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Mulsanne's Corner

Sebring 2011

All news content copyright Michael J. Fuller, unless otherwise noted
Acura ARX-01e, Sebring 2011
Highcroft HPD ARX-01e, Sebring 20114.4.11

>>We finally have some follow up on the Highcroft ARX-01e/ACO front end aero bit "issue."  It was initially our understanding that the ACO had hand-waived certain elements on the ARX-01e right into the dust bin of illegality and that Highcroft had competed at Sebring under a waiver of sorts.  Well turns out that wasn't the case.  Yes, there was some hand waiving, we had that much correct.  And yes, it had to do with the -01e's front end bits.  It turns out the discussion centered around Art. 3.6.2 and specifically the number of aerodynamic elements perched on the front end of the -01e.  

Art 3.6.2 states that you're only allowed 2 elements maximum (2 pairs) and it turns out the ACO had been doing some counting and had come up with the number 3, arguably 4, when they looked at the -01e.  They counted the diveplane (1), the vertical endplate that is attached to the outboard edge of the splitter (2), the vertical turning vane that attaches to the outboard face of the front fender (3), and, if the ACO wanted to really be picky, the strut that steadies the gap between the vertical endplate and the front fender (4).  Initially the really questionable element in the ACO's mind was the vertical turning vane, and questionable from a numbers standpoint, not design execution.  After some discussion, all parties agreed that the vertical turning vane was actually part of the fender and shouldn't be counted towards the total.  And with the ACO not in a nit-picking mood, the horizontal strut was ignored from the total.
Highcroft HPD ARX-01e, Sebring 20113.18.11

>>Peugeot's Bruno Famin seems convinced Audi has developed the R15++ for Sebring, in spite this being forbidden from a regulatory standpoint.  Famin (this a clean up of the Google translation), "That said, Audi is regularly ahead of us, and obviously they are very sharp. This is not surprising given the work they have done on a car that should have theoretically remained the same as last year.  And then they drove a lot this winter, so they are really ready."  

Having inspected the cars ourselves in scrutineering, it would appear the car remains identical (taking setup differences into account) to how it raced at Petit Le Mans last year.  And once again, we've been told that the only changes that have been made to the car are a reduction in the size of the engine inlet restrictor, a fuel tank capacity reduction, and a boost reduction, all as laid out by the equivalency regulations by the ACO.  Audi did seem somewhat sensitive about their car (consideirng it's out to pasture after the race), but that was strictly on principle (see comments below).  Perhaps Famin is believing the gamesmenship?

>>The Highcroft team was seen fitting the "low downforce" louver package back onto their HPD ARX-01e this morning.  These louvers are fewer in number and flush to the fender.  The team also removed the diveplane as well as the lower filler panel that blanks off the lower portion of the outboard turning vane.
Highcroft HPD ARX-01e, Sebring 20113.17.11

>>We're hearing that the ACO is taking a dim view of the vertical endfences on the Highcroft HPD ARX-01e.  We're told, though this hasn't been confirmed, the ACO has granted a waiver for Sebring but the elements, in their current form, will not be allowed at Le Mans.  We don't quite know the exacting issue for the moment though can guess they might be falling afoul of Art 3.6.1.  "Non-wing" wing elements are governed under 3.6.1, but since the elements, "are vertical" they appear to be free in cross section (with the possible exception of the 30 mm trailing edge ruling)  thus we admittedly need to go to the source to determine what the issue actually is.  More later.

Regarding yesterday's 5 mm width discrepancy, the team sanded off the difference and IMSA signed off on the nose yesterday afternoon.  

>>Muscle Milk Lola-Aston Martin LMP in trouble?  We're hearing the first practice session fire might have caused more damage than thought.  We've been told it took some time to get the fire out and that the fire appeared to be concentrated between the engine and tub (that's apparently where the smoke was coming from).  The talk here is that the team is looking for an insurance adjuster (the car is leased after all).  If that rumor is true, it's not a positive development.  The car is currently out of sight.  Here's to hoping that isn't the case.

>>Muscle Milk update:  The Lola-Aston Martin LMP1 is repairable and the team has indicated it could be out this evening.  We think tomorrow more likely given only an hour to go and the car was still down to the tub the last we looked, but nonetheless this is good news!  Still trying to figure out how at 5:45 pm, with the car still down to the tub, they were able to get the car out onto the track.  Well done!
3.16.11

>>Just now arriving at the track after an overnight stay in Orlando (thanks Mom & Dad).  I'll be heading out shortly to see what's going on.
Highcroft HPD ARX-01e, Sebring 2011>>Internet connection has been spotty, so only a few notes for the moment (though keep reloading as necessary).

>>Over heard at scrutineering as the #7 Peugeot 908 was entering the tent, this from one of the car's English engineer, "Yes, the big honking fin is here."  We've dropped him in it now...

>>We understand that the Highcroft HPD ARX-01e failed its first time through the Tech Shed.  The issue?  Apparently the nose was 5 mm too wide.  The team has been sanding away on the outboard fenders and we suspect it won't be an issue the second time around.  In the mean time there seemed to be quite a lot of gesturing and hand waving going on by the ACO's Daniel Perdrix regarding the -01e's front aero widgets.  We don't know the results of all of this, if any.  They could have been discussing pasta crepes (more appropriate I think, pasta was simply off the cuff), for all we know.

>>Audi's Ralf Juttner made it clear that he didn't necessarily care for the open atmosphere of scrutineering in the ALMS.  He was respectful and wasn't having a go at me in particular, or even saying the ALMS policy needed changing, just venting his (mild) frustration a bit.  Though he lightened up in saying, as I was excusing my self to go have a look at the Peugeot, "But if you have pictures of their car to sell to me we never had this conversation about our car..."

>>Peugeot's Bruno Famin An as of yet unidentified Peugeot team member Peugeot's Chrisitan Deltombe commented about the "gamesmenship" and the, in his opinion, justifiable use of the blue blankets, "There's a lot of investment behind this game."

>>Audi R15+ is on 33/68 R-18s on the front, same as last year.  No wide tires...

>>The HPD ARX-01e has louvers on the inboard vertical face of the front fenders though they are blanked off with an aluminum plate on the inside of the wheel well for now.

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ęCopyright 2011, Michael J. Fuller