Andrew Appleton Photoshoot

Yesterday, Janey and I went out to do a photoshoot featuring the two RX-8s with a great local photographer, Andrew Appleton.

Most of the shots – from three different themes – are being processed now, but in the meantime, here’s me in a casual pose with my R3:

"Top Gear" Theme

Japfest 2010

After an early start – despite staying over at an ever-decreasing-quality Travelodge on Friday night, Jack, his mate and I made our way over to Japfest 2010 at Castle Combe Circuit. Loads of gorgeous Japanese cars, some trackday shenanigans and some demonstration drifting from some pros, coupled with brilliant sunshine meant a fabulous day. Here are some photos:

iPod Integration

Well Nunns have sorted things out: they arranged for me to bring the batmobile in today to fit a new relay for the rear foglight – it switches to the trailer when the towbar electrics are connected and back to the car’s when it’s disconnected – and a different iPod integration module following Nunns’ discussions wit Mazda Europe.

And lo and behold, it works with my old iPod as well as my new “RexPod”, displaying track number (from the playlist) or artist or track names.


Blue RX-8 R3 and Blue ZRX1200R

Today I spent the day tearing around Castle Combe race circuit in Wiltshire on my motorbike, a Kawasaki ZRX1200R.

To get it there, I’d hitched up the trailer to the R3 and “extreme towed” it to Castle Combe yesterday. This took longer than it should have done due to all those mindless morons sitting blocking the middle lane on the M4 – they clearly don’t know (or don’t care) that cars towing trailers aren’t allowed into the outside overtaking lane. Twats!

Anyway, here are some shots of the bike and car after I’d loaded the bike onto the trailer at the end of the day:

Thule Xpress 970 Cycle Carrier

I was in the market for a new pushbike as mine was being skipped – 1988 vintage and starting to show its age – and as my partner and her daughters like to get out and about on bikes.

We ended up at Halfords and after looking at a few bikes, I settled on the Carrera Kraken 09 20″. Carrera pushbikes are – as far as I know – only sold through Halfords who use their purchasing clout to bring a relatively high specification bike to market at a lower price point than you would otherwise expect.

Having already decided to get a pushbike for London – my base during the week – I started looking at Decathlon’s stock of similar spec’d bikes and found them to be more expensive: price matching produced a heavier bike with cable-operated brakes, for instance.

So I looked at Halfords’ website and was horrified to see that the Carrera Kraken was being advertised at 20% off for web sales even though you could collect in store! Another order placed and I went to collect it at £320 (boxed) from Halfords’ Old Kent Road store. The assistant failed to locate a boxed one as it seems that their stock was assembled and on show. The bikes hadn’t been fully built or safety checked so I have arranged to pick it up this evening.

Thule 970 Xpress
Thule 970 Xpress Folded

As the bike will be fully assembled, shoving it inside my Mazda RX-8 R3 isn’t now going to be an option. I had ordered a Thule 970 Express from Wiggle (at £54 delivered) but they hadn’t processed the order after a day, so thinking this might happen, I had cancelled the order before going to Halfords. They had some in stock (at £60) so I bought one. It fits to the demountable towbar in just a minute or so and folds flat when not needed but I do find the fact that the whole shebang is effectively hanging off one support only a little disconcerting.

So I picked up the Carrera this evening and used the Thule in anger: loading the bike was relatively straightforward and I made good progress, shall we say, back to the flat over the speed humps and sleeping policemen so it had a good chance to break free and didn’t.

Back in the garage, I paused to take some crappy phone shots:

Carrera, Thule and RX-8 R3
Carrera, Thule and RX-8 R3


Well it seems that all is not well with the R3, so it was back to the dealers today for fettling.

The rear foglight has not been working since I got the car: it turns out that the wiring loom to the towbar fitted by the dealers, Nunns, has a relay that should switch between the foglight on the trailer and the foglight on the car. Whilst the foglight on the trailer works fine, the one on the car doesn’t. Sadly this wasn’t picked up in the PDI when I bought the car. Parts are now on order.

Of equal concern is the (very expensive) iPod integration module that doesn’t seem to actually want to integrate any iPod with the Bose stereo system. Mazda list a whole load of Apple devices that aren’t compatible with the module – which, by the way, cuts off the auxiliary input circuit so you’re completely screwed if it doesn’t integrate – and I found that none of our iPods of varying age worked at all with it. They all connect fine and some can seemingly draw power. All display the Mazda logo. All have their functionality removed from the devices whilst connected. None actually work with the stereo system.

Including the brand spanking new iPod nano I got for my birthday specifically for the car. Ah…

So Nunns will be talking to Mazda over the next few days to try to find out what’s wrong. If they can’t fix it, I’ve already told them I want the auxiliary socket reconnecting and my money back for the horrendously expensive integration module.

Let’s Race!

I drove up to Grimsby last night for the first time in the RX-8. Now although I was ‘making good progress’ as usual, it seems  that if you’re driving a sporty car, the knobheads seem to try to prove something.

A case in point was the rep in an Audi RS4 Estate on a 10 plate who immediately accelerated away when I’d overtaken him.

When I got closer on the A46 I came up behind a Skoda Octavia. Again he must have seen me rapidly approaching him as we drove towards a 40mph limit because as soon as we were through it and heading out, he accelerated hard and kept on until he was well into ban territory. I carried on as usual and, of course, caught up with him a few miles later as my driving wasn’t quite so erratic as his was.

What is it with other people’s perception of sports cars?