Group B + more things

11 minutes estimated reading time

Group B rallying

Group B rallying was the stuff of my childhood. Its history was complex. In the 1970s the motorsport governing body FIA was in dispute with formula one team owners. As a result the FIA reformed one of its own committees related to formula one called CSI, in 1978, into the autonomous Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA). This came under Jean-Marie Balestre. He was a former journalist and president of the go-karting association.


Just a few years later, FISA re-organised racing and rallying standards. It replaced groups for unmodified and modified production cars. That was largely a like for like swap. Secondly it combined grand touring (sports cars) with a race circuit only production-derived special builds class into Group B.

Group B allowed really small production runs of really fast cars with only a superficial relationship (if any) to cars that could be sold in a showroom. Regulations had a generous minimum kerb weight and allowed rear wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Audi had just launched its Audi Ur Quattro which showed the potential of four-wheel drive in a normal car package. There was no restrictions on turbo-charged engines ‘boost pressure’ – allowing for small engines in a light car package with immense power.


1984 was a crucial year for Group B, when the format would form its ultimate shape.

Audi Sport Quattro S1

For the first few years Audi’s production derived Ur Quattro had won loose surface events and a rear-wheel drive Lancia 037 doing better on tarmac roads. Other manufacturers were bringing cars into the championship as well including Toyota, Porsche and Opel. Peugeot brought the first car that fully took advantage of the regulations. A two seater, four wheel drive, mid-engined car in a space frame. A slew of similar competitors followed the year after, including the Ford RS200. This was the stuff my dreams were made of. My exercise books covered in sketches – side profile designs of vehicles that would be optimised for Group B regulations.

The end

1986 saw a series of fatal accidents that would result in Group B being shut down for safety and PR reasons. This created the illusion of a safer sport, but the reality was that the body count peaked some three years later in 1989, due to the way rallies were organised back then and how South Europeans conducted themselves as spectators – playing chicken in the road, dropping rocks on the road to hinder non local drivers and trying to touch cars as they went by.

This is where Richard Madden (of Game of Thrones) short film comes in capturing the difficulties of a driver managing a Group B car and dealing with trauma.


A reporter exposes China’s influence in Canada – Asia Times and Huang Jing on China’s relations with the world – contrast with FT op-ed Xi Jinping’s plan to reset China’s economy and win back friends | Financial Times 

US-China tech war: Shenzhen set to become international sourcing hub for semiconductors, electronics with new trading exchange | South China Morning Post – probably beneficial for Russia to get around sanctions as well. Larger perspective on Chinese business pressures: Global Chinese firms try ‘decoupling’ from China as US business climate turns hostile | South China Morning Post Public relations specialists note a growing trend of Chinese companies trying to localise their image and operations to remain competitive in the US. Between perceived security threats and an emphasis on new supply chain alternatives, US policies have left Chinese firms scrambling for cover. This is a world away from the ‘China going global‘ narrative that my former colleague Matt Stafford alongside Chris Reitermann used to talk about just over a decade ago.

Tesla cuts prices in China for second time in three months to reduce inventory – PingWest – Mercedes and Volkswagen have also been struggling with Chinese electric vehicle sales as well

Why Isis offshoot is still a threat for China’s businesspeople in Afghanistan | South China Morning Post 

Japanese electronics giant Sony banned from posting on Chinese microblogging site Weibo for ‘violating laws’ | South China Morning Post 

Consumer behaviour

Who are the rioters who stormed Brazil’s government offices? | Financial Timesmany pro-Bolsonaro truckers blocked highways across the country, choking supply chains and at one point forcing the closure of Brazil’s main international airport. These hardline backers are nationalist, socially conservative and often evangelical Christians. They accuse Lula and his Workers’ party of being corrupt and against family values, claiming the left intends to implant socialism in Brazil. 

How to fix people’s perception that climate news is not useful? – high degree of climate change fatigue


What the UK’s financial district is saying to each other about Brexit

The End of China’s Magical Credit Machine | Rhodium Group 

China’s industrial policy has mostly been a flop | Noahpinion  – this assumes that China shared the same priorities as Korea and Japan did in their economic rise. See also Beijing blocks listings of ‘red light’ companies to steer funding to strategic sectors | Financial Times“The Chinese government doesn’t want a market-based stock market,” said Larry Hu, an economist at Macquarie Group in Hong Kong. “It wants one that helps the authority carry out industry policy.” The CSRC did not immediately respond to a request for comment

The Poland/Malaysia model – by Noah Smith – Noahpinion – Malaysia hasn’t been that successful and has had a lot of crony capitalism

The Nokia Risk | Phenomenal WorldDenmark, Israel, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and Taiwan a handful of firms account for a hugely disproportionate share of both profits and R&D spending. The firms which dominate these seven economies have all been extraordinarily successful in the knowledge economy of the past three decades: Samsung Electronics in Korea, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in Taiwan, Novo Nordisk (pharmaceuticals) in Denmark, and Roche and Novartis (pharmaceuticals) in Switzerland


Market Cap 100: China-based car OEMs proceed on bumpy 2022 – electric cars are a key part of this

UK still ducking the issue on gas storage | Financial Times – energy is still not being treated by the UK as a strategic consideration


Jack Ma cedes control of Ant Group | Financial Times 


Number of Chinese companies at CES event less than half of pre-pandemic level – PingWest 

Fascinating tech found on Wagner mercenaries: Russia’s unusual laser devices fall into Ukrainian hands | Defence Blog 


Transcript – The Myths About Fat People 

90% of people in China province infected with Covid, says local health official | China | The Guardian 

Hong Kong

Is Hong Kong’s ‘2-dish-rice’ phenomenon a dark sign that the city is returning to widespread poverty? | South China Morning Post  – Hong Kong is in recession, this apparently harks back to the 1950s

Dim Future for Hong Kong’s Rural Industries – Varsitythe government tends to avoid underutilised plots controlled by village gentries and land banks of property developers when it tries to resume lands for urban development. – Hong Kong oligarchs still have some pull for the time being

Why Beijing Wants Jimmy Lai Locked Up – The AtlanticBeijing has weaponized the courts against its longtime adversaries—just as Chinese state media continues to promote Lai as the poster boy of everything nefarious in Hong Kong. For both purposes, Lai has a sufficiently high profile and is convincingly rich enough to have fomented a subversive uprising; and, amid the nationalist atmosphere that prevails in Beijing, Lai also had highly suspect foreign connections that reached close to the center of power in Washington, particularly during the Trump administration. By turning to its old playbook of assigning blame to a hostile force at home backed by support from abroad, the Chinese Communist Party is falling into a trap of its own creation. Given the sentences that Lai is likely to receive for his alleged crimes, Lai could very well be imprisoned for the rest of his life. In looking for a scapegoat, Beijing may find it has created a martyr.


The Liem family and The Salim Group and how crony capitalism busted Indonesia in 1997/8


How Silicon Valley was build on the back of defence research

Spotlight CES: Spectricity unveils first multispectral image sensor for smartphones – 

IBM Loses Top US Patent Spot After Decades as Leader – Bloomberg 


Panasonic to Boost China Investment Significantly, Bucking Decoupling Trend – Bloomberg 


The Anti-Apple Watches: Silicon Valley’s Other Status Timepieces Are Beautifully Analog — The Information – and that’s because the Apple Watch isn’t a watch, its something else

What China’s reopening means for luxury | Vogue Business 


Best of Jeremy Bullmore – Bullmore had been a major force at JWT


This strange metal alloy is the toughest material on Earth | BGR

Interesting commentary on materials development and the role that the Apollo space programme played to create a chemical and materials science golden age that had applications in other areas.

A secret self-healing material makes Roman buildings ultra-durable | Interesting Engineering 


Whatever happened to Google Search? | Financial Times – echoes some of the thinking I shared here. Worthwhile reading in conjunction with TikTok’s Secret Sauce | Knight First Amendment Institute 


LVMH-owned DFS eyes travel retail’s post-lockdown future | Vogue Business 


Tory MP leads warnings over UK security after Chinese spyware ‘found in Government car’“If these SIM cards have been duplicitously installed, then this is CCP espionage. If the SIM cards are operationally standard, then it is a failure of security not to have removed them to protect the data of our Government and sensitive Government sites.” – I wouldn’t be surprise if it was the latter rather than the former

The Long War in Ukraine | Foreign AffairsWestern strategists have sought to preempt a military standoff in two ways. Some, such as the leaders of several Baltic countries, have called for arming Kyiv with more of the heavy weapons it would need to expel Russian forces from all Ukrainian territory; others, including Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, have suggested that Ukraine’s political leaders should consider a negotiated solution that falls short of complete victory but would at least end the fighting


Lacoste moves to collective model as Louise Trotter exits | Vogue BusinessThe British designer joined Lacoste from Joseph, and previously worked at premium high street brands Whistles and Jigsaw. At Lacoste, she applied her creative vision to both Lacoste’s fashion shows and general collections, bringing “real consistency” across its designs, according to the brand. “She has also accompanied the shift initiated by Lacoste towards womenswear, imagining a new wardrobe combining comfort and style,” the statement reads. Lacoste’s last fashion show was in October 2021 for Spring/Summer 2022, for which Trotter drew inspiration from her passion for cycling. Sales reached €2.5 billion in 2022, according to the brand.


Taiwan plans domestic satellite champion to resist any China attack | Financial Times“Our primary concern . . . is facilitating the societal resilience, to make sure for example that journalists can send videos to . . . international viewers even during a large-scale disaster,” Tang said, adding that the system would also support “telephoning and videoconferencing — think [Ukrainian president Volodymyr] Zelenskyy’s daily addresses.” Starlink, the mobile internet satellite constellation operated by Musk’s SpaceX, has helped Kyiv maintain communications with its forces despite Russian attacks


I wrote a story for a friend – by Julian GoughI wrote the End Poem for Minecraft, the most popular video game of all time. I never signed a contract giving Mojang the rights to the End Poem, and so Microsoft (who bought Minecraft from Mojang) also don’t own it. I do. Rather than sue the company or fight with my old friend, who founded the company and has since gone off in the deep end, I am dedicating the poem to the public domain. You’ll find it at the bottom of this post, along with a Creative Commons Public Domain dedication.

Taiwan to join WTO chip dispute consultation to understand possible impacts | DigiTimes