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February 2007
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>>Acura has just completed their preparation for Sebring with a 12 hour race simulation carried out on Sebring's  full 12-Hour circuit.  All three Acura teams were in attendance, Fernandez Racing,  Andretti-Green Racing, and Highcroft Racing.  The test included simulated yellow flag situations and was as close to actual race conditions as possible barring the other competitors and 150,000 spectators, naturally.  In the end the Fernandez Racing Lola "won" the test, while trouble hit both the AGR and Highcroft Courages.  Acura will only say that the AGR Courage had a starter motor fail 6 hours in but would later succumb to, "an undisclosed problem," at the 9 hour mark.  And while there has been no official release of the number of laps completed by the Lola, we are led to believe the number was substantial, and on par with past Sebring race pace. 
This test was also the first shake down of the rebodied Acura-Courage.  Enlarging the image we can see a number of changes.  The most interesting is the highly developed splitter profile complete with foot plates at the outer-most ends.  The inlet located just under the nose (whatever its actual function) has been covered over making for a more elegant shape.
But wait, there's more!  We also get a  glimpse of the 2007 Lola B07/40 update (again via an enlarged image, apologies).  Ironically Lola has gone the opposite route compared to the modified Courage (shown above) in that they've opened up the area underneath the nose for the brake ducts doing away with the previous iteration's inboard location.  The "Cyclops" auxiliary headlights are a '05 endurance spec item being first run at Le Mans of that year.

>>Lost amongst the slightly more significant news of Intersport Racing's purchase of a Creation CA06/H to run in the American Le Mans Series is the update on Creation's February 5th test at MIRA's full scale wind tunnel.  Ian Bickerton relays that they spent 10 hours in the tunnel working on validation work on the "big wheel" Creation LMP.  Recall that the big wheel update will be new to this year and will be applied to both the CA06/H and CA07 chassis.  This entails replacing the "LMP 675" wide tires with proper LMP1 rubber.  The validation study was to (hopefully) confirm that the wider tires weren't a aerodynamic detriment considering they called for wider wheel arches, ultimately increasing the car's frontal area to an extent.  Ian indicates indeed the conversion was nearly invisible, that they have the same level of drag and, "...maybe, a little more down force,"  putting them in exactly where they want to be for the sprint events.  Creation also looked at Le Mans developments and confirmed their previous conclusion, "We probably need to look at a new rear wing configuration but, to be honest, we knew this last year."  Wing developments will essentially consist of finding an optimized position for the current elements.  KWM Motorsports and Creation's Chief Engineer, Ian Smith, will analyze the data and head back to the wind tunnel towards the end of the month.

>>Racecar Engineering gives us a preview of their April issue's article on the Epsilon LMP.  A rather interesting read that gives lots of insight into how current prototypes are being optimized to the 'nth' degree given the much more restraining chassis regulations (not to mention the 900 lb gorillas in Audi and Peugeot!).  Epsilon designer John Travis has gone to great lengths in designing every element to have as low a center of gravity as practical, call it "lateral thinking."  According to Travis, "Having looked at simulations, we started to manipulate components in the car and examine what small changes in the centre of gravity would do for cornering performance...That has been our philosophy with every single component - the fuel system, the damper layout, the gearbox - where can I move it to get it lower?"  The gearbox's lay shaft and main shaft run parallel rather than on top of one another, the gearbox itself is of composite construction, the rear dampers are located within the bellhousing rather than on top of it, the disc calipers are rotated as low as practical on the upright, etc.  The tunnel program has been delayed but is due to kick off shortly.  Check out the full article in the April issue of Racecar Engineering. 
©Copyright 2007, Michael J. Fuller