A Blog to Keep the Lizards Away. It's about posting and sharing the things I'm into. Hope you enjoy the show!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Marc Marquez - Our Brightest MotoGP Star

The Story So Far

Marc Marquez was born in Cervera, Lleida in Spain in 1993. On board his first Enduro machine at the age of just five, he has been competing since he was six years old.

KTM recruited Marc Marquez to Grand Prix racing at age 14 for the 2008 season of 14-year old. Márquez joined Team Repsol KTM with Alberto Puig as Team Director and Emilio Alzamora as Marc‘s personal consultant. Alzamora, a former world champion had been the young rider’s mentor at his Monllau Road Racing School.

In 2007 Marquez was competing in the 125cc class of the Spanish championships where he excelled in some races and finished eighth overall, exhibiting enough all-round talent to catch the attention of KTM Grand Prix Technical Director Harald Bartol.

Bartol said back then, the project with Marc Márquez was in line with KTM’s philosophy. “We have brought countless riders to the top In Motocross and Enduro racing and we are determined to do the same in Grand Prix racing. Marc’s achievements in the Spanish Championship justifies opening the doors to the World Championship,” he said. “I believe Emilio Alzamora is the ideal person to guide him as he goes into the Grand Prix series. I am sure Marc will be very successful.”

Marc made his championship debut as a 15 year old in April 2008 at the 125cc Portuguese Grand Prix. He is the youngest Spanish rider to take a pole position or a podium in a motorcycle racing world championship.

At 15, Márquez achieved his first podium in June 2008 at the British Grand Prix. For 2009, he was a factory KTM rider, and in the French Grand Prix achieved his first pole at only 16 years old. He also took pole for the 2010 Spanish Grand Prix but on lap one the exhaust pipe fell off, causing Márc to crash heavily.

His first win was on 6 June 2010 at Mugello. Further victories at Silverstone, Assen and Catalunya in the next three races saw Márquez become the youngest rider to win four successive races. A fifth win at the Sachsenring saw Márc became the first rider since Valentino Rossi in 1997 to win five successive races in 125cc racing.

He dropped to third in the standings after being taken out in the first corner at Motorland Aragon. Four wins from Motegi onwards moved Márquez into a 17-point lead with one round to go. At Estoril, the race was red-flagged due to rain with Márc running second. When returning to the grid for the second race, Márquez fell on the sighting lap and returned to the pits. Márc re-started at the back of the field. Despite this, Márquez recovered to win and extend his lead before the Valencia finale. His tenth victory of the season moved him to within one of tying the record set by Rossi in 1997. He would fall short of tying it as he took a measured fourth place at the final race in Valencia to become the second-youngest World Champion after Loris Capirossi.

Márquez moved into the Moto2 class for 2011 as the sole rider of the new team Monlau Competición, run by his manager Emilio Alzamora.

Márquez started the season with a pair of accidents in Qatar and at Jerez. He finished 21st in Portugal, before taking his first victory in the class at the French Grand Prix, recovering from a poor start that left him in ninth position.

At his home race in Catalonia, Márquez finished second behind championship leader Stefan Bradl, before another fall at Silverstone, having started from his first Moto2 pole position. With Bradl taking his fourth victory in the first six races, Márquez trailed him by 82 points at the end of the weekend. Márquez made a mid-season surge winning six of the next seven races to move within six points of Bradl in the championship.

In Japan, Márquez took his seventh pole of the season but was beaten in the race by Andrea Iannone, but Márquez's second place finish combined with a fourth place for Bradl, allowed Márquez to take the championship lead by a point.

At the Australian Grand Prix, Márquez was involved in an incident with Ratthapark Wilairot during practice; Márquez crashed into the back of Wilairot after the session had been concluded, and for riding in an "irresponsible manner", was given a one-minute penalty onto his qualifying time. The penalty ensured Márquez started last on the grid, but he made his way through to finish in third place, albeit losing his championship lead to Bradl, who finished second.

In the Malaysian Grand Prix, Márquez's race weekend was hampered in the opening minutes of free practice, as he crashed on a damp patch. After sitting out two further sessions, Márquez completed two laps in qualifying, but his times were only good enough for 36th on the grid. He did not start the race, as he failed a medical examination prior to the warm-up on race morning. Márquez attended the final race of the season in Valencia, in the hope of being fit to compete, but withdrew due to his continued vision problems, giving Bradl the 2011 title.

At the half way point in the 2012 Moto2 World Championship, Marquez has a 43 points lead over fellow Spaniard Pol Espargaro after the German GP round at Sachenring.
Looking for to the 2013 season, Dorna and IRTA have decided that the rule preventing MotoGP rookies from being signed to a factory team had to be scrapped due to the difficulties presented by the limited number of bikes available to ride.

The catalyst of all this is of course Marc Marquez.

With the Rookie Rule out of the way, Marquez’ path has been cleared to join Dani Pedrosa at the Repsol Honda squad. A HRC source said that no contract had been signed, though they acknowledged that talks were ongoing. They also affirmed that Honda were keen to retain the services of Dani Pedrosa, who they still consider vital to their Championship chances.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Belgian Baron's Hindu Temple in Cairo - Fact and Fantasy

Baron Empain's 1906 Fantasy in Heliopolis 
Cairo's New City of the Sun

A modern garish light show illuminates the Baron's Palace

The Baron’s Palace, of course, is not a temple at all, but was built between 1907 and 1911 as the eccentric home of the wealthy Belgian industrialist, Eduard Louis Joseph, Baron Empain, where he lived on and off until his death in 1929. Baron Empain had come to Egypt in 1904 to try and salvage a contract of one of his companies to build a railway line between Mansoura and Matariyah. The contract was lost to another company, but the Baron stayed on, as many foreigners have done before and after him, entranced by Egypt itself.

The newly completed Palace in 1912

In 1906, he established a company on six thousand acres of land acquired from the government at the ridiculous price of one pound an acre. The land was in the desert, ten kilometres from Cairo, but Empain was to transform it into the chic suburb of Heliopolis, the City of the Sun. Just as modern cities like 6th October and El-Obour provide many of Cairo's citizens with cleaner air and more space, so back then Heliopolis offered every amenity to the wealthy patrons who chose to live there. Spacious villas and exotic apartment blocks were built next to a golf course, a racetrack and park.

Gardens, Fountains and Parklands. 
Now the Palace sits swallowed by urban sprawl and on the way to  Cairo Airport

To preside over all this, Baron Empain had built for himself an extraordinary residence, atop an artificial hill from which he could survey his city of the sun, and no doubt be seen by all its residents. It is said that not only could he see the whole of Heliopolis from the palace tower, but could even see as far out as the pyramids, so many miles away.

Taking just over three years to build, and inspired by the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and by Hindu temples in Orissa, the palace was designed by Alexandre Marcel, who also designed the Basilica in Heliopolis. It was he who had constructed and decorated the Oriental Pavilion next to the Royal Palace of Laeken in Belgium. King Albert and Queen Elizabeth of the Belgians must have been reminded of home, when they stayed here during their pre -World War One visit to Egypt.

Decoration above the Front Door

Surprisingly, the whole structure is made of reinforced concrete, although its design suggests sandstone. 

The exterior of the palace is covered with so many statues of so many varied designs.   

Snakes and elephants sit alongside Buddhas and Renaissance figures. The overall effect is truly astounding, making onlookers pause to take a second breath as they view it for the first time. A team of artists and sculptors was brought over from Indonesia to give the exterior such an oriental feel.

The interior was designed by Georges-Louis Claude and is equally extraordinary, with marble and wood alongside painted ceilings and stuccoed walls. Or that, at least, is what it used to look like before the decay which set in when the Empain family sold the property.

After the 1952 Revolution it fell into a condition of total disrepair, the parquet floors, Belgian mirrors and gold door-knobs being stolen by anyone who could manage to get in.

The palace remained in this condition until just a few years ago.

Far from being the home of a wealthy industrialist and his family, the palace became the home of thousands of bats and stray dogs, with stories of ghosts and strange goings-on to accompany them.

To mark the centenary of the building of Heliopolis, the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Culture managed to acquire the property from its owners and to begin a restoration. Whilst the interior has been thoroughly cleaned, there still remains much to be done. The exterior of the palace, though, and its grounds have been beautifully restored. The long-term future use of the Baron's Palace is yet to be decided.

Baron Empain, fabulously wealthy in his day, now lies in a granite tomb beneath his Basilica in Heliopolis, whilst his extraordinary home is now a ruin.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

WW2 Pearl Harbour - Rare Box Brownie Pictures Just Found

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii  (December 7, 1941)                                                                                          

Thought  you might find these photos very interesting;  what quality from 1941.

Pearl  Harbor  photos found in an old Brownie stored in a foot  locker. And just recently
taken  to be developed. Isn't  it amazing how a film could last so long in a  camera without disintegrating?  

Fantastic photos taken 69 years ago. Some of you will have to go to a museum to see what a  Brownie camera looked like?

Here is a  simple picture of what we are talking about. . .


PEARL  HARBOR December  7th, 1941