Julian Cooper and the Lola B06/10

Text copyright Michael J. Fuller
>>Julian Cooper, Lola's Head of Engineering took the time to answer a few of our questions regarding their current project, the LMP1 Lola B06/10.  Many thanks to Lola's Sam Smith.

Mulsanne's Corner:  Assuming the B05/40 as the basis, where do you start in developing the LMP1 B06/10?  Where do you begin improve upon and make specific (now to LMP1) a design that, when it was sent to manufacturing, was already at its peak form?

Julian Cooper:  There are 3 aspects that make the B06/10 different to the B05/40: the rules, the engines, and the aerodynamics.  The rules require a minimum weight of 900 kg, up from 750 kg, which imposes additional stresses on the suspension over bumps, under cornering and braking.  The suspension has been strengthened accordingly. At the same time, the wheels and tyres are wider, requiring different suspension geometry, and the brakes are bigger which affects the detail design of the uprights.  The choice of engines require a substantial review of the installations.  Although small engines such as the Mugen V8 would fall straight into the B05/40, we have chosen to increase the wheelbase to improve the packaging both of the longer Judd V10, and the new turbo engines from Cosworth and AER, which require twin intercoolers as well as bigger radiators and space for the turbos.  Minimal changes are required to the transmission as the transverse drive train is designed to be easily adaptable for input rpm and gear width.  A bespoke bellhousing adaptor is designed for each engine type, which also carries the alternator drive in the same way as the B05/40.  The aerodynamics have received as much wind tunnel and CFD work as the original B05/40 design, because we are still on a steep learning curve with optimizing the possibilities within these non-flat bottom regulations.  At the same time, the lift/drag targets are different for an LMP1 car because of the additional power available, and the increased cooling requirements for engine and brakes had to be met.

MC: How similar are the aero characteristics between the LMP1 and LMP2 categories?  In general, what are the concentrations for each category (drag reduction for LMP2, pure downforce for LMP1?)?

JC:  As mentioned already, the tradeoff is different, and it's not hard to guess that with more power in LMP1 you can afford to pull more drag.  However the biggest factor tends to be where you are racing. The ALMS circuits require higher downforce in general than the LMES and Le Mans.  Monza is the lowest drag track of all. However Sebring tends to be attended by some European teams and it requires a high downforce setup, so its essential that the B06/10, like the B05/40, is adaptable to both ends of the drag spectrum.  We are however limited in the regulations in the amount of add-on parts we can use, so that makes the base design all the more important to get right first time.

MC:  Does the B06 have its own dedicated model for wind tunnel development? 

JC:  Yes it does.  It is a 45% scale model built using a combination of carbon fibre bodywork and rapid prototype details, as well as pressure tapped scale radiators.  Together with our F1 standard CFD capability and in-house wind tunnel this means we can cover a lot of development ground very quickly.

MC:  So B06/10, open or closed top?  How feasible would it be to develop both versions?

JC:  Anything is possible, as they say.  In fact a closed top car is just an engineering exercise which adds doors, windows, ventilation systems and a slightly different chassis structure.  This also adds weight to the open car, but this can be accommodated within the extra 150 kg allowance.  Every sportscar we manufacture tends to become a bespoke item once the combination of engines, data systems and team preferences have been accommodated.  The customer is involved with the spec of their car from day one.

MC:  Do you ever find the tendency to want to apply lessons being learned as you develop the B06/10 back to the B05/40?

JC:  This does not seem to be necessary yet.  So far the Lola chassis has been comfortably quicker than the competition on both sides of the Atlantic, and in fact to turn the question around, it is our year of experience in LMP2 which puts us in good shape for LMP1 compared to everyone else who are still using hybrid conversions of LMP900 cars.  Our focus at the moment is on the LMP1 version although updates for the LMP2 will not be ruled out if the need is there. 

MC:  Is it intended that the B06/10 use the same monocoque as the B05/40?  How similar will the two cars be mechanically?  How much additional parts cross over will there be between the 05 and 06?

JC:  The B06/10 monocoque is the same one- only the engine mounts are different.  The nosebox is different because the crash test requirement is higher.  The mechanical differences are outlined above.  Many of the systems such as fuel and steering are the same.

MC:  Having just dealt with a 750 kilo weight minimum, is it any easier to then develop a 900 kilo design?

JC:  Additional weight budget always makes life easier, especially when evolving a design from a lighter starting point.  Some of the weight is already accounted for in the changes, such as bigger brakes and wheels, and the rest can be used to add durability or tuning options.

MC:  And finally…Lola chassis nomenclature…B06 makes sense enough, but /10?

JC:  The suffix denotes the formula. "10" historically has been the top sports prototype class, whether Group C or LMP900.  In-house the final digit is also varied to denote the engine type.

ęCopyright 2008, Michael J. Fuller