Category Archives: Automotive

#PekingParis2016: Team Lebanon Off to a Great Start, Currently Ranked 2nd in Their Class!

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pekin paris

The Peking-Paris began on June 12 and #TeamLebanon has been doing great so far! Charbel Habib and Walid Samaha just crossed Mongolia yesterday after 8 days of off-road driving in one of the most adventurous and difficult routes of the Peking-Paris race. It took some time for the team to get used to the GPS system and they got lost on the second day but were able to get back on track and avoid penalties. Day 3 was one of the toughest for the Lebanese team as their GPS system broke down twice and they had to drive all the way back to the mechanics to fix it but since then, they’ve been scoring great times and are currently ranked #2 in their class and #34 overall.

Team Lebanon has already covered an incredible 3,684 KM through China and Mongolia and are performing very well despite having one of the smallest cars in the race. Here are few selected pictures that will walk you through their stunning journey since Day 1 and show you how challenging this race is:

start2 Ready to go!

camping2 Camping on Day2

drive Hello Mongolia!

fixing roof Fixing damaged roof stack

teamlebanon4 Camping …

teamlebanon3 and taking a short coffee break

team lebanon2 Rough terrain

peking paris3 In the middle of nowhere.

drive Stunning landscapes

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#TeamLebanon will spend the next 13 days driving over 5000 KM across Russia. I will make sure to keep you posted with their updates.

Best of luck to Charbel & Walid!

June22

[YouTube]

For All Those Complaining About the Valet Parking, Stop Using it!

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“Mich Chatir 2ella bil na2”!

That pretty much sums up the below report on Valet Parking in Lebanon. Everyone MTV interviewed was complaining about the valet parking services and sharing their bad experiences but none of them was apparently willing to stop using the valet, as if there are no alternatives or someone is forcing them to do so.

I stopped using the valet two or three years ago and it’s much easier than you think. There are parking lots almost everywhere I go and when there aren’t any, I order an Uber or take a “service”. If I’m with my family and can’t park too far (wedding for example), I drop them first and then go park wherever I want. Sometimes I even park where the valet is supposed to, keep the keys and ignore them. Most of the valet parking guys are assholes and even when they are not, they couldn’t care less about your car.

If you can’t stop using the valet service, then you are probably a show off or a lazy bum or simply couldn’t care less about your car.

[YouTube]

Meet Charbel Habib: The Only Lebanese & Arab Competing In the 35-day Long Peking – Paris Rally

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pekin paris

What needs to be proved today is that as long as a man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere.

The Peking-Paris rally is often considered as the greatest motoring adventure and attracts every 3 years over 100 teams from all over the world to compete in the 35-day long rally. This year, a Lebanese team formed of Charbel Habib (driver) and his co-driver Walid Samaha is proudly taking the challenge and will be the only Lebanese & Arabic team to take part in this extraordinary journey.

What is the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge?
pekinrace Source

The Peking to Paris motor race is an automobile race, originally held in 1907, between Peking (now Beijing) and Paris in France, covering an impressive 13,695-kilometer total distance and crossing many countries in Asia and Europe including China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and France.

The 2016 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge starts from the Great Wall outside Beijing on Sunday, June 12th, and finishes with a drive into Paris to cross the finish line in Place Vendome on Sunday, July 17th.

Who is allowed to race?
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The race is only restricted to vintage cars which are divided into four different categories:
– Vintage cars (1920 to 1931 type cars).
– Vintageant cars (1932 to 1941 type cars).
– Classic cars up to 2.0 liters (1942 to 1975).
– Classic cars over 2.0 liters (1942 to 1975).

Who is the Lebanese team competing?
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I had the honor to meet Mr. Charbel Habib and his co-driver Walid Samaha a couple of months ago and I was mind blown by the collection of classic & vintage cars that he has. We are talking about over 40 old cars that include a number of Porsche’s, Ferraris, Lamborghini’s, Mercedes, Bugatti’s, Maserati among others.

part Source

What I loved about Mr. Habib is how devoted and passionate he is about his collectibles. There’s a story behind every old car he purchased and he has a special garage set up to restore all these cars and make them look and run like new. When he was briefing me about his 1964 Porsche 356C, he knew every single detail related to the car, the changes that his team has done and of course the history behind it.

For those of you who are not familiar with old cars restoration, it is more than just a hobby and requires a lot of time, patience, know-how and money. Restoration means more than just making a vehicle’s exterior look nice as you need to go through every single part of the car and try to be as historically accurate as you can. You need to find the same exact parts, keep the same engine, find the right tools to work with etc. Of course it’s always easier to rebuild everything but the real challenge is in bringing back a car from the dead and up to its original factory specs.

Some people look at classic car restoration as an investment but from what I’ve seen and read, it’s more of an art and the skills to work on these old cars are becoming harder to find than the cars themselves.

What is the car?
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As stated earlier, the Lebanese team is racing in a 1964 Porsche 356C. The 356C was the last revision of the 356 series and was succeeded by the popular 911 model. The car features a 1.6 liter twin-car air-cooled engine, disk brakes all around, and the most powerful pushrod engine Porsche has ever produced, the 75HP “C”.

It takes around 10 seconds from 0 to 100kph and weights around 2000 pounds. Check out Jalopnik for a full review of this dream car.

How hard is the Peking to Paris race?
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I don’t know if you’ve ever driven or been in a vintage car, but it’s often very demanding and uncomfortable. When I was visiting Habib, he took me for a ride in his 1964 Porsche 356C and in another antique car from the 1930s. Riding in these old gems was quite special but racing across countries for 35 days with a 1960s sports car is quite hard and physically demanding. Keep in mind that they will have to drive all day, carry with them tents, sleeping bags and all spare parts including wheels, and that the rules and regulations are quite strict.

Of course Peking-Paris is also a fun race and teams will get to camp beside rivers and lakes and enjoy stunning sceneries on a daily basis.

Race starts on June 12
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All in all, being a classic car guy isn’t for everyone and taking part in the Peking – Paris Rally definitely isn’t for everyone. You need determination, stamina, know-how and passion and I’m pretty sure our Lebanese team has them all!

I will keep you posted with updates from the race as soon as it starts! You can follow updates on [ClassicCarLebanon] on Facebook, as well as Twitter [@ClassicLebanon] and Instagram [@ClassicLebanon]

Reliving The First F1 Showrun in #Beirut

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Photo Naim Chidiac Photo by Naim Chidiac

The first ever F1 showrun in Beirut took place on Sunday the 22nd of May. I couldn’t make it but I compiled some of the best pictures and videos shared online to make you relive this unique and once in a life time experience.

The Red Bull F1 car made two spots at the Cedars and in Byblos before the showrun in Beirut.

cedars Photo by Akl Yazbeck

Jbeil #RedBullF1inByblos

F1 Jbeil Super Baby Brian and myself met Red Bull in Jbeil – Photo by Akl Yazbeck

Moving on to the Sunday event, it was an epic showrun! Here are some of the best pictures and videos.

Sainz F1 Driver Carlos Sainz getting ready – © Akl Yazbeck / Sportscode Images

Maya Diab Maya Diab warming up the car

BNL F1 Off we go! – Taken from BeirutNightLife

Imad Diab F1 in Beirut – Photo by Imad Diab

redbull3 Drifting – Photo by Red Bull

F1 Aerial Aerial view

redbull2 Donuts – Photo by Red Bull

Continue reading

Here’s Why I Love Formula One

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f1 1

I love Formula 1. Everything about this sport is fascinating and I hate it when I hear people telling me “It’s just driving around in circles”. Formula 1 is considered by many to be the greatest sport ever because it simply is. You have the best automotive engineers and teams using state-of-the-art technologies to build the fastest, lightest and most advanced cars for the world’s most talented drivers to drive around the most beautiful and demanding tracks in the world.

Even though I’ve been watching F1 for almost 20 years now, I’ve only been to one Grand Prix at Monza back in 2011 and the whole experience was simply amazing and out of this world, so you can imagine my excitement when I heard Red Bull are organizing an F1 showrun in Beirut!

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I am sure Formula 1 fans are as excited as I am about this event, but I want non-F1 fans to realize how awesome this sport is and what they are missing out on. I want them to know how hard it is to make an F1 car, how much time it takes, how demanding it is, the different stages involved from Design and R&D, Composites, Manufacturing and Assembly and other fascinating details.

I’ve teamed up with Red Bull to come up with this post 1) because I love Red Bull, 2) because Red Bull Racing won four successive Constructors’ Championship titles in the past 6 years with my favorite driver Sebastian Vettel and 3) because they are organizing the F1 showrun on Sunday.

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So here we go: How to make a Red Bull Racing F1 car?

What does it take to make one of the world’s fastest racing cars? How are they so powerful? How much time does it take to build one? How is the perfect design chosen? How many tests before a car is good to go? How many parts does an F1 car need? And how many machines are needed for the whole process?
Questions, so many questions! Here are the answers.

There are basically four stages in the making of an F1 car:
I- Design and R&D
II- Composites
III- Manufacturing
IV- Assembly

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Here are a few insights on what happens at the Red Bull Racing factory. The first two parts were already covered by Red Bull so I will elaborate on the last two which are Manufacturing and Assembly.

III- Manufacturing:
rbcars

Did you know a Formula 1 car typically takes only five months to design and develop? It takes over 300 designers, aerodynamicists and machinists to create one RB model. Yes, three-hundred, THREE-hundred! Every model created has a specific purpose.

The RB car is made from over 6,500 unique parts which include 100,000 components, 70% of which are machined in house. There are 20 programmable machines capable of manufacturing all parts of the car and the engineers running the machine shop have to constantly improve to reduce the manufacturing time while preserving the quality needed and making sure the parts are 100% reliable. Weight is the biggest challenge for any F1 team as they are constantly trying to make the car lighter and lighter. Quoting Christian Horner, the team principal at Red Bull Racing, the parts produced are pieces of art and the work being done is phenomenal.

paint Even the Painting Process is a hassle

The RB car is painted in-house. The painting process is very critical as it’s not about aesthetics. It’s a performance element as the finishing needs to be smooth and building up paint on the car might increase its weight and slow it down or even affect the aerodynamics. An F1 car’s paint job may seem silly but it’s a very technical process that is often overlooked.

IV- Assembly:
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Assembling a Formula one car is similar to a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that needs to be completed in a record time with zero margin for error. The first build tends to take about a week and the planning process is even more painful than the assembly itself.

The cars are assembled in the “Race Bays”. Five chassis are prepared, one for each driver, two test cards and one kept in disassembly mode. Every manufactured or purchased component goes through a thorough inspection process and there are several state-of-the-art tools that are used to inspect the car and its different components without touching it. The tiniest mistake, we are talking microns, could cost the team disqualification or drastically affect the car’s performance.

All in all, Formula 1 has the best of everything: The technology, the cars, the tracks, the crashes, the drivers, the glamour, the rivalries. It’s probably the best sport you are not watching!

See you all on Sunday and let’s hope that one day we will have a Beirut F1 GP.

It’s Been 1 Year Since the New Traffic Law Was Implemented

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isf2 via ISF

The ISF set up checkpoints yesterday and were distributing fliers to remind the Lebanese about the new traffic law and driving responsibly. They also shared the below video as part of their awareness campaign.

This is all good but the problem is that the new traffic law is not working. In fact, it stopped working since October if not before and the ISF is to blame for many reasons that I’ve stated on several occasions:

– Policemen are still breaking the law and should be punished more severely when they do so as they are role models for others to follow.
– People are using wasta to remove the fines.
– The idea from the new traffic law should be to help people become aware of the traffic law and care about their own safety, not just fine them and send the money elsewhere.
– Lebanese should know that the fines they are paying are going somewhere to improve the infrastructure.
– The law is being applied in specific areas.

In fact, if you look at the pictures above that were tweeted by the ISF, both cars are breaking the law yet the policeman is handing them flyers instead of fining or reprimanding them. Moreover, the violations shown in the video below happen on a daily basis in front of policemen yet barely any action is taken.

We all want the new traffic law to work and our roads to be safer but policemen shall at all times respect and obey the law and set good examples, otherwise things will never work out. This morning, I spotted at least 3 violations by cops and army men on my way to work.

Someone is Suing MTV Over Their Road Safety Campaign

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A Lebanese lawyer apparently got offended by MTV’s brilliant road safety campaign and is planning to sue them. Sandrellah Merhej, the lawyer in question, wants to stop the ad because it is disrespectful to religious symbols (mainly Christian Saints in that case). She even stated that a protest was being planned against MTV but they decided to legally sue MTV instead.

Now isn’t that the most ironic thing ever? someone suing MTV for disrespecting Christianity while MTV keeps bragging about standing for Christian rights in Lebanon? What would be even more ironic and funny is for the lawyer in question to fall into a pothole and ruin her tires on her way to the hearing session.

I personally loved the ad and thought it brilliantly tackled road safety in Lebanon.

[YouTube]

sandrellah

#Sawwet16: Uber Offering Free Rides on Elections Day All Across Lebanon

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Beirut_Municipal-Elections_blog_960x480_r2

Uber Beirut keeps coming up with the coolest campaigns. Only yesterday I was telling my friends how I ordered #UberJanerik and delivered them to my wife. The driver delivered 2 nicely packed boxes of Janerik with a bag of salt for just 4$ to her office. Today, Uber launched a new campaign aiming to encourage voters in Beirut and across Lebanon to cast their vote.

#Sawwet16: Uber wants you to go vote:
Leb_Elections_English

Municipal elections begin this Sunday in Beirut, Bekaa, Baalbeck and Hermel and for that occasion, Uber is offering free rides to and from the polls to help everyone get out and vote.

How does it work?
– Open or download the Uber app.
– Enter promo code ‘Sawwet16’.
– On Election day, request a ride to and from your polling location.

The offer is only valid for 2 rides during polling hours (7am – 7pm). Maximum value per ride is $15.

Sunday Morning Escape

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Bike1

You might have visited every city in the country, but if you have not experienced Lebanon by bike then you have definitely been missing out. Three years ago, my friends got me a bike, they were certain that it was going to end up in the garage with layers of dust covering it. To everyone’s surprise, from that day, I have been biking every single weekend.

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Sunday for me, has drastically changed from a lazy day (±200 calories) to the most active day of the week (+2000 calories). On an average, we cover around 60-70 Km per ride, taking anywhere between 3-5 hours, depending on the number of stops we do. Our rides are not competitive, we are not in it to win a championship, but rather escape, be active, enjoy the outdoors and Live Love Lebanon.

When is the best time to go biking?
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My journey starts every Sunday at 6am. I wake up, grab a light breakfast (usually a small sandwich), pack my bike and gear and head out for my ritual ride. The ride usually starts at 8am and ends by 1pm, just in time for Sunday lunch. Before you start, find yourself a biking partner, it’s always more fun and a lot safer when you have someone with you. Every week we set out to discover a new location in the country.

What’s beautiful about bike rides, is that you get to see the places you usually miss out on by car. You can go into the narrow streets, stop and admire anything you find interesting along the way, enjoy the scenery, discover new places and take lots of amazing pictures.

What type of biker are you?

There are plenty of locations to enjoy different types of rides. City rides, sea side rides, mountain rides, uphill rides, and my personal favorites are the offroad rides.

Beginner:
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If you are a beginner, haven’t been on a bike for a long time or panic around cars, I would advise you to stick to relatively closed circuits, where cars aren’t swarming around you, like the Dbayeh Marina, Raouche, Beirut Waterfront or Amchit seaside boulevards.

Average:
Bike2

If you are an ok biker like most people, then you can venture a bit and hit the streets, the best place to ride is the on the old sea side road Jbeil – Amchit – Batroun – Anfeh. It’s relatively a straight path with few slopes, not many cars use that road on a Sunday morning, the scenery is breathtaking, and there are many places where you can stop and relax along the way. You can stop at the beach and have a swim, fuel up with a lemonade in the old Batroun souks or even get a glass of beer and chill at Colonel Beer.

Advanced:
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If you are an advanced biker, you can burn few more more calories by riding uphill in the Metn area, starting in Baabdat and moving up to Ain El Sefsaf or even shoot for longer rides in the Bekaa valey from Taanayel to Qaraoun.

Thrill Seeker:

Thrill seekers can go into remote rocky areas in Wata El Joz, Keserwan and enjoy an offroad experience. Of course you need a mountain bike and some extra protection gear to endure the ride.

How much does it cost?
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If you don’t have a bike, you can always purchase one, you don’t need an expensive bike. You can get a mountain bike that works both for city rides and offroad for $500-700. If you don’t want to invest in a bike just yet, there are plenty of bike rentals in Beirut, Gemmayze, Jbeil, Amchit and Batroun. You can rent a bike for as low as 7,000 L.L.

All in All:
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In Lebanon, we have the perfect landscape and weather for outdoor activities. Unfortunately, our roads are in terrible conditions, there are no bike lanes and car drivers have no respect for bikers on the streets. This is the main reason why I bike very early on Sundays, to minimize as much as possible the risks of getting hit by a car and avoid heavy traffic.

With the upcoming municipal elections, electoral programs should focus more on making the cities open and fit for healthier outdoor life, encourage people to go out, be active and use less and less their cars. Of course we can always dream of having a bicycle highway, like the one Germany just opened. It’s a 62 miles bicycle road that connects 10 western cities including Duisburg, Bochum, and Hamm, as well as four universities.

GoPro Camera Records Amchit Motorcycle Crash

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crash2

A motorist caught on his GoPro a bike running into someone crossing the Amchit highway. Luckily no one was hurt in the accident and the biker explained in a comment that he wasn’t driving at a very high speed and was surprised by the person crossing the road.

To be honest, they did look like they were going a bit fast but the blame is on the guy crossing the road and the authorities for not installing pedestrian bridges on the way. Nevertheless, even if there are no pedestrian crossings on the highway, you have to be crazy to cross that highway.