year, for whatever reason, we skipped a detailed race analysis even
though the work was done and spread-sheeted. The benefit was it
simply made putting together this year's analysis that much
easier, at least as far as generating the numbers (and hopefully there
are no errors!). Making sense of it all, well that's another
In years past I've been a big proponent of
comparing qualifying speed to an entrant's fastest race lap and
generating a percentage as an indicator of how fast relative to their
ultimate speed (qualifying) they were able to lap in the race.
Naturally this makes some assumptions (assumes conditions during
qualifying were ideal for example), but ultimately this is a pretty
The ACO generates reams of data and posts
that information within hours of the end of the race, it really is
rather amazing. One statistic they generate is time in pits.
For this year I've taken that time in pits figure and subtracted
that total amount of time from an entrant's total race time.
I then take that number to develop a true average lap time.
In the past I've simply taken the race time and divided it
amongst the number of laps turned to generate an average lap time for
24 hours. But that belies the effects that issues in the pits has
on that number. Often times that average lap time will obviously
be artificially slow given hours spent in the pits. And there for
you can't "read" a race particularly well, much less a car and driving
crew's performance. Often, the amount of time spent in the pits
will compel a team to go like hell when back on track, so a true
average lap time generated using only the time they were actually on
the track starts to develop a truer perception of the car's potential
performance and where an effort may have gone wrong (design, pit stop
|Le Mans 2009|
|Car||Qualifying time||Fastest race lap||% race lap to qual.||Avg lap time for 24 hours||% avg race lap of qual.||Avg on-track lap time||% avg on-track lap time of qual.|
|#9 Peugeot 908||3:25.252||3:26.048||99.61%||3:46.454||90.6%||3:40.164||93.23%|
|#8 Peugeot 908||3:22.888||3:24.844||99.05%||3:47.050||89.4%||3:39.430||92.46%|
|#7 Peugeot 908||3:24.860||3:24.352||100.25%||3:54.437||87.4%||3:39.285||93.42%|
|#1 Audi R15||3:23.650||3:26.632||98.56%||3:50.638||88.3%||3:40.769||92.25%|
|#3 Audi R15||3:27.106||3:27.048||100.03%||4:20.42||79.5%||3:44.882||92.10%|
at the data we can make some simple conclusions. The perception
was that, surprisingly, the Peugeot 908 had a clear on track
performance advantage. I say surprisingly given the
qualifying difference between the 908 (#8) and R15 (#1) was only .762
seconds. But when looking at the Peugeot's (#7)
fastest race lap as compared to the R15's (#1), that difference
became 2.28 seconds. Suddenly that's significant. But
again, that belies the fact that the driving squad, during a 24 hour
race, is mostly only ever racing at a percentage
of their maximum race pace. So the fastest race lap only tells
some of the story. When we break down the average lap time over
24 hours that Peugeot vs Audi gap actually increases to 4.184 seconds.
But the average lap time over 24 hours takes into account pit
stops and troubles encountered during the race which don't reflect the
ability of the car and driving squad's performance.
how far off the 908's pace was the R15? For that we have to take
out the time spent in the pits and only look at actual on-track race
performance. That tells a rather difference story. When we
do that, suddenly we see that the gap is back to being
less significant at 1.484 seconds, at least between the #1 Audi
R15 and the #9 Peugeot. There's still a difference and the
Peugeot has the edge. That we can't deny, the Peugeot did
surprise evenyone with it's race pace. Or to put it opposite, the
R15's lack of pace was the more significant observation. But
watching the evolution of the #1 R15's lap time throughout the race, it
was clear that Audi were chasing and improving the cars as the race
progressed and in the end found a better, more competitive setup
compared to what they started the race with. And we can't
discount intangibles. Perhaps the Audi guys were better in
traffice? Naturally we can't quantify that. But then these
statistics simply tell us that on any given lap over the 24 hours, the
fastest Peugeot (#7) was on average 1.484 seconds quicker than the #1
Audi R15. When focused back on the eventual race winning #9
Peugeot, that gap decreases to .605 seconds. In the end 1.484
seconds and .605 seconds sounds better than 2.28 and 4.184, but that's
weak consolation when it still means you lost. But Audi has
already commited to coming back next year with the R15, best to be getting out of the way.
a number of years now the Zytek (Ginetta-Zytek these days) has run
these vertical vanes outboard on the front fenders. Best
guess is that they are a drag reduction device.
|>>Grid shots show the Pescarolo LMP with RS Spyder type front wheel covers.|
Collins sends us Race Car Engineering's trap speed data.
These are clearly more accurate and Sam indicates that the
official ACO speed trap is set up, in of all places, a braking zone
(WTF?). Sam set up the RCE/Speed TV trap in the run up to the
first chicane. This data shows that Peugeot 908 with a nearly 3
mph top speed advantage over the R15, 211.8 vs 209. Next up is
one of the Lola Aston Martins at 205, followed by the Judd powered
Courage, (Judd) AIM powered Oreca, and Judd powered Pescarolo all at or
around 202 mph. The first Audi R10 is next at 196.7 with a 196.6
mph Ginetta-Zytek shadowing. The first LMP2 car, a Porsche RS
Spyder goes through the trap at 191.9 mph.|
Peugeot still seems
to be missing the little details that Audi have honed and actually have
even shown to be potential race make or brake details (and regardless
of specific details, at very least it is a indicator to the attention
to detail depth of the effort). In the Thursday night session,
the new nose on one of the Peugeots came loose while the car was on
track. Says Sam, "...that car just does not seem that well bolted
together. And they still take ages to fit body panels and just
don't have it together." It seems amazing that 3 years into the
program and Peugeot still hasn't twigged that items like that are
This morning's warm-up session showed
the 3 Peugeot's leading the way at 3:26.457, 3:26.793, and 3:27.193 for
the #s 8, 9, and 7 respectively. Audi R15s posted 3:28.604,
3:28.865, and 3:30.830 for cars #3, 2, and 1. There's nothing at
all to be read into those. I think there's plenty of performance
in hand with the Audis at very least, perhaps even so in the Peugeots.
The fastest gasoline powered entrant was the #008 Lola Aston
Martin with a 3:33.689.
Considering how last
year's race panned out, at very least there's a lot of
gamesmanship going on regarding potential race pace and absolute
maximum pace between the two main protagonist. Recall that Audi
clearly had the slower car last year and won on superior wet weather
performance and race strategy. It is highly doubtful that the R15
is slower than the 908 this
year and we all know Audi's race craft hasn't flown out the door in the
last 12 months. Peugeot will have a tough race today.
Oh, one more important detail to note, Sam says there are no Hawaiian Tropics girls in attendance this year?
on our own today with nothing to report from RCE and Sam Collins.
We'll make do with some odds and ends, plus it gives us some time
to catch up with a few things. Qualifying showed the Bourdais,
Montagny, and Sarrazin Peugeot on top with a 3:22.88. This
compares to last year's pole time, also set by Peugeot, of 3:18.513.
That works out to a 4.367 second difference. All
of that can be attributed to the changes made to the '09 regulations
aimed at slowing the entire field down (reduced span and chord rear
wings) as well as the changes made to further slow the diesels down
(10% smaller restrictor, 6.5% turbo boost cut, 30 kgs additional
weight). So all of that equates to a 2% difference? Mighty impressive that the margin was that small considering the length of the track and all the stuff thrown at them.
even more interesting is if you then look at the second place
qualifier, the #1, Capello, Kristensen, McNish, Audi R15.
Last year the top Audi R10 qualified at a time of 3:23.847.
But this year Allan McNish was able to ride the Audi R15 around
the circuit at 3:23.650, or .197 seconds quicker
than the R10 managed last year. If you add 2% to last year's
R10's qualifying time, it works out to a 3:27.9. Team Kolles
managed their R10s into consistent 3:31s in qualifying this year.
Given differences in driving squads, this seems pretty
reasonable. So what's most impressive is that by designing a new
car, Audi was able to eliminate the effects of the regulations and
overcome the performance reductions the sanctioning body levied.
at the ACO provided speed trap data, the Peugeots are consistently
quicker than the Audis down the straights. In yesterday's free
practice, the #8 908 was clocked at 301 km/h compared to 295 km/h for
the top Audi. In the first qualifying session the fastest speed
was recorded by a Peugeot at 297 km/h with the Audi's giving up 5 km/h
in speed. In qualifying session 2 that difference was again 6
km/h (300 vs. 294). We're unsure where the ACO speed trap is,
clearly they aren't posted at the fastest point on the track, and
expect that these speeds are down by 10-15 mph compared to the fastest
point on the track.
Audi now go into the race with a car that
is, as far as we can tell, the equal to the Peugeot in terms of
absolute performance, though we suspect as the race unfolds the R15
will show superior race speed. Couple that with superior race
craft, Peugeot has their work cut out for them.
of speed traps, looking at the other cars we see the Lola Aston Martin
(#008 entry) is consistently the quickest gasoline powered entry and
indeed is mixing it up with the Audi R15 in the top speed contest
posting 292 km/h in all three of the recorded sessions. In
qualifying, again the fastest gasoline powered car was the #007 Lola
Aston Martin which put in a time of 3:27.180, or 4.242 seconds behind
the pole winning Peugeot. Last year's "gasoline pole" was a
3:25.158 (Charouz Racing Lola B08/60 Aston Martin) making this year's
time difference 2.02 seconds or about 1% slower. So here we can
see that indeed the diesels were (as intended) slowed down a bit more
relative to the gasoline powered cars. Last year Audi was able to
win the race even when posed with a 3.5+ second race pace absolute
speed difference to the Peugeot on the track. If the gasoline to
diesel powered difference in pace continues (and doesn't get any
larger) into the race, things could get interesting in that the top gas
car could have a chance if they run a perfect race. |
only thing that is somewhat discouraging for the gasoline crowd are the
sheer number of diesel entries, no fewer than 9 (though realistically
only 7 as the Kolles R10s are back behind the fastest gasoline cars).
On paper at least, this year's event looks to be a lot closer.
the band played on....and the band played on...So here it is 8:30 pm
EST and we're still getting press releases from Peugeot regarding the
friggin' Audi R15. So to recap today's events, this morning
Mans time (10:35 am precisely), Peugeot formally lodged a protest
regarding the Audi R15 and two specific details on the car, namely:
The front wing secondary flap (or in Peugeot parlance, "The
which links the two front wings." Think of wings as in
The horizontal winglet that mounts to the inner fender ("The
appendages fixed to the inner surface of the front wings").
has specifically stated that they feel the above items are in breach of
Art 3.6.2 which states, in brevity, that outside of the rear wing, and
a engine cover tail gurney, you can only have two additional
aerodynamic elements on the car. Aerodynamic elements are
defined to include angle brackets, multi-positional bodywork elements,
and, stating the obvious, any element whose sole purpose is to generate
downforce (dive planes for example).
where it gets a little confusing regarding what Peugeot's beef is.
Peugeot states, "These bodywork parts (the ones in question
the R15) are considered to be aerodynamic elements. Since
not appear on the list of aerodynamic elements authorised by Article
3.6.2, they are consequently not permitted." This statement
confusing because indeed elements such as on the Audi
are authorized falling under the catch all of aerodynamic
with singular function to produce downforce. Dive planes fall
under that same catch all and they are deemed legal but yet
specifically defined by the regulations. Elements that
downforce outside of those already defined (wing, rear gurney) aren't
disallowed, they simply are limited in number.
there's the whole issue of primary function. We're told from
reliable sources that the Audi's horn winglets' primary function is to
mask the front suspension as seen from the frontal elevation, thus they
act as rules compliance valance panels. So with that as their
primary purpose, do they then dissapear out of the list of additional
But wait, there's more. Peugeot felt
it necessary to point out they've been itching to do this since
Sebring, "Our protest dossier was already ready at the time, but the
Automobile Club de l’Ouest made assurances that it would take the
necessary steps ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours." Gee, thanks
holding back Peugeot. What's the word count on this going to
in the end?
So this brings us to the latest (final?) press
release out of Peugeot which states that the ACO has essentially
rejected their argument. Peugeot counters with indicating
will appeal this ruling. That release is time stamped at
(Le Mans time), precisely.
I'm tired of talking about this.
shots of the Aston Martin Lola's Le Mans config. The dive
plane recesses have been filled in with cheek panels.
Lola Aston Martin has been racing in the Le Mans Series with swan neck
rear wing pillars as well as the notched rear wing endplate.
morning! Our usual schedule will be daily updates in the
mid-evening US Eastern Standard Time, but I wanted to pass along this
morning an additional detail to the Audi R15 ongoing controversy.
Sam Collins tells us that apparently there was honest hope
amongst the R15's competitors that the car would be thrown out and fail
tech yesterday. People are apparently really furious behind
scenes. When was their complaint when the RS Spyder was
eligible or are imaginations not that sharp and memories not that
clear? It certainly wasn't any stretch to see that what was deemed
legal on the RS Spyder would have applications on other areas of the
car. But yet not a peep then, well, at least not publicly.
ACO took a full 2 and a half hours to tech the car and we think this
was simply to appease Audi's competitors, but it doesn't sound like
there was ever any serious threats to the car's eligibility.
the mean time Peugeot is set to go through tech today, and by the
sounds of it, don't be surprised if they unveil a "Audi-esque" front
end solution (or at least one that utilizes the symmetrical wing
profile principle [as deemed legal in Art 3.6.1 back in late '06, see
'07 RS Spyder--yes, still banging on about that] in one form or
another--though ultimately don't be looking for a literal Audi
solution). Clearly Peugeot and Aston Martin are concerned
race performance, hence all the bitching about the ante that Audi has
upped. But in the end it appears Peugeot is the only one
to respond in some manner. This might have been the
other reason the car was absent yesterday. We'll know more
Next updates will occur later this evening after the kids are in bed!
our evening update. Yes, the R15 legality saga continues
as it has been rumored that Peugeot will file a formal protest
tomorrow. We're rather unsure how that process works and
Famin's only public comment on the topic was this, "You have two
ways to consider legality, because
have stamped the homologation form it is legal, now we can discuss
way of interpreting the technical rules and we would like to get some
explanation to make sure we have the same understanding."
comment certainly doesn't hint at further action but does at
consultation with the ACO. It's a little late, isn't it?
The Peugeot 908
went through scrutineering
today, allowing them to show off their Le Mans update. It
to an infill panel that redirects the air over the top of the
suspension rather than through it. This is coupled with a
modified front diffuser. Interestingly enough, a similar
was tested at Sebring on the Audi R10 back in 2006.
Note the two blanking panels that are covered up just below
small white Bosch decal. We suspect these would be opened up
should the ambient temperatures rise (* correction, the hatches are access holes in order to get the nose on and off).
execution is somewhat inelegant with awkward surface transitions.
Notice how the rising bodywork intersects with the nose
pocket. According to Peugeot's Bruno Famin, "Because the
tech rules have changed we have less
downforce and less power, the compromise difference is different
and 2009. So we have had to deal with less downforce and less
drag meaning we
have had to adjust almost everything on the car, even if you can't
it. (So the new front end design) is to allow us to balance
aerodynamically whilst at the same time reducing drag. The drag
necessary due to the equivalency changes and the consequent loss of
a look underneath and we can see a few detailed changes such as the
elongated strakes and now the split line around the nose box/monocoque
interface now extends further rearward (compare).
The diffuser's central tunnels appear slightly taller as
The bodywork locaters (1) locate into the recess pointed out
the image below.
here we can see the front diffuser continues to rise snaking above the
lower wishbone but below the pushrod and upper wishbone. The
height of the diffuser's trailing edge is particularly high; it is
effectively to the height of the valance covers that connect the
monocoque to the fenders.
Collins reports from Le Mans, in the start of our 2009 joint coverage,
that the day was a bit of a write off with nasty weather
throughout taking the edge off the snooping. Cars are going
through pre-race scrutineering and from the sounds of things, the rain,
along with various delays accruing during the day, meant that process
went rather long. For now the Peugeots are no where to be
though we do have some images of the Audi R15. Given the
could be expected that most teams opted to stay within their warm
garages with the doors shut.
Apparently there were hushed
discussions regarding whether or not the R15 would clear scrutineering
which seems to belie the way the whole process works.
Sebring Peugeot and Aston Martin came forward declaring that, in their
opinion, certain elements on the Audi R15 were illegal. We
surmise that there were many discussions between the ACO and Audi and
in the end, as we can see, a few small details were changed though
fundamentally the car stands as designed. And that's the
process; constant consultation with the ACO before, during,
after the design process. So when Audi showed up at Sebring,
could bet your bottom dollar that everyone involved was rather
confident the car was legal as far as the ACO was concerned.
Anyhow, there still seems to be sour grapes over certain
on the R15 as Race Car Engineering quoted one rival technical director
off the record, "it's (the R15) simply illegal, there's no way it
should ever have been allowed to
run, they need to ban its front aero now because otherwise every other
car in the field will have to be redesigned to keep up. It's a front
wing and that's just not on."
Rarely do I ever side with
the ACO, but in this case the regulations are on the books and you
can't shouldn't be cross at Audi for exploiting them. That
ACO unknowingly opened up the regulations with their late 2006 revision
to Art 3.6.1 should be the main focus but that's water under the
bridge. Ultimately Le Mans scrutineering isn't the
continue this gripe, especially as the car has been signed off.
Once the flag drops the bullshit stops, so the saying goes,
we are pretty close to that flag drop after all...
we pointed out last month, the R15 has been revised in deference Le
Mans' unique setup requirements. That means a more careful
at overall drag. Whereas at Sebring the typical LMP is
in the region of 6500 lbs of downforce at 200 mph, at Le Mans this gets
pared down to around 4000 lbs. Drag naturally follows as
We're hard pressed to extract ball park L/D figures from
but had we to guess, we'd say L/D was approaching in the region of 4+:1
in Sprint configuration, 3.5:1 in Le Mans setup.
out to about a 500 lbs difference in drag high to low downforce.
And while the absolute numbers may be off, clearly Le Mans
exacts a significantly different setup to justify major chassis
With that said, the R15's nose vent was modified
looking most likely at drag reductions in addition to a balance shift
given the lower overall downforce and assumed reductions in rear wing
flap and position (shorter rear overhang in LM config).
turbo inlet's revision is driven by Audi's engine department though the
aero requirement was that they shouldn't effect drag or downforce any
more than the previous iteration.
is our understanding the ACO was behind the revisions in this area on
the R15. As compared to Sebring, the engine bay airflow is
directed out and through the ACO 10 mm mesh. The engine
now have their own compartments and are segragated from the engine
We also understand a NACA duct could be
fitted to the engine cover during the weekend if concerns over the
alternator crop back up.
Le Mans specific changes can be seen at the front. The
controversial front splitter/flap arrangement is in low downforce
speficication. There's a very interesting horizontal horn
conditioners though we also understand that they perform a
regulations compliance function, covering the front wishbone as seen in
frontal elevation. Audi had been utilizing the ACO 10 mm mesh
"cover" this part of the car's mechanicals but had too many problems
with the mesh getting damaged and collecting debris throughout a race
(and altering aero balance) and went with this more interesting