The Good Oil: Pundits pick return of Renault Alpine

Renault Alpine during the 1971 Mote Carlo rally. Photo / Supplied
Renault Alpine during the 1971 Mote Carlo rally. Photo / Supplied

Stories that Renault would revive the Alpine nameplate have been around for years. But the rumours are picking up pace now that the legendary A110 (pictured during the 1971 Monte Carlo rally) is about to celebrate its 50th birthday. The latest whisper is that Renault will unveil a new Alpine at the Monaco GP on June 5. It could be based on the GT-R platform from allied carmaker Nissan. One way or another, it won't be the only Renault on show: eight out of the 24 Formula One cars on the grid this year are powered by the same Renault RS27 engine that powered Sebastian Vettel to the last two world championships.

Schumacher hits $1b but Tiger still top
SchumacherFormula One ace Michael Schumacher is the second richest sportsman in the world, after golf's stumbling star Tiger Woods. London's The Sunday Times each year ranks the most bankable sports stars, taking into account salaries past and present. Woods tops the list at $1.1 billion, joined by golfing greats Arnold Palmer at No. 4 ($480 million), Greg Norman at No.

9 ($363 million) and Jack Nicklaus at No. 11 ($330 million). Schumacher has amassed a little over $1 billion. Also on the list are F1 hotshots Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, who tie for 18th place, worth $207 million. Nascar's Dale Earnhardt ties basketball star Kobe Bryant in sixth with $390 million.

New limited-edition Mini Cooper pours on power
The new Mini John Cooper Works GP has been unveiled at the Mini United Festival in France. Mini wouldn't talk power output but it did reveal the GP scooted round Germany's Nurburgring circuit in 8m 23s - 19s quicker than the 2006 JCW GP model. Like its predecessor, the GP-spec hardtop loses its back seat for weight reduction, gets full power and suspension upgrades, including a race-spec suspension and brakes, and sports exclusive aero tweaks, wheels and graphics to differentiate itself from the regular JCW. Figure on power output of around 160kW, say go-fast watchers. Only 2000 of the new Mini JCW GPs will be built.

Speedsters go round the bend in One Lap of America - and it's all for love
It's called One Lap of America and inspired by the famous coast-to-coast Cannonball Run. Drivers and their teams each year in May leave South Bend, Indiana, drive day and night for eight days and 5300km through five mid-west states, competing at nine racetracks along the way, before returning to South Bend for a knees-up. The Nissan GTR has dominated the event over the past few years and it did so again this year, filling the first three places. The field of 75 included an Audi TT RS, BMW M5 and 1 Series M Coupe, a factory-prepped Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, Porsche 911s, Chevrolet Corvettes of various vintages, a Dodge Viper or two and a Ferrari 430. One Lap isn't actually about winning - there's no prize money and trophies are modest. It's more about camaraderie.

Vettel leaps for kung-fu stardom
Sebastian Vettel has certainly seen off all-comers on the racing circuit. But can the reigning Formula One world champion blow them away in a kung-fu movie? No, we're not kidding. Vettel is starring with action woman Celina Jad in a short film called Drive of the Dragon. It's part of a campaign to promote Vettel's link with Infinity, Nissan's luxury nameplate that sponsors Vettel and the Red Bull Racing team. Those who have seen the flick say it's cheesy.

Poland joins supercar club
A company called Arrinera Automotive has unveiled Poland's first supercar. The 1300kg package is a mix of steel and carbon fibre and is powered by a supercharged 6.2-litre V8. The makers say the car sprints from 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 340km/h. Engineer Lee Noble - the same man behind supercars carrying the Ultima, Ascari, Rossion, Fenix and Noble names - has set up the suspension. Production is expected to begin later this year.

We are the world
Among the silly town names in the United States uncovered in a report published on SmarterTravel.com: Why, Arizona; Whynot, Mississippi; Hell, Michigan; Pig, Kentucky; Elephant Butte, New Mexico; Monkeys Eyebrow, Kentucky; and Embarrass, Minnesota.
Villagers in China's Shandong Province who are too poor or isolated to hook up to home heating fuel have an alternative, according to a report by China News Centre. They take giant, heavy-duty balloons that resemble 4.5m-long condoms and walk to service stations to inflate them with natural gas every four or five days. The danger of explosion is high, but the balloons remain many villagers' best option.

Hapless crook Robert Strank, 39, was arrested in Beavercreek, Ohio, and charged with trying to rob a bank. Police said he approached the bank's counter but became ill and asked a teller to call 911 to summon medics. However, he recovered before medics arrived and handed the teller a hold-up note. He left the bank with the loot and was heading to his car when the cops swooped.

- NZ Herald

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