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January/February 2011
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Peugeot 908 bis2.25.11

>>I
t was reported on Wednesday of this week that Peugeot's 908 testing program suffered yet another massive shunt that has sent a car airborne and damaged a chassis.  This is the second accident the 908 program has endured.  Recall  back to late last year, it was widely reported that Marc Gene had what was described as a massive off in testing at the Aragon circuit in Spain.  Gene has this to say, via Autosport, in February of this year, "
I'm not sure how much I am allowed to say, but I can tell you I am lucky to be here. It was the biggest accident I have ever had in my career. There was a failure, the car went sideways and the car went up in the air."

Given the unbridled speculation that has sprung up regarding these shunts, specifically the nature of the accidents, we're going to attempt to inject facts where we know them.  For the moment Peugeot has not released any details, so admittedly we're being very presumptuous.  But it is our understanding that the Gene accident that occurred last year was the result of a failure in the rear of the car, specifically a rear suspension failure of some kind.  Details aren't forth coming.  And we've been told unequivocally that the mechanical failure had nothing to do whatsoever with the spate of front suspension pickup point failures that the old 908 program suffered on occasion (the most recent, and public, was a pickup point failure in the Le Mans 24 last year).  Ditto the nature of Wednesday's accident; another sources indicates it had nothing to do with the front end issues of the past.

Though the most disconcerting issue isn't the nature of the events that caused each accident, it's what happened after the car was suddenly pitched into an uncontrolled yaw.  Recall that the 2004 spec underfloor regulations were designed to increase the car's critical take off speeds throughout the yaw range.  This meant that, for instance, at 90 degrees this was around 192 km/h from 148 km/h.  So in most cases throughout the yaw range the 2004 floor increased the critical take off speed by double-digit percentage points.  And these numbers were substantial gains over the old flat floor LMP900 rules in some yaw cases.  In 2009 the flat 20 mm skid was replaced with a domed skid (20 mm at its apex) in reaction to a flurry of blowovers the previous season.  The skid's dome shape (in transverse cross section) helped the car's yaw behavior.  And the introduction of the shark fin was intended to further increase the critical take off speed.  And it's our understanding that it works as advertised though to varying degrees, depending on the car it's applied to (open top, closed top, etc.), but that the net result is always a positive gain we're told.  But ultimately none of the devices (spec 2004 floor, 20 mm domed skid, shark fin) claim to eliminate the possibility of sudden yaw induced flips.  That needs to be firmly kept in mind.

>>In other news, we understand that Highcroft is due to take delivery of their ARX-01e chassis in days if they haven't already.  And "take delivery"...well, we understand the bits are coming over, the car will have to be assembled.  That means no time for pre-Sebring testing unfortunately.  When asked about the lack of testing, Nick Wirth said, rather tongue-in-cheek, "Nothing can possibly go wrong!"  Here's to hoping!
2.12.11

>>C
heck out John Brooks' latest effort, DoubleDeClutch.com.

Audi R18, Sebring testing January 20112.9.11

>>L
ooking at some of the additional images Audi has released, we note these two covered up ducts on the Audi R18, shown here testing at Sebring last month.  Looking at the high resolution images and at various angles, indeed it does appear to be a inlet of some kind that's been closed off.  What does it feed?  We can only speculate that perhaps it was intended as an alternate feed for the brakes.  The R18's bodywork above the splitter is even lower than on the R15+, it's not hard to imagine issues with pressure recovery from the front splitter.  Therefore, moving the brake inlets outboard and onto the leading edge of the front fenders would pull the "formula style" brake ducts out of the critical flow near the splitter's trailing edge.  And with the wider front tires, the channel between the inner fender and crash box is getting rather narrow impeding on airflow to the splitter even more.  But again, we're only speculating.  And as the holes are covered over, it would appear the experiment didn't pan out.  But then again, maybe that's just an access point for the Audi crew to store their weed...?
2.5.11

2011 Peugeot 908 bis >>T
hanks to Endurance-Info, we have a few more detailed shots of the Peugeot 908 bis.  Certainly check out the gallery.  We noticed this shot in particular of the 908 bis' rear wing mount.  It bears a striking resemblance to a competitors...
Audi R15+, Petit Le Mans 2010As one unnamed source said, "I think I can see our part number on it!"
TopGearAutosport.com is an online shop for performance parts & accessories, including headlights and tail lights
Peugeot 908 bis2.4.11

>>P
eugeot officially unveiled their, ready for this, 908 today...no name change this time around, no 90X, no 9 oh-whatever.  The new car will again be called the 908.  Might I suggest 908 bis just to clarify between the two?  Let's try it out, ok?  So, the 908 bis is powered by a 3.7 liter V8 twin turbo diesel with a 90 degree cylinder angle.  Gearbox is cast aluminum, 6-speed.
Peugeot 908 bisOver all the car doesn't look any different from the images Peugeot released in September.  So no, that wasn't a mule.  Additionally, the official dimensions, 4640 x 2000 x 1030 mm, 2950 WB, 940 F-OH, 750 R-OH, don't bear any resemblance to what I scaled.  So it would seem a pretty clear case of Peugeot releasing a doctored image.  It happens in F1 all the time, just surprised I didn't see it, though the Photoshop job does appear pretty flawless.
Peugeot 908 bisSays Bruno Famin, "Given the big reduction in engine power resulting from the 2011 regulations (a fall of approximately 150hp), we had to take a fresh look at the trade-off between aerodynamics, drag and downforce. The latter has been significantly reduced in order to maintain a reasonably high top speed."

According to P
eugeot, the 908 bis' first track test was back on July 27 of last year.  The new V8 diesel was first dyno'd on January  25, 2010.

The 908 bis runs on same-sized Michelins on all four corners.

Audi R18, Sebring testing, January 20112.1.11

>>A
udi completed a 4-day test this past Saturday in which they tested their two new R18s in conjunction with the one of the 2011-compliant Audi R15 "++".  Endurance runs were completed for the R18 and, "...basic setup for therace in March was worked out...," for the R15.
WR LMP2 >>WR has filed an entry for this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.  For 2011 the WR will be powered by the NISMO prepared, Zytek assemled, Nissan VK45DE 4.5 liter V8.  WR has also developed a new rear wing for this year, optimizing it with three days in the wind tunnel.

Honda twin turbo V6 LMP2 engine1.13.11

>>W
e caught up with Wirth Research's Nick Wirth and got the low-down on their 2011 plans.  Interestingly, at the moment, anticipate seeing (possibly) two Wirth Research developed Honda Performance Development LMPs coming from their stables this year.

Work is underway on both an LMP2 and LMP1 chassis.  

The LMP2 will be designated the HPD ARX-01d.  This car will utilize the new Honda turbo V6 LMP2 engine announced back in June at Le Mans.  Says Wirth, "There will be two teams running that car in Europe and at Le Mans in 2011.  The car is a derivative of the 2010 LMP2 HPD ARX-01c with minimal changes to the bodywork from 2010."

The second car is a LMP1 car based upon the LMP2 chassis.  "Its designation is the HPD ARX-01e.  It has a lot of revisions from the existing LMP2 car, including a new gearbox case, new suspension, as well as a very heavily revised bodywork kit and it looks quite different from the current cars."  This car will race a variant of the Honda 3.4 liter V8.  

Asked why the ARX-02a wasn't utilized as a basis for the -01e LMP1, "The 02a was designed for a specific engine that is not suitable for the new LMP1 regulations.  The R&D work can be done with the ARX-01 chassis, which is substantially cheaper to run than the bespoke 02a."

But Wirth hints at the most interesting part, "Aerodynamically, it actually has some of our Coupe 'DNA' in it and we're very excited by the car's potential, given the performance of the 2010 LMP2 car."  Recall that back in 2009 Wirth Research embarked on the development of a 2011 rules car?  Well that concept is still alive.  "...This car (ARX-01e) is primarily designed for a range of R&D purposes."  And indeed the "R&D" aspects of the ARX-01e must mean that it is being used as a mule for the future Wirth Research LMP1 coupe.  Though when pressed about specific details (...say tires), Wirth will only say, "I guess you'll have to see what tires we use, or if tire width will be part of the -01e R&D testing..."

The when and where of this car's debut is less certain, but Wirth does indicate, "I believe HPD are talking to come teams who are interested in running it, either in the US or in Europe."

Regarding the 2012 WR LMP1 coupe, "We're targeting a 2012 debut for this car, and it will most likely end up being a project done with HPD."

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ęCopyright 2011, Michael J. Fuller