I have missed her...

Queen Elisabeth II had been to Wolverhampton only a few days before I arrived there to open a new JLR Jaguar Rover engine factory, an event the newspaper Express and Star even accompanied by some kind of live ticker. The Queen herself especially likes Range Rovers though by now she rarely drives them herself any more. The new engine factory will offer work for around 1600 people and it will be the place were the engines for the new Jaguar XE Salon will be assembled.

It's not the first time Jaguar will produce in Wolverhampton - they have been there already in the 1930's at first as SS Cars (Swallow Sidecars) and later as one didn't want to associate the cars with the Nazi regime as Jaguar. Since then no longer a swallow but a jaguar graces the bonnet.

The production of motor cars in Wolverhampton had begun much earlier around 1900 when the by John Marston founded firm "Sunbeam" began to produce beside the bicycles and motorcycles motor cars. The last Sunbeam was produce till the 1980's but at that time the owner of the firm had already changed several times. Marston had owned it only till the 1920 but at this time already worked together with Talbot. The French Automobiles Darracq S.A assumed it at that time- Then the Rootes Group were the new owners - which at that time owned SS Cars respectively Jaguar as well. In the 1960 Chrysler became the new owner. Chrysler Europe later was sold to Peugeot and Renault which didn't use the name Sunbeam any longer.

To be sure the best years of the Sunbeams were those years between 1920 and 1930 when the French chief engineer Louis Coatalen headed the firm. He started to work at Sunbeam around 1909 and was especially interested in racing cars and liked to experiment with technical innovations and new designs.

Now after all this year's Jaguar is back in Wolverhampton...

On Tuesday the last group matches of groups E - H were played and it was my last evening at the Grand Slam as well. The ladder still was in the press room - though by now it seems to have been moved to comet Tschuri as one can see in one of the newer "On the wire ."videos.
Mervyn King, Michael Smith and Stephen Bunting already were qualified for the next round so their matches opened the evening. Brendan Dolan tried everything but nothing worked against Michael Smith and he was on his way home after the evening as was Dean Winstanley, who was no match for Stephen Bunting at all. Jamie Caven really put up a fight but lost in the end against Mervyn King but at least King had to give all.

After those three matches which had been only thrilling because of Jamie Caven it stayed a little bit boring. All the winners dominated their matches only Andy Hamilton and Simon Whitlock really offered some resistance but couldn't prevent they were eliminated by Phil Taylor and Simon Whitlock. Richie George had no chance at all against Christian Kist and Tony O'Shea no chance against James Wade either. Wesley Harms was steamrolled at the end of the evening in less than nine minutes by Gary Anderson.

All in all I was surprised how clear and one sided most of the last group matches had been - with the exception of Robbie Greens win over Vincent van der Voort. PDC players Brendan Dolan, Dean Winstanley, Simon Whitlock, Adrian Lewis and Robert Thornton seen to be in a crises of from. The same one can say about BDO players Tony O'Shea, Wesley Harms and Jan Dekker. In a form like this none of them will have a chance in the upcoming World Championships. A pleasant surprise to be sure were the two young players Keegan Brown and Rowby-John Rodriguez.

Who will win the Grand Slam is difficult to predict. Betting companies once again see Michael van Gerwen as the favorite, but I thought him not really convincing. Most consistent were Stephen Bunting, Michael Smith, Mervyn King, Dave Chisnall - and once again Phil Taylor. One shouldn't forget James Wade but he's to get past Stephen Bunting first.
The BDO players didn't play as strong this year as in the years before. But the strongest player - Stephen Bunting - has changed to the PDC. Alan Norris played two good matches but I can't imagine him to reach the final and Robbie Green I even less can imagine there, he's just not strong enough.
As in all the years I really liked the tournament - it's interesting because of the mixture of BDO and PDC players and I think the group phase is a nice change to all the knockout tournaments. The PDC has announced there will be a new format of the tournament next year - let's see how the tournament will go

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