee’s indoor go-karting centre after a new operator stepped in. ScotKart reopened the centre, off Myrekirk Road. The centre was previously run by Karting Ecosse, which went into liquidation in February. ScotKart is the biggest indoor karting company in Scotland, and owners Stewart and Duncan Matthews, say they have aspirations for the track. It features the longest race straight in the country, with a fast-flow track design and a specially treated surface for more race grip. ScotKart is also the first karting company in the UK to use new, specialist, Tag Heuer UK race timing in conjunction with Californian results system Clubspeed, which enables visitors to view their lap times on tablets and mobile phones. The centre offers fun for amateur drivers, corporate entertainment and parties. The Dundee Stars ice hockey team were at the launch. The centre is located just off the Kingsway, at Unit 10, West Gourdie Industrial Estate, Myrekirk Road.