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    Come on, that can’t be all you’ve got So far, the Z4’s proved less than the sum of its parts. But we’re going in hot pursuit of the thrills that must lie beneath. By P Taylor / #BMW

    Here’s a second chance to make a first impression. When I first drove the Z4 at its launch in October last year, it was a good car but not an exciting one. It felt more like a saloon that happened to have two seats and a soft-top than a spinetingling sports car. I’ve been wondering if I judged it harshly, especially after enjoying driving its closely related, co-engineered Toyota Supra platform-mate recently. Now the Z4’s got an entire British summer (and a bit of autumn too) to argue its case.

    The Z4 range starts at £37,115 for the 20i model, with a 196bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, or £40,815 for the same engine hopped up to 256bhp in the 30i. This car, however, is the range-topping Z4 M40i, with a musclebound 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six under its stubby bonnet.

    Compared with the rest of the range, the M40i also gets larger 19-inch wheels (with tyres essentially the same as those fitted to the current M3/M4), adaptive dampers (optional on 2.0-litre cars) and an active diff, as also fitted to the Supra. Less dynamic niceties include electrically adjustable seats with leather-meets-alcantara upholstery and extra aluminium trim compared with lowlier models.

    Our car’s also got a fancy paintjob, the optional Frozen Grey II metallic matt paint priced at £1880. In addition to the paint there’s a further £3450 of options: the £900 Visibility Package (adaptive LED headlights and automatic high-beam assist); the £750 Comfort Package (heated steering wheel, wind deflector, keyless entry and start, and a through-load serving hatch from boot to interior); and the £1800 Technology Package (head-up display, Harman Kardon surround-sound speaker system, wireless phone charging, rear-view parking camera and automatic parking assistant).

    So many of the ingredients are there for a truly great sports car – engine set back for a 50:50 weight distribution, short wheelbase for agility, wide track for stability, clever diff and great throttle response by any standards, not just for a turbocharged engine.

    Maybe a bit of extra soak-time will help the Z4’s true character shine. I’m looking forward to getting to know it again over the coming months, and finding out if it can thrill as well as cosset.

    The Z4 has traditionally been more about sun-dappled boulevard cruising, rather than being a car to inspire an early alarm and the long, twisty way to work. Here’s hoping this one’s both.

    Great throttle response by any standards, not just for a turbo engine

    #Frozen-Grey paint will set you back a cool £1880

    Car #2019-BMW-Z4-M40i / #BMW-Z4-M40i-G29 / #2019-BMW-Z4-M40i-G29 / #2019 / #BMW-Z4-G29 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-G29

    Month 1
    The story so far
    Soft-top Supra twin with big-chested straight-six, short chassis, clever diff. Equivocal reaction at launch; it has six months to set us straight

    + Great throttle response; refinement; everyday usability
    - Odd proportions; is it exciting enough?
    Price £49,185 (£53,865 as tested)
    Performance 2998cc turbo straight-six, 335bhp,
    0-62mph 4.6sec
    Max speed 155mph (limited)
    Efficiency 33.2mpg (official), 31.3mpg (tested),
    CO2 165g/km
    Energy cost 18.3p per mile
    Miles this month 299
    Total miles 4746
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    Audi returns to Le Mans

    For years the German marque straddled Le Mans like a colossus. Then it left. Jake Groves leads the comeback.
    Audi bailed out of the World Endurance Championship back in 2016, after a decade and a half of near-complete dominanace. Its swansong was the Audi Sport Team Joest R18, but the story began with the R8 – the R8R contested the 1999 race. Heck, even the R8 production car’s concept forebear was called the Le Mans Concept.

    So, when you’re invited to Le Mans, glamping, and with the opportunity to rub shoulders with some famous people (courtesy in my case of Aston Martin Racing, not Audi), taking our R8 to one of the most famous races on the planet is a no-brainer. I’ll be the closest thing to a 2019 Le Mans entry Audi Sport will have – hell, they should be paying me for this.

    Lumpy, congested British motorways and fast, clean French autoroutes generally don’t make for a particularly thrilling drive. But when you have 10 cylinders, a foldable roof and a near-continuous convoy of motorsport fans in similarly tasty cars all the way from Calais to Le Mans, you don’t stop smiling. At one point I even spend time in convoy with CAR’s James Taylor, who’s driving a Porsche 911 GT3 RS; some long tunnels allow for laugh-out-loud (and very childish) acceleration tests between the R8’s bassy midrange and the Porsche’s limiter-bouncing howls.

    I arrive at the campsite with no backache (the bucket seats are uncompromising but supportive) and ready for a weekend in any weather, the R8’s supposedly paltry frunk swallowing everything from T-shirts and shorts to chunky boots and a thick raincoat.

    The weekend itself proves unforgettable. I come away exhausted and temporaily deaf but it will be hard to beat watching the sunrise at Tertre Rouge, taking a helicopter ride over the track mid-race and testing my own endurance by staying up most of the night.

    Then, on the misty Monday morning after, I do the whole trip back again with a similarly wide smile on my face. That is, of course, after a quick blast up and down the Mulsanne straight, sneaking a few pictures on the second chicane.
    Any niggles? It’s a small one, but plenty of recent new Audis have an updated version of Virtual Cockpit that looks cleaner and comes with some cool graphics – something the A1 hatch gets but this facelifted supercar doesn’t, even though the two were launched at the same time. Oh, and there are a couple of creaks coming from the instrument cluster – again, not a dealbreaker, but evidence of the R8’s handmade origins.

    / #2019-Audi-R8-Spyder-Performance-Type-4S / #2019 / #Audi-R8-Spyder-Performance-Type-4S / #Audi-R8-Type-4S / #Audi-R8-Spyder-Performance / #Audi-R8-Spyder-Mk2 / #Audi-R8 / #Audi / #Audi-R8-Spyder

    Month 2

    The story so far

    All style, no substance? Le Mans and back will test the R8, asking that it lug all-weather camping gear, cruise long distances and still thrill when required

    + The attention you get; engine, pliancy in Comfort; engine; topless thrills; grip; did we mention the engine?
    - The attention you get; thirst

    Price £152,645 (£169,120 as tested)
    Performance 5204cc V10, 612bhp,
    0-62mph 3.2sec
    Max speed 204mph
    Efficiency 20.9-21.1mpg (official), 22.2mpg (tested), 302g/ km CO2
    Energy cost 30.1p per mile
    Miles this month 3575
    Total miles 7819


    Come on Audi, GTE next year? The R8 couldn’t look happier on Le Mans tarmac
    In the tunnels, the R8’s bassy midrange battles a Porsche 911 GT3 RS’s limiter bouncing howls
    • Ways to start the day come no finer: ? Naturally aspirated V10 ? Spyder for fruity country smells ⭕️ Mid-engined poise for back-road thrills No wondWays to start the day come no finer:

      ? Naturally aspirated V10
      ? Spyder for fruity country smells
      ⭕️ Mid-engined poise for back-road thrills

      No wonder jake-groves turns up to work grinning every day with this as his
        More ...
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    / #2019-Audi-R8-V10-Performance / #2019 / #Audi-R8-V10-Performance / #Audi-R8-V10-Performance-Type-4S / #2019-Audi-R8-V10-Performance-Type-4S / #Audi-R8-Type-4S / #Audi-R8 / #Audi

    It’s a superstar supercar on the road, but how does the R8 fare on track?

    Should a 611bhp mid-engined supercar make a good track car? Reading that back it sounds like a contender for the easiest question asked since ‘Is F1 more interested in the minutiae of the rules than the racing?’

    KY19 NLF has, to date, proved to be a mixed bag on track. Its time has, as I write, been restricted to the first evo track evening of the season at Bedford Autodrome, but the changeable conditions provided the perfect canvas for the R8 to paint me a detailed dynamic picture.

    The first half-dozen laps were on a wet track and it took two laps of the Autodrome’s 3.8-mile GT circuit before the first strokes of feedback appeared, allowing me to pick out more detail on what was going on beneath me. Which on a greasy track and a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres struggling to generate any heat, wasn’t a great deal.

    Entry to low-speed turns had the front end struggling to find any grip, the steering taking on a lightness that mimicked the City steering setting on a 1999 Fiat Punto. And yet the R8’s quattro drivetrain doesn’t struggle on the exit when you start to feed in the V10’s power – unless you’re reckless with the throttle, that is, then there’s plenty of shuffling and slipping to manage, although this isn’t too much of an issue because the R8 comes to you when it starts to get squirmy.
    Mid-speed corners in the same conditions eradicate a large portion of the front-end vagueness on entry, but the transition from grip to slip and back to grip mid-corner isn’t as clearly telegraphed as you would hope for in a car with a 5.2-litre V10 positioned between the bulkhead and rear bumper. It takes a steady throttle and Guinness-smooth steering inputs to avoid a spiky mess of slip when you’d much prefer to be parallel to the circuit’s edge.

    It all comes together in the high-speed stuff. Which is reassuring. When you need the utmost commitment from the R8’s front end, you get it, the Pilot Sports finding purchase through the layer of grease, the steering coming back to you, the chassis chatting away. When you need the full processing power of Audi Sport’s engineers, the R8 delivers terabytes of data to your palms and backside.

    As conditions dry, the R8’s low- and mid-speed performance up their game, but strangely on the drier surface, at higher speeds, within a handful of laps you feel you’ve experienced everything the R8 has to offer. It feels a little synthesised, a sensation that could be down to our car’s optional #Dynamic-Steering and adaptive dampers, two components that have proved themselves to be great companions on the road. This sounds like a perfect excuse for me to try a non-Performance R8 without such features on track, as per the example that triumphed in our 911 group test in issue 262. Away from the track, the R8’s ability to switch from a supercar that will force your eyeballs out of their sockets when you use as much of its performance as you dare, to a car that could rival a Continental GT for suppleness, refinement and comfort, is showing it to be more at home on the road.

    Date acquired April 2019
    Total mileage 4423
    Mileage this month 1075
    Costs this month £0
    mpg this month 18.7
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    This 550-horsepower #1968-Porsche-912 is getting all of its power from an unexpected source: the electric motor from a #Tesla-Model-S-P85D . It was made by two Southern California shops, #Zelectric-Motors and #EV-West , which convert old Volkswagens and Porsches into modernized electric cars. It’s a new way to rescue aging vintage cars — though not everyone is happy with the idea.

    / #Porsche-912 / #1968 / #2019 / #Porsche / #Porsche-912-Eelectric / #Zelectric-Motors / #Porsche-912-Zelectric-Motors / #Porsche-911
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    FIAT 130 COUPÉ

    / #Fiat-130-Coupe / #Fiat-130 / #Fiat /
    RUN BY Martin Buckley
    OWNED SINCE 2009
    PREVIOUS REPORT Nov 2018

    I want to make #2019 the year in which I get everything – and I mean everything – sorted on the 130. It is 90% there but, as usual, the final 10% is proving the hardest. The problem with getting a car up and together piecemeal and ‘on the hoof’, as it were, is that as soon as you get one item right it tends to highlight all the other issues. What seemed acceptable last year now irritates the hell out of you.

    Top of my list for quite a while has been the suspension; every time I drive the Coupé, my overriding impression is that it wallows like a pig if driven with anything even approaching enthusiasm. Standards have moved a long way in 40 years, but these cars were fairly highly rated for their cornering capability. Yes, they rolled – everything did in the ’70s – but not quite as dramatically as this.

    It can only be dampers, really, but the odd thing is that when you bounce the car on each corner it feels rock-hard. I have mentioned this to Mark Devaney at Dino 24 Hundred several times, but we have now decided to galvanise ourselves. Mark has found a set of donor 130 Coupé struts and sent them off to Gaz Shocks in Essex which, as the name implies, builds custom gas shock absorbers. These take about four weeks to do (they are busy), so hopefully by the time you read this I’ll have a 130 that doesn’t want to scrape its doorhandles on the floor.

    Depending on how successful this proves to be, Mark is talking in terms of a thicker front anti-roll bar as well. The dampers will be adjustable, so hopefully we’ll be able to tweak them to best advantage without losing the good ride quality.

    The brakes are pretty decent, other than the fact that the vacuum in the servo disappears overnight so you have a solid pedal for the first minute or so; maybe it’s time to look at the booster. I still like the idea of finding an alternative disc and/or caliper to future-proof the car a little, because certain parts are getting rare and pricey. The way forward here may lie in the realm of the Stratos replica, because the genuine cars used a variety of 130 bits, possibly including the hubs and wheel bearings.

    I spent some time at the end of last year cleaning the engine bay with fairly good results. It was just a matter of some laborious elbow grease in every corner, making good use of the Polti steam-cleaner and the Gunk, then going over it again until you either get bored or realise you can’t get it looking any better unless you want to take the engine out – which, to be honest, is probably the only real way of doing the job properly. But still, it looks better than it did.
    As for the rest of the car, visually the only things I find irksome are the tired and faded window channels. I now have some samples of possible replacements from trim specialist Woollies to look at.

    Ace mechanic Gus Meyer sorted the fan-switch issue that cropped up on the Le Mans Classic trip, but we still need to look at the wipers (there’s only one speed when there should be two), the driver’s-side door lock (it won’t unlock) and fit the correct Marelli air horns: the Fiat’s American Edelweiss ones really should be on my #Oldsmobile-Toronado .

    It seems the 130 is going up in the world at last, because I’ve been contacted by two separate parties looking for parts for ground-up rebuilds; one the subject of a car restoration programme on the TV. This indicates that they are either climbing in value (they are, but only a bit and it’s never been about that with these cars for me) or, with the youngest now more than 40 years old, there just aren’t enough really nice ones to go around.

    This is true in the case of the right-hookers, but I seem to get offered left-hand-drive Coupés all of the time. Most are described as ‘rust-free but in need of recommissioning’ – an estate agent-style euphemism for ‘knackered’.

    THANKS TO
    Mark Devaney, Dino 24 Hundred: www.dinouk.com
    Gus Meyer

    Plenty of elbow grease has got the 130’s engine bay looking a whole lot more presentable.
    The Coupé looks good, but now Buckley wants to get it driving just as well; once rebuilt, the replacement dampers (right) should help.
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    BMW 8-SERIES CONVERTIBLE

    / #BMW-M850i-xDrive-Cabrio-G14 / #2019-BMW-M850i-xDrive-Cabrio-G14 / #2019 / #BMW-G14 / #BMW-M850i-xDrive-G14 / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-G14 / #BMW-8-series-Convertible / #BMW-8-series-Convertible-G14

    More luxurious than a 911 Convertible, cheaper than an Aston DB11 Volante, the #BMW 8-series Convertible is a hard car to pigeonhole. Let’s focus on what we know – this is a droptop luxo-lounge for four, with a petrol V8 or six-cylinder diesel, and handling that doesn’t tally with a near two-tonne kerbweight.

    In reality there isn’t room for four adults and, while the diesel offers sufficient punch and low running costs, the 4.4-litre soundtrack of the M850i is just better.

    Handles well, too. Suitably taut, with none of the associated wobbliness from the lack of roof, the 8-series turns in hard and manages midcorner lumps and bumps deftly. Thank standard adaptive dampers and rear-wheel steering for that, and #xDrive all-wheel drive that means you can get back on the power early, too. All in all, perfectly placed between the 911 and DB11, and with a refined character of its own.

    First verdict

    Good refinement with a drive that makes you forget this is a ‘softer’ convertible. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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    BMW 7-SERIES 7, turned up to 11 / #BMW-G12 / #BMW-G11 / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-G11 / #BMW-7-Series-G12 / #BMW / #2019 / #BMW-750Li-xDrive-G12 / #2019-BMW-750Li-xDrive-G12

    This glitzy 7-series facelift isn’t subtle, but there’s substance behind the oversized kidney grille

    Licensed to grille, king of the grille – we could go on making poor jokes about the enormous nostrils on Munich’s updated limo but let’s be adult about this, because, believe it or not, that front end is the result of feedback from actual BMW-7-Series customers.

    BMW responded to the call for bolder styling by enlarging the trademark kidney grille by 48 per cent – it’s so big it made the standard badge look microscopic, and designers had to prise a much larger BMW roundel off an X7 to redress the balance.

    The highest point of the nose is now 5cm higher to make the front end look more upright, plus there are thinner head- and tail lights, and a light strip running full-width across the boot. Both the long- and short-wheelbase cars have grown 22 millimetres in length, while bigger vents improve the aerodynamics around the wheels.

    Tall rear-seat passengers might find themselves a little tight on headroom but are easily distracted by a pair of 10-inch displays and a Blu-ray player. As before, everything is controlled by a seven-inch removable tablet taking in seat adjustment, lighting and climate, as well as infotainment and sat-nav.

    Behind the huge honker you’ll find engines ranging from an improved plug-in hybrid to a #V12 petrol, with a new V8 and different versions of the best-selling six-cylinder turbodiesel making up the bulk of the range.

    We reckon the #BMW-745Le-xDrive-G12 plug-in hybrid is a real highlight – it’s now capable of up to 36 electric-only miles and features a more powerful straight-six petrol engine. It’s impressively wafty and serenely quiet-running in EV mode, thanks to the thicker glass now fitted all-round and more insulation in the wheelarches and B-pillars.

    But it’s the superb 4.4-litre V8 750i that’s most rewarding when you up the pace, and the stiff, Carbon Core’d chassis delivers thrills in ways no massive limo should.

    First verdict

    The 7-series remains the best driver’s car in a market where most buyers prefer to be driven by someone else.

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    BMW designers tried a 50% bigger grille, but no, too vulgar; 48% it is
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    Along came three Spiders

    / #2013-McLaren-12C / #2019-McLaren-600LT & / #2019-McLaren-720S-Spider-S / #McLaren-720S-Spider-S / #McLaren-720S / #McLaren / #2019 / #McLaren-600LT / #McLaren-12C

    by Mark Dixon

    Spider or Spyder? Both versions of the word have long been used by the motor industry to describe an open-top roadster: Audi calls its new soft-top R8 a Spyder (as reviewed by Matthew Hayward on) whereas McLaren prefers Spider with an ‘i’. Best guess for the origin of the term is that it was a 19th Century coachbuilder’s coinage for a lightweight, high-wheeled carriage that was thought to have spidery qualities of lightness and agility. Which makes it particularly appropriate to McLaren.

    A recent opportunity to test the new 600LT and 720S Spiders in Arizona also seemed a good excuse to revisit its first attempt at the genre, the 12C Spider that made its debut in late 2012. The example pictured left is a 50th Anniversary limited edition from 2013, which was available in just three colours: black, silver or orange.

    I was lucky enough to attend the original 12C’s launch and, like many hacks back then, I expressed some doubts about the car’s styling. It seemed too supercar-generic, we thought, too lacking in adventure. Well, guess what? We were wrong. Its sultry curves now look better than ever, and its distinctive rear end appears almost understated compared with the aero-dictated complexity of more recent models.

    A Spider version of the 12C was planned right from the start, so the open version involved no structural compromises later. The hinged hardtop is electrically powered and folds away in 17sec; clambering over the high sills is a lot easier with the top stowed, especially if anyone has had the temerity to park too close alongside – those dihedral doors need a lot of space.

    Once you are in, the 12C feels almost old-school in its simplicity, with a pleasingly large central revcounter and a digital read-out for mph. The twin-turbo, 3.8-litre #V8 has never been the most soulful of units – it was arguably the 12C’s greatest weakness against its Italian competition; supercars are about emotion as much as technical ability – but the Spider has a slightly louder exhaust than the Coupé and, of course, having the roof down allows you to savour it a lot more. It sounds gruffer, more bassy than the Coupé’s, and there’s an appealingly anthropomorphic breathiness from the intake system as the turbos spool-up.

    The 12C Coupé set new standards as an all-rounder for its combination of comfort, handling and performance; the Spider offers the same – plus more of the visceral stuff, roof down. With 616bhp propelling a 1475kg kerb-weight, it’s still ballistically fast, but on a more prosaic level there’s also a decent amount of storage space under the front lid. Those doors would drive you mad in urban spaces (or rather, lack of them), but otherwise the 12C Spider makes a surprisingly good fist of being a real-world regular drive. And now we have two further variations on the Spider theme.
    The new 720S and 600LT Spiders are from McLaren’s Sports and Super Series respectively, the latter car being rather more track-focused – henced the ‘LT’ suffix for Long Tail, its rear end extended 47mm over the 570’s for increased downforce. The 720S starts at £237,000 whereas the 600LT’s base price is £201,500.

    The 720S feels closest to its 12C ancestor in spirit, although it has a character all its own. The V8 engine has been upped from 3.8 to 4.0 litres, with 41% new parts content, and it makes a very different sound: there’s a breathy V8 burble as you pull away, which transmutes to a crisp braaaap as you pile the revs on. Even with the roof lowered this is a genuine 200mph car yet, despite the big power and performance increases, McLaren’s relentless pursuit to pare weight means that the 720S Spider weighs about the same as the 12C Spider. It’s also even more livable with, thanks to glazed panels in the rear flying buttresses that make a huge difference to over-the-shoulder vision, although top-down it feels a lot less claustrophobic, as you’d expect. McLaren’s chief test driver, Indy winner Kenny Bräck, told Octane that he would definitely choose a Spider over the Coupé for just this reason and, indeed, the sales split is forecast to be 75:25 in favour of the open car.

    Curiously, while the Spider is claimed to give nothing away in terms of structural stiffness, both this reviewer and our sister mag evo’s tester – driving different cars – noted mild steering column shimmy and windscreen shake on less well-surfaced stretches of the very road pictured left, although it wasn’t dramatic. It clearly doesn’t bother Kenny, anyway.

    But if extracting the last nth of on-the-limit handling ability is vital to you, the 600LT Spider is probably more your bag anyway. McLaren says simply: ‘We asked ourselves, what’s the absolute lightest we can make a roadgoing car?’ And they’ve really pulled out the stops, to the extent that even the windscreen glass is thinner. The correlation of this stripped-out approach is that the 600LT feels conceptually older than the 720S – even its sat-nav looks a bit dated. But it’s more obviously a driver’s car, with a simpler console layout and manually adjustable race seats. Its exhaust note is different again – buzzier than the 720S’s, like an angry wasp – and its V8 is a 3.8, not the 720S’s 4.0-litre.

    The 600LT really comes alive on a circuit, where you can fully appreciate its incredible brakes and neck-snapping acceleration. Selecting ‘Track’ mode and keeping the steering wheel as straight as possible at all times minimises driver-aid interference, so drifting round corners is the fastest way to proceed. As if you needed any excuse…

    Clockwise from left 12C Spider was launched in 2012 but is ageing well; 12C interior is refreshingly uncluttered; new 720S Spider is faster and more powerful, but weighs the same as the 12C.

    From top 720S Spider will pull 200mph with the roof down; 600LT has a slightly smaller engine, a little less power, but has been optimised for the track.
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    2019 BMW F90 M5 #Remus-Exhaust / #Remus

    When a new BMW launches, the aftermarket immediately starts developing and releasing products for it and Remus is one of the first companies to offer a performance exhaust for the mighty F90 M5. This cat-back system comprises a non-resonated front section, a valved rear silencer and your choice of either carbon or straight-cut tailpipes; the valved silencer has been designed to work with the standard BMW electronics and the exhaust uses 84mm larger diameter piping – the standard system has 80mm piping – for increased flow. If you’re lucky enough to own an BMW F90 M5 and are hunting for a performance exhaust, you should definitely check the Remus system out.

    / #2019-BMW-M5-F90-Remus-Exhaust / #BMW-M5-F90 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW / #2019 / #BMW-F90 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-F90 / #BMW-5-Series-F90 /

    Price: Cat-back system from £2419.20 inc. Vat
    Web: www.RemusUK.com
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