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is what's left of Mike Rockenfeller's Audi R18 following his accident
on the strip from Mulsanne to Indianapolis. An accident like this could have easily resulted in serious injuries and required the assistance of a car accident lawyer in Austin or wherever the accident took place. Considering the
severity of this accident, along with that of Alan McNish's, as much as
we bang on the ACO about what they get wrong (we do it because we love
you), this is something the ACO have gotten right. The
regulations behind today's modern LMP monocoque produce a safety
structure that is extraordinarily strong.
We also wanted to
point out that both accidents showed how effective the big honking fin
is. Yes, we hate the looks but admittedly they are growing on us
(remember how ridiculous we thought the narrow rear wings were?
Yeah, barely notice them now. We're fickle. Sorry.)
Rockenfeller's accident was the truer test in that his car
pitched into a sudden and unintended yaw at a speed exceeding 300 km/h.
The car clearly stayed glued to the track, but unfortunately it
made contact with a Armco barrier. As bad as it sounds, that must
have been the optimal outcome and much preferred over the car taking
flight and clearing the Armco heading for the trees.
been working on figuring out the protagonist's race strategies:
Peugeot is running a lower drag car – this is seen in their
better speed trap figures (maximum speeds of 343 km/h to Audi's 334
km/h) and better fuel mileage. Note Peugeot's "anti wicker" wing
(below, 6.8.11), it gets around the gurney and cuts drag.
Meanwhile the Audi, which has higher downforce, is better in the
twisty bits. Finally we know from our source in Peugeot Sport
that the 908 has a very narrow operating window. This has a lot
to do with the wide fronts. As the temperature dropped the 908's
all lost pace – whilst Audi just motored on. Simple: come 9 am
and the Peugeots will start catching up again. That is, if there
are any Audis to catch up to.
>>Assuming Audi and Peugeot have near about the same horsepower,
and that Peugeot have gone low drag (relative), solving for drag in our
power estimation formula shows only about a 60 lb difference in drag
between the two with Peugeot running to a top speed average of
335.1 km/h while the Audi is averaging 329.6 km/h. We've
calculated these averages from the ACO's data which notes the top 5 top
speeds for each car number and are taken from Free Practice and
qualifying sessions 1-3.
morning race fans! Last night we started trawling through the
ACO's session data from the free practice and qualifying 1-3. For
now that data can be found here
though will probably be moved and archived after the race. For
now we're compiling average top speeds and taking all the data to
construct a LM 2011 average for the cars I'm looking at. As we
were most interested in the Aston Martin given it only really had one
timed lap at the Test, I've gone back and redone the calculations for
we now have the AMR-One producing between 395-400 hp on the low end and
440 or so on the high end. Figure towards the high end of power
assuming high(er) drag though their cornering speeds don't speak to
carrying loads of downforce. It's not like the car shows to be a
rocket through the Porsche curves (It's about mid pack compared to the
other LMPs for Porsche) for instance or any of the other corners.
we had calculated the AMR-One as having between 465 and 500 hp.
But ultimately that was based on what was effectively a single
lap at the test day where the car went through the traps clearly in
anger. Sam spoke to Aston Martin yesterday and they admitted to having "10% less power." When clarified,
they were admitting to being 10% down on their previous output,
presumably for longevity. Compared to our previous estimates,
-10% puts our new estimates spot-on or nearly so.
|>>Wired magazine takes note of our joint coverage with Race Car Engineering magazine.|
>>Not much out of Sam today:
night Audi ran with single and twin dive planes on the cars, swapping
nose and engine cover to adjust the car balance. They also fitted the
Tire Temperature Monitor System nose seen on test day. As we
mentioned yesterday, Peugeot has been doing this as well and really
shows the concentration on optimizing the contact patch of the wide
fronts up until the last possible minute.
Peugeot is using the anti-wicker wing on all three cars.
Level 5 posted a nice Le Mans lap in-car video.
you'd expect us to have something on the Delta Wing announcement but
you'll have to wait while we put our thoughts together in a
constructive manner. That is, if we don't get bored and go off
and do something else. Tomorrow perhaps.
snapped a picture of Peugeot's answer to Oak Racing's rear wing flap.
Just like Oak Racing's rear wing flap, Peugeot's is designed
to reduce the relative angle of the gurney in order to reduce drag.
Peugeot has turned to a slotted flap wing section and as such has a deep slot running along the trailing edge.
wing assembly, the slotted flap bleeds high pressure air into the
boundary layer delaying flow separation. But in this case the
of the slot is simply being used to leverage the gurney backwards.
When the line is connected between the top of the wing and the
trailing edge, it results in an angle reduction for the mandatory 20 mm
gurney. There's certain to be an interesting story as to how
quickly Peugeot was able to design, test, and get this flap onto the
car given all the other things that were going on between the Test and
today, note the tire temp sensor above the fender. While it is
unusual to run tire temperature sensors in official practice, Peugeot
did similar at Spa.|
|The Aston Martin AMR-One has a revised exhaust system.|
told Thursday's LMP announcement involves Highcroft Racing. The
announcement will be made at 10am French time (4am US EST). It's
been pointed out that it was Highcroft who backed away from Honda; had
Highcroft found sponsor money they would have continued with HPD.
But that Highcroft is involved with this announcement must signal
they are moving forward with another manufacturer. Not to
mention, we've been led to believe it is more than simply a team
announcing a new chassis/direction. What manufacturer you ask?
You're betting we're not going to double down on yesterday's
prediction (Hyundai America: 18.104.22.168)...|
...did we mention Toyota peaks in too? Toyota Motorsports: 22.214.171.124 (good morning TMG!),
but then Toyota's LMP program is the worst kept secret in
racing...though you'd like to think Toyota would announce sooner rather
than later...yeah, we're hedging our bets. But if it turns out
Highcroft announces something comparatively mundane, like that they're
running Audis or something, all bets are off.*
*A few hours later and indeed, all bets are off...Delta Wing?
A controversial open wheel concept becomes the ACO's latest shiny
toy? Things must really be bad for the ALMS to loose their best
team to this project. No offense to Highcroft, Delta Wing, or All
Oh, and we'll stop with the predictions now (we never were very good at that, notice we never make any race predictions?).
WTF Hyundai, why you leave me hanging...so who should I send the bandwidth bill to? Seriously.
>>Sam's notes from today:
I hear from those in the Silver corner that Peugeot has a new rear wing
which slopes in an unusual way, negating the impact of the wicker. It's pretty clear
someone's been looking at the Oak Racing rear wing pics on Race Car Engineering & Mulsanne's Corner?
Sam sends along a shot of the Peugeot's turbo installation.
nice look at the alternative nose configuration of the Lola Toyota,
don't think it has run in that trim yet but the covers seem to be on
for Le Mans given the alternate nose's high downforce nature. |
of nature on the Aston Martin – aside from that, looking at the finish
of the bodywork, it is not what you would expect – I think the very
short development program has hit the AMR-One a bit. Still, start
of a three year program though, the car does have potential. May
also have a revised exhaust exit – or, at least a neater one – will see
|Audi R18 front brake ducting|
to ALMS LMP? At Le Mans today it came out to expect a "big"
announcement on Thursday of a manufacturer backed effort that would
have a ALMS centered, USA based, LMP program. That's all we knew.
Emails back and forth with Sam eliminated Toyota (German based,
Japanese money), Mazda (email to John Doonan, Head of Mazda Motorsports
North America said, "Honestly, not that I know of...You been reading
Murphy the Bear again!?"), Nissan (more likely than other possible
Japanese efforts, but all money being spent currently is Japanese
based), Ford (close contacts said no), Chrysler (similar to Ford), GM
(heavily invested in GT2 Corvette and contacts seemed to put the kibosh
on this as well). Then who?|
We've often hinted about it
and some times mention it directly, but we track the IP traces of the
hosts that hit the Mulsanne's Corner server. It's a standard
procedure, our web hosts collect all sorts of data behind the scenes
and most of the time we don't even bother looking at it. But we
take note of the IPs because it's a pretty easy task to pop the numbers
into a IP look up and see who they are. But the problem is that
it is a time consuming and manual process; cut, paste, click, ID, next
(if anyone knows how to do this as a batch process where you grab 1000s
of IP and plug them in contact this office!). Time and again.
So we only tend to look at the top 25 and only every other month
Back in March of this year, following Sebring, we were
going through the IP log...and the top hitters tend to read like: Wirth
Research: 126.96.36.199, Prodrive Motorsports Assignment:
188.8.131.52, Honda R&D CO., Ltd: 184.108.40.206, Audi AG,
Ingolstadt : 220.127.116.11, etc. But one stuck out:
Well now...so what are you up to Hyundai?
With today's rumor, Hyundai certainly begins
to make a lot of sense. Back in 2009, a sportscar team based in
Atlanta put out feelers for crew to work on a Hyundai backed ALMS GT
program that would transition to LMP2 over a 5 year program. It
never panned out in that manner, but at very least it shows desire and
We were also told today that Hyundai has been
putting out RFQs for ALMS-centric sportscar programs as recently as the
begining of this year...
We checked last month's stats and Hyundai is still visiting...
is investigative reporting in the face of any hard facts and there are
certian to be those that poo-poo our methodology; we admit we have
absolutely no direct knowledge of this program. So we might look
pretty silly Thursday and in the end we've sent IT departments at the
above companys scrambling to cover their footprints.
If not, welcome to the show Hyundai.
been pondering the Audi images a bit further. Sometimes you have
to take risks and put stuff out there as you ponder on the fly.
Take this image for example. We can't figure out the
function of the very prominent foil covered cooling ducts that route
their very intentional way through the engine bay. The two ducts,
one either side of the car, start at the firewall of the monocoque (1),
clearly piercing the monocoque, and feed from the tub rewards into the
carbon bellhousing (2). Along the way, cooling flow is siphoned
off (3), (4), and (5). What's the source? The front nose
vent? Seems a rather tortured route...We hate to be the source of
rumors that turn out to be completely unfounded after the fact, but
this is the risk part of exploring a new design.
BTW, note the structural tube (6). The opposite end of it connects near where the duct heads into the bellhousing (2).
has a history of race testing new technology and only telling us after
the fact. Recall the direct injection on the Audi R8 in 2001 and variable geometry turbos last year
on the R15? Could Audi have homologated the R18 as a hybrid,
demonstrated it to the ACO in secret, and now have it in place?
We know, it seems a bit of a stretch. What's that
acceptance process anyway? Seeing how public Hope Racing's was,
maybe this is completely unrealistic.
little logic from Sam Collins and we're all straightened out. Sam
points out that any hybrid would have prominent stickers saying as much
to warn track marshals (high voltage), not to mention it doesn't seem
to be realistic to keep the ACO pitlane test secret.
the cooling ducts are only cooling the carbon rear structure and those
items that are piggy-backing along the way? That's the easiest
explanation, and frankly, most likely too. Ultimately whatever
the cooling need, it is all very
deliberate. One would think if it was only to cool the
bellhousing a simple NACA duct or two in the engine cover would
suffice. Though feel free to
join us and ponder away...
Doonan has told us that Johnny Herbert himself will be doing the
demonstration laps in the Mazda 787B at Le Mans on Saturday.
Johnny is of course one of the three drivers who won in the car
in 1991. Bertrand Gachot and Volker Weidler were Herbert's fellow
teammates that year. It had been previously annouced that
American actor Patrick Demsey would pilot the car in Thursday's
unfortunate practice crash at Spa this year gave us, and everyone on
pit lane apparently, a really good view of the 908's rear end. You can
bet Peugeot was more than a little irritated at the track side clean up
crew for not flopping the remains of the engine cover onto the car.
Thanks marshals (and Benoit Maroye)!
The 908's water radiators
are mounted forward, similar to the position they had on the 908 HDi
FAP, and partially exit out the louvers in the vertical face of the
side pods. We surmise the oil coolers are in a similar position
as on the HDi FAP too, tucking in next to, though outboard of and
slightly overlapping, the intercoolers. The roof intake feeds the
Brakes are cooled via the snorkels in the engine cover
stuck on the leading edge of the fenders. Note the baffling in
the engine bay ahead of the rear wheels to better control airflow
through the car. The Audi R18 has similar.
first detail to point out is the carbon fiber bellhousing (1).
This is the year for carbon fiber in the gearbox and bellhousing
areas on LMPs. But this isn't treading new gound. In
Formula One, back in 1998, Arrows was the first team to create an
entire carbon fiber gearbox case. That it has taken this long for
the concepts to be used in sportscar racing must simply come down to
trying to find every last ounce in order to have better control over
weight distribution. It certainly hasn't been about a technology
hurdle regarding the applications of high temperature epoxies and
carbon fiber; they were good enough in '98 and they're even better now.
But with hybrids set to show up in full force in the next couple
of years it makes sense to start ticking through items on the car and
pulling weight out where one can. |
We understand the 908's bellhousing will serve dual purposes once the car is "hybridized."
908's suspension is actuated by a pushrod (2) as one would expect.
Torsion bars (3) and rotary dampers (4) are mounted to the side
of the bellhousing. The third spring (5) and anti-roll mechanism
(6) are located on top.
The carbon bellhousing is the
mounting point for the leading leg on the upper and lower A-arms as
well as all loading going into the torsion bars, dampers, 3rd spring
and anti-roll mechanism. Thus it's not too hard to imagine that
its layup is not dissimilar at all to the monocoque considering similar
loading inputs but narrower cross section.
Compare the 908 with the 908 HDi FAP and note how much slimmer the gearbox is.
has retained that very interesting swirl detail on the primary intake
plenum. Recall its purpose was to maximize the length of
the intake trumpet. At the tangency between the round plenum
and the trumpet, the trumpet continues to rotate around the plenum in a
helical fashion, through approximately 270 degrees, instead of
dead-ending perpendicularly into it. This allows for a much
longer intake trumpet without the need to raise the height of the
plenum to accommodate taller intake trumpets (thus keeping the trailing
edge of the engine cover that much lower).
diesel particulate filters tuck in either side of the engine and behind
the turbos. Note the proximity of all the hot bits to the
bellhousing. Modern high temperature epoxies can withstand
temperatures approaching 475F before Tg issues (thermal stability)
begin to rear their ugly head.|
to how the shots were snatched of the Peugeot 908, it was a brief
misfortune for the Audi that allowed David Legangnuex to snap the R18's
bits. A rear underfloor swap meant the Audi team was temporarily unawares and that's all she wrote.|
Audi's rear end is as expected: pushrod (1) to torsion bars (2),
teloscopic dampers (3) angled to meet the bellcrank, heat shielded 3rd spring (4). |
most interesting thing is the rear carbon structure. The R18's is
very different than the Peugeot 908's in that it is much more intricate
by extending the full length (5) of the car and that the gearbox
cradles inside the open ended structure. All
rear suspension pick ups mount to the carbon. The trailing arm
pickups are supported by metallic structures (6) behind them that
"stitches" each side of the open ended carbon structure together. Note the forward drive shaft angle.
the gearbox isolated from suspension loading, the gearbox wall proper
now doesn't have the be as robust. So a thinner wall and a much simplified casing in general means less weight, one would think.
we hear there are other purposes behind the structurally isolated gear
casing. ACO reuglation Article 1.12 defines the main casing of
the gearbox as:
"Casings that receive or transmit loads from/to
the chassis or from/to mechanical elements other than those which are
part of the gearbox or the differential."
Note the wording, the ACO themselves define the gearbox as the casing that carrys the loading between the chassis and suspension.
So in theory, if one can put the suspension loading into
something else...does the gearbox cease to be the gearbox as defined?
With that being the regulatory definition of the gearbox, we look at the sporting regulations which state:
18.9 - During the race, under pain of Exclusion of the car, it is forbidden to change:
the engine, i.e. the cylinder head(s), cylinder head, cover(s), oil pan
and engine block, parts that will be attached together by means of
− the main gearbox and differential casings,
− the chassis or the monocoque structure
Has Audi designed a gearbox that meets the letter of the regulations and
allows them to replace it if need be during the race? Maybe.
But the question is, when is the last time Audi ever had a race
altering/ending gearbox failure? It seems like a situation where
Audi thinks they're adding value by addressing a possible issue, but
you have to think they're leaving themselves vulnerable to unintended
consequences given the nature of the solution. Clearly Audi had
justification for going the route this year. But it just seems
like an extreme solution for a problem that doesn't historically exist.
We're not 100% convinced this is Audi's justification for
their rear carbon structure, but we have to admit it does seem Audi
have found a loophole to do just as we've described. Watch this
item on the car and perpare for Peugeot to have an issue with it if
indeed this is the case.
|The rear structure that carrys the rear wing mount, exhaust pipe,
and rearmost section of the underfloor plugs into the back of the
carbon gearbox cradle via mushroom pins.|
few weeks ago we posted a really interesting image, taken at the Le
Mans Test Day, of Oak Racing's rear wing flap. We had a think,
talked to a bunch of people, and have the answer as to what's going on
there. This was the process:|
Since the 2004 LMP1
regulation changes (and even before that with the LMP900 regulations),
the ACO have mandated a gurney on the rear wing flap that is 90 degrees
to the plane connecting the top of the wing to the trailing edge (see
FIA Drawing 258-8 in Article 3.6.3 of the ACO regulations).
Initially the mandated height was 15 mm, then in 2009 this was raised
to 20 mm. 2011 saw the introduction of engine capacity reductions
for LMP1 resulting in the loss of about 100 horsepower for the top
diesel LMPs. This has led to a trend shift in aerodynamics
development from pure downforce generation to drag reduction and
efficiency first, downforce second.
While it is only a
small detail when looking at the entire car, the mandatory 20 mm gurney
is even more of a liability than in years past. But there's
precious little that can be done about it...or is there?
seen at the 2011 Le Mans test day, Oak Racing have hit upon a clever
design execution that maneuvers around the gurney regulation.
Ultimately the concept is a regulatory work around and nothing more,
though more on the specifics in a moment. But getting to this
conclusion was fraught at first. Initially it was suggested that
the protuberances were designed with pure aerodynamics in mind;
discussions were rampant about the bumps acting as vortex
generators. There was even mention the bumps were utilizing an
aerodynamic concept seen in nature and on of all things, whales.
Yes, the giant mammal kind.
Apparently scientists have
always been puzzled about whale’s agility given their size. And
when researched, they took note of bumps on the leading edge of whale
fins. They came to the conclusion the bumps help reduce span wise
leading edge flow migration and locally better organized the water flow
leading to a much more efficient fin (or wing). Hey, don’t shoot
the messenger, I’m just repeating what I read.
I must admit I
wasn’t convinced that was the cue Oak Racing had taken, though
admittedly I had nothing else. Apparently the research is three
years old, and lacking direct access to their numbers, one has to
utilize the school of observation. And the best place to do that
is to observe what’s going on in F1, the “bleeding” edge of motorsports
aerodynamics. No one has, to my knowledge, shown up on a F1 grid
recently with a wing that had bumps or similar on the leading edge.
about this time I received an email from a former colleague who is now
with an F1 effort, asking me, of all people, what I knew about the Oak
Racing wing flap. Lacking anything else, I repeated the rather
weak-sauce story about the whales. Yeah, I did. But the
fortunate thing for me was that in the email ping-pong the answer shook
it's pretty simple. But first you have to think about the wing in
cross section. The mandatory 20 mm gurney has to be perpendicular
to the line connecting the top of the wing to the trailing edge.
But Oak Racing has increased the height of the wing opposite the
“conventional” cross section in an alternating pattern (the
bumps). And when you connect the top of the bump to the trailing
edge, the perpendicular gurney is leaned back relative to the
conventional section (approximately 30 degrees in our example). And as
the top of the wing is relatively insensitive (note that the important
low pressure side is untouched), any loss from the bumps is more than
made up for by the alternating gurney angle reduction.
all of this I was finally able to reach Oak Racing's Technical Director
Christophe Chapelain. Chapelain immediately confirmed the concept
was indeed a rules work around driven by the desire to reduce
drag. Says Chapelain, “The gurney is one of the most important
piece for the drag. It (the idea) came from a sort of brain
storming.” Team aerodynamicist Nicolas Clemencon utilized CFD to
flesh out the concept and followed that up with wind tunnel testing at
RUAG in Switzerland to validate. The result, according to
Chapelain, is the same level of downforce for slightly less drag.
Chapelain also indicates that there is some negative interaction from
the bumps (flow separations), but not enough to take away from the
positives. The wing is also just on the edge of improved L/D; the
flap wasn't used at Spa because at higher downforce levels it's more
efficient to use a standard flap without any bumps.
Racing's concept hasn't been dismissed outright and rival outfits are
already mulling the possibilities. “Well, it depends on how big
the negative effect of the flap top surface modification...I will know
more after trying it, possibly in a nicer way,” this according to one
aerodynamicist for a current LMP project. One wonders if there's
been enough time between the Le Man test and the race...we'll see soon