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Mulsanne's Corner

In partnership with Race Car Engineering Magazine

Le Mans 2010


All news content copyright Michael J. Fuller, unless otherwise noted

6.15.10

>>We're hearing that the new Honda LMP2 engine will be on track by this August, the engine on display at Le Mans was simply a mock up.  And there's already talk that it will produce more than 450 hp...
>>Sam made an interesting observation at Le Mans...frankly there's little wiggle room but it seems pretty clear no one was in the mood to protest the issue.  Though clearly they'd have plenty of evidence that indeed the diesels were in breach of Art 5.5.3.

Audi R15 plus, Le Mans 20106.13.10

>>Audi has a habit of doing this following a Le Mans win, "Oh by the way, we were using this cool new technology."  They did that back in 2001 after they won Le Mans, announcing after the fact that the winning R8 was utilizing direct injection.  We'll they've done it this year too letting everyone know that the winning R15 plus was using variable geometry turbos (VGT).  Audi's press release indicates that over the past three years they have diligently developed the VGT and that the '10 Le Mans was its first success.  Amusingly, the press release also claims the R15 plus' power output is a mere 440 Kw (598 hp).  
Peugeot 908, Le Mans 2010>>Peugeot's Le Mans effort started to come apart rather spectacularly with the 16th hour engine failure on the then race-leading #2 908.  This put Audi into the lead, but the delayed #1 Peugeot began its charge only to fall flat with a similar engine failure in the 21st hour. 
Peugeot 908, Le Mans 2010During the broadcast and prior to the #1 going up in smoke, I noticed that the left hand side louver panel was gone.  Going through Peugeot's PR images I found a shot that captured this and began to wonder, was this caused by accident damage or a deliberate attempt by the team to keep the #1 cool and together?  Ultimately it depends on when and how the louver came off the car.  And there's also the possibility that this actually hurt cooling and came off accidentally*.  Does it have anything to do with or reflect the problems the 908 was having?  Hopefully we'll find out in the post-Le Mans debrief.

*Appears that was the case.  Mathew Campbell tells us that this damage occurred when the #1 Peugeot had a run in with the Alesi driven Ferrari GT2 car (yeah, I was catching zzzs then; I got kids, ok?  They tend to kick your ass when you haven't had much sleep).  Campbell says, "If I recall correctly, Peugeot's first attempted fix was to tape over the edges of the original louver to hold it into place.  Later they cobbled together a replacement louver and used zip ties and tape to reattach it.  The car ran without a louver for quite a while before retiring."

6.12.10

>>Peugeot's Olivier Quesnel (Director of Peugeot Sport) on the #3 Peugeot 908's retirement:

"The front right suspension fiaxation point broke and the monocoque is damaged.  Obviously once integrity of the monocoque is compromised the car can no longer continue.  Le Mans always has lots of surprises, we will almost certainly have others, but hopefully not as bad as this one."


Could this issue be similar to the issues Peugeot has dealt with at Sebring the last couple of years?
>>Sam has noted, "The Audi and Peugeot are both significantly louder than previously and the Audi smokes under load."
Louvers
Racing Box Lola B09/80 Judd LMP2

Lola B09/80 Judd LMP2, Le Mans 2010
Rebellion Racing Lola B10/60 Rebellion LMP1

Lola B10/60 Rebellion, Le Mans 2010

Honda 2011 LMP2 engine, 2.8 liters, V6, twin turbo6.11.10*updated 6.12.10

>>Honda's press release hit today announcing their 2011 LMP2 engine.  So scratch the previous thought it was an LMP1.  Engine is actually 2.8 liters, V6, and twin turbo'd.  Honda indicates the engine was developed by Honda Performance Development in Santa Clarita, California and is based upon their, "global V6 engine."  For 2012 Indy Racing League engine rules will be 2.4 liter, turbo, V6s leaving one to wonder if this engine will have relevance beyond LMP2 and thus Honda's answer to the Global Racing Engine?  

*We understand that the new Honda LMP2 engine is based upon their global V6 production engine and that they've been keen to use it in motorsports for a while now.

The answer to whether or not the new Honda LMP2 engine could be used elsewhere, in the IRL for instance, is probably no.  IRL rules will allow bespoke racing engines and thus a production derived engine such as the Honda would be at a disadvantage.
>>Yeah, I didn't post this yesterday as I couldn't make heads or tails of it (specifically the part about current LMP1/2 eligibility for next year).  The rabble thinks it means one thing, others think it means another thing.  Now if you read how it's written you'll think it says that, "yes, current LMP1/2s are eligible for next year (when the engine regs change) as long as you change the engine."  That doesn't do anyone any good.  Here's the sentence that I base that on, au naturel:

2010 LM P1's eligible in 2011 provided that as announced two years ago, the cubic capacity of the LM P1 prototypes will be reduced

So, reduce the engine capacity in your current LMP and you can race it (the chassis) next year, paraphrased.  Yes, no?  

OK, this morning (6.12.10) I have an email that actually clarifys the French/English translation, the line should have read:

As announced two years ago, the engines of LMP1 will have their displacement reduced.

The you read further (as I should have done last night), and there's this line:

It gives the 2010 LM P1 prototypes an extra year with their performance adjusted in relation to the new 2011 cars.

So it seems LMP1s can run an additional year with performance adjustments.  OK, fine, my mistake, but...

The quote regarding P2s is less ambiguous in my opinion:

The current LM P2s can still race in 2011 on 3 conditions :

  • 1. Installation  of a new engine derived from a production series.
So to continue racing your current chassis you need to utilize a production based engine in 2011.  

Last time I checked, that's NOT what grandfathering was.  Grandfathering, in this case, would have meant continuing to use the currently eligible engines into next year and balancing performance through inlet restrictors and chassis weight.

Unrelated to what the ACO is saying, I'm told that tomorrow (yes, Saturday, we'll see if that happens) the ACO should make the final chunk of the 2011 rules clear and perhaps officially release them.  We'll see.  Incidentally, I'm also told that indeed the ACO will granfather current engines through 2011 (engines in highlight; the ACO press release talks about chassis but no matter what, the engines were the only thing changing with any significance next year).

Here's the ACO's press release in all its gibberish (yeah, there's some junk in there about hybrids too).

6.10.10

>>The Historic Group C cars are making an appearance at Le Mans this year.  A total of 28 cars with no fewer than 8 Spice chassis are entered making it quite possibly the largest gathering of Spices since the Group C/GTP days.
Drayson Racing Lola B09/60 Judd

Lola B09/60 Judd, Le Mans 2010
Rebellion Racing Lola B10/60 Rebellion

Lola B10/60 Rebellion, Le Mans 2010

>>Honda has apparently had on display in the Highcroft pits their 2011 LMP1 engine (yeah I know, I'd have thought there would have been more about this too).  2.6 liters, V6, twin turbo is all we know...of course all the draft regulations up till now have stated 2.0 liters as maximum for turbo LMP1s...the engine spec information comes from Motorsports.com.  We're working on getting a photo and some clarification.

6.9.10

>>Peugeot set an absolutely stunning pace today in the first qualifying session venturing below the 3:20 mark for the first time since 2008.  To look at the 908's pace compared to the R15 plus you'd certainly think Audi had been out maneuvered yet again.  Audi says not so fast and they have tomorrow's sessions (and the race) to prove their point.  Trap speeds released following the first practice session show identical top speeds between the Audi and the Pegueot, though naturally there's more to pace than top speed.  The sector times also show Peugeot dominance.
>>An updated copy of the 2011 regulations (Version 4) showed up in our in box this morning and we've spent some time looking through them, here are the highlights:

>LMP2 is the domain of privateers only and the ACO has set a chassis price cap of €325000 ($389500)
>Only one update per year is allowed for LMP2 and there can only be one bodywork configuration
>Regulations now contain details for hybrid LMPs
>Starting in 2011 the ACO will be checking for deflection on the rear wing main plane, flap, and gurney and they have described the method of the tests
>Art 3.6.4 is probably the biggie as it defines the fin.  The fin is to be between 920 and 1030 mm from the reference plane, its leading edge must be situated 300 mm from the rear cockpit opening with the trailing edge between 350 to 450 mm behind rear wheel centerline.  It too will be subjected to a deflection test
>LMP2 engine regulations have had a rewrite since we last reported on them (5.15.10).  While the €75000 ($89900) price cap remains, it would appear that most of the open modification elements are gone.  P2 engines will be homologated normally aspirated engines up to a maximum of 5.0 liters and 8-cylinders and homologated turbos up to a maximum of 3.2 (previous draft cited 4.0) liters and 8 cylinders
>Maximum fuel capacity: 75 liters for gas powered and 65 liters for diesel
>LMP2 gearboxes will be homologated from 2011 and beyond and are only allowed a maximum of three gear sets per car and engine
>LMP2 differentials homologated
>Under Art 19 the ACO is reserving the right to balance performance within both LMP1 and LMP2
Oreca 01 AIM, Le Mans 2010>>This shot of the 2010 Oreca 01 AIM shows the really low center portion of the bodywork's trailoing edge as well as the reworked rear fender and mandatory louvers aft of the rear tire.  Compare with image below
>>Oreca 01 AIM Petit Le Mans 2009Oreca 01 AIM, Petit Le Mans 2009
WR Zytek, Le Mans 2010>>One of the most interesting cars on the grid comes from one of the smallest outfits.  The WR Zytek has some really interesting regulation intepretations and clearly seems to be the inspriation for the Audi R15...if Audi didn't deny it themselves.  Sure guys...but I digress.  

This year the WR's rear horizontal legality panel is louvered.

6.8.10

>>Sam tells us it is currently raining in Le Mans and is expected to rain all week.  This could make for a particularly interesting race if we see large portions of wet, but you don't need me to tell you that.  

Sam also passes along this very interesting observation...

"
Could a protest be brewing at Le Mans? probably not but Aston Martin Racing boss George Howard Chappell took time out to investigate the aerofoils on the Audi R15+ in the pits at Le Mans today."

See the accompanying photos here, especially the shot taken of Howard Chappell's note pad.

A quick perusal of the wing regulations says nothing about the wing needing to have a uniform profile...perhaps George was merely noting items on his wish list for the new Aston LMP1?

Regarding the 2011 regulations;  we understand the teams have them at the moment (Version 4 no less) though we're told that they do not contain any wording regarding the proposed rear fin.
Acura ARX-01c, Le Mans 2010>>From this shot of the Strakka Acura ARX-01c we can see a few more of the multitude of changes of the -01c over the -01b:

The turning vane is now attached to the side pod (1)
The bottom edge of the pontoon fender is offset inboard (2)
The mirrors have been relocated (3)
The general detailing is different in this area (4)

Naturally the louvers are different too.  Compare with the shot below taken of the ARX-01b at Sebring 2008.
Acura ARX-01b, Sebring 2008

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Norma M200 Judd, Le Mans 20106.7.10

>>Race Car Engineering's Sam Collins informs us that scrutineering was effectively a non-event this year.  Considering all the gas blowing that went on last year that's not hard to believe.  About the most dramatic thing to occur was apparently the Peugeot was missing one of the "E" fire extingisher stickers.

The Norma M200 Judd went through the scrutineering line and Sam Collins snapped a few pictures.  As expected, the Norma is pretty conventional.  But it's a pretty large undertaking designing and building your own car, so from that standpoint Norma certainly can be commended.
Norma M200 Judd, Le Mans 2010An interesting detail on the Norma is that the front crash structure also serves as the brake cooling inlet.
Norma M200 Judd, Le Mans 2010The Norma's rear suspension shows springs and a third damper.
Pescarolo Judd LMP2, Le Mans 2010Sam spotted this really unsually splitter strake on Oak Racing's Pescarolo-Judd LMP2.
Pescarolo Judd LMP2, Le Mans 2010The inboard most strake is canted towards car centerline (opposite of what we typically see) while the outboard strake is forked at the trailing edge.

Sam ends his daily report with, "Rumors regarding the 2011 rules abound, does Oak Racing have a 2011 LMP1 tucked away at the track?  What is the real reason for the delay in the 2011 rules?  There is a feeling that the cost cap in LMP2 could see the 2011 P2 essentially being a spec class for the Oreca chassis.  People are a bit bemused as to what to do tomorrow."

Might I suggest starting more rumors?

It is expected that the ACO will finally answer the definitive question regarding LMP 2011 in the next couple of days though don't expect anything dramatic (one could wish for a 11th hour change of heart but don't bank on it).
TopGearAutosport.com is an online shop for performance parts & accessories, including headlights and tail lights
6.6.10

>>While we're waiting for our first update from Sam Collins, Motorsports.com had this interesting shot of the Peugeot 908 going through scrutineering today.  Guess they're not too concerned if anyone gets a peak of the car now?

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6.5.10

>>We're gearing up for our joint Mulsanne's Corner/Race Car Engineering coverage and waiting for Sam Collins to check in.  Coverage will be similar to last year so expect regular evening updates (U.S. EST).

For now, check out the Highcroft boys getting some seat time in Wirth Research's simulator:


It's very interesting to note that these days the simulator is much more than a driver orientation tool, that it can also be used to seriously evaluate car setup, thus giving the team a head start before they even touch down at Le Mans.
>>Audi has released a number of photos comparing the R15 and the R15 plus.
Audi R15 plusAudi R15

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ęCopyright 2010, Michael J. Fuller