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March/April 2008
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4.25.08

We're still taking our time producing our Peugeot 908 page.  In the mean time Remi Humbert from gurneyflap.com sent us images taken at Barcelona a few weeks ago.  Looking through the images I was struck by this one in particular.  There's an awful lot of effort going in to making sure that no one gets a photo of the front end of the monocoque and subsequently making the mechanic's job all the more difficult.

We'll try to assuage Peugeot's fears...
These from Sebring 2008.
Here's a sequence that's rather amusing....yes, that's the infamous blue blanket photographed, wait for it, in mid air!
Here's the blue blanket in place.
This dog tried to bite me.
The motel, my car.
The Mormon Tabernacle.....a little Fletch humor.
So to Team Peugeot, in the future be kinder to you mechanics and don't make them work underneath blankets, towels, curtains, or any other vision impairing device.  It really is annoying and makes their job simply more difficult I'm sure.  They have feelings too after all.  In the end Audi already has all the pictures they want and well, now we do too!  So, please, think of the mechanics...and just say !non! to the blue blanket!...all tongue in cheek here of course.
4.21.08

Further running of the Dome S102 continued this past week at Fuji.  The testing included some night running as well as additional aero development.

4.10.08

The Dome S102 has finally taken to the track, shown here at Suzuka this past Monday and Tuesday.

Interestingly the S102 effectively has a carbon bellhousing.
Similar to the Porsche RS Spyder, the leading element of the upper A-arm attaches to the side of the carbon structure with the springs and anti-roll bars mounting to the top.  The carbon part is actually glue-bonded to the gearbox. 

Images courtesy Hidenori Suzuki

3.21.08
The Dome S102 has been unveiled, these images courtesy Hidenori Suzuki
The wind tunnel model.
A most unusual picture, and for the moment we're not sure what to make of it.  On the screen in the image you can see what clearly are downforce and drag figures (and for the moment we're unsure of what force measurement they are using--not kilograms as we first thought for that clearly doesn't make sense, Newtons?  Well, converted to either pounds or kilograms that too comes up short though perhaps the speed regime being quoted is less that 200 mph) for the S101.5 and S102.  While no specification/configuration is given, we can clearly see that the S101.5 develops 8770 units of downforce compared to 10060 for the S102.  The S101.5 generates 2580 units of drag compared to 2358.  From this we can establish a basis for L/D, so that's a 3.4:1 L/D for the S101.5 vs. a 4.3:1 for the S102.

The comparative aero balance splits are interesting as well with 3541 units being generated at the front of the S101.5 (40% balance) and 4575 units for the S102 (45% balance).

Now Dome has admitted that during development of the S101.5 they discovered an issue with their wind tunnel that effected the data output and subsequently the S101.5 had less downforce and efficiency than initially thought.  Dome's Hiroshi Yuchi spoke with Race Car Engineering in '06 and had this to say on the subject:

"After S101 made it's debut at Le Mans in 2001, the correlation between the wind tunnel and track data has been very good and always very reliable.  However, when we started the LMP-H car development, we adjusted the parameters of the data analysis program for the hybrid, also to give a better result with CFD.  There was mistake on this parameter adjustment.  We found this problem after Le Mans last year. Therefore, most of the updates for this year are just to recover this problem."

So while we're a bit perplexed as to why Dome would release any actual aero figures, clearly they've sanitized them by either using a scaling factor known only to them or they are quoting an obscure force reference and we simply don't have the information.  But the need to quote data must be, in the end, simply be intended to show that the tunnel issues have been resolved.

3.19.08

Sebring round up...

>>Eco Racing Radical SR9 AER Diesel--I had a look at the chassis on Thursday and must admit this didn't appear to be a project ready for any track running, at least in my estimation.  The Touareg diesel engine installation in the Radical SR9 chassis (#s 004 and 006 according to Ian Dawson) has shifted the bellhousing/tranmission so far rearward within the Radical's existing wheelbase that the rear wheel/tire would certainly be rubbing up on the rear fender well should the car venture out on the track.  Additionally, as I looked at the car in the paddock the chassis A-frame was marginally threaded onto the bellhousing with but a nylock and there seemed to be a need for a spacer to prevent the bellhousing from shifting forward on the A-frame.  Though as Dawson mentioned, there were bellhousing issues and they had been attempting to have them sorted (machined) locally which explains the temporary nature of the bellhousing installation.   But to potentially compound the team's issues, for now at least, there is also a homologation issues with the monocoque in regards to it's crash test certification.

Now before it comes off as me sounding critical of the effort, well I'm not.  Certainly the car preparation is still early days.  And Dawson indicated that the project was only 8 weeks old.  The idea to use bio-diesel is certainly interesting though for the moment there are no provisions within the ACO regulations to allow for that.  So for the time being, once the car gets onto the track, they will have to use the Shell supplied diesel though Dawson is working with the American Le Mans Series to establish an equivalency regulation for the use of bio-diesel.  In the end it can't be stressed enough the task Dawson and company are attempting to do here and things will get particularly intriguing once the project hits the track.
>>Acura ARX-01B--Porsche making friends with Acura?  Well, not really.  It's my understanding that Porsche was behind a protest of the Acura chassis pre-race.  Acura was made to add a inboard fender extension in order to make the cars compliant with Art 3.4.1 a/ that states:

[bodywork] As viewed from the side, must cover the whole circumference of the complete wheels (wheels and tyres) above the axle centrelines level with no empty space or cut-out in the bodywork.

The inboard fender extension can be seen as the small (approximately 2.5" x 1.75") carbon add-on (riveted) just ahead of the valence panel.  Ultimately one wonders how anyone at Porsche had such a close look at the car to make a determination that the car was in violation, though I did witness Porsche's Michael Pfadenhauer oogling the Highcroft Acura as it sat stuck in a paddock traffic jam, presumably making sure the cars were finally in compliance.  Nick Wirth would only offer this, "I hope they are worried."

>>Mazda Lola B07/46--The BK Motorsports Mazda effort would certainly like to forget the weekend.  Ben Devlin crashed the car heavily in the opening minutes of qualifying, writing it off for the weekend.
The team then rolled up their sleeves (here's John Doonan actually doing some work for a change [he did manage to center the number quite well, see below]) and set to work preparing the spare monocoque (chassis #009) in order to make the race.
The Mazda was completed late on Friday afternoon and went through IMSA Tech to a standing ovation.  In the end all would be for naught when in the race-morning warm up it was discovered first a sticking caliper and then, the deal killer minutes before grid-up, a leaking fuel cell. 
3.18.08
Jonathan France sends us these images taken a couple of weeks ago at the WF01's shake down at a wet Snetterton in the UK.
France indicates that pre-season testing will continue in the lead up to the opener at Barcelona.
Embassy has also commited to further scale wind tunnel development planned for the second half of the year.  There seems to be real commitment to this program with everything being dotted and crossed.  We can only hope that at some point over the course of the next few years that they decide to make a trip over the Atlantic to test the waters in the American Le Mans Series.
3.7.08
>>Epsilon also made their debut at the Ricard Le Mans Series test.  In the intervening weeks it has come to our attention that Epsilon Euskadi EE-LMP1-07 designer John Travis is no longer with the project.  According to Travis, his contract with Epsilon ended in December and in the mean time he had been approached by Ferrari to design the new A1GP car.  So opportunities, being what they are, saw Travis move onto the A1GP project once his contract with Epsilon was completed.  In the mean time Sergio Rinland, Epsilon's Engineering Director, has assumed the role of Chief of Design.
It would seem that the Epsilon's cockpit is larger than the Lola's.
The front of the Epsilon's monocoque abruptly narrows down in plan view starting just behind the pushrod moving forward. 
The upright is buried behind the ducting for the brake cooling as well as a brake shroud.  The shroud is inboard of the brake disc and doesn't totally envelope the disc as it does on the Audi R10.
3.6.08
>>The Aston Martin powered Lola B08/60 made it's debut this past weekend at the Paul Ricard Le Mans Series test.  Here we have a montage of detail images of the new Lola.
From the front it is a rather quaint idea that this is supposed to be a two-seater.
The fenders and diveplanes are very similar to the B06/10.
The windshield is rather flat and blends off the the sides abruptly.  The cockpit shape itself must have been a surfacing nightmare!  This isn't to say it is ugly, but there are many things going on with the various surfaces that it most certainly was interesting to model in CAD.
The "Omega" valance panel is offset to allow door access.  The door hinges forward and the panel on the side pod opens up to allow the ACO template to be dropped in vertically and then moved inboard toward car centerline.
Exquisite detailing.
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©Copyright 2008, Michael J. Fuller