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Competitors race towards their bikes at the start of the Brompton World Championships in London.

Brompton World Championships – again

Another year, another Brompton World Championship but unfortunately, this year I didn’t manage to win a place in the lottery to get an entry to the race. Fortunately, only a week before the event, I managed to ‘acquire’ an entry and made arrangements to ship both myself and my Brompton folding bike over to London. Last year, I competed with a bulging disc in my spine and the rain was incessant. I had high hopes that this year’s race would be better on all counts. On the day before the race, I met up with friends from the London Brompton Club near Buckingham Palace and we cycled through St James’ Park and Hyde Park to end up at the Brompton Junction shop in Long Acre, near Covent Garden for champagne and nibbles. It was an enjoyable run, despite the heavy rain that fell for most of the hour. I got talking to an Australian who had come over specifically with …

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Never leave your dog in a car in hot weather.

Never leave your dog in a hot car

With the current heat wave showing no signs of abating, Škoda are highlighting the dangers of leaving your pets in a car in hot conditions. Even a few minutes in a hot car can prove fatal to a dog. A car’s interior can reach 47 degrees in an hour when the outside temperature is 22 degrees. If it rises to 26, a car can reach 37 degrees in just 10 minutes. Such temperatures can prove fatal to a dog in under 20 minutes. You can take precautions to keep your dogs safe on a hot day: Never leave your dog in a car in warm weather, even if it feels cool outside. Don’t excessively walk or over-exercise your dog. Avoid walking your dog at the hottest time of the day – often morning or later in the evenings can be cooler. Always take plenty of water with you when out with your dog. Make sure your dog has shade to …

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Having fun with a 5.0 litre V8 Mustang on the frozen lake.

Tyres and tech in the Tundra

Continental are one of the biggest names in the tyre business but that’s not all they do. It’s hard to name a single car on the market that doesn’t have some component supplied by this huge company. Regularly, they invite us up to the frozen North to try their latest tyres but this year, we’d also get a chance to test some of their active safety systems. Our trip began in a classroom, about half way up Sweden. For a thoroughly fascinating afternoon, the boffins explained their latest breakthroughs, including intelligent tyres and wheels capable of altering rim width and pressure to adapt to prevailing conditions. Intelligent tyres are three to five years away. Already, we have tyres with embedded pressure sensors which pass their data to the car over a radio link. These prototypes are conductive and the data passes through the tyre itself. They are also able to instantly detect a puncture and can measure temperature, pressure, tread …

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Wexford Opera Festival features three little known operas every year.

A night at the opera

The Wexford Opera Festival is a bit of an unusual proposition but it works and has done for years. Take three obscure operas, some of which haven’t seen the light of day since their début performance, and stage them again over the course of a few weeks. Of course, some operas are obscure for a reason and maybe they should be left mouldering but for every duffer there are several gems. This year was promising, with all three operas sung in Italian. It’s a general rule of mine not to go near German language opera. I find it dark and depressing. Surprisingly, opera in English is often woefully bad. There’s the advantage of being able to fully understand what’s going on without resorting to subtitles but there’s just something wrong about English language opera. You’re generally safer sticking with Italian or at a pinch, French. We travelled down in the aftermath of Ophelia and just before storm Brian made itself …

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AA caution on weekend driving

In advance of the October Bank Holiday weekend, AA Ireland is warning motorists to exercise additional caution while driving, as conditions worsen over the coming weeks. While there is little risk of significant weather events currently, the changing of the clocks and the start of the winter season represent an increasingly dangerous period on Irish roads. “With the clocks going back this Sunday motorists will notice increasingly dark conditions when driving, particularly during their post-work commute. To make matters worse, as we move into winter we can expect an increase in hazardous weather conditions such as heavy rain and fog which can greatly affect visibility, so it’s important that motorists react accordingly by taking extra care on the roads in the coming months,” said Conor Faughnan, AA director of consumer affairs. “While it’s important that cyclists and pedestrians do their part by donning hi-vis vests, motorists must take the greatest share of the burden when it comes to keeping our …

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The start of the Brompton World Championships at St James's Park, London. Picture Prudential RideLondon

Strangest bike race in the world

You might think that bikes have no place in a motoring column but bear with me. Bicycles, particularly in an urban environment, are often the ideal way to get around. A bike journey can often replace a trip by car, reducing traffic and pollution and making a positive contribution towards fitness. I’ve ended up owning a number of bikes, including the iconic Brompton folding bike, which is still hand-built in London. It gets its name because Andrew Ritchie, who invented it, could see the Brompton Oratory from his flat as he developed the first prototypes in the 70s. I use it around Ennis and when I’m picking up a test car in Dublin, it invariably gets chucked in the boot. I find it’s the easiest and fastest way around the city. I’ve even rocked up to car launches on it, which raised a few eyebrows initially. Owning a Brompton is like joining a club and our equivalent of the All-Ireland …

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Rosemary Smith

Rally legend Rosemary Smith drives an F1 car at 79

As part of the 40th anniversary celebrations for Renault’s Formula One activity, they invited Irish rally legend, Rosemary Smith to Paul Ricard to become, at 79, the oldest person to drive a modern F1 car. Rosemary initially trained as a seamstress and opened her own dress shop, which unexpectedly became her route into the world of motorsport when one of her clients invited her to navigate in a rally. Rosemary has competed in some of the most iconic rallies around the world, taking home many trophies. A particularly poignant victory was the famous Tulip Rally, which she won in 1965, an achievement which made not only the motorsport world take notice but also Hollywood, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton sending her a huge bouquet and congratulatory letter. Despite these achievements, Rosemary never got the chance to partake in arguably the greatest motorsport experience – driving a Formula One car – until now. With encouragement from long-term friend and navigator, …

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Bob Flavin, ICOTY, Tom Dennigan, Continental Tyres, Stephen Byrne, Mercedes Ireland, John Galvin and Michael Sheridan, ICOTY at the Irish Car of the Year Awards 2017 where the Mercedes-Benz E-Class was crowned the overall winner.

Irish Car of the Year 2017 crowned

The Irish Car of the Year Awards in association with Continental tyres took place on Thursday night, October 27, at the Powerscourt Hotel, Enniskerry. Journalists from Print, online and broadcasting hosted a gala black-tie event attended by Ireland’s leading car brands, importers, distributors & other motoring dignitaries. Mercedes-Benz took the top award with their E-Class and also a category win with the C-Class Coupé, crowned Irish Medium Car of the Year 2017. ICOTY Committee member Michael Sheridan “E Class has set the bar to new heights.” ICOTY Committee member John Galvin “We’ve had 40 years of Irish Car of the Year and the E-Class is an exceptional winner.” Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres said about the awards “Continental is delighted to be associated with Irish Car of the Year, an event that continues to be the highlight of the motoring year.” Stephen Byrne, Chief Executive, Mercedes-Benz in Ireland, said: “We are honoured to win the Irish Car of the Year 2017 …

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