More on that STCC Saab 9-3…… and who likes racing?

I posted on the good news of a Saab 9-3 being entered in the 2009 Swedish Touring Car Championship series last week. I’ve just received an email this morning pointing me towards some new, more detailed images of the vehicle under development.

The images are on a page over at Garaget, which I thought was a little strange, but they’re great images and really inspiring for those of us who like motorsport and love the idea of a Saab being competitive in motorsport again.

I love the big Saab badge on the steering wheel!

And all this brings me to the question – who likes racing, anyway?

I’ve discovered a renewed interest in motorsports in recent times. In fact, one of my prime reasons for buying my Alfa 33 was so that I could participate in some grass roots motorsports next year without stressing out my 900 Turbo (the fact that one of the main motorsports clubs here in Hobart is an Italian car club helped in the Alfa choice).

I reckon motorsports participation is a big brand-builder. It doesn’t help so much with the female demographic, but despite the growth in that particular market place (Toyota wouldn’t be where they are without it), guys still buy cars, too, and motorsports is a great tool for gaining exposure and credibility. It’s the ultimate cradle for engineering development.

I see this move into the Swedish Touring Car Championship is a positive step for the Saab brand. I hope GM Europe allow Saab some latitude in supporting this team (it’s not a factory Saab team) with parts and development.

Take a look at the other pics at the link above, and then feel free to chime in and let me know what you think.

And if you’re interested in grassroots motorsport, check out Racing Ready. It’s run by a regular from here, Dan S, and it’s chronicling his journey from observer to participant in grassroots motorsport. Dan’s looking to get up and running in Autocross around San Antonio, where he lives. I’ve found the site entertaining and useful, especially seeing I’m in a similar boat here.

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Thanks to Dippen for the Garaget link!

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Saab 9-3 to enter Swedish Touring Car Championship

A Saab 9-3 is to be entered into the S2000 class of the Swedish Touring Car Championship in 2009.

I don’t know much about this class of racing, but I do know that a premium presence in a tarmac series like the STCC is a great thing, and Saab need more of it.

The car is still under construction, but was taken out for a practice session this week and was particularly solid, according to Jens Edman, the proposed driver for team Dealer Saab.

Saab are obviously helping out with the development of the car. The lap sessions was held at Saab’s own test track. The extent of the help is as-yet unknown, however, with Saab staying mum on whether it’ll be what we’d normally consider a factory team.

The car features a two litre Saab BioPower engine, and was chosen for Saab’s expertise in this area.

The full story is over at Touring Car Times.

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Thanks to Snotfjold for the link!

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JL Racing dominate with Saab 9-3

Things have been a bit quiet on the JL Racing scene in the last few months. The 2008 racing season started in late July and there’s been three rounds so far.

The first round saw a technical DQ on day 1 whilst JL were in second place. The car’s ride height was slightly outside the parameters allowed by the competition regulations. Day 2 saw a power steering pump failure kill off the chances of a successful meet.

The second round, in mid-August, saw the car pushed into the wall due to another accident on the track on day 1. Unfortunately the damage was extensive enough to call a halt to the entire weekend’s proceedings for JL Racing.

Despite these setbacks, JL were pretty confident they had a fast car and the third round at Mosport last weekend (Aug 30-31) gave proof to their confidence.

How much proof?

How about taking first place in three of the four races and finishing second in the other race?

John Lockhart set the standard early Saturday by qualifying second on the pole. At the start of the race, John quickly took the lead but Chris Raymond in his Mazda was hot on his heels. With three laps to go, Chris took the lead while John kept nipping away looking for a way through. As they came through Corner 5 on the last lap, they both went wide and John managed to snatch back the lead. They roared through the last corner side by side and in a thrilling photo finish, the Saab 9-3 won by half a car length.

In the second race of the series on Sunday, John Lockhart once again demonstrated the superiority of the Saab by comfortably leading the entire race and took the chequered flag by a significant margin. This is the first double win by Saab in the Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship and so the champagne celebrations were lengthy.

Jordan Marrison drove the Saab 9-3 in the Ontario Regional Sprints and similarly threw down the gauntlet in a field of over 30 cars by qualifying second on the grid. He drove a flawless race to take second place. On Sunday morning Jordan again demonstrated his driving abilities and the strength of the Saab by dominating the race and took the chequered flag in first place.

A big congratulations to the cast and crew at JL Racing. That’s an extraordinary result and if they can keep the car on the track and out of trouble then they’re going to put a strong case together for a championship this year.

Check out the JL Racing website, including their shop. There’s photos, video and a whole event diary there as well.

More photos from Le Mans

I’ve just received some more photos from Bo Lindman from Retrospective Motorsport, official photos from their successful trip to Le Mans to race their restored Saab 93 at the Le Mans vintage event.

How successful was the trip? How about completing the race and winning two freaking trophies! I covered the original story here, but following are some great, enlargeable shots from the event, including the team and the all-important silverware.

Congratulations once again to the team from Retrospective Motorsport and thanks for putting in all that work and giving us something to be proud of. What an incredible event!

And I don’t think Retrospective would mind me offering a wallpaper sized version of that top photo. Click it to enlarge then you can re-size it to suit your monitor.

Images of a Saab at LeMans

UPDATE: Etienne has video!

Last weekend, a little two-stroke Saab 93 from the 1950s took to the track at LeMans – and won. Personally speaking, I’d be quite happy if they bought this little car and preserved it in the Saab Museum in Trollhattan, but on the other hand, it’d be fully appropriate if it were to keep on racing. If the car could speak it’d probably tell you it was happier that way.

Following are some images from the event, taken by Joel D. Joel is a friend of one of our regulars here, Golfhunter, and is a Volvo P1800 enthusiast (his website is here), as well as having more than just a passing interest in Saabs.

My thanks to Joel for allowing us to share these photos, and to Golfhunter for passing them on.

Saab 93

Saab 93

Saab 93

Saab 93

Saab 93

Saab 93

Saab 93

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Retrospective Motorsport race Saab 93 at LeMans

How good would you feel if you’d travelled to compete on one of the world’s biggest stages – and you won?

Saab 93 at LeMans

I’m still waiting for a full email to come through from Retrospective Motorsport, but I think there’s enough info at their website to start telling the story. And what a story. This is almost something of Carlssonian proportions.

Some would suggest that a little 2-stroke Saab with a top speed of 175 km/h has no place on a storied track like Le Mans. They’d be wrong. Very wrong. Not only did the little Saab belong there, it triumphed there!

There were three races over the weekend. I’ll post brief snippets from Retrospective’s site here and await the full report and photos from them. I expect they’ll be celebrating and making their way back to Sweden at the moment, so it might be a few days.

Our first race at Le Mans – Our first victory at Le Mans!

Try to make a report of our first race ever at the Le Mans track. But I don’t know how to write this – how do you describe your first victory at Le Mans?

Yes that’s true!

Saab 93When sitting in the drivers club, having a delicious dinner after our race, we got the official classification from our first heat, and we started to read the form from the bottom, because we are really beginners at Le Mans.

In the total list the Saab was placed 50 of 63 starters, and winning our class, before all the beautiful Dyna Panards.

But when the results of the Index of performance, which always have been the handicap system for the 24h Le Mans, we found us unbelievable art the first place!!!

Number one were our Saab 93 followed by Lotus XI, Porsche 550 Spyder, another two Lotus XI, Aston Martin DBR I, Lotus Elite, Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta, yet another Lotus Elite and on tenth place a Jaguar D Type. Yes, this is the top ten cars from round 1 for the grid “Cars between 1957-1961”. I think that all the visitors at the Drivers Club were thinking “the Swedes must be a little bit crazy…”

We have just started to imagine how it is to be a winner at this legendary track.

They had some clutch problems during the second race, but still managed to post impressive times and retain high placings.

Le Mans isn’t just about speed though, it’s about hanging in there to get the highest results. And hang in they did. The little Saab 93 completed all three races, with the following being the latest message on the Retrospective site:

We won!

At long last, the official results were released and the joy of the team were very high. In the list we came in 38th place over all; which means that we won our class and also drove faster than many cars in the higher classes.

Our hope to get in the top of the Index of performance held. When these results became official and we saw that we were number one, the team members and I fell many tears of happiness. Right now I hardly can find words for how good this feels. Incredibly godd is perhaps the best in to match. Our adventure at Le Mans has gone way better than we dared to hope and I’m still amazed over the result.

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This is some of the best news I’ve covered in three-plus years of writing this website. I’m so happy I could dance. Almost.

I met Bo Lindman in Sweden last year at his presentation on tarmac racing at the Saab Festival, and if managing Swede Team Motor isn’t enough, he’s just proven his expertise once again.

A win at Le Mans, any win at Le Mans, is an extraordinary accomplishment. My heartiest congratulations to the team at Retrospective Motorsport!!!

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If you’d like to read a bit more about the event and the car, check out Retrospective’s own website, as well as the previous posts on the subject here on TS:

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Wednesday Night Snippets

I don’t normally cover Saab aircraft here. I like the fact that Saab come from an aviation background but I like to keep the site about my point of interest, which is the cars.

I couldn’t resist sharing this photo, though, when I saw it on my Flickr feed today. Don’t you just want to take it home and restore it?

Saab Gripen

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Given all the recent talk about GM’s troubles and the WSJ article about them possibly divesting other brands, I feel obliged to pass on that GM have since come out and denied that any brands other than HUMMER are on the block. From the Detroit News:

General Motors Corp. is assuring dealers that it has no plans to cut additional brands — stressing that its Hummer nameplate is the only one being reviewed for a possible sale.

GM’s response came after the Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the Detroit automaker is reviewing plans to eliminate another brand, possibly Saturn, as part of a larger cost-cutting strategy. In a letter sent to dealers the same day, Mark LaNeve, GM’s vice president for North America vehicle sales, said no such plans are in the works.

“Similar to the Hummer situation we would communicate with you, our dealers, very early in the process if this was the case,” he wrote. “In this challenging period that our industry is going through, there is bound to be lots of media coverage, speculation and rumors. The best way to combat (that) is through strong sales performance and a focus on our customers.”

I don’t think it’s quite that clear cut and I feel pretty certain that there’s been chatter, at the very least, about other brands, but in real terms, I think HUMMER is indeed the only brand on the edge right now.

Time will tell about the immediate future.

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Saab Le MansRetrospective Motorsport’s tilt at the Le Mans vintage event happens this weekend. At their homepage they have a nice little story about how the first Saab attempt at Le Mans came about. They’ve also got a photos of the car they’ll be running this weekend. The likeness to the original is fantastic!

I’d like to wish Bo Lindman and his crew all the best for the drive. I’m sure we’ll hear all about it next week.

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And whilst we’re thinking about motorsport, Per Eklund finished 9th in the most recent round of the European Rallycross championship.

Mike Jager has all the details, as usual, and a great airborne shot of Eklund’s Saab 9-3.

And yes, I’ll maintain my hope for a more focused Saab racing effort in the future, with Per as manager if the team. Maybe when a smaller and more agile 9-3 arrives in a few years?

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EnG Weekday Snippets

I never know whether to synchronize my comment headings with Tasmania time or to write them in US time. Generally, I’m writing from the Central time zone in the United States which is roughly two-thirds of a day behind Swade in Oz. Therefore, I often post in the morning hours of the next day. “Weekday”. I know that fits.

Not to turn this into a foodie blog, I’ve enjoyed another regional delicacy here in Dayton, Ohio: Cincinnati-style chili. No side-trip needed for this little treat — there are chili restaurants all over Southwestern Ohio and Northern Kentucky. I tend to be a Skyline Chili man, but the others are good, too. Four way with onions, please!

Onto the Saabs.

First up, AutoWeek.com has a short mention of the Saab TurboX, most notable because the author criticizes automatic sport shift for having “terrible, very slow shift response”. For any other car, I’d wholeheartedly agree. However, this the TurboX. As you may recall, in my experience with the 2008 Saab TurboX the automatic transmission performed admirably in manual shift mode. Perhaps Swade’s recent drive will settle the disagreement.

Jalopnik is having a little fun speculating on the next generation 9-3. Their reasoning is sound: the Opel Insignia will be out late this year, and the model that it replaces, the Opel Vectra, is the current 9-3′s platform mate. Speculating that the new 9-3 will follow, they’ve based this Photoshop on the Insignia.

Not bad. Speculation is just that — speculation.

Finally, Saabrobz has a great set of pics from the Kak Midnattssolsrallyt 2008 on Flickr. Here’s a sample: