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March/April 2014
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Audi R18, pre-Spa 2014 rendering4.25.14

>>I
'm still digging through shots from Audi's Monza test, but this morning Audi released a CAD rendering of the LM variant they will be running at Spa.  Note there is no longer a gap between the trailing edge of the bodywork and the trailing edge of the rear diffuser.  Typically this gap is where the air leaving the hot radiators exits the car.  Instead, the trailing edge of the engine cover shares the same point as the trailing edge of the diffuser.  So that begs the question, where does the radiator exhaust go now?  The hint is most definitely the strakes within the rear fender trailing edge boxes and their slightly larger shape inboard.  

More later. 

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Audi R184.22.14

>>D
etailed shots of the Audi R18's front wing arrived in the in box overnight.  It's about what you'd expect and certainly benefits from years of Audi LMP development.  That we've ended up with front wings is ultimately the direction the regulations were heading with splitters evolving into long chord wings evolving into long chord wings with secondary flaps.  The rather ridiculous pretense that these devises have thick trailing edges to declassify them as wings was dropped and this is where we are.  In the end the manufacturers were a pretty big influence pushing the ACO into that direction, ultimately pointing out the futility of policing non-wing wing regulations in this case.

Here our spy camera has zeroed in on the Audi's long chord, 3D-sectioned, front wing mainplane, low in the middle and raised outboard,  is topped by a short chord flap that follows the contours of the mainplane's trailing edge.  The flap's trailing edge is notched in the center in order to clear the nose box.

I suppose the flap is adjustable though I can't make out any pivoting slot gap adjusters.  The only ones visible appear clearly fixed with no means of adjustment and machined feet where they mate with the mainplane.

 
Audi R18Looking at the underside of the mainplane is a pretty familiar sight if you've followed Audi front splitter/wing development since the R10 (1, 2, 3). Presumably the vortex generators are still in place to control trailing edge flow.  Recall the difficult environment the wing has to work in considering the regulations mandate these devices must be enclosed in bodywork.  And the proximity of that bodywork really complicates things; this really hampers wing trailing edge flow and therefore pressure recovery.  This is what led to, amongst other things I'm sure, the cascading/slotted bodywork that Audi has utilzisd for the last few years (since the R15) above the front wing.  In this case I can imagine the VGs are playing their part in controlling the secondary flaps's trailing edge flow, perhaps reducing/limiting its interaction with the bodywork above it, thus the wing "breathes" easier.
Audi R18A shot of the front end reveals some of the R18's mechanical details.  You can't miss the strake (1), and note that it's attached to the brake backing plate (2).  The brake duct (4) has a lead-in element (3), the purpose of which I believe is to deflect debris away from the brake duct inlet.  Both the upper and lower A-arms are shrouded (5) and we can also see the front drive shaft (6).
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Toyota TS040 Silverstone WEC 20144.19.14

>>T
oyota's approach to the turning vane is slightly different.  Located aft of the wheel in order to better control the wake off the front wheel, they appear to be mounted directly to the outer edge of the floor.  However, as they aren't attached to the suspension, and thus not deemed as part of the suspension system (right?), surely they should be categorized as bodywork?  Regardless, even categorized as bodywork there seems to be no regulation governing how far they can project down.  
Toyota TS040 Silverstone WEC 2014Looking closer, could there be two VGs?
Toyota TS040 Silverstone WEC 2014And it clearly is two...
Toyota TS040 Silverstone WEC 2014A sharper close-up.
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Oreca R-One shake down test Paul Ricard 20144.18.14

>>R
ebellion's Oreca designed and built, Toyota powered, R-One has had its first shakedown at Paul Ricard.  As with the Dome we viewed about a month ago, the R-One clearly has a bit of work still yet to be done (no head lights or headlight buckets, missing wind shield wiper, etc.).  Somewhat interesting, if not at all surprising, is how  drastically different the actual carlooks compared to the original rendering that was first revealed last July (6.20.13).  

The R-One also seems to have adopted the turning vane trend (1).




















>>I've finally dug up better evidence regarding the depth of those new front turning vanes (vortex generators, VG) we've seen sprouting on the Audi, Porsche, and Toyota too.

Looking closer, we've got the VG heading what I would call a "cusp."  More about the cusp in a second.  But first let's consider the relative heights of the turning vane itself.  At this point in the transverse cross section of the floor, where the wheel and the brake ducts reside,  we're well into the chamfer as we move outboard.  Thus there is little doubt here that the VG extends below this section locally.

And sources now confirm that the devices on both the Audi and the Porsche indeed do extend below the reference plane.  That, coupled with the accompanying images and I think there's little doubt anymore about how far down these devices hang.  In my opinion this would be a curious interpretation.  The vertical dimension component that defines the volume that these new devices are residing is referenced from the reference plane (300 mm above the reference plane).  Further more, while the regulations don't seem to have an element of, "nothing can extend below the reference plane", there is the old cover-all, "What is not expressly permitted by the present regulations is prohibited (Art 2.1.1)."

Back to the cusp.  The cusp is designed to grab the vortex being shed off the VG, directing it downstream into the tunnels further aft. If not for the cusp I can imagine the vortex would simply be ingested into the car, given the proximity of the open chamfered floor immediately downstream of the VG.  Naturally the vortex allows for the more efficient production of downforce given its ability to increase flow velocity in the profitable underfloor area.

As for legality, well, in my estimation these devices simply aren't legal given the spirit of the regulations.  But that is by the by; that everyone is doing it means, more than likely, there won't be any protests and they've been accepted as legal.  Ultimately legality revolves around the vortex generators being defined as suspension and not bodywork.  Furthermore, I'm told by insiders that a similar device could be attached to the rear suspension.  But as I mentioned, more importantly there doesn't seem to be any regulation that prohibits the reference plane from being crossed with an aero device.

Porsche 919 VG images: Speed Chills.
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Toyota TS040 LMP1 Paul Ricard testing January 20143.25.14

>>M
ore really crappy images pulled out of grainy, intentionally unclear, videos.  You're welcome!  Yup, working with scraps.  So at the beginning of March Toyota released this video.  And here are some of the shots that I pulled out of it.  Granted, with the FIA test in three days you might wonder what the point is (It'll be "feast" then, as opposed to this famine, right?).  Let's just say I like the feeling of completeness and checking that box.

From this view the most striking detail is how low the rear fender trailing edge is relative to the rear wing endplate (1).

More notes below.  
Toyota TS040 LMP1 Paul Ricard testing January 2014Stepped shape to the front fender trailing edge in lieu of the new cockpit visibility regulations (1).  It's hard to read the cockpit shape inasmuch as the trailing edge is regarded (2).  Did Toyota opt for a legality blip (the TS030 had it after all)?  Elongated rear fender leading edge not too dissimilar to the TS030 (3).  Note the area in shadow below the rear fender leading edge, close to the floor (4).
Toyota TS040 LMP1 Paul Ricard testing January 2014Very tall leading edge shape to the front fenders.  The shape isn't too particularly different than last year but for the radius of the very top of the leading edge (1).  It appears much tighter.
Toyota TS040 LMP1 Paul Ricard testing January 2014But perhaps the most interesting shot is this one.  With a bit of squinting, could that be the Toyota's exhaust pipe?  But what is more interesting here is this:  all the deliberate sculpting in the vicinity.  This seems very much to hint at the exhaust being used to interact with the exit flow from the front wing/diffuser area.  The interaction would certainly be small.  And the only regulation regarding the exhaust and any aerodynamic interaction regards the rear diffuser (Art 3.4, Bodywork, look it up).  Though I suppose it could be argued whether or not the exhaust can be seen from the top in this position.

Playing Devil's Advocate on the morning of the 26th; though how much exhaust pressure can be expected if Toyota are running some sort of exhaust recovery system (I must admit I haven't read any of the pre-season PR material, have they said in general what systems they are running this year?)?  And other eyes place the exhaust coming from its usual location (engine cover)...but we'll know in a couple of days what's going on...

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Porsche 919 LMP1 Sebring testing March 20143.24.14

>>T
hanks to a video that popped up on Youtube a couple of weeks ago we get a glimpse of the updated Porsche 919. The myriad of changes that the Porsche 919 has undergone since it's public debut at Geneva is rather immense and I'm not really going to catalog them here...though if you insist...new sidepod and front wheel well exiting at 2 (new legality shutting too) & 3, rear wheel well exit (4-or is it a duct to draw air into the area above the cheese wedge as on the Toyota?), diffuser strakes trimmed short of the diffuser trailing edge (5), substantially more angular engine cover trailing edge (6), revised rear fender well legality exit shuttering (7), revised inboard BHH shape (8)...etc.  And that's just scratching the surface as there are many changes up front too (see Antonio's page for 919 Debut to 919 Sebring comparisons).  

But what really caught my eye was the front diffuser strake that is visible (1).
Porsche 919 LMP1 Sebring testing March 2014Remember back in December (12.18.13) when I pointed out similar on the Audi R18?  The strake falls into that newly defined "free" area around the front wheels (500 mm wide 'X', 800 mm long 'Y', 300 mm tall 'Z') that is covered under Article 3.5.4.  The Z height is referenced from the Reference Plane.  As on the Audi, I question as to whether or not the strake actually extends below the reference plane.  I'm drawn to that conclusion because even with the chamferred floor, I don't beleive that that much of the strake would be visible from these angles.
But back to the Porsche 919.  Is the Porsche program in trouble?  Back in December I Tweeted a rumor regarding personnel issues on the 919 program:

You'll find I use Twitter for less substantiated rumors, just to see what they dredged up.  But over the Sebring weekend I had further confirmation that indeed the 919 program's turnover has been high and there are, "issues."  It was suggested that there's been enough turnover to, "Repopulate the team at least once over."  Don't take that literally, the point being simply that turn over has been extraordinarily high.  And strangley enough, I was told, and have since confirmed, that at the begining of the project that Porsche wanted to divest themselves of anyone with previous experience with their RS Spyder project.  As such, I understand at least one prominent figures involved with the RS Spyder is no longer, or perhaps never was, involved with the 919 project.

This all leads me to some of the rumored car issues Porsche has been having.  For starters, I was told that at the most recent Sebring test (the one in the video above) that the 919 was consistently a, "few seconds off," the Audi's times.  Furthermore, Porsche is rumored to be having reliability issues to such extent that they have yet to achieve more than 1000 kms consecutively without a problem.  I have confirmed Porsche did appear to have, "some troubles" at Sebring and that they extended their test by a day, presumably to make up for lost track time. Furthermore, there are whispers of issues with the V4 and I understand that firing the order has been revised.  Could that have been the source of the extreme vibration issues?  It seems likely.     

But for now it's difficult to put the Porsche 919's performance relative to the Audi R18 into perspective.  For starters we have no idea to what kinds of programs the two outfits were running to at the Sebring test.  Could one have been in Le Mans downforce configuration?  It's been suggested. 

In contrast there does seem to have been a fairly serious issue with the engine and it has been suggested that a lot of the car's issues are boiling down to brain drain and the high turnover rate within the project; new, inexperienced personel making the same historic mistakes and having to learn from them.  However, all is not lost and the final suggestion is that what we're seeing is the rough draft and that Porsche will come on full song next season with what is, in effect, an entirely (mostly) new car.  The rapid deveopment we're witness already is certainly a sign of some of this.

Nissan powered Dome Strakka S103>>Dome today unveiled their new S103 LMP2 that is to be fielded by Strakka racing this year.  It rolled out for a very short systems check and photo shoot today at the Turweston Aerodrome ahead of the FIA test at Paul Ricard this weekend.  Note the missing side legality panel and, at least in this shot, the missing center rear wing mount; still some work to be done?  Who was it that said any of this was easy?
I've been banging on it for a while now, and I'll point it out again, note the Dome has that legality "handle" on the trailing edge of the cockpit.  This allows a much earlier departure downwards for the trailing edge as noted by my quick sketch to the left: red the conventional interpretation, blue the legality handle interpretation.  Imagine how much better airflow the rear wing receives with the more plunging trailing edge?   

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Onroak Ligier LMP23.5.14

>>I
had to decide what I was going to cover tonight, especially given the main news of the last few days; the Porsche 919 reveal, or something that received less coverage, the Ligier JSP2 LMP2.  I've got to be honest, the 919 debut was effectively a livery reveal and across the last couple of months of 2013 (yeah, I've taken two months off since then) I've charted the car's early development as the images have trickled out (we sure have been squinting though, haven't we, given the camouflage).  Not to mention, given the images that are coming out of this week's Sebring test, the design is a bit of a moving target at the moment.  Yes, a lot of other little tech tidbits were unveiled this week (hey, 90 degree V4 turbo, where did I hear that before?  Oh, right: 10.30.13) and I'll get to them in due time.  But let's look at the Ligier instead.

The Ligier JSP2 comes out of Onroak Automotive's design office and, reading the press release accompanying the images, was designed by Nicolas Clemencon and team.

Wind tunnel development has been conducted at Onroak's go-to facility, RUAG in Switzerland.   
Onroak Ligier LMP2In October Onroak released this image of their ongoing LMP2 development.  The emphasis in the importance of front fender development is pretty evident here given the very vertical and fin-like leading edges that can be seen (1).  Though the rear end is still very Oak LMP2-like (2).  The in-between bits are a bit unremarkable at this point of development.  Perhaps more interesting, if easily overlooked, is the legality bump (3).  This allows a localized height reduction of the trailing edge shape of the cockpit while still meeting the mandated height minimum.
Onroak Ligier LMP2A few months later (December) and the concept is starting to mature and everything has evolved further.  The front fender leading edge shape is more refined (and the model appears a little less "developmental" looking in this area).  Just ahead of the front wheel, the wheel well opening isn't a constant radius (1).  The front fender trailing edge is the same but for the mandatory visibility notch (2).  The legality blip is still there (3), reducing the trailing edge height must be important! Onroak Ligier LMP2 Insiders say it could be worth approaching 5% compared to a more conservatively interpreted cockpit shape.  After rebalance the gain wouldn't be quite that high, but it is substantial nonetheless.  The Ligier has an oval shaped opening (4) just behind the legality blip who's function is unknown.  That it opens into an area of low pressure might give some clues.  Onroak released an image of the tub (right) and you can see that the hole runs into the cockpit.

The leading edge of the rear fenders (5) extends more forward than the October model, interestingly the BHH over the top of rear fender has been closed off (6).  Testing the inner fender option?  Though insiders guide again and state that the inner fender option is not efficient at all, hence the head scratching over why Porsche has gone that route.  Finally note the Toyota TS030 detail just above the cheese wedge.

It's been pointed out, and I agree that it's a possibility, that the models, espcially the second one, could be LMP1 developments for the OAK.  While it's hard to see from the side view, the rear wing widths appear more inline with LMP1 2014 (1800 mm wide rear wing on a 1900-1800 mm wide body) than current LMP2 (1600 mm wide rear wing on a 2000 or thereabouts wide body).  An email has been sent.

The JSP2 car build is now well advanced and if all goes to schedule the Ligier will hit the track this Friday.

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