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May/June 2009
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All news content copyright Michael J. Fuller, unless otherwise noted

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>>Click here for Le Mans 2009 coverage<<
6.30.09

Excuse the appearance here of any lack of activity.  Naturally, for the Le Mans coverage click the link above.  That will be hard wired into the site at some point and linkable from the front page as a permanent resource.

>>We're following up a story from Le Mans and while there isn't much to really discuss, it's a simple reminder that all is not over regarding the Audi R15 design controversy.  Recall that after the ACO denied Peugeot's challenge of technical details on the Audi R15, Peugeot vowed to take the matter up with the FIA as part of their right of appeal.  So what happens next?  While I'm hardly familiar or particularly interested in the governing mechanics of all of this, I have been asking around and this was the answer I received.  So the process goes something like this: Peugeot's appeal moves to the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile (FFSA), which as we understand it is the national governing arm of the FIA in France (similar to ACCUS' role in the United States).  From there it is expected to get bounced to the FIA and a ruling made.  This expected to get in motion by some time late in July with outcomes of one sort or another around that time.  Now this process is moving forward, supposedly.  But there are precious few details coming out of the FIA such that there are those within Audi who are in  a position to know but haven't the foggiest idea as to when this all will occur or even it if is moving forward.  From others we're assured it is moving forward and to pay attention towards the end of July.
5.29.09

>>Audi has released a video showing the R15 testing at Paul Ricard and in what we presume is the car's 2009 Le Mans guise.  Though we understand this isn't the definitive specification, that other (minor) changes will become evident when the car arrives at Le Mans.  And only one of those changes has been driven by the ACO.

We can see a revised rear wing endplate with a notch removed from the upper leading edge in addition to a very aggressive rear fender flip up.  The rear overhang has been reduced.
The R15 now has a vent exiting the trailing edge of the wheel well.
The exit on the nose vent has been reduced.
According to Audi's Wolfgang Appel, the R15's crash structure consists of twin cones either side of the nose.  The space between these cones forms the nose vent and with a little inspection (image below) we can surmise that the entire center section of the nose is a hollow panel.  This panel forms the leading edge cap of the nose itself.  It would be reasonable to believe that in Le Mans configuration, extending this panel's trailing edge rearward would reduce drag and compensate for the shift in aero balance given the reduction in rear wing angle.  
A close up of the tow hook allows us to see that the hook itself is mounted to the solid crash structure and that the area between the two structures would appear to be hollow.  
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5.18.09

Lola Aston Martin, Spa 2009
Lola Aston Martin, Barcelona 2009

>>Aston Martin raced with a revised engine intake for the Spa round of the Le Mans Endurance Series.  The primary difference that we can see is that a spacer panel has been bolted to the lower half of the engine intake breaking up the appearance that the intake was raised off the surface of the roof.  One can't help but wonder if the ACO has spoken with Aston regarding Art 3.4.5.

Of course this spacer panel does little to integrate the engine intake into the curved line of the roof.  Conventional wisdom on pitlane takes "integrated" to mean that in side view, the engine intake should not project beyond the profile of the greenhous/cockpit.  The key part of the phrase being, "...integrated into the curved line of the roof."  Without the portion, "curved line of the roof", what Aston has done would suffice.  But as the ACO has accepted Aston's modifications, a "resetting" of the regulation's meaning and execution is in order.
Nothing to see here...Oreca LMP1, Spa 20095.13.09

>>Thanks to Julien Hergault of the website Endurance-Series, we've received images of just about every conceivable angle of the Oreca LMP1's rear diffuser and...clearly nothing "trick" of the sort.  Chalk it up to a miscommunication.
Lola Aston Martin B09/605.9.09

>>At the first Le Mans Series race at Barcelona, the Lola Aston Martin was spotted using rear fans as the primary source for brake cooling airflow.  These images come courtesy Wouter Melissen's Ultimatecarpage.com website.
Lola Aston Martin B09/60The ducts, with fans inside, pointed rearward.  They bolted onto the upright and simply drew the cooling air in through the upright/wheel center.  

Wouter
Melissen tells us that the ducts and fans are missing this weekend at the Spa Le Mans Series round, instead replaced by traditional NACA inlet ducts.  One wonders if the ACO had second thoughts given Article 1.5.3:

Movable bodywork parts/elements are forbidden when the car is in motion.


Melissen also has indicated that the new Oreca LMP1 is using a Formula One style "double decker" rear diffuser.  For now we're waiting on images so were only speculating for the moment.  

The rise of the double decker diffusers in F1 came about because of vague regulations written regarding the size and function of holes within the regulated flat bottom area of the diffuser.  Brawn et al put holes in the vertical face of the stepped bottom and then crafted an upper diffuser section utilizing the rear crash structure and surrounding bodywork.  ACO regulations are rather more specific about what holes can be in the underbody for an LMP with Article 3.5 stating:

The only openings permitted are the minimum gaps necessary for wheel and suspension part movements (suspension travel and steering), air jack holes, sensors for measuring the ground clearance (LMP1 only), closed hatches (maintenance operations) and the overflow fuel pipe.

We suppose one could mount the air jacks in the vicinity of the bellhousing such that where they pierced the underfloor was in the vertical face of the regulated rear boat tail structure.  Then you could utilize those holes to duct air over the top of the regulated diffuser and out the back of the car.  But would the ACO allow that?
5.8.09

>>Some on-track shots of the Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7-005 courtesy of Chuck Anderson.

Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7-005, Mitty 2009
Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7-005, Mitty 2009
Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7-005, Mitty 2009

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5.5.09

Chevrolet Intrepid GTP, Mitty 2009>>I attended this year's Walter Mitty Historic Sportscar Racing event here at Road Atlanta this past weekend.  The featured marque was Group 44; Bob Tullius' various racing Jaguars.
Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7-005, Mitty 2009Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7, the so called "Mag Jag" or "Magnum 44."  This car was built on chassis # XJR-7-005, though the car is known as an XJR-8.

Tim Pendergast sends in a few more details:

"
...XJR-7/005...raced once, at the 1987 SunBank 24 at Daytona.  Drivers were Tullius/Hurley Haywood and John Morton.  The car was a DNF with an engine failure.  After that, they started to rework the bodywork on the car.  Also, knowing the contract with Jaguar was not going to be renewed, they re-engineered the car to accept a Chevy V-8.  The name 44 Magnum was picked as the car had a 7.0 liter magnesium block V-12 motor installed.  Was one of only 3 of these motors that were built by Jaguar.  A new motor is in the car now, as the fluids were left in it from the last time it ran in 1995 and the magnesium has corroded beyond repair.  Basically, everything under the bodywork is XJR-7."
Through the looking glass...Porsche 962-119, Mitty 2009Only one Porsche 962 was present this year.
Porsche 962-119, Mitty 2009Porsche 962-119 is an ex-BF Goodrich Team Busby car.  From what I can gather, chassis 962-119 debuted in 1986, though no source agrees on which event exactely.  It raced on and off through 1989.  It's last event appears to have been the 1989 Tampa World Challenge race. Oddly, Peter Morgan's 956/962 book claims the chassis was "disliked by drivers."  962-119 ended its career as a show car.
Corvair, Mitty 2009Kaput Corvair.
Maserati 300S, Mitty 2009Maserati 300S, 1955.
Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7, Mitty 2009Group 44 Jaguar XJR-5-007.  #007's history is pretty extensive.  According to Pendergast, chassis #007 debuted at Road Atlanta in 1984 qualifying 4th but dnf'ing with brake failure.  
1984, XJR-5-007
RaceQualifyingFinish
Road Atlanta4thDNF (brakes)
Charlotte5th2nd
Watkins Glen 3 Hour4thDNF (crash)
Skipped Portland and Sears Point
Road America5th5th
Skipped Portland and Michigan
Watkins Glen NY5004thDNF (crash)
Skipped Daytona finale
1985, XJR-5-007
RaceQualifyingFinish
Daytona 248thDNF (tire failure and fire)
Skipped Miami
Sebring7thDNF (engine)
Road Atlanta5th2nd
Riverside5th3rd
Laguna Seca7th3rd
Charlotte6th4th
Lime Rock3rd6th
Skipped Le Mans
Watkins Glen6thDNF (ring & pinion)
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ęCopyright 2009, Michael J. Fuller