Opening Up The Valkyrie

Aston Martin has built a $4.2 million F1 car for the road. But what’s it like to drive this already mythical 849 kW creature?

By Jeremy Taylor 01/05/2023

The home straight at the Bahrain International Circuit measures just over one kilometre – or long enough for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton to brake their F1 cars into the first turn at a speed approaching 330kph.

The circuit in the sand dunes provided the backdrop for the F1 season opener earlier this month (March). It was also an inspired location for the launch of perhaps the most eagerly-awaited hypercar of the new millennium, the Aston Martin Valkyrie.

Like the F1-inspired Mercedes-AMG One, Aston’s oft-delayed project has been a long time coming. Low-slung, lightweight and insanely fast, the $4.2 million Valkyrie claims to push the boundaries of automotive design to the max — and then some.

Production of the outrageous two-seater began in 2021 but thanks to Covid and further delays, this February was the earliest chance for journalists to experience this 849 kW car on the track. Naturally, Robb Report ANZ was first on the starting grid in Bahrain for the drive of a lifetime…

A split-second glance at instruments on the Valkyrie’s detachable steering wheel reveals I’m hurtling towards turn one at 301kph. It’s not far short of grand prix car performance but much, much faster than anticipated.

Harnessed in to an enclosed cockpit with air-con blasting in my face, there’s an otherworldly feel to driving the Valkyrie. And while my eyes focus on the distance markers leading into the corner, the numbers flicking up on the digital readout somehow feel far removed from my speed of travel.

Brake, brake, brake, then turn the perfectly weighted electro-hydraulic, power-assisted steering to clip the apex of the curve. Valkyrie definitely sounds like an F1 car, a 12-into-1 exhaust system providing the awesome soundtrack. That acoustic high is something that would likely be missing from a turbocharged V6.

The naturally aspirated, 6.5-litre V12 created by Cosworth screams as I flick down through the gears in Track mode, the most dynamic of the three settings. There’s no ‘drive’ button in a Valkyrie – every change of the ‘old school’ single clutch, seven-speed sequential ‘box is made via the paddle-shifters.

Grip is phenomenal but it’s the sheer shove-in-the-back power of the Aston as it exits the bend that astonishes most. Then comes the V12’s sting in the tail – an extra boost of 119 kW provided by a rear-mounted, Rimac-sourced hybrid system. Those same 1.7kWh batteries power the Valkyrie’s reverse gear, although hopefully I won’t be needing that today.

In the right hands, the rear-wheel drive Aston Martin will rocket from 0-100km/h in just 3.0 seconds and on to a frankly ridiculous top speed of around 380km/h. Maximum rpm is a head-spinning 11,100rpm. The coupe is silly quick but unlike the two F1 cars I’ve driven, Valkyrie is also remarkably easy to steer, with mid-engine balance and epic downforce that keeps everything firmly glued to the track.

Remember, this is a car built for the road, so it also features number plates, door camera mirrors and a full suspension lift system for creeping over speed humps. Luggage space is restricted to a tiny cubbyhole in the frunk no bigger than a bag of flour.

The all-alloy, overhead cam engine helps keep the Valkyrie down to a modest 1,270kg on the road. In fact, climbing out of the teardrop-shaped cockpit once back in the pitlane, I notice the bodywork is so trim that when fully open, the wing doors gently flutter in the breeze.

Engineers didn’t use a single steel component in the car’s structure, which is 100 percent carbon fibre. Every part has been on a strict diet, with magnesium alloy wheels weighing less than the Michelin Pilot Cup tyres, the world’s smallest, high-level brake light – just 6.5mm wide – and fantastically efficient titanium brakes with carbon ceramic discs.

“We used so much titanium that the Ministry of Defence called from London to ask exactly what we needed it for – they thought we might be building something we shouldn’t,” chuckles Miles Nurnberger, Aston Martin’s amiable director of design.

Nurnberger is one of the few members of the team involved in the Valkyrie project since its inception in 2016. Despite a brief and somewhat unlikely spell at budget brand Dacia in 2021, he returned last year in time to see the car come to life.

Conceived at a time when Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing were partners, the Valkyrie is the brainchild of F1 legend, Adrian Newey. Considered one of the best engineers in the sport, his racing car designs for McLaren, Williams and Red Bull have won 11 constructors’ titles and almost 200 grand prix.

Key to Newey’s radical design was a striking aerodynamic exterior and an open underfloor. Two channels large enough to hide an adult pass around the cockpit, serving up air to the car’s massive rear diffuser. The resulting downforce is in the region of 1,100kg at 150km/h.

“Adrian had always wanted to design a car for the road,” says Nurnberger. “He thought creating a road car would be less constrained by the regulations he faced in F1 and therefore easier – he soon realised it is equally as difficult.

“His idea was a teardrop-shaped cabin as compact as possible. It was an aerodynamic concept that challenged us every step of the way. In car design, most mornings you go to work and already know the answers. With Valkyrie it was solving a new problem every day.”

Among them was the thorny issue of the famous Aston Martin winged badge – a logo that has adorned every one of the British marque’s cars since the 1920s.
“Adrian didn’t want our badge on the front of the car because it was 6mm deep, weighed too much and created vortices that affected the aerodynamics.

“Once again it was left to the team to innovate, so we developed a metal badge that was 40 microns thick and now weighs 95 percent less than the one we use on a Vantage. We could have designed a sticker or painted it on but that wasn’t good enough.”

The windscreen wiper alone took more than a year to design. Sweeping water off a curved section of glass at high speed, as well as meeting strict road regulations, forced Aston to scour the internet for solutions.

“We even challenged the regulations and spoke to firms who specialised in high-tech glass. In the end, we contacted a company that designed the windscreen on the Space Shuttle and they came up with a solution. The Valkyrie wiper actually has a torsion bar and pivots as it crosses the curved surface.”

Just 150 examples of Aston Martin’s first hypercar will be built, plus a further 25 ‘track-focussed’ AMR Pro cars (if you’re lunatic enough). A run of 85 roofless Spider versions will be the last model off the company’s Gaydon production line. All versions are sold and there’s even a waiting list.

Nurnberger is currently working on the next generation of Aston Martin models and states he’ll utilise features from the Valkyrie in their design. That’s likely to include hybridisation and a number of high-performance versions, similar to the barnstorming DBX 707 SUV.

Of course, none will compete with the incredible Valkyrie, a car that is likely to achieve mythical status in the years ahead, like the ground-breaking McLaren F1 and Bugatti Chiron. Just climb into the Aston Martin’s space capsule cockpit and press the start button – everyone lucky enough enters like an astronaut and leaves a race track hero.

astonmartin.com

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How To Make the Ultimate Hangover Cure

Is this the ultimate cocktail to know by heart?

By Belinda Aucott-christie 29/05/2024

The Savoy in London, a beacon of luxury and opulence, holds a significant place in British history as the nation’s first luxury hotel. It was a haven where the affluent sought to experience a taste of royalty. Interestingly, it was within these grand walls that the alleged liquid remedy for hangovers, The Corpse Reviver, was born.

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Due to its medicinal qualities, this cocktail has passed into drinking folklore, making its recipe a right of passage for any lush.

The Corpse Reviver is aptly named for its life-affirming qualities and claimed ability to knock a hangover on the head.

It’s reassuring to know that the dreaded hangover was such a cause of social consternation in the late 1940s, that it demanded a creative response from Savoy’s hotel bar staff. We’ll drink to that.

Adding to the Corpse Reviver’s allure is the mystery surrounding its creation. Was it the ingenious work of Savoy bartender Johnny Johnson or the creative genius of Joe Gilmore? The exact timeline of its inception between 1948 and 1954 remains a tantalising enigma. 

It’s a zesty, slightly sour hangover cure with a cheeky touch of absinthe shining through. If your hangover is very bad, add a little more syrup to the mix.

To make, take a cocktail shaker and add equal parts dry gin, triple sec, lemon juice, and Lillet Blanc (3/4 of a shot each). 

Add a tiny dash of sugar syrup and absinthe, shake all ingredients with ice until very cold, strain and pour into a chilled coupe.

Garnish with a chic lemon twist and say cheerio to your hangover. 

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ThirdHome Arrives Down Under

The global home-swap club targeting Australia’s millionaires.

By Belinda Aucott 24/05/2024

Wayne Shealy made his name developing resorts from New England to the Caribbean, and shifting more than $3 billion in luxury real estate. In 2010 he started ThirdHome to let luxury homeowners leverage the empty parts of properties in their portfolio to enjoy better holidays. Billed as an exclusive community of ‘neighbours’, ThirdHome now facilitates swapping second and third homes for the super-wealthy.

Wade Shealy, CEO and Founder of ThirdHome, a luxury home-swapping membership program. THIRDHOME

While the glamorous international portfolio spans illustrious private residences, including castles, ranches and chalets, it has been extended to private islands, pieds-à-terre, safari camps, wineries, boutique hotels and yachts.

Turin Castle in Forfar, Scotland. THIRDHOME

Purpose-built for people who own at least two residences and have homes to spare valued at over $2 million, all applicants are vetted and assessed, before being allowed to join. With a global portfolio across 100 countries and 2500 destinations, Shealy is now focusing on Australia.

“We’re super excited for the next chapter of our Australian journey,” Shealy says, from his horse farm outside Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee. 

“We know there’s an extremely healthy appetite for Australians with second homes wanting to become members, who love to travel and want to enjoy exclusive access to the world’s more exceptional stays for a fraction of the price,” he says of his motivation for extending the network Down Under.  He notes that by cleverly utilising the downtime in their own homes, they can fund extravagant trips they may have never dreamt possible. Doing so in a gated community that values trust and respect.

Château De Vézins in Loire Valley, France. THIRDHOME

The spirit of sharing drives the sservice, with ThirdHome members acquiring points in the system each time they open their doors to others. This makes it a self-regulating community backed by solid technology and vigilant management that keeps applicants A-grade.

“Our members are house proud and guest proud,” he adds. “They want the guests to have a great experience.”

Learn more about membership and the rules of engagement here

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Art for Investment

A new private gallery in Sydney helps collectors enter the secondary market.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 24/05/2024

When Art Basel opens next month in Switzerland, it will do so with fresh power under its wings. In 2022 the global art market totalled $67.8 billion, showing 3 percent year-on-year growth*. This year, art topped Knight Frank’s Luxury Investment Index, with prices rising by 11 percent over 2023. According to most reports, art is now a positively appreciating asset class. By comparison, the values of rare whisky, classic cars, handbags, and furniture fell.

This raises the question of how to invest wisely in art and ensure the sound provenance of your investment. Jesse Jack De Deyne and Boris Cornelissen from A Secondary Eye are here to help art collectors. Conceived as a private gallery with rotating exhibitions, the space is designed to help serious investors confidently buy and sell.

“We offer access to some of the finest works entering the secondary market in Australia and operate with a stringent provenance framework in place,” says Jess Jack De Deyne from the company’s top-floor space overlooking leafy Queen Street in Sydney’s Woollahra.

De Deyne and Cornelissen opened in May with a presentation of rare works by Rover Thomas, the late East Kimberly artist who represented Australia at the 1990 Venice Biennale.

Rover Thomas, Desert Meeting Place, 1994 natural earth pigments on canvas.

De Deyne specialises in Indigenous Australian art and comes to Sydney with a background as a Director in an Aboriginal Arts Centre and working for a leading auction house. Cornelissen is a former contemporary art specialist from Sotheby’s in London and Hong Kong.

“We are most effective when a prospective client comes to us with a specific artwork in mind,” explains De Deyne. “They may have recently been to Canberra to visit the highly regarded exhibition of Emily Kame Kngwarreye at the National Gallery of Australia and there is a specific period of the artist that they are drawn to. Through our contacts, we may be able to help source available related works that would not necessarily appear at auction.” 

Though A Secondary Eye was founded in 2020 in Brisbane, De Denye says the larger pool of collectors drew them down to Sydney. The new gallery’s private aspect seems to be a key selling point for the duo, who prize discretion and private sales. 

Rover Thomas, Lake Argyle, 1994 natural earth pigments on canvas

“Whereas auctions are publicly advertised, a private dealer can offer a work discreetly to a handful of clients without over-exposing it. And we can also present works in a more considered way through curated, high-quality exhibitions that tell the story of each work.”

While some may be intimidated by entering the art market, these art dealers say exposure to the art world is key to unlocking its potential. “Take the time to attend art fairs, exhibitions and auction viewings. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for advice. With time and experience, you will learn what you are drawn to and how the offered prices sit relative to other works in the market.”

In an art world overflowing with rules, customs, and jargon, De Deyne is quick to clarify the key difference between dealers and advisers for newbies. 

“An art dealer helps collectors buy and sell artworks and therefore has a commercial incentive in selling a work. The best art advisors work independently, often on a retainer, and don’t profit from the transaction, which means they can give their clients honest advice. 

De Deyne and Cornelissen are well-placed to help people get a foot in the market, no matter how experienced they are. Ultimately, they preach to the choir, appealing most to fine art collectors searching for a specific work. 

“We work in a niche area and ultimately attract people who share our interests. Art collectors, particularly on the secondary market, often follow the art, rather than the person selling it.”

Follow A Secondary Eye here for future exhibitions. 

*According to the 2023 Art Market 2023, authored by Dr. Clare McAndrew, Founder of Arts Economics and published by Art Basel in partnership with UBS

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Watch of the Week: Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph

Roger Dubuis unveils its innovative chronograph collection in Australia for the very first time.

By Josh Bozin 21/05/2024

When avant-garde Swiss watchmaker Roger Dubuis revealed its highly anticipated Chronograph Collection halfway through 2023, it was a testament to its haute horology department in creating such a technical marvel for everyday use. Long at the forefront of cutting-edge design and technological excellence, Roger Dubuis (pronounced Ro-ger Du-BWEE) is no stranger to such acclaim.

Now, fans down under will finally get a taste of the collection that made headlines, with the official Australian unveiling of its Chronograph Collection. Representing precision engineering, extraordinary craftsmanship, and audacious design, this collection, now in its fifth generation, continues to redefine the chronograph category.

Roger Dubuis Australia welcomes the Excalibur Spider Collection to the market, featuring the exquisite Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph, as well as the Excalibur Spider Revuelto Flyback Chronograph (a timepiece made in partnership with Lamborghini Squadra Corse). Each model speaks at lengths to the future of ‘Hyper Horology’—watchmaking, as Roger Dubuis puts it, that pushes the boundaries of traditional watchmaking.

Roger Dubuis

“Roger Dubuis proposes a unique blend of contemporary design and haute horlogerie and the Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph is the perfect illustration of this craft,” says Sadry Keiser, Chief Marketing Officer. “For its design, we took inspiration from the MonovortexTM Split-Seconds Chronograph, while we decided to power the timepiece with an iconic complication, the flyback chronograph, also marking its come back in the Maison’s collections.”

The Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph is bold and flashy—a chronograph made to be seen, especially at its 45mm size. But Roger Dubuis wouldn’t have it any other way. The supercar-inspired watch is certainly captivating in the flesh. Its multi-dimensional design reveals different layers of technical genius as you spend time with it: from its case crafted from lightweight carbon to its hyper-resistant ceramic bezel, black DLC titanium crown, open case back with sapphire crystal, and elegant rubber strap to tie the watch together, it’s a sporty yet incredibly refined timepiece.

The new RD780 chronograph calibre powers the chronograph, a movement fully integrated with two patents: one linked to the second hand of the chronograph and the other to the display of the minute counter. The chronograph also features a flyback function.

The complete set is now available at the Sydney Boutique for those wishing to see the Roger Dubuis Chronograph Collection firsthand.

Roger-Dubuis

 

Roger-Dubuis

Model: Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph
Diameter: 45mm
Material: C-SMC Carbon case
Water resistance: 100m

Movement: RD780 calibre
Complication: Chronograph, date
Functions: hours, minutes, and central seconds
Power reserve: 72 hours

Bracelet: Black rubber strap

Availability: upon request
Price: $150,000


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Thanks to NETGEAR, the First Quad-Band WiFi 7 Mesh System Has Arrived

Elite WiFi performance for your whole home.

By Robb Report 30/05/2024

There’s no denying that in today’s era of technological innovation, home living and entertainment have reached unprecedented heights. In fact, modern home technology is so advanced that we can now enjoy futuristic comforts at the touch of a button (or the flick of a switch).

But one caveat to overcome before enjoying such modern perks: you need ultra-fast Wi-Fi to feed internet-hungry devices, especially when our dependence on Wi-Fi will only grow. Enter, NETGEAR’s latest Wi-Fi technology, set to change the performance of your whole home.

NETGEAR

The NETGEAR Orbi 970 Series Quad-Band WiFi 7 Mesh System is the first of its kind in the category of Wi-Fi technology, unlocking the extraordinary power of WiFi 7 (with 2.4 x faster speeds than WiFi 6). The Orbi 970 Series elevates what most households love, like streaming movies in the highest possible quality, linking wireless speakers throughout your home to play concert-quality music in every room, and gaming like a pro without any lag or drop-outs. But the Orbi 970 Series will also drastically improve your workflow, from email and colleague chats to taking Zoom calls and more.

Leveraging over 25 years of NETGEAR engineering innovation and exclusive patented technology, the Orbi 970 Series will service all of today’s needs, as well as tomorrow’s—in a country like Australia, where internet standards lag behind the rest of the world, residential multi-gigabit speeds will become a godsend. With unparalleled performance based on cutting-edge, patented technology, the Orbi 970 Series will continue to grow with its users, especially as our homes get “smarter”; relying on technology, such as the Orbi 970 Series, will be paramount.

And design doesn’t have to be compromised, either. Wi-Fi might not necessarily be the sexiest topic out there (very few Wi-Fi routers exist that you could call “design-drive”), but the Orbi 970 Series changes that. Thanks to a new sophisticated design, the Orbi 970 Series is elegant enough to blend seamlessly with your home décor.

Netgear

Best of all, thanks to a one-year NETGEAR Armour included with your purchase, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your family and your home are protected with an automatic security shield across your connected devices.

The NETGEAR Orbi 970 series Quad Band WiFi 7 Mesh System retails for $4,299. To learn more, visit the website here.

 

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