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July 2007
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7.5.07

Various news, Le Mans and elsewhere, from at least the past two months...

>>Coupes from 2010?  The ACO had their press conference on the Thursday before the 24 and said nearly the exact same thing they said a year before giving few additional details.  Oh boy.  Based on the image released, dullsville.

>>Sam Collins passes on interesting information regarding the Dome chassis.  Instead of designing a new monocoque to replace the now-illegal hybrid version, Dome decided to modify the existing tubs making them legal.  They did this by modifying the upper tub section, presumably starting with the original pattern and machining a new upper half incorporating the mandatory structural double roll over hoops.  Admittedly the final variation was replete with compromises such as the engine intakes being positioned in a less than ideal spot amongst other details.  A S102 Dome chassis may be developed for 2008, budgets depending.

>>Who was that seen in Zytek's garage over the Le Mans weekend?  None other than Honda's head engine guy.  The understanding is that the Honda will be fielding an LMP1 effort propelled by Zytek's hybrid electric drive coupled with their new LMP1 power plant.  When will this see the light of day?  Next year seems way too soon, more likely 2009.  Though it could very well be fast-tracked with the looming regulations change.

>>IMSA Bulletin 07-15 was released the week of Le Mans.  The American Le Mans Series, under pressure from the Audi and the ACO, has put the 2007 restrictor regulations into effect for LMP2 competitors, reducing engine restrictors by 5% for all cars with one exception, those powered by 2.0 liter turbo engines (AER).  So basically this amounts to a 5% reduction on the Porsche RS Spyder and Acura powered LMP 2 cars.  We noted back in September of last year following the State of the Series address, Tim Mayer commented that the ACO was behind the American Le Mans Series recognizing that regulations derived for one event didn't necessarily make for regulations that were equitable for an entire series and that this was a, (our quote) "noted change in the ACO's tone inasmuch as they weren't necessarily on the same page until recently."  Clearly the prospects of interesting racing up at the front was too much for Audi and the ACO.  Somewhere it was commented that, "Now Audi can be competitive."  Whatever, Audi has been sitting on their hands racing with one arm tied behind their back and pointing and crying about how the regulations were making the LMP2s more competitive than they should have been.  This isn't my observation, this is the observation on pitlane from the LMP2 competitors and people better positioned than I am to make such an opinion.

Additionally, as first reported back on April 8, Bulletin 07-15 has given Mazda the ok to continue to run their electronic throttle mechanism for the rest of the ALMS season.

>>Borrowing from dailysportscar.com, we note with cynicism that Peugeot's technical director makes the claim that the gasoline powered cars actually have an advantage within the regulations.

Here's the full quote: 

"The diesels are heavier, have much more of their weight to the back of the car, have different cooling needs and systems and all of this means making some major compromises. The conventional petrol powered cars are capable of much better performance as the regulations currently stand."

Heavier?  LMP1 regulations state all cars must weigh 925 kgs., whether powered by gasoline or diesel.  I'll agree there's a weight distribution discrepancy and cooling differences.  But these "compromises" are more than made up for by the torque and power advantage.  Frankly if I were a gas powered competitor I'd be begging for the diesel's "problems". 

I'll end by saying that the ACO put the diesel regulations out there and Peugeot and Audi built cars to those rules having the option to do either.  They shrewdly went diesel knowing full well that the balance of advantage/disadvantage was weighted in their favor.  Audi and Peugeot certainly didn't make their decision hoping to be the underdog.  To make asinine comments like the one above really smells of pandering, especially as we look at the times from the Nurburgring Le Mans Endurance Series event and the Peugeot 908 has 3.2 seconds in hand over the 3rd placed gas powered Lola B07/17 of Charouz Racing.  I guess that's not enough?  This is more saber rattling, Audi got their way in the American Le Mans Series and now Peugeot is playing politics with the ACO, hoping to cut them off at the pass of the proposed 2008 regulations changes that will (hopefully--we thought the ACO would have been mature enough to do that for this year) address the extraordinary performance offset.  When you're rich you can't be rich enough I guess.

We'll end with Hugh Chamberlain, again from dailysportscar.com, interviewed at this weekend's Le Mans event at Nurburgring:

"It keeps on happening – yet here there are more LMP1s than ever before, but they’ll disappear if they don’t do something about the diesels. You wouldn’t have a race here without the privateers."

For years the sanctioning bodies have ignored the privateers yet it is on their efforts alone that sportscar racing has been sustained.  Look at the perseverance of Dyson, Courage, Pescarolo, etc.  Though after a while you have to sort of ask yourself why they are still here?  They can't be solely responsible for the sport forever, yet the sanctioning bodies take them for granted.

>>And finally we have an image of the super secret Peugeot 908 engine, brace yourself...

Nuts!  Stymied again.  Those dastardly French!

Courtesy of Zac Campbell.  Zac, get in touch with me and I'll get that T-shirt heading your way.

>>Ok, this still isn't what we're after perse, but its the best we've come across so far

Ok, try this one.  A couple of things to point out.  There are two radiators here, the obvious one to the left of center, but behind the partition next to it there is another radiator nearly perpendicular to the chassis.  And next to it is the intercooler, therefore the intercooler is closest to the chassis but it is obscured here.  Nothing unique perse, just clarifying what is being seen. So the cooling airflow is split by the partition which routes air through the first radiator and then out the louvers in the side pod with air continuing onto the second radiator and intercooler and subsequently flowing out the rear of the engine bay.  The turbo is tight to the engine and unseen here though we can see the header bag (silver) as well as the air filter/plenum and inlet restrictor.  It is our understanding that one of Peugeot's motivations to keep prying eyes out of their rear end ;0) is the desire to keep their rear suspension design to themselves.  We've heard that the front and rear suspension are "connected" and can only think that perhaps Peugeot are running a system similar to what was developed by Penske shocks and Jeff Braun in the mid-90s for the Ferrari 333SP and features interconnected front and rear dampers in order to control pitch (3rd spring).

This image is supplied anonymously and we thank that entity.  Certainly get back in touch with me, you get a T-shirt too (oh boy you're saying!).

>>Lola releases CAD rendering of the Lola B08/60 LMP coupe.  Lola has been indicating that they have a manufacturer interested in this project which would be a good thing though one wonders if the instability of the proposed ACO regulations beyond 2009 potentially torpedo that?  Build a brand new car and race it for two years before a complete redesign is required?  I suppose only a manufacturer could afford that, though if this project is out of Lola's pocket there isn't much motivation for it to hit the track until after it has been redesigned to accommodate the new regulations, which are apparently due to be released some time in September.
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ęCopyright 2007, Michael J. Fuller